Getting ready to sell?

Move your property fast –  with these easy, affordable staging tricks. These deal-sealing changes will make your home attractive to potential buyers, and the best part is, you can start at any stage in the game.  While curb appeal still matters, photos are the single most important part. Plan to get all the work done before the photo shoot. The hardest part for most sellers is these weeks and months leading up to a sale. Once the home is on the market, the home is out there, in its full glory for all the buyers to see. Here are some helpful tips:


1. Paint

Dollar for dollar, a fresh coat of paint gives you more bang for your decorating buck than anything else. Even if your current palette is relatively new, any scuffs or wear marks will channel an unkempt vibe. And an unusual colour choice – even if the height of fashion – may limit your home’s appeal. So break out that roller and slap on a couple coats of crowd-pleasing warm white or sand paint.


2. Improve the lighting

Replace any dated light fixtures ASAP. How can you tell if it has to go? If it’s over 15 years old and looks it – yet isn’t a vintage (50-75 years old) or antique piece (older) – it should probably go. “Retro” is not something most homebuyers are looking for. You don’t need to break the bank, just head to a local home improvement store.


3. De-clutter

Take the collectibles off the mantel, put the mismatched armchair into storage and pare your closets down to what you’re actually wearing this season, packing away the rest. The more you store onsite, the more cluttered and small your home appears. Remove Kitchen counter clutter for your photos and your open house. Extra pots, pans, dishes high up on the cupboards tells prospective buyers a lack of space. Consider packing or storing items you don’t regularly use.


4. Give dated bathrooms a facelift

A nice bath helps sell a house but, don’t invest in a total renovation. Renos are costly, and you won’t recoup your costs unless you find an exact décor. Bring an out-of-date bath up to speed with gleaming white walls whether via a fresh coat of white bath and kitchen paint or ceramic tile and new lighting (Home Depot excels at affordable, stylish bathroom vanity lighting). Buy neutral new shower curtains, a simple new bath mat or no bath mat to show your flooring. The vanity set, remove all personal items (used soap, tooth brushes, hand scrubbers –etc), to really show it off have fresh flowers in the room during open houses.


5. Take down dark – heavy curtains

Dated window treatments need to come down, pronto (if it’s over 10 years old, get rid of it). If privacy isn’t an issue, just leave the windows bare to maximize natural light and make the room’s dimensions seem more generous. Otherwise, buy basic-issue cotton or linen drapes. Always tie drapes back during viewings and open houses.


6. Mirrors

 Make small rooms appear bigger and dark rooms seem brighter by adding an attractive wall mirror. A boxlike dining room will benefit from a leaning floor mirror and an entranceway more welcoming with a console mirror.


7. Update porch hardware

Increase your home’s curb appeal by updating the hardware on your front porch. Buy a doorknocker or bell, mailbox, kick plate, doorknob and lockset in a set or in complementary styles. Brushed nickel is a neutral finish that will never date, while oil-rubbed bronze is another favourite.


8. And the porch light

Update your porch light to coordinate with the new hardware, if needed. They don’t have to be an exact match or even come from the same period, but the finishes and styles should look pleasing together.


9. Spiff up the front yard

Refresh your front yard according to the season. In spring, summer and fall, trim back dead plants and foliage and plant attractive annuals or perennials in flowerbeds and have the grass cut.  In winter, keep the walkway shoveled and cut back any tree or shrub branches damaged by heavy snowfall. A pair of planters flanking the front door and filled with seasonal arrangements instantly conveys pride of ownership.


10. Tend the backyard

Simple fix-its will make the most of your existing yard layout. Replace any damaged boards on your deck or fence, and apply a fresh coat of paint, or stain and sealant if the finish needs it. Weed and groom your garden and add some perennials for colour when in-season. Don’t forget to put the cushions on your patio furniture, this gives potential clients the freedom to sit and take in the thought of entertaining in your backyard.  If kids’ toys are taking over the space, put some in storage. Think “tidy,” “update” and “refresh”: never do anything costly or major like adding a swimming pool or pond, which may put off potential buyers.



Showing Your Home

Here are some helpful tips for your showing’s


  1. Make note if you have cat’s or dog’s in the house. Either take dog’s with you or if they are used to pens place them in their pens for the short viewings.

  2. Put away items in the yard; garden tools, bicycles and toys.

  3. Make sure your home is well lit.

  4. Remove clutter from tables and shelves. Less clutter creates the illusion of a larger space.

  5. Keep money, prescription drugs, and other valuables out of view.

  6. Open shades and curtains to let in light.

  7. Light a fire in the fireplace to create a comfortable ambiance.





Depersonalize the house

The open house won’t seem so odd if you’ve made the effort to put many of your personal items away. As a part of prepping the home for sale, declutter, take down family photos and start to see your home as an object. Consider it a product — like something on the shelf at your local Walmart, it’s for sale on the open market.


Buyers don’t want to feel like they are walking into someone else’s home. They want to see a place as neutral. That’s what pulls them in.


Sellers who do best with open houses are those who move out of the home or even do some serious staging. That way they can emotionally detach from the house, and remove their presence so buyers can imagine themselves living in the home.


Think safety


If you still live in the home, you need to take stock of what you have and think of your safety and security. You hope for genuine and trustworthy shoppers, but you never know.


Remove from public view any small and expensive items. Put jewelry, watches and cash deep in closets, or even inside a safe.


People may go through drawers when nobody is looking. Make sure there is nothing of value in them.


Open houses are the fabric of the real estate industry and the real estate market. Buyers will continue to see homes on Sunday as a way to learn the market and get inside the inventory. For some sellers, they are a necessary evil.


Plan ahead and be certain that you are ready to sell before you open your doors. Because once you open the doors, the buyers will come, and there is no turning back.


Prepare your house for an inspection

What will a home inspector be looking at and how you can prepare for a home inspection? The below listing may be helpful in preparing for a home inspection. Many of these items can be done with little or no cost and many are regular maintenance items for a home.


1. Remove grade or mulch from contact with siding. Six (6) or more inches of clearance is preferred.

2. Clean out dirty gutters or debris from the roof.

3. Divert all water away from the house; i.e. downspouts, sump pump, condensation drains, etc. Grade should slope away from the structure. Clean out basement entry drains.

4. Trim trees, roots and bushes back from the foundation, roof, siding and chimney.

5. Paint all weathered exterior wood and caulk around the trim, chimney, windows and doors.

6. Seal asphalt driveways, if cracking.

7. Seal or point up masonry chimney caps. Install metal fluecap.

8. Clean or replace HVAC filter. Clean dirty air returns and plenum.

9. Point up any failing mortar joints in brick or block.

10. Test all smoke detectors to ensure they are in safe working condition.

11. Update attic ventilation if none is present.

12. Have the chimney, fireplace or woodstove cleaned and provide the buyer with a copy of the cleaning record.

13. Seal masonry walls in the basement.

14. Don’t do quick cheap repairs. You may raise questions that will unfairly cause great concern to buyers and inspectors.

15. Ensure that all doors and windows are in proper operating condition, including repairing or replacing any cracked window panes.

16. Ensure that all plumbing fixtures (toilet, tub, shower, and sinks) are in proper working conditions. Check for and fix any leaks. Caulk around fixtures if necessary.

17. Install GFCI receptacles near all water sources. Test all present GFCI receptacles for proper operation.

18. Check sump pump for proper operation.

19. Replace any burned out light bulbs.

20. Remove rotting wood and/or firewood from contact with the house.

21. Ensure that proper grading is followed under a deck.

22. Install proper vapor barrier in crawlspaces.

23. Caulk all exterior wall penetrations.

24. Check to ensure that the crawlspace is dry and install a proper vapor barrier if necessary. Remove any visible moisture from a crawlspace. Moisture levels in wood should be below 18% to deter rot and mildew.

25. Check that bath vents are properly vented and in working condition.

26. Remove paints, solvents, gas, etc., from crawlspace, basement, attic, porch, etc.

27. If windows are at or below grade, install window wells and covers.

28. Have clear access to attic, crawlspace, heating system, garage and other areas that will need to be inspected.

29. If the house is vacant, make sure that all utilities are turned on, including water, electric, water heater, furnace, air condition and breaks in the main panel.



1. Luxurious

As mentioned above, lower-priced listings with the word “luxurious” sold for 8.2 percent more on average than expected. “Luxurious” signals that a home’s finishes and amenities are high-end. This is a huge selling point, particularly in this price range.

2. Captivating

Top-tier listings described as “captivating” sold for 6.5 percent more on average than expected. Unlike the word “nice,” “captivating” provides a richer, more enticing description for buyers. Plus, it’s less open to interpretation. Anything can be seen as “nice,” but “captivating” sets a high bar.

3. Impeccable

On average, listings in the bottom tier with the word “impeccable” sold for 5.9 percent more than expected. Like “captivating,” “impeccable” is a rich adjective. It also implies something about the quality of a home: The features are desirable and the home is move-in ready.

4. Stainless

“Stainless” is typically used to describe kitchens with “stainless steel appliances.” It’s in your favor to talk up these features in your listing — especially if your home is in the bottom price tier. In our analysis, lower-priced homes with the word “stainless” sold for 5 percent more on average than expected.

5. Basketball

On average, lower-priced homes with the word “basketball” sold for 4.5 percent more than expected. This may seem like an odd word to include in this list, but when you consider the context it makes sense. Among lower-priced homes, a basketball court — or even better, an indoor basketball court — is a huge selling point. While it may not stand out as much among higher-priced homes, it’s definitely worth mentioning in this price range.

6. Landscaped

It’s just as valuable to describe your yard as your house. In all price tiers, listings with the word “landscaped” sold for more than expected on average. The biggest premium was seen among lower-priced listings, which on average sold for 4.2 percent more than expected.

7. Granite

In the same vein as “stainless,” “granite” is typically used to describe countertops or another high-end home feature. Listings with the word “granite” sold, on average, for 1 to 4 percent more than expected across all price tiers.

8. Pergola

Not only should you include high-end home features in your listing description, you should also mention features not found in every home. They’ll help your listing stand out, especially if buyers are searching for homes online by keyword. The data shows mid-priced listings with the word “pergola” sold for 4 percent more on average than expected.

9. Remodel

Was your home recently remodeled? It may be worth mentioning. On average, bottom-tier listings with the word “remodel” sold for 2.9 percent more, middle-tier homes for 1.8 percent more and top-tier homes for 1.7 percent more than expected.

10. Beautiful

While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, a beautiful feature like a view may be worth noting. Lower-priced listings with the word “beautiful” sold for 2.3 percent more on average than expected.

11. Gentle

“Gentle” may seem like a weird adjective to have in a listing description. It’s typically used to describe “gentle rolling hills” or something about a home’s location. Top-tier listings with the word “gentle” sold for 2.3 percent more, on average, than expected.

12. Spotless

You may think all homes are spotless when a buyer moves in, so it’s not worth mentioning in a listing. But when it comes to lower-priced homes, cleanliness isn’t always a given. In this price range, listings described as “spotless” sold for 2 percent more on average than expected.

13. Tile

Much like “stainless” and “granite,” “tile” is a great word when it comes to describing the features of your home. A newly tiled backsplash or updated bathroom tile not only indicates a home’s aesthetic value but also sends a message to buyers that the home’s been well cared for by the current owners. Bottom-tier homes with the word “tile” in the listing sold for 2 percent more on average than expected.

14. Upgraded

On average, lower-priced listings with the word “upgraded” sold for 1.8 percent more than expected. Most buyers will agree that upgrades are a selling point. They indicate a home not only looks nice but also functions well. Spelling out which features have been updated is a good approach, so buyers have the right expectations when they see your home.

15. Updated

“Updated” sends a similar message to “upgraded.” But in addition to speaking to the quality of a home, it signals that something old has been replaced with something new. This is a great fact to communicate to potential buyers, as evidenced by the data. Mid-priced homes with “updated” in the listing sold for 0.8 percent more on average than expected.


Stephany Mercer

Stephany Mercer

Sales Representative
CENTURY 21 Erie Shores Realty Inc., Brokerage*
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