Prepare Your Home for Sale 6 Easy Tips

By Andrew Mitchell | Selling Real Estate

Many homeowners are thinking about putting their home or condo up for sale to move in the Spring. When you prepare your home for sale there are a number of important tips to not overlook, and some things you really shouldn’t be doing.

Here are a couple of inexpensive tips to prepare your home for sale

They can help you get your home looking it’s best, get you the most money when you sell and avoid some common costly mistakes that many home owners make in getting their home in tip-top selling shape. Let’s get started:

Tip 1 – Declutter, declutter, declutter

Having too much “stuff” in a home makes it look cluttered and un-attractive to potential buyers. It might be important to you, but family-photos, personalized wall hangings, certificates and awards mean nothing to the potential buyer. Buyers want to imagine themselves living in your home and all your stuff can distract them from seeing all that your home has to offer.

When you’re getting ready to prepare your hone for sale, declutter once when you decide you want to sell, and when you’re done go back and declutter some more and then before the first visit of your home by a potential buyer, take one more look at your home as a buyer would, then declutter some more!

Since you’re going to be moving eventually anyways, pick up some large storage bins and start packing, selling (or throwing) away those items, furniture, and décor that are cramping up your space. Find a storage room or garage space to put those bins away in an orderly fashion.

Tip 2 – The nose knows

Buying a home is generally a very emotional decision, and buyers experience emotions with all their senses, so get rid of any pet, smoke or other odours that will turn them off. Many buyers will walk away from a perfect home, in a perfect location that meets all their requirements, based only on a smelly room!

The sense of smell is the one most connected to memory, and you want your home to be remembered for the right reasons!

If you have a loveable family pet, designate a spot where he can rest calmly and safely during any visits, and not distract buyers from your home. Have your home professionally cleaned and ensure all pet, smoke or other odours are gone. Clean curtains and any pet crates or play areas that harbour the worst odours. Vacuum up any ashes from wood stoves and fireplaces, and deodorize surrounding areas to clean away the ashy smell.

Painting to prepare your home for sale

Painting is one of the least expensive ways to prepare your home for sale.

Tip 3 – Paint goes a long way

One of the least expensive renovations that you can do when you prepare your home for sale is to re-paint interiors (or exterior weather permitting). Choose light, neutral colours that open the space up and avoid dark, or overly vivid colours that can shrink the appearance of space.

The colours you choose, when you are preparing your home for sale, may not be to your own taste but you’re going to be moving soon anyways. You want to choose colours that appeal to the largest group of potential buyers. Touch up any corners, patch any holes or gaps and ensure any scuffmarks are cleaned up.

After painting, buy some tubes of caulking and fill all those small cracks between moldings and walls to ensure your home has a finished look that will appeal to buyers. If you have a basement with wood paneling, choose a light colour and paint right over them to bring some new life back to a dark basement.

Tip 4 – Show your home in its best light

Lighting and sunlight have a huge impact on the appearance of your home in the eyes of a buyer. Dark homes are not attractive to potential buyers. Bright and sunny rooms help the buyer feel great while visiting your home. Test all lights and fixtures to ensure they are working correctly. Replace any burnt out bulbs and make sure all lamps are working. Clean and dust all lighting fixtures.

Weather permitting, consider cleaning all your windows, especially if you have pets that put their noses on the patio door or kids who like to leave their handprints all over windows. Buyers will be looking out your windows (at your yard, at the view) almost as much as they will be looking at the interior, so getting your windows cleaned will have a big impact for a low cost.

One very important tip – turn on ALL the lights in your home and open the drapes before a potential buyer comes to visit your home, you want your home to look bright and inviting.

Tip 5 – Don’t over do it

One thing I hear often from home sellers is “if I add a granite counter I’ll get another $5,000+ for my home!” Or “I just had a brand new furnace installed, my home has to be worth way more than my neighbours’ now!” This isn’t usually the case unfortunately.

…adding a new furnace will have very little emotional impact on most buyers – buyers expect that the HVAC will be working!

While its important to ensure your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) is well maintained, just simply adding a new furnace will have very little emotional impact on most buyers – buyers expect that the HVAC will be working! While granite counters and other expensive upgrades can add to the overall wow-factor of your home, when you prepare your home for sale, its important to consider if buyers expect these upgrades for homes in your price range. Again, as with many expensive renovations, you won’t usually recoup the cost when you sell.

Tip 6 – Get some great advise

If you are considering selling your home or condo, speak with neighbours and friends and get their recommendations for real estate brokers who work in your area. Great real estate brokers can give you personalized advise on preparing your home for sale. They can offer you their experience in selling other homes just like yours.

They offer a wealth of experience working with buyers in your area and what the typical buyer’s expectations are for homes like yours. Also, great brokers can recommend a network of suppliers, contractors, and home stagers who can help your home look its absolute best. If you’re interested in personalized tips for preparing your house for sale, contact me.
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An earlier version of this article I wrote appeared in the Montreal Times newspaper. 


About the Author

I'm Andrew Mitchell, Chartered Real Estate Broker and Owner of Vistacor Realty Group. I help buyers, sellers and investors in the West Island, Montreal and Vaudreuil-Soulanges areas buy and sell homes. My goal is to provide you with useful, straight-forward insights and relevant real estate market updates. Contact me with any questions. Follow me on twitter here.