How to Get Your Home Ready to Sell in ANY Market
Pricing your home? Realtor’s job. Marketing your home? Realtor’s job. Preparing your home for selling? Your job.
In an ideal world, your home would be tickety-boo from top-to-bottom. Closets would be organized, corners would be cleaned and garages would be purged of boxes and leftover furniture pieces.
However, I like to think of myself as ‘well-rooted’ in the real world (well most days anyway) and the reality is that not many people have the time, energy or budget to create a home that is 100% ready for the real estate market.
So, this being said, I’ve created a list of the 5 KEY ROOMS, that come hell or high water, need to be in tip-top shape when it comes time to list your home.
Sherwin Williams High Reflective White
WHAT ARE THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT ROOMS WHEN HOME STAGING?
These KEY ROOMS rooms are ‘The Deal Breakers’ – if one (or more) of these rooms are off, then potentially, so is the deal.
These KEY ROOMS listed are ‘somewhat’ in order of importance (as it can change from home to home based on the layout).
1. KEY ROOM – THE KITCHEN
As we all know, the kitchen is the heart of the home, which means it’s absolutely VITAL that your kitchen is in its best condition possible. When a buyer looks at an outdated kitchen, they’re immediately adding up the cost in their head of how to make it updated – and they ALWAYS overestimate, which comes off YOUR asking price.
See the FULL REMODEL and colour list HERE
And regardless of whether your kitchen is outdated or brand new it needs to be CLEAN and DECLUTTERED.
2. KEY ROOM – THE LIVING ROOM
While most people spend their time in the kitchen, it’s still the living room that they look to when they ‘envision’ relaxing or entertaining their friends.
Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray
Find your Focal Points, declutter, define, and take away anything that deters from the architecture or features of your space.
3. KEY ROOM – THE PRIMARY OR MAIN BEDROOM
While you can get away with spare bedrooms that aren’t stellar or perfectly staged (although I’d prefer you spent time on them) you CAN’T get away with a bad main bedroom. The key is to depersonalize the master bedroom to the point that ANYONE could picture themselves sleeping there quite comfortable (think ‘slightly homier hotel’). And while you can get away with personal pictures in other parts of the home (to a very small degree), not in the primary bedroom.
Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray / Sherwin Williams High Reflective White
4. KEY ROOM – THE ENTRYWAY OR FOYER
The entryway is the first room that potential buyers see when they enter your home and the last room they see when they leave. Your entryway should provide clues to the buyers as to what they can expect in the rest of the home as it relates to cleanliness and style, so if your entryway is outdated and dirty, the buyer will expect that in the rest of the home – whether this is the case or not.
5. KEY ROOM – THE BATHROOM
Just like the kitchen – cleanliness is King in the bathroom. It can be outdated, it can be downright fugly, but it can’t…be…dirty.
HOW TO GET YOUR 5 KEY ROOMS READY FOR HOME STAGING & SELLING
While home staging can be VERY overwhelming, if you focus on your 5 KEY ROOMS, honing in on your most important ones first, you’ll find the process to be more manageable and MAYBE even a bit therapeutic! And if not, there’s always wine.
Sherwin Williams Kilim Beige
1. CLEAN YOUR 5 KEY ROOMS
I don’t mean sweep, vacuum and wipe your countertops – these are things you should be doing every two to three days when selling your home…I mean you need to CLEAN baby, CLEAN!
For most of these things, all you need is a clean cloth (that has a nice nap to it to really pick up the dirt) some soap and some water.
GROUT. If you have tiles/grout, you need to give them a good scrub with cleaner and brush. If they don’t come clean then consider a commercial-grade cleaner like Zep or consider resealing/painting them with Grout Renew. Pay particular attention to the area immediately in front of your front door, in front of your toilet/tub and around your kitchen sink/stove/fridge.
BASEBOARDS & TRIMS. Wipe down the tops of your baseboards and in the corners. Wipe your trims down, concentrating on the area from the floor up to 4 feet which is where most of the wear and tear happens.
WALLS. Walls can take a real beating in a home where there are young kids and dogs living. Concentrate on the wall space from the floor up to 4 feet. Be sure to use soap and water – not just a damp cloth, otherwise, you will wipe the finish off your wall. For marks that are a bugger to get off, use Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, but use it sparingly as it will take the paint finish off.
WINDOW SILLS. The older your windows are the more likely it is that they have mould in the corners. Get q-tips, bleach and a cloth and clean these up as mouldy windows are a great way to remind the viewers that maybe it’s time to invest in new windows.
THE FRONT DOOR. Your front door can get pretty grungy and it doesn’t always get noticed when it comes time to do your clean routine. Clean your door inside and out using soap and water and a cloth that has a nice nap to it so you can really dig into that dirt. Pay attention to the transition as well, where all of the grunge from dirty shoes builds up.
2. UPDATE YOUR 5 KEY ROOMS
You don’t always need to spend 1-3% of your listing price (which is a popular belief) to get your home in showing condition. However, I do believe that if you spend ‘smart money’ that you’ll reap the benefits. So don’t be cheap – buck up for these small expenditures and sell your house!
While the light fixture in this next home certainly suits the Tuscan style, it’s only keeping it firmly planted in the early 2000s. Updating with a light fixture in black metal with exposed bulbs wouldn’t totally update the space, but it would be a great first step…
Change outdated fixtures in your 5 KEY ROOMS and give buyers the impression that your home has been maintained structurally AND esthetically.
Here is a list of lights that are considered ‘outdated’…
booby lights (yes, you know what they look like)
semi-flush fixtures from the 70s and 80s
lightbars with bulbs showing (bathroom, definitely 70s and 80s)
brass or gold finishes (there’s a big difference style-wise between the gold that’s trendy today and the ‘old gold’)
any fixture with tinted amber glass fixtures
- ceiling fans with brass, 80s wicker and/or exposed bulbs
Budget-Friendly Lighting Update Ideas (Graphic Content)
CABINET & DOOR HARDWARE UPDATES
If your cabinet and door hardware are outdated, the BEST MONEY YOU CAN SPEND is on new hardware – and it’s not that expensive (relative to many updates). I’ve written a GREAT blog post on 6 Budget-Friendly Home Update Ideas and you’ll find some great tips and inspiration in there.
A FEW QUICK TIPS
- when doing bedroom and bathroom doors (and kitchen cabinets if the hinges are exposed), don’t forget to match the hinges to the new hardware!
- if you’re transitioning between styles and don’t have the budget to replace ALL of your metal finishes, BLACK is the most unisex and flexible
3. IF IT’S BROKEN, FIX IT IN YOUR 5 KEY ROOMS (OR EVERY ROOM, REALLY)
Whether it’s a closet door, cabinet handle or broken blind, if it’s broken and a buyer will see it or touch it, then you need to fix it or replace it. If people see a few small things that are broken they can easily assume that if the little things are broken then what about bigger things?
4. DECLUTTER YOUR 5 KEY ROOMS
While it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, remember, you don’t have to do EVERY room (although that would be fab), just focus on the 5 KEY ROOMS, starting with the ones that are the most important in your particular layout.
Kylie M E-Design & Tim Hanson Productions
When it comes to decluttering, remember, it isn’t personal and it CAN’T be personal. If you want personal, you should stay in the home you have and not move (wink wink). Seriously though, the goal is to DEPERSONALIZE your home enough that someone else could picture themselves living there, and that’s hard to do with Aunty Sally’s and Uncle Herb’s portraits staring at you from the fireplace mantel.
Decluttering your home is about showcasing the features and finishes that actually COME WITH the home when it’s sold.
GENERAL DECLUTTERING FOR EVERY ROOM
- WINDOWSILLS – there is never a reason for anything to be on a window sill in any room
- FLOOR SPACE – anything unnecessary should not be on the floor (ie. fans, space heaters, recyclables, misc. unnecessary furniture pieces, boxes, etc…)
DECLUTTERING IN THE LIVING ROOM
- MANTLE – one to three key pieces are fine if they suit the style of the home and don’t distract from the fireplace
- HEARTH – should be relatively empty, short of a well-placed basket of kindling or another necessary but pretty looking item
I would just replace the personal photo with something generic like a landscape
- SIDE TABLES, COFFEE TABLES, BUFFETS, CONSOLE TABLES, ETC…
- lamps are always important
- well placed accessories are vital, but make sure you use some decorative skill when placing them (and that they aren’t personal photos)
- remote controls and other functional bits should be put away
4 Easy Steps & Ideas: How to Decorate Your Fireplace Mantel
DECLUTTERING IN THE BATHROOM
Along with the previous ‘general’ decluttering and cleaning tips…
- BATHROOM COUNTERTOP – Soap and ONE decorative accessory are fine to have out but everything else should be put in a basket and tucked under the sink. If you have no space under your sink then you need to declutter under your sink and throw out anything unnecessary (like the past date sunscreen and old empty tampon boxes) and make room for that basket.
3 Ideas: Add Style To a Small Bathroom
DECLUTTERING THE KITCHEN
Along with the previous ‘general’ decluttering and cleaning tips…
- KITCHEN COUNTERTOP – get back to basics with these acceptable items…
- 1 blender
- toaster (not toaster oven)
- a container holding large utensils
- fruit bowl, coffee maker
- paper towel holder
- decorative plant or something that’s purposefully placed to add to the space
6 Budget-Friendly Kitchen Update Ideas
If you bust your lil butt and work your way through this list. don’t be afraid to apply these same principles to the other rooms in your home. The more you do, the better chance your home will have of selling for TOP DOLLAR!
6 Budget-Friendly Home Update Ideas
Home Staging Tips & Ideas: 4 Rules to Follow
The 8 Best Benjamin Moore Paint Colours for Home Staging
Check out my E-design Packages, E-BOOKS & COURSES!
PUBLISHED IN 2016, UPDATED COMPLETELY IN 2021
Great post Kylie! I’ve included in our Nanaimo Real Estate Blog here: http://nanaimorealestateblog.com/2012/09/25/home-staging-the-5-key-rooms-to-focus-on/
Thanks again for the guest post!
Thanks Matt, loving the work you’re sending my way – you and Doug are great 🙂
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Well done Kylie! I am originally from Vanc. BC, …have lived in San Diego CA for 37 years…AND in the same house for 33 years. My husband and I are moving to Northern Nevada (Minden area)…because Southern Ca is becoming too crazy & hectic for us. My challenge, beyond prying ourselves out of this house, is designing the house that we will be moving to, from down here. The only thing we’re keeping are the Brazillian cherrywood floors. So, I found your discussion regarding SW’s top 10 beiges etc. was timely and helpful. Thank you so much. When I get up there… if I need more help I shall not hesitate to use your e-services. What a splendid idea!
Well thank you Evelyn! I’m glad my colour ideas gave you some inspiration for your new home. I hope your move goes well and you love your new city!
Chat soon 🙂