10 Things to Remember When Selling

For Sale Sold - Karen ActonMy years of representing both buyers and sellers as a Muskoka Realtor have taught me much. One of the most important things I have learned is that buyers have choices, and they make decisions about a property almost as soon as they see it. Here are ten overlooked tips for getting a property sold and making sure that you are not being eliminated in the first 5 minutes when you are selling your property.

It’s NOT Personal

You plan on moving so pack up the personal stuff before you list your property. Go through each room and take a moment to remember and then pack the sentimentality away.  What stirs your heart can cloud the judgement of a potential buyer. Try not to look at your house from the perspective of it being yours, or this is who we are, because a buyer is not interested. Remove and store as many personal items as possible including family photos, certificates, awards and diplomas. Even hobby items can be a distraction for a buyer.

Pack it NOW

Get a head start on your move. Start deciding what you want to keep/donate/discard. Pack it up and get it out into a storage space. Your closets and cupboards will look bigger and more organized. Storage space is one of the things buyers most frequently request on their wish list of interior features.

You only get ONE first Impression

I already said this but it is very important. Buyers have choices and you want them to choose your home not the one down the road. They make decisions about a property within a blink of an eye. SO you want your home or cottage to look spectacular from the moment they first see it from the road.

Staging is about CONDITION more than décor

Yes, your home has to look and feel good, but remember buyers are savvy and most often are represented by a Realtor – they will deduct from the offer price their own perceived value for deferred maintenance. So repair anything that needs it, replace any fixtures that look dated and clean like your life depends on it. Elbow grease is cheap and adds tons of value. Pack and store furnishings and decorative items you won’t use in the next two or three months so your spaces are open and have great flow. Remember, buyers are buying their new house, not your old one.

Update the KITCHEN

This is usually the most important room in the house to a buyer. If they fall in love in the kitchen they will often compromise in other areas on their “must have” list.  Remember fresh clean and bright are always in style. Even if the budget will not allow for big changes clean and clear countertops, add new door knobs on the cabinets and drawers and, if possible consider new flooring and countertops. A fresh coat of paint can do wonders.

Make BEDROOMS neutral

That includes children’s rooms and the master. Do not assume that a buyer will be able to make the mental shift.  Very often they can’t, won’t and don’t. You have a five-minute opportunity to get this house sold so … if doing some simple fixes in paint colour and/or décor will help, it is wise to make the effort.

BATHROOMS are the second most important room in the house

If you have the budget for it, upgrade what you can, at least in the main bath. The same principle of fresh clean and bright applies here too. Consider changing the old cabinet-style sink for a pedestal or furniture sink and remember storage is vital. Make sure linen storage is organized and accessible.

The NOSE knows!

Over the last 50 years, the rise in people suffering from allergic diseases has increased. Worldwide, sensitization rates to one or more common allergens are approaching 50 per cent.  So it is quite likely that a future buyer will be a sufferer.  Remember when you live in your house you will not be able to smell what others do.  The best option is no smells at all rather than the cloying smell of a chemical air freshener.  Open windows when the season allows, if you have pets, remove them from the property for the duration of the sales process if possible and definitely for showings. Hopefully you have family or neighbours who will assist with this. A good vacuum cleaner will help remove pollens and dander. You will need to do it often and always prior to a showing.

Let there be LIGHT

Make sure every light bulb is energy efficient and at the highest wattage the fixture will take. Replace shades on lamps that have yellowed with time. Clean all the fixtures for maximum sparkle. Turn on lights before you leave for the showing so every room is bright for the buyers to see.


Before most potential buyers will even think about viewing your property they will do a drive-by and half of them will do it at night. That means you need to put considerable thought into creating great curb appeal. Never underestimate its power. Curb appeal done well is like gift wrapping on a present. The National Association of Realtors says, “Great curb appeal sells more than half of all houses that go on the market.” Outdoor lighting is important. Light up the porch or entrance way making sure that the numbers of the house are illuminated and visible. Consider lighting pathways and perhaps a spot light feature of the property like a beautiful tree or the front façade.  Landscape experts say there is great return on money invested in front, back and side yard landscaping. Curb appeal includes the outdoor living features such as patios, decks and balconies too. This is one of the most undervalued aspects of market preparedness that will add dollars to your bottom line. Ninety five per cent of people surveyed said outdoor living amenities are vital.

Being a Muskoka Realtor I see many beautiful settings.  Homes and cottages that take advantage of this fantastic part of Ontario sell well. Remember give your potential buyer what they least expect. They may not know they want it, but when they see it, they can’t resist.