First impressions are hard to break! Most home owners will form an opinion about your home within seconds of seeing it for the first time. They'll probably spend less than 15 minutes touring your house, and they'll likely be looking at other homes with similar features during their house hunting. Remember, this is almost like a job interview. You have one chance for a first impression, so make your home the one that buyers remember by giving them a GREAT first impression.

The Outdoors

A photo of a home's curb appeal.


Curb Appeal

The way your home looks from the street can honestly make or break a sale. A large percentage of potential home owners (and current homeowners) decide whether or not to look inside of a house based on its curb appeal. The good news is that you can help the situation by spending some time freshening up its exterior appearance for a great first impression. The best way to get started is by viewing your property from the buyer's perspective. Ask yourself what your first impression is of the home front. And from an objective standpoint, what are the best and worst features? How can you enhance, improve or minimize them?


Attention to the Hard Surfaces

Make sure the sidewalk and front walkway are free of debris. If necessary, give it a clean sweep and remove weeds that grow between the cracks. Remove grease or oil spots, and fill in cracks in the driveway.


Landscape Paradise..Or Not?

There are times that adding elements to your landscaping can help curb appeal, but there are also times when removing something is more effective. Keep the grass mowed, and the weeds pulled. Trim trees and bushes. Plant only a few flowers if they're in season to add just a touch of colour.


A House Face-Lift

Does your house look dull and dingy? Give it a face-lift with a good, old-fashioned power wash. Not good enough? Try a different colour of paint (Helpful hint: if your home was built before 1978, federal law gives a buyer the right to request a lead inspection. If you think you may have some problems, do the inspection yourself before-hand and make out any fies you can). Repair loose roof shingles and thoroughly clean the windows. Replace a weather-beaten mailbox with something new or something crafted. The difference this can make is stunning!


At the Front Door

Continue the allure with a friendly front door. Restore its luster with a few coats of varnish or spiff it up with a rich, new, accent colour. Make sure your doorbell works. Repair torn screens, and clean any outdoor light fixtures you have.


Don't Forget the Rear View

Buyers doing a drive-by will try their best to peek into the backyard. If it's visible from another street, or from someone else's driveway, it should be a part of your curb appeal efforts. Make sure to apply the same effort to the backyard as the front by keeping the grass mowed, the weeds pulled and the trees/bushes trimmed. Minimize any furniture in the back to the essentials, and hide the kids' toys!



The Indoors

A photo of a home's kithen - bright and clean.


Make An Entrance

You can start out by setting your home's fragrance, since this is the first sense anyone will encounter upon entering your home. This is your opportunity to make a big statement in a small area. Make your foyer welcoming by featuring a natural flower arrangement, and continue with the scent with smaller arrangements throughout the house. What you should be avoiding in the scent department are strong pet, cooking and smoke odours. Having pleasant or relaxing music playing in the background can help set your stage, but isn't necessary. Other scents to make a nice first impression: lemon or cinnamon. Easily achieve a lemon scent by running a lemon through the garbage disposal, or zesting one over a bowl and letting the scent drift naturally. Clean it up before they arrive. For cinnamon, boil a couple of cinnamon sticks in a pot for a few minutes, or bake them on a tray for a few minutes. You can dispose of them, or place them in a vase on a surface in your foyer, mud room or porch.


Living Room and Dining Room

Clean and spruce up these rooms, their furnishings, floors, walls and ceilings. Remove knickknacks from tables, counter-tops and book shelves. Remove all unnecessary furniture to make your rooms seem more spacious. If it's already a small room, you can also make it seem larger by giving it a light or bright paint colour. Neutral shades of off-white, white, beige or light pastels will coordinate with most decors. Open the curtains and pull up the blinds to let as much light in as possible. This gives every room an open, well-ventilated feeling.


Kitchen and Bathrooms

Kitchens should be absolutely spotless. Clean everything! Remove excess kitchen appliances that take up counter space. For example, a coffee maker makes a nice touch, but it isn't really necessary. Again, removing something can make the bigger difference. Make sure your major appliances are working, and the insides of said appliances are cleaned too. Bathrooms - just as important. Remove stains from fixtures, repair dripping faucets and polish up those mirrors. Add sanitizers to toilet bowls and keep the lids down. Wash and fluff bathroom rugs, and hang fresh towels. Potpourri or scented soaps add a nice fragrance to the air, just make sure it's not overwhelming.


Bedrooms and Closets

The same principles apply to bedrooms. Remove all unnecessary furniture, and/or give the walls a light paint colour. Keep all closets organized and uncluttered. Pack away out-of-season clothing and holiday items to make your closets seem more spacious.


Basement and Garage

These spaces are important, since they show potential, additional storage space in the house. To keep the entire house uncluttered, most of your packed boxes will end up in one of these two spaces. With this in mind, it's important to keep your storage organized and clean. Your boxes can be organized by room, stacked and placed together accordingly. This neat organization helps you out, as well as the buyer. They get to see how they can utilize these extra spaces for storage, and for other, potential spaces (extra office, a rec room, etc). If possible, leave the car space in the garage empty to give potentials the opportunity to picture their own vehicle in the space.


All of this cleaning and staging is hard work that PAYS OFF. When you aren't present for showings, potential buyers can be at ease while they walk throughout the home. This cleaning and arranging that you've taken the time to do is your assurance that your home will speak for itself while you're not there.



All of the above tips are great to remember when photos are needed for listing your home. This makes them look like a professional was involved - but that professional is you! For photos in particular, turn all the lights on in every room. Even if the curtains are open and there's lots of natural light, turn those lights on. It translates well in photos, as a brighter image leads to a sharper image.



Posted by Admin Staff on


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