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Turnoff Tuesday – Stinky Stenches

Strong odors in a home can be a powerful deterrent to prospective buyers, often leading to a slower sale and most likely at a much reduced price.  While some buyers are more tolerant of odors, everyone has a reaction to them.  Some of the biggest offenders are: cigarette smoke, cat urine, dog odors, cat litter, dirty laundry, reeking shoes, dirty diapers, rotting food, mold, and mildew.  Even strong cooking smells can be unpleasant so try to avoid things like deep frying, curries, fish, and garlic.

Some of these issues can be easily handled and some can be very costly to get rid of or fix.  It’s in your best interest to address the root cause before you list.

Even the smell of air fresheners can be overwhelming to some and several of them scattered around a home will lead buyers to believe that you are trying to cover up something.

It’s difficult sometimes for home owners to detect bad smells in their own home.  Even real estate agents may be uncomfortable about broaching the subject with you.  That’s where a professional home stager comes in.  They are trained to identify odors and help you to come up with a plan to eradicate them.

Once the problem is fixed and the home thoroughly cleaned, another idea is to introduce positive smells into your home such as fresh baked bread, pies, or cookies.  Fresh flowers, simmering citrus, vanilla, or lightly scented candles (which can be used for decor) are other pleasant aromas that will appeal to viewers.

Always make sure your home smells light, clean, and fresh when prospective buyers are viewing.  It just Makes $en$e.




Turnoff Tuesday – Wicked Wallpaper

Buyers have a hard time seeing past wallpapers and borders when they are viewing a home, either online or in person.  Yes, it’s true…there are some nice new wallpapers on the market once again, however, I’m seeing a lot of the “old” stuff still in listing photos.

Wallpaper is a very personal taste item.  Remember how long you poured over the sample books looking for the perfect pattern to put in your home.  Well that takes us back a few years and chances are that print is now very dated and will not appeal to (m)any.

Wallpaper not only dates your home immensely, but it means time, money, and work to strip it off and repaint the areas involved.  Some sellers have it in numerous locations.  This will send buyers packing to avoid this tedious task.


If you have wallpaper or borders, it’s time for it to go.  Removing it and painting BEFORE you list your home will add value and increase interest.  It just Makes Sense.


Turnoff Tuesday #8 – Cluttered Counter Space

We all know the kitchen is the heart of the home so it needs to be impressive when you are selling. No matter how lovely your kitchen may be, if the countertops are covered with “stuff”, it won’t excite anyone.


Remove everything except a couple items on the counters.  Remove all appliances if kitchen is small or keep them to a maximum of 2 if you have loads of counter area.  Remove bottles of dish detergent, washrags, scrub brushes, and sponges at the sink.  Don’t leave a dish rack next to the sink or dishes in the sink. Don’t hang grimy dishtowels and potholders from anything.  Banish all magnets, photographs and shopping lists from the front of your fridge.

Add a nice basket of fruit, a plant, or vase of fresh flowers for appeal.  Set up a pretty vignette or a coffee station along with a sweet treat for viewers to enjoy.

Keep it simple, yet elegant. Keep in mind that the more bare countertop you see, the larger the workspace will appear.

The condition of your kitchen can make or break a sale.  It just Makes Sense to do it right.


Turnoff Tuesday #7 – Wacky Paint Colours

As much as I love color, when you are selling your home, I’m afraid I’d have to advise you against letting your true colors show.  The idea of staging is to make your home appealing to the highest number of buyers. You want to attract their attention in a positive way, not because you are known as the house with the orange dining room or the purple bedroom.

Buyers do not want to have to paint once they have purchased a property and are busy moving in and getting settled.  If they see colors they don’t like when they are browsing online, they are more likely to skip over your listing and move on to the next, especially if it’s more than one room.

Bright and bold…

Neutral paint with added colour using accessories.

Purple would not be the colour of choice for many buyers.

More pleasing to viewers.

Colour can change the mood of a space and can make a room appear larger or smaller, lighter or darker.

Living room looking dark, dreary, and dated.

New colour makes the room appear brighter and larger.

Dining room appears dark and small.

Even painting one wall in a lighter colour made the room appear larger and brighter.

And don’t forget about the outside.  Paint colours can change the whole curb appeal.

Isn’t it worth your while to buy that can of neutral paint and make buyers stop and take notice?  Even if it’s a color they don’t like, at least they can live with it until they get around to making the change.

Having me in for a staging/colour consultation prior to listing just Makes $en$e.


Turnoff Tuesday #6 – Dysfunctional Rooms

Because over 90% of buyers cannot see beyond what’s shown to them, it’s critical to have all rooms set up to show their function and potential before they are listed.  Don’t leave viewers guessing what room they are in or whether there is enough room.

If you have three bedrooms, they should all be set up as bedrooms…not a craft room, office, or playroom.  And empty bedrooms should be furnished and staged to show their function.

Third bedroom set up as office.

Bedrooms should always be shown as bedrooms.

Empty bedroom.

Now it shows the purpose as a relaxing space for sleeping.

Open concept spaces are more difficult to define so it’s important to show the various roles of the area.  If it’s a living room/dining room combined, show both purposes using the proper furniture.  If something is missing, buyers may automatically assume there isn’t room available for both.

Large open living room/dining room set up as dining room only

Set up to show there is room for a living room and dining area.

Living room and play area…but is there space for a dining room?

Lots of space for everything to fit comfortably.

Viewers can be easily confused.  Define each space for a particular purpose.

Office, workout room, reading room???

Nice family room.

And don’t miss an opportunity to show off your outdoor area to it’s finest.

Hmmm…what could you do out here?

Lots of space for dining, relaxing, etc.

Don’t leave anything to the imagination..show them what they need to see.  It just Makes $en$e.



Turnoff Tuesday #4 – Personality PLUS!!!

Because the main goal of home staging is to help potential buyers imagine themselves living in your home, it is very important to remove all personal traces of those who currently live there.

Depersonalizing your home is all about neutralizing, or removing your personal taste from your home décor. It may seem cruel to hear that the “personal stamp” you have lovingly placed on your home needs to go for it to be more appealing to house hunters, but remember, you are selling your house, not your stuff!

It is extremely important to put away all family photos to make it easier for the buyer to envision themselves living in the space.  You’re not selling the family, you’re selling the house — so always let that be the center of attention.  A good way to do that is to replace framed family photos with generic pictures or artwork.

While this may look lovely to someone visiting your home, it is a total distraction to someone looking to buy.

Collections have a tendency to overwhelm a room, and too many pieces will create a cluttered look, which can be distracting to buyers. Therefore they may miss the lovely crown molding and the gorgeous fireplace because they are fixated by your china doll collection!

This home for sale in Brampton, Ontario, has become a viral sensation due to its creepy clown collection. :{


Take prized certificates and diplomas off the wall, and pack up your trophies for your new home. Depersonalizing your home of these items will help house hunters psychologically move into your home.

Eliminate any items that make a strong religious or political statement. Taxidermy, furs, and leathers should also be eradicated to avoid the possibility of offending viewers.

This might be extreme, but even one mount on a wall could turn away potential buyers.

And remember that no one wants to see bathrooms cluttered with personal items, makeup, and toiletries.  Yes, you will need these items for day to day living, but keep them hidden in baskets out of sight for listing photos and during showings.

Keeping it simple and generic will help make your home feel warm and inviting. As difficult as it may be at times, depersonalization is critical to make potential buyers want to live there.  But keep in mind that depersonalizing your home too much can make it appear cold and unfriendly.   Contact me for a consultation to find that perfect balance that will leave buyers wanting to move in and make it their own.  It just Makes Sense.


Turnoff Tuesday #3 – Chaotic Clutter

De-cluttering is one of the biggest and most important tasks required to get ready to sell.  Overwhelming clutter makes it hard for prospective buyers to see the true potential.  Too much “stuff” is distracting (even in the listing photos) and may prevent buyers from putting your home on their “must see” list.  Once inside, it will likely keep prospective buyers from realizing the great features of your home.  A cluttered home can also give house hunters the impression that a home is dirty…imagining “critters” lurking in corners and under piles of stuff.

You want to keep the buyer interested in the house, not its contents.  Go room by room and remove absolutely anything and everything that is not required in the immediate future.  Pack it all up and move it right off the premises, such as to a storage unit.  Organize the remaining items to look neat and well kept.

Every room is important, no matter how small. If house hunters unleash an avalanche of objects when they open closet doors, they will instantly assume that there isn’t enough space in your home for their things! Great closet space is high on every home buyers want list.  The rule of thumb is to have everything only half to two-thirds full including kitchen cabinets/drawers/pantry (even fridge if remaining), all closets, and bathroom cabinets and linen closets.  This will make buyers think that there is plenty of room for their belongings. (Hint: baskets are wonderful tools for hiding clutter)

A neat, tidy linen closet.

A well organized pantry shows there is lots of space.

Pantry before de-cluttering

Much more appealing after de-cluttering and organizing

Walk-in closet

Kitchens are the hub of the home and must be inviting.  Remove everything from fridge door.  Take anything down that’s on top of cabinets.  Clear the kitchen counter by at least 80% leaving only two or three items that you would use on a daily basis. Don’t hang towels on cabinet doors, fridge, or stove.  Makes sure all pet dishes, beds, etc. are removed for photos and showings.

Kitchen before

Kitchen after


Bathrooms must be neat and welcoming.  Remove all toilet brushes, plungers, extra rolls of toilet paper, wet towels, robes, mats, and fuzzy toilet seat covers.  If you must have a garbage container out, keep it small and empty it before viewings.

Too much furniture, oversized furniture, or even misplaced furniture can make a space look much smaller than it is.

master before makeover

Same room, same furniture – where did all that space come from?

Offices and rec rooms tend to collect errant papers, books, games, toys, and knick knacks.  Clean off and organize desks.  Pare down toys and books and organize the remainder by placing in bins and bookshelves.  Don’t forget to hide or at least tidy all cords and wires.

So much more appealing.

Children’s bedrooms are important to make tidy too.  Keep pictures, decals, and stickers on the wall to a minimum.  Save some of their favourite toys and put them neatly on shelves or in a bin unit.  Make sure the floors, beds, and dressers are cleared off.

Don’t forget the storage rooms and garage.  It’s critical to show them to their best potential.  Buyers want to see that there is room in a garage to keep a vehicle(s).  If a garage is full of furniture and household items, it makes buyers believe that the house is too small.  If you must store items in the garage, place them in totes and store them neatly in one area, preferably on shelves.

De-cluttering your home and staging adds value, and will get your home sold faster and for more money.  It just Makes $en$e.


Turnoff Tuesday #2 – Dastardly Dirt

Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, will turn off potential buyers faster than entering a dirty house.  To the typical buyer, a dirty home sends signals that the current owners did not take care of the home, and they may assume that there will be costly maintenance issues.

Your home may have tons of potential, but if it’s dirty, the percentage of buyers who can see that potential drops significantly.

When a house is for sale, the goal is to make it as attractive as possible to potential buyers. The most cost-efficient way to spruce up your home is to clean it thoroughly.

When you are putting your home on the market, everything must be spotlessly clean and shiny from top to bottom, inside and out.  This includes wiping down all walls, cleaning floors (being especially diligent about grout), shampooing carpets, and washing baseboards and moldings.  All windows and window treatments will need to be cleaned; everything must be dusted and cobwebs removed; fans, lamps, vents, electrical switches, and light fixtures must be wiped.

Give major attention to the kitchen and bathrooms.  They should be scoured until they sparkle.  Special attention should be placed on appliances, inside and outside of cupboards (remember that people will look in your cupboards, under your sinks, and in your closets).

Mold and mildew are especially problematic in bathrooms. With all the publicity concerning the illnesses that mold can cause, prospective home buyers are more sensitive than ever about its presence. Use liquid household bleach or cleaners with bleach to remove mildew stains from shower doors and grout between tiles.  If shower curtains and liners are dirty, simply replace them.

This may all seem like common sense, but unfortunately it’s still one area owners tend to try to cut corners on. If it’s too much for you to handle, I highly recommend you hire a professional cleaning company.

Once the major, thorough clean-up is complete, be diligent about keeping up with the dust bunnies, dusting, sweeping, vacuuming, and scrubbing as required.  Make sure beds are made daily, dishes are cleaned AND PUT AWAY, countertops are cleared and wiped, garbage bins are emptied, laundry kept up to date (or well hidden), tubs and showers squeegeed after use, bathroom fixtures wiped clean, mirrors and windows sparkling.  This will all help to put your home’s best foot forward.

It just Makes $en$e.



Turnoff Tuesday – Unappealing Curb Appeal

This is my first installment of my “Turnoff Tuesday” series.  Every Tuesday I will be posting about issues that can or will turn off potential home buyers.

Because curb appeal is the first thing buyers will notice about your home, it’s going to be #1 on my list.  If buyers don’t like what they see on the outside, chances are you won’t entice them to come inside.

Potential buyers need to be able to see the home from the street so trim back any overgrown shrubs, trees, or gardens. Mow, trim, rake, and water your lawns regularly. Fix any brown patches and keep weeds to a minimum. Clean up after pets. Keep the gardens low maintenance. Clean out all the weeds and add some natural colored mulch. Adding mature flowers, shrubs, or trees to your property will give it a more finished look. Repair any cracks in paved driveways and reseal if necessary.


Replace, repair, and/or paint the garage doors and trim if required.  Because of the size, garage doors make a huge effect on visual impact.  According to studies, “replacement of a standard garage door with a mid-range or upscale model is one of the quickest and most valuable investments a homeowner can make,” with a ROI of about 84 %.

An attractive front door/entry not only adds to a home’s curb appeal but it can boost the market value.  Replacing your front door, hardware, and light fixtures and enhancing the entryway can improve the overall look of a home, not to mention the perceived value, immensely.  Even a fresh coat of paint on the door can improve the visual impression.  Get rid of worn out door mats and ensure that the front steps look inviting by adding a new one if desired.  A charming focal point, like a walkway or fountain, adds major value to your property.    Adding a bistro table, a bench, or even a couple of chairs to a front porch can boost the charm factor.  Use pots of flowers for color in the summer months and urns of greenery in the winter.  Make sure your house number is clearly visible and in good repair, and the front entryway has bright lighting for the evening hours.  Replace bulbs if needed, and replace broken or outdated fixtures.


Make certain front steps are sturdy, in good repair, and have a fresh coat of stain or paint. Power-wash the siding and eaves trough and clean all windows. Fix or replace the roof and clean the chimney. Don’t forget about sheds and other outbuildings. They must be in good repair and clean also. If they are in poor repair, consider tearing them down. Clear away anything old, worn, and broken such as cracked planters, construction materials, etc. Put away any children’s and pet’s toys, and remove any sports equipment such as basketball nets, bikes, hockey nets, etc. Repair fences and give a fresh coat of paint or stain if needed.

Don’t forget the back yard too – it’s just as important to the overall curb appeal. It should be appealing and inviting for entertaining outside. If your deck or patio is not in good condition, repair or replace it. If it’s in good repair, pressure wash and stain it, or even give it a coat of water sealant to protect it. Set up a patio table and chairs or a conversation set to show what a great area it can be for entertaining and socializing. Add pots of flowers to give it more color and interest.


Improving your home’s landscaping, replacing or painting your front entrance door, repairing or replacing decks and walkways, replacing windows, and replacing siding and/or painting the exterior of your home all rank high among the home renovation projects with the highest return on investment (ROI). After all, this is the first impression that buyers will have of your home, so it just Makes Sense to make it most pleasing and increase the perceived value.


It’s picture perfect, it’s picture perfect…

That’s the key to a good property listing these days…it needs to be picture perfect before it goes on MLS.  That’s where over 90% of buyers are starting their search so you want those photos to be outstanding to draw attention and get viewers in, getting a faster offer and at a better price than if it sits on the market any length of time.

Decluttering, depersonalizing, and cleaning are the top three things you need to do to get your home ready for a sale.  It can take some time and effort but it will all pay off in the long run.  Don’t leave anything to the buyer’s imagination.  They are more likely to pass by your listing than to try to stop to figure out what lies under all that mess.

Contact me when you first start to think of selling and I’ll make sure your MLS pics don’t look like these.

Little things can make a huge difference.

Clear bathroom counters of toiletries and replace all light bulbs.

Hide or remove all signs of pets…including the pets themselves.

Get rid of all novelty or fuzzy toilet seat covers and mats.

Eliminate everything from the fridge door.

Don’t settle for a frumpy looking bedroom.

Even the garage and/or storage unit needs to be decluttered, organized, and neat.

Take away that gallery of family photos.

Neutral colours will be more attractive to buyers than bright ones.

Some agents are recommending or providing professional photos to their clients.  Professional photos can make your home look like something out of a magazine.  However, a professional real estate photographer cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.  If your home is not properly prepared and staged, a great photo is only going to enhance the negative effect even more.  That’s where an experienced home stager comes in.  I can look at your home objectively, address the issues, and apply all the principles of home staging to make your photos look picture perfect. Don’t wait until your home has sat on the market for months and gone stale…make it flawless right from the start.  It just Makes $en$e.