Once you decide to sell your home you can just feel the stress level starting to increase. You might start asking yourself questions such as: What do I do first? Do I get rid of everything? How do I stage my home? Isn’t there a list of things to do somewhere? Don’t worry - We have your covered! We have worked with thousands of sellers over the years and have developed the best process for selling your home.

Before we get into what needs to be done to your home we need to focus on you as the seller. We need to make one valuable, earth-shattering statement - Disassociate Yourself With Your Home! We can’t stress this enough. People will walk through your house and criticize this and that, or want to make changes to what you spent time and energy creating. These are not personal attacks on you, it is just someone else’s personal taste. Let go of the emotion and think of this as a business transaction. You are moving onto another property and probably had similar thoughts to the buyers that will be wandering around your home. Rest assured that the buyer of your home will settle in, make changes, and eventually make lasting memories of their own.

Now we are strong, confident sellers, let’s get to the business of selling your home and creating your own memories somewhere else! Listed in order below, the following are what you need to do to ensure that you and your home are ready to sell.

Light is key!

Change all the light bulbs in your house. Don’t wait until the buyer’s realtor gives you feedback on how some of the lights are not working. Buyers may start getting worried and may not see the potential in your home. And, when we say all the light bulbs, we mean all the light bulbs!

Get all your bills and house (condo) paperwork ready

You may not want to dig out all your bills and get them organized right away, but it will save time to do this now before you go on a cleaning frenzy and throw everything in the garbage! Buyers will ask all kinds of questions about how much the house costs to run and what has been done on the home in the last few years. The following are some of the paperwork you should organize and store in a drawer in the kitchen for the real estate agent to find easily:

  • Utility bills
  • Property tax statements
  • Renovation details
  • Applicable warranties
  • Condo documents (including annual AGM minutes and up to date insurance certificate)

Buy your moving supplies in bulk

It is recommended to buy all your moving supplies in bulk to save money. Some moving companies offer kits at a reduced cost that includes everything you will need for the size of home you have. Sometimes these companies may have second-hand boxes, which they may give away or sell for a discounted price.

Get extra keys cut

You will need extra keys for the lockbox that the real estate agent puts on your home. Plus, you will need keys for when closing date comes – and it will. Many sellers leave the key cutting to the last minute and then they are rushing around trying to find a place to cut the key, or the time you decide to go is when everyone in the city is in line infront of you.

Start with the rooms that buyers are more interested in

Some of the key rooms in the house are the bathrooms and kitchen. This is where people are showering and eating. If it is not clean they will be instantly turned off. Take the time to clean all the drawers, cabinets, and flooring. Here are few other tips for these very important rooms:

Bathroom staging tips

  • Hide all toiletries
  • Buy white towels and display in every bathroom
  • Buy new bathroom items for display such as toothbrush holder, shower curtain, bath mat, etc.

Kitchen staging tips

  • Clear your countertops! Get rid of everything – buyers want to see the potential space, not your Magic Bullet.
  • Clean all your cupboards and reorganize them. Make the buyer see all the room in the cupboards.
  • Put your oven on self-clean. Buyers will open the oven!
  • Invest in a fruit bowl for the middle of your kitchen table and put some colourful fresh fruit in there when you are ready to list the home.


Start cleaning up the bedrooms:

The bedroom is where everything that doesn’t have a place tends to end up. Whether it makes its way under the bed or stuffed a closet somewhere, now is the time to get it sorted out! The following are some things to think about when you are sorting out your bedrooms:

  • Get into your closest and take everything out. Create a pile for donations, one for garbage, and the other to neatly place back into the closet.
  • Invest in neutral bedding such as a cheap white duvet cover and some bright neutral pillows.
  • If you still have too many clothing items or personal effects then consider storing them offsite to ensure the buyer can see all the available space.

Focus on the living room and dining room:

The next step after the bedrooms have been cleaned up is to start work on the living and dining room. These rooms are where you tend to hang out in and they probably need some attention as well. Make sure you do at least the following things:

  • Cleaning and decluttering is the key here
  • Buy a few light throw pillows
  • Hide all electronic cables
  • Area rug to brighten the room

Sort out the Basement

This tends to be where most of your stuff goes to die. It sits there because you swear up and down that you are going to use it again, but you don't. Instead, it just encroaches on your space and starts to accumulate where it's out of sight and out of mind. Get into the basement and start sorting it all out. Take what you can to a storage facility, but it won't be the end of the world if some of your boxes and bins are stacked neatly in a corner. Buyers expect to see that kind of stuff in the basement.

Decluttering the entranceways

This is another key area to focus on. Most buyers make up their minds about a home within the first 15 seconds of walking in the house. The entrance needs to be inviting, clean, and completely decluttered.

As a general note for all the rooms, create a system that organizes your items into keep, donate, and throw away. This way you are only doing the process once in an organized manner. Take your time with each room and keep the process the same.



Get some Kleenex and start wiping those tears – you got this! By now you have gone through your home and have created a system that works for you.


Anything you are keeping, you need to pack and store offsite. This also helps you for when you are actually packing rooms. As you have decluttered, what is left will be minimal. The major work in the first two weeks will have been completed!  


Items for donations are a great way to give your stuff new life for people that really need it. You can find a charity near and dear to your heart and look into where you can drop the items off. If you have a lot of items, call the charity in advance and see if they provide a pick-up service for you. This will save you time so you can get back to the selling process!

Throw away:

For anything you feel does not have a second or third life, you can take to the dump and for a small fee, you can unload all your items. The other option is to call a company like 310-DUMP and they will come to your home and sort through your items you have tagged for garbage. Companies like these specialize in repurposing and reusing items that we may want to throw away.

Start looking at minor touch ups

Fill in holes left by hanging photos and artwork. If your house has many funky coloured walls that just put a smile on your face, it may be time to pick a neutral colour and start neutralizing these rooms. Brighter rooms give the illusion of more space, so if you have smaller rooms this should be on your list for sure. Some buyers just can’t see past some of these minor things. It is good to get a jump on items like this before your house sits on the market for a long period of time.


Clean up the garage and yard!

That’s right, remember when we talked about keeping the entranceway tidy as the buyer makes up their mind within the first 15 seconds of entering your home? The same applies to when buyers pull up to your house. Think of how you feel when you are house shopping. Do you love a house with a scruffy yard, a garage bursting at the seams with junk, and a shed that has been taken over by the local bug community? Exactly, you would not be impressed! Take the time to tidy this up and keep it clean.

Make a plan for your kids and pets

If you have pets and kids around the house, you want to make sure their clutter does not impact the buyer’s decision to purchase your home. A clean house sets the buyer’s mind at rest giving them a chance to imagine their possessions in your home.

Make your house smell good

With pets, kids, gym bags, and old food in the fridge, you need to clean it up and air the house. Don’t over fragrance your house as some buyers may not like certain smells. Light a mild candle and use some Febreeze to get most of the smells out of the furniture.

Clean Your Carpets

As hardwood flooring has become more common over the years, some buyers are becoming skeptical of carpeting. If you have the carpets cleaned professionally, you will notice a major difference to the colour of your carpet, as well as the smell. Call around to get a few quotes as it will be worth it in end.

Consider a home inspection

If you have an older house and are just not sure about the condition of everything, a home inspection is a great way to avoid losing buyers in the future. If you know what the issues are, you can fix them in advance and consider showing the inspection report to the buyers. They may still choose to have an independent inspection done, but at least you won’t be sweating the results!