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The 21-Step Guide to Preparing Your Home for Sale

The 21-Step Guide to Preparing Your Home for Sale

The Odland & Blair Real Estate Group with Royal LePage Triland Realty are delighted to provide you with our 21 step guide to getting your home ready for sale.

Whether you’re selling your first home or 10th home, the experience can be exhausting, stressful, and unpredictable.

It is all so easy for sellers to get caught up in the whirlwind, resulting in crucial oversights or added stress.

For years, we have helped clients prepare for their home to hit the market in a thoughtful, and strategic way.

Hopefully this guide helps reduce stress while maximizing profits from your sale.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin 

Step One – Interview Realtors

In this day and age everybody knows a Real Estate Agent. However, you should still interview a few different Realtors to get a feel for how they would market your property and manage your home selling experience.

Things you should consider asking:

What is your commission rate?

How do you justify that rate?

Do you use professional photographers and videographers?

Do you host open houses?

Do you pay to promote/advertise the property?

How much will you spend / what is your track record of results?

Do you use social media to advertise?

Once you have made your decision, set a clear timeline:

When it will be ready for pictures and videos? When can it go on the market? When are open houses happening? When can showings come through the house?

Step Two – House History

Living in, improving, and maintaining a home often generates a lot of paperwork. When you decide it’s time to sell, other realtors and potential buyers will want to come through your house.

Try to gather:

previous years’ utility bills, tax bills, renovation details, warranties, surveys, rental contracts and receipts for major work completed

Step Three – Let There Be Light

Lighting makes an incredible difference in how a home looks to potential buyers and how it will look in photos and videos for marketing your home.

Replace all burnt light bulbs

Switch out any broken lamps with ones that work

If you can buy brighter lamps for rooms that are dark, do so

If you have old light fixtures consider replacing them

Don’t forget about outdoor lights

We can’t stress enough how important a well lit house is.


Step Four – Prepare For Battle

Getting Organised For Cleaning and De-Cluttering

One thing that people always say to us when they start organizing, cleaning and de-cluttering is:

“WOW! I didn’t realize how much stuff I had.”

Nobody ever tells us they had a lot less. Why am I telling you this? Because people often also think they can just collect some boxes from the LCBO or grocery store and that will do.

An investment of around $100 will get you proper packing supplies and reduce your stress. Go to a proper moving company or storage location and get wardrobe boxes, dish wrap, dish boxes, packing boxes, perhaps also consider some plastic storage boxes for valuables.

Also if you don’t have location you can store your stuff in,  get quotes for storage locations. Do not use your garage as a storage container if possible.  Buyers want to know the kids toys and their cars can fit.

Take the day and collect all your cleaning supplies, packing supplies, and get storage quotes so you have a clear plan to start the next stages.

Also make sure you have a spare key cut! We need it to get in and out of your house and show potential buyers.

Step Five – Let The De-clutter-ing Begin!

Store vs. Donate vs. Throw Away

Before you start this process you should have a clear system in place.Marking items for storage, donation, or to be thrown away.

Designate separate areas to store items and make sure you have pre-arranged pick ups with local charities, etc.

This part of the moving process can often be emotional and it is common that it will stretch out over days. Everyone works at their own pace and there is no right or wrong way.

Often people start with their basement storage area and then move on to the main rooms of the house. Find items you are sure you no longer want or need.You will be amazed at how much more space you generate around the house by purging.

Why do we do this? Clearing storage space and removing clutter makes the home look larger and allows buyers to visualize living in the house themselves.

As an aside, don’t feel pressured to throw things away or donate them just because. We have seen people heart broken because in the frenzy of preparing their house, they discarded items they shouldn’t have. Take your time and make the correct choice for you!

Step Six- Closet Space

As much as you may love to have 6 separate suit options, 10 pant suits, 15 summer dresses, and a wide variety of designer shoes in your closet, ask yourself a question. What will a potential buyer see? It is likely they will see a cramped closet.

Buyers will look in your closets. The last thing you want them to think is that there isn’t enough space in your home, so take the time to pack away what you don’t currently use or need.

Make sure and clean out the front hall closet, kids’ closets, linen closets, and also any toy cupboards.

It is a pain but it is temporary, and worth it.


Step Seven- That Model Home Feeling

Your Home Isn’t Your Home Anymore

Sorry but it is time to turn your home into a model home that perspective buyers can see themselves living in. Remove all the family photos, souvenirs, and kids’ artwork.

TIP: Don’t repair nail holes! Buy prints from, print them at work and replace the pictures in the frames.

Step Eight- Stop Avoiding The Repairs

We all have a list of repairs, replacements, and fixes that we have been avoiding.

Now’s the time to get to it, including fixing the leaky faucet, the picture holes in the wall, etc. and get it done once and for all.

If you aren’t handy yourself, bring in a friend or hire a handyman to take care of the work.

Step Nine – What Is That Room Meant To Be?

If possible, return all rooms to their intended use (bedrooms should be bedrooms, the dining room isn’t a paint studio, etc.).

Buyers often see multiple houses a day. You don’t want them to have a confused picture of your home.

TIP: Don’t have another bed for a spare bedroom? Use large cardboard boxes to make a bed shape and then dress it like a bed. It’s what home stagers do and nobody notices, unless they decide to sit down!

Step Ten – Walls & Doors

It is amazing what some magic erasers, soap & water can accomplish!

If your walls and doors are scuffed, buy some Magic Erasers and go to town. You’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

If your art collection needs an update, now’s the time to do it!

Step Eleven – Bathrooms

The same rules that apply to the rest of the house apply to the bathroom – less is more.

Get some small plastic tubs for all your toiletries. This way you can easily bring them out when you need them and put them away neatly.

Invest in some new white towels (and no, you don’t get to use them).

Visit Winners or Homesense for affordable accessories (soap dish, toothbrush holder, etc.). If your toilet seat, shower curtain or bath matt are old, replace them.

Consider replacing the toilet paper holder and towel rack/hooks too.

Step Twelve – Kitchens

Clear your countertops. Remove your blender/grill/kitchen aid mixer/toaster/bread machine/microwave from the counters. Have as much counter space as possible.

Clean inside all the cupboards and remove all the contents you don’t need. Reduce the number of plates, mugs, and cups in the cupboards.

Clean the fridge inside & out (and remove the magnets, photos and reminders).

Turn on your self-cleaning oven.

When you are having your photos taken, consider adding some fresh flowers.


Step Thirteen – Bedrooms

Bedrooms should be warm, comfortable, and inviting.

Consider investing in a neutral-coloured duvet covers, throws, and pillows. Remove personal photos, knick-knacks and personal grooming products.Consider getting an area rug if the floors are cold.

If you have excess furniture that doesn’t really fit into the space, consider storing it offsite.

TIP: When your home is on the market remember to make your beds every day so showings can happen at the last minute.

Step Fourteen – Living Rooms

Clean the sofa, chairs, and book/display cases.

If your furniture is older, consider investing in some new throw pillows, blankets, and perhaps having them professionally cleaned.

Consider getting an area rug to bring the room together.

Hide the magazine racks, clutter, wires from your TV/stereo/speakers.

Remember, fresh flowers and plants can help brighten a room.

Step Fifteen – Dining Room

Clear the table. Clean the hutch and display cases. Remove excess alcohol and decorations.

If your dining chairs have seen better days, consider chair covers. You can actually rent these from most party places. Invest in a new tablecloth to hide an old table.

For photo & video shoot day, consider having the table set perfectly as if you are hosting a dinner party.


Step Sixteen – Entrance & Mudrooms

The front yard will form the first impression of your home in a buyers mind. The entrance will be the second.

The entrance to your home should be clean, de-cluttered and inviting. The same applies for any mudroom or rear entrance.

Keep the necessities out (shoes, hats, coats, etc.), but anything you can live without pack away.

Keep your front hall closet clean and organized and any coat racks or hooks clear.

Step Seventeen – Paint Touch-ups

Now that your home has been de-cluttered, cleaned and organized, and the touch ups and repairs have been made, it is time to look at the next step.

One of the cheapest and easiest ways to freshen up a house, is to apply a fresh coat of paint.

Avoid bold colours and aim for warm and neutral. If it is in your budget, hire a professional. If you are not good at painting or feel rushed mistakes will be made and it will be obvious to home buyers.

Tip: Light colours will help small rooms look bigger and don’t forget about baseboards and ceilings.

Step Eighteen- Professional Cleaning

Hire a professional cleaner to clean your home from top to bottom. Time it so that it is absolutely pristine for when your realtor brings in a photographer.

Have rugs shampooed, windows washed, and every last inch dusted.

You only have one chance to make a good first impression. The photos and videos are an important feature to your listing.

Ultimately, as your agent, we want to attract as many people to your home as possible and professional photos and videos will do that.

Step Nineteen- Yardwork

Curb appeal matters!

It is the first in-person impression potential buyers will have of your home.

It can significantly impact a potential buyer’s showing at your home.

Does your front door or garage door need a coat of paint?

Do you need to clean the eavestrough, stain the deck or repair the shed?

Is the front porch clean, organized, and inviting?

Are plants overgrown?

Do you need to fix patches of the lawn because of pets?

Of course, this also applies to the backyard.

Step Twenty- Make the House Smell Good

One of the biggest turn offs for house hunters is a home that smell bad.

The most common odours found in homes are caused by pets and dampness.

If you are a pet owner, wash any couches, beds and surfaces where they sleep.

Make sure the pet’s bed, toys and litter box is tucked away. Ensure the litter box is consistently cleaned while your home is on the market.

Tip: Ask a friend or neighbour to give you an honest opinion. Don’t get upset with the truth. Also consider using all natural scented candles. They are very popular at the moment.

Step Twenty One – Have A Family Plan

Once your house hits the market, people will start making appointments. Figure out:

Where the kids and/or pets are going

A strategy for cleaning up toys for last minute showings

If potential family members can help with last minute tidying

TIP: If your realtor has warned you that you should expect a lot of showings, consider moving out for a little while. Now is a great time to go on that vacation!



Download the full guide. Hit the link below.