Selling Your Home? First Impressions Matter; Your Essential Checklist of “Things To Do” and “Things To Don’t”

Candis Noble; West Island Luxury Real Estate Broker and Interior Designer


How exciting! You’ve finally decided. You’re calling a realtor and putting your home for sale.

You begin to daydream, that before too long your realtor, home stager and professional photographer will prepare your home for those awesome Instagram house-selfies; Centris photo portfolio, aerial shots, and marketing video. It’s a high, thrilling and scary all at the same time, but you’ve decided and you’re ready to commit. Your new dream home awaits!

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And then it hits you. Before all the fun, there’s work to do and now’s the time to go down that seemingly endless task list and take care of all those pesky little chores waiting for a rainy day. And now, that day is here!

It can feel overwhelming but in fact, it’s rather simple if you approach it from a sense of organization and simplicity. Keep it manageable, and the best way to feel accomplished is by making lists and handle one small task at a time. One of the tools I use with my clients is my checklist of “Things to do, and Things to don’t”. And, I thought to share some of the highlights with you to help get you started.

Where to start?

Begin with fresh eyes. Walk around your home; outside, inside… room by room. What do you notice? Where does your eye go first?  How does it feel? Is it bright and inviting? Does it feel fresh and open? Is it… happy?

First impressions matter; that ever-important curb-appeal from the driveway to your front door. Is that doorbell broken? Is the door paint faded and chipping away? What about when you step inside? Will your Buyers be welcomed by shoes, jackets and recycle boxes?

Now I know you’re thinking, “…but Candis, I need to live in my home.” And of course you do, but organized editing can create both visual appeal and practicality for every day; while providing ease for last-minute showings.

It’s a simple fact that the little things do matter and it can be surprising the “little things” that will turn off a potential Buyer. So here’s my “shortlist”. Feel free to add to it as these things have a way of taking on a life of their own! But keep it doable and simple and focus on the most relevant and important tasks.

Things To Do…

1. Repair

Repair everything… and I mean everything.

Now I’m not talking about major renovations or expensive jobs. Those are the things you discuss with your realtor to determine their respective need versus value cost and their relevance when determining your asking price.

It's the little things that make a difference when selling your home

What I’m talking about here are all those little forgotten things which add up in a potential Buyer’s mind making them skeptical about the condition of the entire house. “What other more important things have been neglected as well?”, they will wonder.

So replace those lightbulbs, broken handles, leaky faucets, wobbly handrails, flickering lights, etc. It’s imperative because if overlooked you can be assured each and every neglected item will be pointed out by your potential buyer and will most certainly be reflected in a much lower offer.

2. Clear the Excess

When selling your home, less is absolutely more.

Clear the clutter, home staging

Remove: unnecessary or bulky furniture, rarely used kitchen countertop appliances, unnecessary rugs, limit the dog toys, piles of magazines, plants, overflowing paperwork, knickknacks, endless throw pillows, etc. Remember the focus is on showing your home and helping Buyers to visualize it as theirs.

Clear away all those things (you know what they are); all that stuff placed “there for now” that has become “there forever”. Forever stops now. Clear it away.  You’ll feel so much better and your home will begin to feel open and airy and light again! 

3. Donate

Now is the perfect time to gather those well-loved and unneeded items and give them to a friend, shelter or charity. It feels amazing and incidentally, it becomes addictive.

4. The Power of Paint

I cannot say it enough. Paint is your best friend. No really, it is.

Paint is your best friend

White, Ecru, Bisque, Parchment, Oyster… whatever name you want to call it (you get the picture) go neutral. Now, is not the time to make a design statement. And don’t go overboard using the grey… I know it’s a thing, but just… don’t. Not everyone is into cool and trendy. Remember here, we want to appeal to the masses.

5. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

Clean; clean everything. I’m not talking your everyday clean, I’m talking about the big one; the one where you call in the troops and the hazmat suits (JK).

Clean everything before you sell your home

Focus on washing windows, floors, mirrors, scuff marks, cabinetry, floor moldings, staircase risers, cobwebs and dust on the ceiling fan. Don’t use overly scented cleaning agents. Keep it simple…vinegar and baking soda are magic.

Outside the home, wash decks and walkways and be sure to clean eavestroughs. Mow and trim grass in Summer, rake the leaves in Fall and clear snow paths and driveways in Winter.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve waded through knee-high snow, visiting homes with my buyers or arrived at a home that hasn’t been mown in 3 weeks. You don’t want your Buyers’ first visit to begin as a hiking “adventure”.

Things To Don’t…

1. Don’t Decorate

Ah, I got ya there, didn’t I? It seems like strange advice coming from a real estate broker who is also an interior designer. But, trust me when I tell you that now is not the time to try all those amazing Pinterest ideas, nor to bring out your inner Martha Stewart. This is not the time for “50 Ways With Fuchsia”, or “How To Hang That Taxidermy Collection”. Choose wisely, appeal broadly and use your accessories sparingly. You don’t want even the most beautiful of decor to become clutter, and worse… steal the limelight! We want your Buyers to see your home and be able to imagine it as theirs. We want them to feel the space, see the windows and realize the potential for imagining their furnishings, and their lives within your home.

2. Don’t Depersonalize… Well not, completely.

Being a designer and real estate broker, my particular expertise is in the preparation of my listings for the market. I’m not of the “Depersonalize Your Home” mindset. I’m no fan of sterile spaces that lack personality either when decorating nor selling a home.

You’ve already got amazing things, they’re there…they merely need to be curated and used creatively to highlight your home’s best features and focal points. It’s not about being decorative as much as it is about drawing the eye to where we want it to go; purposefully.

Personality creates a conversation

And, we want the conversation to be a good one. I cannot count the times my Buying clients have connected with items reflective of the personalities of my Sellers. “Omg I love that picture; it’s the exact spot in NYC where my husband proposed to me!” and, “Oh your son has the same name as ours!” and, “Your daughter won that trophy playing hockey? My daughter plays hockey too!” and, “I just love that artist, I have works by him as well!”. I could go on and on. Please remember it’s all well and good to be yourself…a little. Just don’t go overboard.

Be discriminating in choosing which pieces of art, books or accessories make the “cut”. Use them sparingly and you’ll be more than fine. Glimpses and insights into your personalities are important. They can create a commonality; a bond and a connection to the home and its owners. And that is invaluable when selling your home.

First impressions absolutely do matter

They say, You never get a second chance to make a good first impression”. And in real estate, this holds even truer. So ignore these “To Do’s” if you choose (hey that rhymes) but know that the only second chance you’ll get, is that Centris banner saying “Reduced Price”!

So, follow my “Things To Do” and ”Things To Don’t” and prepare your home right away; even before you decide to list it. That way you get to enjoy the fruits of your labour a little longer. And, if you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me in the comments section or call or text me at 514-795-2610; by email at . Likewise, you can friend me on Facebook.

Additionally, should you be considering selling your home whether in the West Island out in Hudson, or Montreal; give me a call or send me a message. I’d love to learn your real estate needs, provide you with my complimentary analysis of your home’s value and tell you more about my designer-curated staging, the international exposure of Engel & Völkers, and my unique marketing approach for selling your home and obtaining the highest price possible! Let’s have that conversation… I’ll bring the coffee!

Candis Noble
Engel & Völkers • West Island Real Estate Broker •
Interior Designer • 514-795-2610 •