Preparing Your Home

Maximize your home's sales potential.

Each year, corporate North America spends billions of dollars on product and packaging design. The lesson here is that appearance is critical—and it would be foolish to ignore this when selling your home. You may not be able to change your home's location or its floor plan, but you can do a lot to improve its appearance. And you should. The look and “feel” of your home generates a greater emotional response than any other factor. You may price your home to sell, but a prospective buyer reacts to what they see, hear, feel and smell.

Rely on other people's judgement as well as your own.

The key to effective marketing is knowing your product's good and bad points. In the case of your home, accentuating the good can mean a faster sale for more money; failing to deal with the bad can mean months on the market and a lower-than-desired sale price. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to rely solely on your own judgement and personal feelings. Remember this is YOUR HOME, a place of fond memories. There are bound to be emotional and personal issues that can impair your ability to make an honest assessment of your home's strengths and weaknesses. In assessing what improvements you can make, you should ask others for their opinions. It is important that the person gives an honest answer; some may try to spare your feelings, and that is just what you don't need. Fortunately, your Realtor won't be shy in discussing what should be done to make your home more marketable.

Fix everything no matter how insignificant it may appear.

The step that squeaks, the light switch that doesn't work, the crack in the drywall —they might be minor irritations to you, but they can also be deal-killers. The problem here is that you never know what will turn a buyer off. And even something minor that's gone unattended can suggest that perhaps there are bigger, less visible problems present as well.

Remove all traces of you from your home.

If you have ever toured someone else's home, you may have felt uncomfortable. You probably felt that way because you saw, heard or otherwise sensed something that made you feel like you were intruding into someone's life. The last thing you want others to feel in visiting your home is that same sense of discomfort. You can avoid this by making your home as neutral as possible. Anything that interferes with a potential buyer's ability to see themselves living in your home must be eliminated. A few carefully chosen knickknacks and family portraits may add warmth and character to the home, but too many are a distraction. Avoid unique or trendy colour schemes — paint and carpet in neutral shades of white or beige.

The little touches can make a difference.

While personal items can detract, other small touches can help make your house a home to buyers. A well-placed vase of flowers, accent pieces of sculpture, potpourri in the bathroom — all can enhance the attractiveness of your home in a subtle, soft-spoken way. You may get more helpful tips in home magazines.

Don’t let a smell be your downfall. Odd smells kill deals quickly.

All traces of food, pet and smoking odours must be eliminated. Even when you’re not there, don’t encourage prospective buyers to imagine things. If they know you’re a smoker or that you have a dog, they’ll start smelling odours and seeing stains that may not even exist. Be safe — don’t leave any clues.

Sell before you move out.

Studies have shown that it is more difficult to sell a home that is vacant —it looks forlorn, forgotten, simply not appealing. It could even cost you thousands. If you move, you’re also telling buyers that you have a new home and are probably motivated to sell.