Preparing Your Home for Sale

Flowers by Michael
Flowers by Michael

It is critical to create a positive first impression that will impress potential buyers. That’s why preparing the home before the sale is very important. A good first impression is the first step toward converting a buyer who is looking, to a buyer who will close the sale. However, it’s essential to draw a clear distinction between renovating and staging. While staging refers to some cosmetic and aesthetic improvements, renovations can cost you many thousands of dollars, and you should consider very carefully whether such an investment is really necessary for the successful sale of your house.

Generally, the smaller your house or apartment, the greater the chance that you’ll deal with a first-time buyer. These kinds of home buyers usually require a move-in-ready property. For example, first time home buyers don’t usually have the funds necessary to update the home’s mechanical systems. So if your house has knob and tube wiring, an older furnace and roof, for example, which would make it difficult for the buyer to attain home insurance on the property unless they replaced these old systems, many first time home buyers will likely not be interested in your home.

On the other hand, big families prefer to renovate to their tastes, or are willing to renovate slowly over time as they grow into the house. Also a move-up buyer generally has built-up equity in the home they are selling so renovating becomes more of an option for them.

Whether or not your property needs some renovation also depends on the condition of other properties in your neighbourhood. If there are houses with special features and you want to achieve the same price, you should definitely consider renovation. But always remember even some quick and easy things you can do to increase the appeal of your home might be the deciding factor when the potential buyer finally comes to view it.

We want to be your real estate partners for life, Before you decide on any long term renovation plans, feel free to contact us for advice on which renovations provide the highest return upon sale of your house.

To help you with renovation plans, please read the section think ahead to the eventual sale which provides an insight into things home buyers look for when buying a house.

Home Staging

As the saying goes, first impressions are everything and you only get one chance to make a first impression. The same holds true when selling your house. Beyond making sure your home is squeaky clean, staging can make the difference between boring and breathtaking. This is why home staging tips and advice have become very popular and a growing number of home sellers rely on them to impress the potential buyer as much as possible. It’s a common feature of the home selling process to hire a professional stager who uses his or her creativity and vision to dress your house for sale. The main reason is to make the house look uncluttered and cleaner, warmer, and brighter and, best of all, it allows potential buyers to visualize themselves living in your home.

Not every home seller appreciates the importance of staging and some do not want to spend the money to execute this aspect of the home selling process. However, it is important to be aware that if other houses on the market in your neighbourhood have been staged, your house will be at a serious disadvantage.

Vacant Houses

Vacant houses exposed to the market usually sell for much less than furnished homes. The reasons are:

  • An empty house is not inviting. It feels cold and lonely, it doesn’t echo “this is your home you will love living here.” It doesn’t inspire a buyer to want to live there.
  • Buyers are generally not able to visualize how furniture will fit in an empty space and if they’re unsure, they won’t buy.
  • When a room is empty prospective buyers focus on the bare imperfections instead of falling in love with the overall space.
  • When a house is vacant buyers can become distracted by your motivation for selling. Is this a divorce? Are they selling because of financial distress? This train of thought will take them on a path where you, as a seller, don’t want them to go.

From our experience, staged properties show their best and can sell for up to 5% to 10% more than unstaged homes. This is a great deal of money to potentially forego; the additional money you get by staging can amount to 10 times the money you spent to stage your house. The single biggest investment you can make when selling your house is to hire a professional stager.

However, there are a number of details and improvements you can do yourself which will ensure prospective buyers are left with the best possible impression.

House Exterior

  • House in good repair
  • House number easy to read
  • Eaves troughs, down spouts, and soffits in good repair
  • Garage/car port clean and tidy
  • Litter picked up
  • Cracked or broken window panes replaced
  • Lawns and hedges cut and trimmed, garden weeded and edged
  • Walks shoveled and salted
  • Boot tray inside front door
  • Doorbell and door hardware in good repair
  • Porch and foyer clean and tidy

House Interior

  • Chipped plaster and paint touched-up and replaced
  • Doors and cupboards properly closed
  • Leaky taps and toilets repaired
  • Burnt-out light bulbs replaced
  • Squeaky doors oiled
  • Mirrors, fixtures, and taps cleaned and polished
  • Seals around tubs and basins in good repair
  • Floors cleaned, garbage containers empty
  • Inside of closets and cupboards neat and tidy
  • Appliances cleaned
  • Countertops neat and polished
  • All lights turned on
  • Air conditioner turned on in warm weather
  • Fresh air in house
  • Fireplace lit in cooler weather
  • Halls and stairs cleaned
  • Drapes opened during daylight hours
  • Carpets freshly vacuumed
  • Fresh flowers in various rooms
  • Jewelry and valuables locked safely away or taken with you
  • Valuable property, such as art, vases, and figurines, out of reach, out of sight, or locked away
  • Pets absent, where possible, or contained during the showing, and litter boxes clean
Property Before Staging
Property Before Staging
Property After Staging
Property After Staging

Case study: This property was listed unstaged with a different brokerage firm for two months for $1,350,000 without a successful sale. The seller then interviewed a few real estate agents and gave us an opportunity to sell the house by implementing our extensive marketing plan. We suggested staging the property which completely transformed the look of the house. We listed it for $1,279,000, procured four offers within 48 hours, and sold it for a whopping $1,550,000.

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