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De-cluttering Do’s and Don’ts   

While most homes do not qualify for an episode on Hoarders©, it sure can feel like an overwhelming amount of items to de-clutter when you are moving. It begins as a small, but quick realization that over the years you have just accumulated a lot of “stuff” and you don’t even know how it happened.

Recently we outlined the process for packing and how to begin to tackle that aspect, this week we will cover what to put in the boxes when it comes to knick knacks and other items.

De-cluttering can take on many different viewpoints. Some may think that picking up clothes off the floor and putting away papers is enough. Others implement “all out war” on every item in their home leaving nothing on the shelves at all. Both approaches do not accomplish a true de-cluttering goal.

When de-cluttering to prepare for a real estate listing, here are key things to keep in mind.

  • Once your purge of the property has taken place and donation items and pieces for the dump are taken care of, you can now assess what you will be packing and also leaving out to do the Staging of your home. Stagers need items to work with if you are not going to be renting accessories or furniture from them, so it’s important to make sure that the items you leave out are good for staging and not too personal. We offer monthly rentals for items that you need.
  • Remove all items with your names on it. (ex: diplomas, utility bills, awards, hockey jerseys etc)
  • Take down and pack all collections (ex: dolls, themes, spoons, etc )
  • Remove all ethnic or cultural and religious items
  • Remove all evidence of hunting (ex: stuffed game, animal horns, guns, clothing etc)
  • Take all extra pieces of furniture out of the rooms. Keep room uses set up for what they were originally intended to be. (ex: don’t have an office in the dining room)
  • Remove all dead plant material including dried flower arrangements. These are dusty and usually brittle, broken and old. They don’t scream “buy me!”
  • Remove all broken items (this should have been done in the first purge)
  • Pull back all window coverings and remove all items off the ledges of every window
  • Clear all closet floor space, leaving only the absolute must have’s for living there while you are selling
  • Extra pieces of carpets, torn area rugs and extra boot racks should be pulled out
  • Remove all old paint, chemicals and other hazardous waste from the property
  • Remove all miscellaneous renovation materials that are no longer relevant to the existing upgrades currently seen in the home.
  • Take off dated window coverings, and valances
  • Remove all family pictures
  • Take out any extra items from the back or front porches
  • Keep all stairwells and halls empty of items
  • Remove all items off the tops of cabinets and the fridge
  • Remove all magnets off the fridge- tape calendar and other important paper to the inside of a cabinet door (example prescription refills)
  • Remove all stickers off children’s bedroom doors and walls
  • Remove all offensive sexual material (including from the garage!)
  • If you have extra appliances such as a fridge or freezer that can be removed and it’s not being sold with the house, then take it off the property.


  • Shelves should be used for display not for cramming
  • Keep items limited to a few books, similar Knick knacks and some small greenery
  • Put away all computer/ office related binders and books
  • Keep all work related items out of sight so you are not telling the buyers what you do for a living
  • Pack all cords, manuals, cd’s, phone books and computer program boxes
  • Neutral photos can be used to display
  • All DVD’s should be packed or put away so they do not distract a buyer
  • Shelves should also be cleaned, repaired and painted if required

Under Cabinets

Bathroom and kitchen cabinets are areas buyers look in, because they are buying them! So keeping them very clean, and organized is the first priority.


  • Remove all old shampoo bottles, and half used soaps or other products.
  • Vacuum out the cabinets, and make sure all evidence of hair, pets, or people is gone.
  • Use baskets to keep under control the items that you still need
  • Place garbage cans under the cabinets, this will control smells in the room and keep your garbage out of sight
  • Remove all extra pieces of dishware, pots or pans that are not required to be there while you are selling.
  • This is a good time to purge the Tupperware® cabinet, as it seems to multiply all by itself over the years!
  • Reduce cleaning products to a bare minimum
  • Clean out the pantry off all extra cookware, and misc. items that are not required
  • Condense food into one box or one canister for “like” items. Make as much room as you can in that pantry so it appears as large as possible.
  • Go through drawers and only leave enough utensils to use. Pack all the extras.
  • Keep knives off the counters and place under a cabinet, for safety reasons.
  • Laundry shelves also need to be cleaned and de-cluttered

The overall first impression of your home should be spacious, clean and inviting. Too much stuff on shelves and in every closet creates a feeling of being closed in, cramped or not enough room.

No one likes other people’s clutter, so be tough with yourself and keep in mind that every box packed is hundreds of dollars on your bottom line. That being said, it is also important to leave things out like throw pillows, greenery and plants, nice bedding and pillows, artwork and area rugs in good condition. Knick knacks on shelves and books are acceptable in reasonable amounts and when displayed properly.

You do not want to send the message that you have to “vacate in a hurry” so keep this in mind when de-cluttering. Less is not more in this case as it will look like you are under distress in your sale and have to make a move fast. It will also create an empty unappealing look if there isn’t a sense of “home” still with the rooms still set up.

The goal in de-cluttering is removing all the unnecessary things that would distract or overwhelm a buyer, thus taking their focus off your home. It is imperative that their focus be on the space, flooring, upgrades you have done, fresh paint, fireplaces, yards and views…not piles of your stuff. There is no faster way to lose a buyer than to show them all your piles of distracting stuff.

Decide what you are selling….and then sell it. In this case you want to sell your home, so show it off and remove the clutter!

For more information on Preparation for Staging and Selling see or call us at 780.452.4527

Return on Investments 

written by Jill Gargus CID, CCSP

References from Home Gain 2011

In the real estate world, there are differing opinions on how far a seller should take the upgrades before selling their home. In the home staging world, we have to consider a number of factors when offering our professional advice to a client. This survey on home improvement and return on investment was done by Home Gain in 2011 and it available for viewing on

It is very important to consider these upgrades for a number of reasons. Number one if your competitors have done upgrades and have been regularly maintaining their property over the years, the buyers are viewing those homes against yours. And they will buy a more upgraded home, especially if you are trying to get the same price.

“Market value” is what a buyer is willing to pay you for your property, not what you think it’s worth.

Number two, It does not make financial sense for a buyer to give you a high asking price when they have to invest thousands in upgrades. If they see a house already upgraded, most buyers will choose that one, as you would if you were the buyer. Their reasons are usually the same. They can’t afford to do upgrades because they are already maxed out for the purchase price. And number three they usually do not have skills to tackle these items themselves and they are not looking to buy anyone else’s headaches.

If you chose to keep your property dated and wait longer on the market for a sale, you will encounter a number of stressors. Things like extended carrying costs, double property payments, double utilities and taxes if you already bought a house, stress, going stale on the market, price reductions…etc.

The one thing you can do to try to sell faster if you are not doing upgrades, is to start off with a much lower price than your competitors. That way you hit the market with enough impact to get you noticed and get showings, and you may get lucky and find a buyer that is willing to take your “project house” on.

If this is the road you want to go, then it is not enough to be $5,000 under your competition. You will need to consider the level of upgrades that would be required and drop your starting price to that point. This may mean $10,000- $30,000 depending on how extensive the work is and how neglected your house has been, it may mean even more.

Investors or property flippers tend to want to get a “deal” for 60%- 75% of the listing price, so that there is equity already built in to the property and they can safely tackle the upgrades without losing money. It just numbers for them. But for you, it’s your equity you are giving away….reconsider this and do the upgrades that will put you front and center on the real estate map, and then keep your equity!

Return on Investment (ROI) and % of how many Agent’s Recommend (AR) these updates in %

  • Clean and De-Clutter = 586% ROI – 99%AR
  • Lighten and Brighten = 313% ROI -97% AR
  • Staging                      = 299% ROI – 80%AR
  • Landscaping             = 258% ROI -with 93% AR
  • Electrical/Plumbing Repair = 181% ROI 92%AR
  • Replace /Shampoo Carpet = 169% ROI with 98% AR
  • Paint Interior Walls = 109% ROI with 96% AR
  • Paint Exterior Walls =51% ROI – 81 % AR
  • Repair Damaged Flooring = 107% ROI 93 % AR
  • Update kitchens and baths = 172% ROI -75% AR

Taken from

So you can see that all updates so offer a return on investment, some more than others. The stats are clear that the majority of Real Estate Agents make these recommendations and their advice should be heeded, as they are in the business of selling real estate and they are engaged daily in the ups and downs of selling.

Agents provide a very clear picture of what buyers want and you would do well to consider their opinion and get your house “saleable” by doing as much as you can to compete with the market.

Real estate has changed dramatically in the last 10 years and thanks to all the Home Staging Television shows, buyers want what they see on TV and they are willing to pay for it.

Money Making Investments

Updating Flooring 

When thinking of selling your home, flooring updates need to be considered, because wear and tear has taken a toll on the property to some degree.

Also the styles have changed over the years. Buyers are always looking for the latest thing in design and interior updates.

If your flooring is over 5 -7 years old, has wear and tear or damages it will need to be replaced.

You can consider doing more of the same of what you currently have, but taking in to account the flooring trends is a better route. We can advise you on this if you need help., Inc has an ROI chart where all updates are listed and flooring gets a 110% return on investment with 93% of Agents recommending doing it. So it is a benefit!

We agree with this, because we see the value of it everyday when clients can sell their homes faster than the competitors and the steady feedback from buyers is that they loved the new flooring.

If you feel it’s too daunting your other option is to reduce your price or offer a buyer allowance for flooring, but we don’t recommend that. Why give away your equity?

We offer project planning and contractor management, painting, fixtures updates, facelift renovations, and Staging. 780-452-4527

In addition to updates and proper pricing, Staging a home brings in better offers than not staging it, So clean, repair and stage your home, price it correctly with an Honest and Integrity based Agent, and see results fast. You will be glad you did!

Working with Contractors Part 2 

Once you are hiring someone


It is super easy to get carried away with all the extras that could be/ should be done “since you are doing it anyway”.

This is a classic thought process and a surefire way to get in over your head with “add ons” that were not part of the original contract. If you are planning to just do floors and paint, make sure that in your interviews you have asked enough questions to ensure that this topic doesn’t come up.

If you are painting, then what is being painted and what is included in that whole process? Ask what would be an “add on”, while you are doing the interview so that you can decide how far to take it, before the work starts.

You can expect 10-20% on top of your original quote for contingency funds and unexpected issues.

Quotes should include material, fixtures and labor that will be required to complete project to the specifications. It should also outline who is buying and delivering these items to the site, who cleans up and who pays for clean up.

Have Detailed Contracts…how detailed? So detailed that if, God forbid, all parties in the contract passed away, that a lawyer could easily and plainly see what was to be done and what stage money was payable, as well as what money was already paid. A contractor that balks at this idea is not one that you should hire. Contracts protect all parties so if they are unwilling to sign something or create a contract with you, then re-think hiring them.

Make sure that they all carry WCB, public liability and property damage Insurance, as well as a vaild Business license. Take the time to verify this.

Call their references and check their experience.

Confirm that they are able to obtain any building permits, if required and that they are knowledgeable about what will be required.

Check with BBB

Payment plans are usually formed of a 30% deposit, then 30% when 2/3rds of the work is done as outlined on the contract and the last 30% when the final day is complete with a 10% holdback for you to have sufficient time to confirm all projects are in fact complete. Call Service Alberta if you have further questions about contracts.

During the process of actual renovation:

Supervise your contractors– be there daily so you are well informed. We offer trade management as a service within our staging company if you prefer that road.

A professional is happy to answer all questions- so ask questions

Never pay for more than has been completed. Depending on the business deposits may be only $500.00. Progressive payments are usually agreed to on a contract, but what can end up happening is that you pay your progressive payment and the work is not actually completed to that point. If you are new at this, this will be a problem and some contractors can smell new blood a mile away. So again, be clear on the contract and have it reviewed by a lawyer if necessary. A common issue that occurs is that a contractor has worked all week at your house and the completion level is not where it should be, or has run into legitimate issues that held up the progress. At the end of the week, they want a progress payment and the work is not done to that degree. Do you pay? What if they tell you that their rent is due? Or their kid’s soccer dues have to be paid and they promised to pay it today? Do you pay? What if they say they will come back tomorrow (Saturday) to catch up…do you pay? The answer is no. NO.

This always causes tension and if you are a pushover, you will pay and you will lose at the end when you have paid for more work than has been done and they are now telling you at the end that you owe more than you agreed to pay and unless you pay they will not finish the work. This is a difficult predicament to be in and it does happen, so research, interview, have an ironclad contract, get legal advice and be prepared to be on top of all this.

Mandatory holdbacks are required in the province of Alberta. This is not optional. You are legally required to keep 10% of the final pay back to allow time to ensure project is complete to your contractual agreement. Typically you can review your completed project with a few days and then if there are issues, they must be resolved before the final 10% is paid. Contractors may pressure you to give it to them with promises to return to complete items, do not give it to them. Sob stories are for Disney™ not business!

Be Aware!

  • Be aware of a contractor if they request large deposits, or cash only, or payment in full upfront.
  • Be aware if they do not charge GST or have a business license
  • Be aware if they are too vague or do not want to put details in a written contract
  • Be aware if they have no only a box # for an address and no physical location
  • Be aware if they want you to obtain all permits and do not want to be involved in that process
  • Be aware if they pressure you to decide now or offer you a discount for a “now” decision
  • Be aware if they have answering services and do not use their own phone numbers for contact

Although this may seem like I am trying to scare you from using contractors that is not the case. I am trying to inform you on what can and does sometimes happen, so that you can prepare yourself fully and come out of this process unscathed.


Most often working with contractors, although stressful due to the nature of the projects, is usually a great learning experience and a rewarding time to see your vision come alive. Property improvement, even if you are moving, always carries its own rewards.

Working with Different Contractors 

written by Jill Gargus, CID. CCSP

When making the move towards doing updates on your property it is intimidating to think about having to deal with contracted trade people. There are many horror stories, lots of them justified, and the thought of tackling this is the biggest reason that most people chose not to. All contractors are not bad news, but there are things to watch out for. Follow the guidelines below to put yourself in the driver’s seat when making hiring choices and doing the project management.

When considering Price Points is it -$3,000 or  $30,000?

This is will be relative to what you haven’t done on your property over the years. The fact is that you DO pay for upgrades on your home, either by actually doing upgrades or by lowering your price enough to sell. Either way you pay. Getting written estimates is a good place to start. Verbal estimates seem to mysteriously increase, so always get it in writing! Get multiple quotes and ask them to be as detailed as possible so you can carefully review them later.

Level of Quality in Product

You get what you pay for. Reputable companies will typically have been “seen around” town through various long standing advertising. You need to always ask for references from past clients and also Google their personal name and the company name to see if anything pops up. Do not hire the cheaper contractors simply because you think it’s better to save money. You will not save money. It usually ALWAYS ends up costing you more in the mistakes they make, the issues they create and the headaches you endure. Pay for quality and you will get it.

This doesn’t mean you have to spend over the top amounts to upgrade but you do have to spend something, so don’t choose the lowest price. Go for the middle ground if you are only basing your decision on price.

Contractor scheduling

This is a tricky balancing act even for those who do it every day. Most contractors are not large corporations, but are running self -employed businesses and therefore they have to run the company, market and also do the work. If this is the case, you can expect their estimated timeline for completion to be twice the guess.

This is because they typically have other projects on the go and you are not their main focus. They have to go out to see new clients during working on your house and so the hours they give you are usually broken up.

This actually makes everything take longer because they have to re-focus themselves each time they get to your house and it takes away from progress momentum.

Self- employed contractors are also busy answering their phone and putting out “fires” from other jobs they have on the go. This can and does cause frustration for a Seller who is updating to get on the market in a set time line.

Give yourself plenty of time to get this work done because it always takes longer than they tell you. Self -employed contractors do have some benefits as they are more flexible with hours and pricing, they are usually trying to build a good business reputation and do not want to get a bad name, so are more likely to fix issues to the best of their ability.

Trust your judgment during the first interview and do not be swayed by flashy talk or pushy sales. If a contractor is pushing you to decide right now, say no. There are many options for you hire and you can afford to wait to make the right choice.

Type of property

This will determine the level of upgrades you choose. A starter home does not need granite counters or top of the line hardwood flooring. Do not be up sold in such a case. Contractors are there to install only not determine your product choice or price points you need to spend, However if you have a million dollar home, it needs to be finished with appropriate levels of quality or it will destroy your chances of selling. Choose upgrades that reflect the price point of the asking price. Our staging company can help with those choices, if required.

Market Expectations
What are other homes listed in your price range doing? You will need to at least offer that much or take it to the next level and offer more. If your competitors are not upgraded, then you absolutely should as it will secure a faster offer and the best price on the block.

If your competitors are upgraded then you need to be also upgraded at least to that degree or better, to even stand a chance at selling. Today’s buyers are telling the sellers what they want in a home so listen…and you will win.

Budget VS. Return

See last week’s
newsletter from information for the ROI on upgrades. Your budget of course will determine how much you can invest into your sale, so plan a budget that takes in account an overall impact on the property, not just one or two rooms.

It is better to paint a whole house and put new floors throughout, than to just gut and update a couple of bathrooms. Choose your budget to cover all your bases and consider that investing now will prevent future price reductions, so you are actually saving money.

Research, Research, Research

Do lots of interviews with contractor. At least 3 each. Spend a few days doing this and ask lots of questions. Searching the net beforehand to learn what to ask would give you an advantage. Every property and its needs are different so we can’t give a general list that covers it all.

So make sure you are informed before they step through your door. If you are single or alone in this process, if possible, have a trusted friend there to be a support. It is better to have someone there with you to keep you on track and it will help prevent being swayed by pushy sales tactics.

No shows -no 2nd chances.…if a contractor is a no show for your first appointment, then do not give them a second chance. This is a good indicator of the level of service they will provide you if they are missing their first appointment.

See next week’s newsletter for part 2 of this subject!

Blocked Light


  • How many windows are allowing light in and how many are being blocked?
  • Trees and Shrubs should be cut back to allow as much light in as possible. Consult a professional on this subject so that the pruning does not kill the trees.
  • Buildings can block light, but unless it is a portable shed or structure that could be taken down you are usually stuck with it so paint and interior lighting is the best course of action.
  • Oversized window valances or coverings are usually out of style and should be removed
  • Neighbor’s recreational vehicles may block light and perhaps they would consider moving them while you are selling? It doesn’t hurt to ask. Not to mention they are a visual eyesore.
  • Awnings on decks should be fully closed for showings and if you have dated awnings on the front of your house remove them if the budget allows.
  • Exterior roll down security shutters should remain fully open for all showings. This is not a time to hide the house!
  • Use a bright light in the foyer and in the exterior light and leave it on at night
  • Consider adding a mirror to entry to enlarge the area’s appearance
  • Large pieces of interior furniture should be moved away from all windows, including headboards.

Opening and keeping open all window coverings is a first start and a MUST DO, regardless of the view. Buyers want to know what surrounds them when they are buying. Usually opening the coverings solves a lot of light problems. Having the windows professionally cleaned also will allow sunlight to burst through and give a great, clean first impression.

Interior Lighting and other Tips

Update all fixtures in the home

  • Clean all windows, do both sides of panes
  • Keep curtains & blinds open
  • Clean all drapes, blinds and shutter (including exterior shutters)
  • Choose the brightest incandescent bulb you can (no fluorescent)
  •  Clean all switch plates
  • Add lamps to all rooms or dark corners
  • Use existing lamps and change the darker shades out to a lighter one
  • Turn all lights on for all showings and ensure exterior lighting works
  • Paint all woodwork panels to a neutral or remove them completely
  • Take out loud color furniture pieces or dark heavy wood furniture

How to Lighten and Brighten 

 written by Jill Gargus, CID 

Last week was very deep and packed full of information, so this week we will tone it

down a little and “lighten and brighten”

your home. One of the first words out of a buyers mouths today is that a property is too dark. “It’s so dark in here.”

They could mean from an exposure perspective, or it has been too closed up for too long and has not seen the light of day.

Other times the paint colors are way too dark or there is dated wood paneling that has kept the house in the 1970’s. Regardless of why they think or feel it is too dark, is the better question of “How can we fix it?”

To lighten and brighten a home may be a simple process or an extensive one. Either way it needs to be done. Start with opening all the window coverings or even removing them. See where that leads you, besides exposing the sins of the dirty windows and wells, the bigger item we are looking for is how has doing this changed the brightness of the room?

Natural Exposure and Paint

Exposures of your property create varying degree and colors of natural light and that is a buying factor when buyers consider purchasing a home. Some buyers refuse to buy north facing homes due to the lack of light coming into half the home. So your first plan of action is to determine which direction your home is facing. You cannot change the direction of your home but you can influence its overall interior lighting.

Keep these points in mind when choosing paint

  • North exposure causes a dull gray hue to fill the room
  • East creates a green hue causing a darker cool feeling
  • South exposure brings a yellow or bright hue
  • West adds orange/red and creates deep warm glow.

Working with the paint colors and the other elements within the room can make a huge impact on the overall first impression. It is a consistent truth that the paint colors seem to change from the store to the home, from the paint can to the tray and from the tray to wall. And usually when the paint dries, people think the paint colors were mixed wrong due to the stark difference in color. However this is not the case, it is simply the fact that the exposure, weather, and lighting all change color.

Choose colors that work well in all these rooms and if you are having difficulty consider hiring a Certified Color Consultant for help with this. Jill Gargus is a Color Consultant she can be reached at 780-452-4527.

If you choose to have a consultation for paint will be well worth the small investment and save you bigger problems later once the new paint is applied and you do not have to change it because it was chosen correctly to start with. When painting to sell, it’s important that no mistakes are made. Universally neutral colors are the best road to take, but be warned all color chips are made up of multiple drops of pigment and therefore cause an undertone. An undertone can be your biggest nightmare or your best kept secret. Neutral paint will have green, pink or yellow undertones and the key here is to choose paint that enhances your existing fixed elements, not the opposite.

Undertone Nightmare

Before I understood this important truth, I had a client who had a very pink house. Everything from tile, carpet, counter tops, walls, blinds, curtains and sheers, furniture, sinks, tubs…all pink. Even the kitchen cabinets were oak with a light pink wood stain. I had never seen anything like it. So, since we were using all of the client’s furniture for staging and they were unwilling to do other changes, all we could do was paint. So I took my paint fan to the STORE and chose a color. A nice neutral beige, paid for 10 gallons and arrived to paint.

I did the entire top floor, painting in my own little world before I noticed the color in its DRY state. It was green. So now I had a green and pink house! The pink elements in the home were now brighter PINK with the un-complimentary color of the green under toned paint. That lesson cost me a small fortune to fix and led to me get training on why that happened and how to not do it again!

Paint is an inexpensive way to add huge overall impact to a property and it can, if chosen correctly, create a wow factor first impression and add value to your property.

Oh and one more tip, Painters are applicators not decorators, so don’t let them choose your color!

Using Buyer’s Eyes to Critique your Property’s Repairs  

Written by Jill Gargus, CID
Buyers today are savvy, they have been amply educated thanks to the internet and the television programs on home staging. They are also not spending the way the used to. The economy changes and daily stress of lower incomes and a higher cost of living have created the demand for move in ready homes.

As well there is a generational gap that is more prominent than ever before, younger couples are buying older homes and they are generally more unskilled at property maintenance and updating a home, than their older generation home sellers.

There are multitudes of older sellers moving out of their long term homes and that makes for a flooded market in that category.

The other problem in this scenario is that if a younger buyer is looking in a set price point, they can likely find a new home, with a warranty for the same price as your older fixer upper.

This happens in every price range, regardless. If your home is in need of repair, why would they buy yours? You are competing with the newer model homes and they are popping up everywhere.

So consider your buyer’s needs and demographic.

If your potential buyer is the demographic of a younger family or a couple with no kids but both work, consider that thinking the way they think and finding out what they want to be your top priority if you want to sell your property

Turning around the Blind Eye

After years of living in your home, it becomes part of you. You tend to get used to the disrepair or the chipped paint and “one day” will get around to fixing the broken closet door and you just don’t see it anymore.

In the weeks to come we are going to give you checklists so you can address these and other issues, and they must be addressed unless you are willing to knock off thousands from your asking price to reflect the work that will need to be done.

Keep in mind that buyers think in “thousands” just like you do when searching for a new home and they want to be compensated for their trouble if they have to repair your half completed projects.

Where to Start- A General Checklist that every Seller needs

  • Remove plastic runners or glued down rugs and repair the damage they may have caused
  •   Clean door jams and polish handles
  •   Clean furnace filters and wipe the furnace down
  •   Clean drains
  •   Service sprinkler systems
  •   Repair holes in gutters and fix all eaves that may be falling down
  •      Clean septic systems
  •   Fix broken doors, baseboards, trims, windows
  •   Fix gates and broken fences
  •   Clean oil stains off the garage floor (CLR™ should work for this or try Coca Cola ™)
  •   Make sure garage doors all open and close properly
  •   Clean all door tracks and window tracks
  •   Sweep out and if possible wash garage floor
  •   Ensure locks are working easily / replace if they are sticking or stubborn
  •   Oil hinges on doors
  •   Ensure doorbell works properly
  •   Repair damaged steps or door casements
  •   Repair damaged screen doors
  •   Replace broken light fixtures
  •   Repair any tiles that need it- floor or back splash tile
  •   Remove mold and dirt build up from bathrooms and kitchens
  •   Seal or re-surface driveway
  •   Add gravel to bare patches like along the side of the house where no sun is)
  •   Fix all dripping faucets and the damage they may have done under the sink
  •   Service noisy exhaust fans (kitchen and bath)
  •   Remove rust stains from sinks and toilets
  •   Ensure shutters are in good condition
  •  Re-grout any tile if necessary
  •   Re-caulk and repair seals in shower enclosure and around sinks
  •   Ensure that toilets don’t run continuously
  •   Replace worn toilet seats and covers, take off themed toilet seats or incorrectly sized ones
  •   Update toilet paper holder, towel racks and curtain rods
  •   Fix cracks on ceilings or walls or in basement ( don’t hide anything from the buyer)
  •   Silence noisy floors
  •   Clean and wax floors
  •   Patch floors where damage has occurred or replace flooring
  •   Update batteries in all smoke alarms
  •   Make sure burglar alarms are working
  •   Secure area rugs

This list is very important to take heed to and is by far the most time consuming items on the preparation report.

Take this list and make your specific repair list from it.

In many cases, not everything will need to be addressed, so you can tackle your projects in their own order of importance.

Property’s often get neglected in many areas and as you can see once you start addressing an issue there will be another to take its place.

All of these points are items that do affect the buyer’s first impression and also what they feel your property VALUE truly is. If there are many unattended projects left for a buyer, they will either walk away and find a home that is move in ready or they will low ball your offer enough to justify the work they will have to do.

The many Television shows on Staging and Buying Real Estate attest to this.

And as I said before, Buyers think in “thousands”. So spend a couple days or a couple weeks getting these items looked after and in the end you will reap the rewards of the best sale price you can get.

For more information on Preparation for Staging and Selling see or call us at 780.452.4527

How Clean is Clean?  

Written by Jill Gargus, CID

Everyone’s perspective on clean is different, as I can attest to after seeing over a thousand properties in my Real Estate and  Staging career over the last 15 years. Even some professional cleaning companies have different views on what they deem as clean, which can make even hiring cleaning companies a bit tricky.

This week’s list is short and sweet.

To sum up the list now, we will cut to the chase and say that your home, when prepared for sale, should be WHITE GLOVE clean.

This means that anyone can wear a white glove and wipe any surface of your home and the glove stays white. Even in areas like the tops of door trims…Sounds complicated? It is, but it’s manageable. It will require a “face to face inspection” of areas that you normally don’t get too close to!

Let’s start with a major once over clean of your home. This will occur after all the de-cluttering, packing updates and repairs. It is the step before the Staging.

So first, having these other items taken care of will make the cleaning process go much smoother. A large portion of what would have normally hindered your progress is now out of the way.  You can begin at the top or back of your house and make your way to the front door, using a room by room process or you can do all similar items at the same time.

For example, all light fixtures, then all window sills…and follow that pattern. Whatever works best for you and your family.

Remember that cleaning will represents hundreds of dollars to your bottom line and it is worth doing to create the best first impression for the buyers.

Take the following list and use it as the guide to make your master list

  • Clean fireplace thoroughly
  • Clean out ashes and remove all firewood
  • Clean off soot stains with soot remover
  • Clean all chandeliers and light fixtures
  • Polish all woodwork, including furniture
  • Clean back splashes in all bathrooms and kitchens
  • Polish mirrors
  • Clean all window screens and storm doors and screens
  • Clean front door hardware
  • Clean the front entryway very well, it reflects the first impression of the entire house
  • Sinks should be free of food, stains and odors
  • Keep dishes done and put away every day
  • Clear off all small appliances off the counter tops
  • Take all items off the refrigerator (top, front and sides)
  • Clean cabinets of all stains and food splashes. This will require getting on your knees in front of the cabinets for a “face to face inspection”. You will be surprised what you find!
  • Clean kitchen exhaust fan, filters, hoods
  • Clean bathroom exhaust fans, they can be easily pulled down, washed and put back up or for a few dollars they can be replaced. You can find them at home improvement stores.
  • Clean toilets using “the face to face” approach
  • Wash all sinks and faucets, including behind them. They should shine.
  • Clean oven, stove top, burners (replace burners if needed)
  • Run a dishwasher load with CLR™ only
  • Empty the refrigerator and wash all drawers, and shelves. Buyers are buying these appliances and will look inside them. Clean exteriors as well.
  • Wash all floors, staircases and closet floors. Keep swept and shiny
  • Wash all baseboards throughout the house. Face to face inspections!
  • Hide all scrub pads, cleaning supplies and soap under the sink
  • Empty pantry by 50% and wash all shelves
  • Keep interiors of cabinets neat, clean and free of smells. This will require de-cluttering the pantry also. Cabinet interiors should reflect storage space and should not look cramped and “too full”
  • Empty garbage daily to prevent odors
  • Eliminate all odors “If you can smell it, you can’t sell it!”
  • Wash walls, especially high traffic areas that have been used and abused
  • Clean ceiling fans
  • Clean and dust everything (doors, mirrors, shelves, baseboards…)
  • Clean carpets or update them to the most current trends
  • Vacuum often, including the couches. Pet hair is a turn off, so stay on top of it.
  • Clean under and behind appliances. This is a dirty job but somebody has to do it
  • Garbage out daily
  • Cat litter cleaned every day, or if you have other pets, keep their wood shavings or “messes” clean 100 % of the time, you never know when you will get a last minute showing (put a soft air freshener nearby)
  • Call an exterminator to deal with any insect problems 

For more information on Preparation for Staging and Selling see or

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