Preparing Your Home For The Market

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Scott Boyd

February 21, 2017


As we discussed in an earlier Oaken Blog post, the Principal Residence Exemption (PRE) means that the proceeds from the sale of your main home are not subject to either income tax or capital gains tax. Even if you sell for considerably more than you paid when purchasing the property, you can pocket the proceeds with no additional tax obligations, which makes the family home an important asset. So when the time does come to sell, you want to do whatever you can to attract the top offer.

There's a growing trend by realtors to employ professional decorators to “stage” homes, to ensure the home is displayed in the best possible light. Everything from decorations to furniture may be included in this service, and prices will fluctuate accordingly. But there a number of things you can do yourself, and at a minimal cost, to prepare your house for public viewings.

1. Clean and declutter

It should be obvious, but before opening your home for public viewings, be sure it is sparkling clean from top to bottom. This also includes giving your home a good decluttering. When a potential buyer is viewing your home, you want them to make a connection with the home, and easily see themselves living within its walls.

You can help make this happen by removing items that continue to mark the space as your territory. Family photographs, awards, certificates, etc. should all be packed away and out of sight. Keep in mind that those things we display because they have a special meaning to us will fail to connect with others, and serves to do little but to make people all the more aware that they're in someone else’s home. This is a sentiment you don't want to encourage.

2. Organize closets and storage areas

While on the topic of clutter, don’t forget to pay special attention to your closets. Any potential buyer is going to look inside all closets, as storage space is always near the top of any new home buyer’s wish list. Organizing closets and making as much space as possible makes closets look larger and more accommodating. “This house has too much closet space,” said no new home buyer ever.

3. Complete those minor repairs

Don’t let a few minor issues that you’ve let build up over the years, and that could be easily repaired, prevent you from getting the highest offer. A leaking faucet or a small carpet stain may seem very trivial. But it sends a message that, as the homeowner, you don’t take preventative maintenance very seriously. Worse still, it suggests that if you’re not motivated to take care of visible things that are easily repaired, how many larger problems lurking just out of sight have also been left unrepaired?

4. Get into neutral

There’s a reason why new home builders paint all the walls in newly-built homes that ubiquitous “builder’s beige”.  Not everyone has the same taste when it comes to colour, and while that bright blue living room or the deep red kitchen accent wall might work for you, colour neutrality gives the new home owner their own palette (literally) with which to work.

A neutral colour also reflects natural lighting and gives the home a breezy, open feeling, leaving the viewer with the impression that the space is larger than it really is. To take advantage of natural light, make sure curtains and blinds are open to allow as much light as possible into each room.

5. Boost your curb appeal

The old saying “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression” most definitely applies to house hunting. And when it comes to first impressions, it's the outside appearance of your home that will set the tone for what’s inside. If you don’t win over a prospective buyer as they make their way along your front walk, you’ve lost them before they even open the door.