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The Psychology of Selling Your Home


The Perfect Price

The market determines the value or price people are willing to pay for a home in your neighbourhood. Your personal tastes, investment and emotional attachments don’t add additional value to the buyer. That can be a bitter pill to swallow. John Gourville, a marketing professor and expert in buyer behaviour at Harvard Business School says, “The buyer is looking at ‘What are comparable houses selling for?’ and the seller is thinking, ‘What did I pay for this six years ago?’”

Setting the price for your house is one of the biggest decisions you will make. Not only does the price determine how much you stand to make, it also determines whether anyone’s going to take your property seriously. Should you start high, with the expectation that buyers are going to try to bargain you down? Or should you start low, with the hopes of attracting plenty of attention, and the idea that the inevitable discounting is out of the way up front?

Never under price your property. Don’t count on quality buyers entering a bidding war to bring your property’s price up to market value. An unusually low price makes serious buyers suspicious of the value of the property, so you’ll only attract lowballers.

Most real estate experts agree that starting high, with the idea that you can always reduce the price later, can be a very costly mistake. With all the competition out there, your property must pop out immediately as a good value, or potential buyers are likely to move on, and never return. You get one shot at your home’s debut. According to Glenn Kelman, the CEO of Redfin, “The amount of traffic that a listing gets in its first week is five to seven times what it gets in its ensuing weeks. Let’s say you lower the price (later). No one will notice. You really are broadcasting that discount to a much smaller audience of buyers and will have the perception it is damaged goods.” Overvaluing your house can cost you more than time, and most listing sites display the price reductions. “They say, ‘He’s knocked $30k off the price; he’ll do it again.’ It’s death by a thousand cuts,” Kelman adds.

Give your house a reality check. Actively shop online for properties in similar neighbourhoods, the same distance from downtown shopping and amenities, similar calibre schools, and proximity to the nearest work centre. If your property doesn’t stand out as the obvious value, when compared with the properties they can get for the price you’re considering asking, it’s too high. An experienced local real estate specialist can also help you establish your home’s true value, and set the price slightly under that.

People aren’t fooled by pricing gimmicks like adding ‘999’ to the end, but setting a precise number suggests deliberation, and a formula or requirement of some kind. It lends credibility to the price and discourages lowball offers to some degree. A price like $900,000 almost begs, “make us an offer,” while $898,750 suggests the seller knows what they need to get from the sale.

Another thing to consider is search filters on websites. Here you want to choose your competition carefully. Listing websites typically filter in $50,000 or $25,000 increments. If a searcher selects the $850,000 – $900,000 filter, the properties in the upper end of that range will usually look more attractive. But the buyer is also looking for a bargain. The bottom listings will usually be ruled out immediately, as will the ones at the very top. Homes priced 75 – 90% of the way up in a filtered group tend to have the most visibility.

Home vs House

If you’re like most sellers, you’re hoping the buyer keeps your memories alive, will appreciate your taste and the improvements you’ve made, and will care for your home the same as you have. Your real objective, however, should be to have prospective buyers see it has their new home. They may hate the cabinets you selected, and want to completely renovate the kitchen immediately. The wall you took out to create a lovely family area for your growing children may be going back up, to create a bedroom and office.

If you listen for it, you’ll often hear seasoned Realtors refer to the property you’re selling as your “house”, and the one you’re planning to buy as your new “home.” It’s important for you to make that distinction as well. You have to let go of the property — consider it as nothing more than a marketable commodity — so you can identify what the real price should be, and begin the depersonalization process, so buyers can see their own belongings and memories moving in. It’s important to remove family photos, sentimental treasures and other personal items like grooming products.

Using Colour

When selling a home, colour psychology is definitely a factor. You’re looking for colours that appeal the the widest pool of potential buyers. You may love lime green and fuchsia, but few prospective buyers will want those colours on the home they’re moving into. Safe colours are off whites for the walls, with white trim. Light colours reflect natural light and help rooms feel larger. As an alternative to the popular eggshell white, tinting white with a subtle grey, blue, yellow or green can make rooms more inviting. A light blue or green in the bathroom or bedroom can give a sense of cool, quiet serenity. Light yellow in the kitchen or family room can create a cheerful, positive state for house hunters.


A couple with an empty nest has decided to downsize because the big house has become too much to take care of. A young family needs more space, so they require a larger home. They think back of their own moves, or those of their family. The purchase and move were stressful and chaotic, but afterwards, everything fit comfortably, had a place, things were spotless, and there was a calming sense of order. Upgrading or downsizing, it’s  what they’re desperately hoping for following this move. So give them that picture.

If you look at a professionally staged home, it’s completely free of clutter, everything is sparkling and meticulously clean, every object is in its place and has a reason for being in the room. Consider the dining table, as an example. Do you need 6 chairs, or will 4 look less cluttered? House hunters will look in everything. Make sure everything they see is clean, uncluttered and organized.

Creating a Home Selling Plan


If you’ve decided you definitely want to sell your home and make a change — whether relocating, upgrading or downsizing — the best place to start is with a home selling plan.

Your plan may look something like this.

1) Revisit your reason(s) for selling

Your primary reason for selling your home determines the urgency, and urgency can affect the pricing. What made you decide to sell? Desire for profit? Location? The condition of the property? A need for more or less space? The design or style? Accessibility?

It can be more emotionally taxing to sell a home than buy one. You have memories and probably some attachment to the old place. It’s important to have firm reasons you can refer back to.

2) Choosing a REALTOR®

It’s important that you don’t select a real estate agent based upon the largest suggested listing price discussed. An overpriced listing can quickly go stale, making it very challenging to sell. There’s also a much smaller buyer’s pool. A longer stay on the market, for homes that started too high, can also result in lower offers and eventually having to sell well below market value.

Under-pricing your home is equally problematic. You could be losing part of the potential return on your investment. Buyers can also gain a negative perception of the property in the area, from a low price, encouraging even lower offers.

An experienced neighbourhood specialist will advise you on the best price to ensure the home sells quickly, with the highest return you can expect in the current market. Don’t be afraid to ask for a comparative market analysis and the marketing strategy your prospective agent has in mind for your home.

3) Evaluate your finances

It’s important to calculate expenses that will be incurred during the process of selling your house. The final price you are able to accept should reflect both your costs and the potential profit you hope to realize. Some of the costs may include commission to be paid to the agent, special reports and property inspections, conveyance and transaction fees, staging and advertising costs.

You should notify your mortgage lender of your plans to sell the home. You will need to know how much is outstanding on your mortgage and if there are any early redemption penalties. Your Realtor should have given you an idea of your property’s worth and you can calculate how much will have left after the mortgage has been paid off.

The figures will only be approximate at this stage, but it’s important to begin painting the broad strokes of your plan. If you are buying another home, you will want to speak with the mortgage lenders and perhaps even secure pre-approval for your new mortgage.

4) Preparing your home for showing


Obvious maintenance issues should be addressed. Some repairs and renovations aren’t a good investment. An experienced real estate specialist will be able to advise you on which repairs and upgrades can increase the perceived value of the home enough to more than offset the costs.


You can get more for your home if it’s staged. You could hire a professional stager, or ask an experienced Realtor to make recommendations that help you stage it yourself.

Make it sparkle2

Clean or paint the walls and ceilings. Clean the lights, fixtures, fans and flooring. Repair any plumbing leaks. Depersonalize; prospective buyers can’t see themselves living in the home if all of your photos and family memorabilia are everywhere. A brighter home makes a better impression. Turn on all the lights and open the drapes on days the home will be shown.

Boost your curb appeal3

The condition of your property affects not only the price you get, but also the time it takes to sell your place. First impressions matter. Keep the trees and hedges trimmed and grass cut. Clean up any clutter. Apply some fresh paint to the front door and any wooden fences. Clean the windows inside and out. Pressure wash or point the exterior. Make sure any trim, gutters, railings, etc. are firmly attached.

5) Net profits from selling

It’s a good idea to have two net sheets prepared, with a low price and high price. These sheets allow you to prepare for the worst, while hoping for the best. If the lowest net price will let you buy the next home you want, it’s time to find financing.

6) Accepting an offer

Someone’s made an offer… how exciting! Your Realtor® is required pass all offers on to you, even if they’re ridiculous. If you’re not willing to accept the offer, you can reject it outright in the hopes of receiving a better one, or ask your agent to counter. Your Realtor will often come back higher than the price you’re willing to accept, in the hopes of negotiating a final price both parties can live with somewhere in middle.

7) Moving out

You can move out whenever you like, but it’s usually a lot less stressful to move before the day of completion. At the time of completion the property has to be in the condition agreed. It’s a lot easier to give your home a thorough final cleaning and go down your final checklist when it’s empty. The buyers will often come by with their agent between the time you move out and completion to make sure everything is ready.

8) Completing the sale

Completion is when the change of ownership takes place. Payment is accepted and you hand over the keys. The money and deeds are transferred between conveyancers or solicitors. Your conveyancer/solicitor then registers the transfer of ownership.

9) Paying off the mortgage

Your mortgage company will have given you or your conveyancer/solicitor the precise redemption amount of your mortgage for the  day of completion. The buyer has transferred the money to your conveyancer or solicitor, and they will pay out the mortgage on your behalf.

10) Settling up with the solicitor/conveyancer and real estate agent

After completion, your conveyancer/solicitor will provide you with an account that covers all of their costs and disbursements, the sale price of the house and redemption of the mortgage. If you are selling and purchasing at the same time, your conveyancer/solicitor could settle up for both transactions  at the same time.


Related Articles

1 Staging Your Home for a Quick Sale, at the Best Price
2 Attract a Buyer by Making The Interior of Your Home Sparkle
3 Spring Cleaning is the Perfect Time to Increase Your Home’s Curb Appeal

10 Things You Need to Keep in Mind When Buying a Home


Whether you’re upgrading or downsizing, or purchasing your first home, these tips could help you choose the right home, get it for the best price and avoid needless costs. Here are the things you need to keep in mind.

1. Manage your emotional attachment to the home

Buying a home is the largest purchase most people will make. You’ve been thinking about your dream home for years, and when you see almost everything on your checklist right in front of you, it’s hard not to fall in love on the spot. Love at first site is blind, and it’s easy to pay more than you should, take on a larger mortgage than you planned, or miss a few steps or details.

It’s usually best to view at least five competitive properties before signing any contracts. Even if you’re absolutely sure this is the one, looking at a few more will put your mind at ease.

2. Visit the property more than once

Plan to visit the property several times before submitting your offer. If you came with your spouse the first time, consider coming out again with your best friend. More than one perspective, from someone who knows you well, can be helpful. They’ve been listening to your likes and dislikes for years, and their input on whether you’ll be happy in the home can be invaluable.

3. Holding out for a better deal can be risky

There is no way to know if a larger home will come on the market, for less money, a day after you close on the one you’re considering. Market fluctuations will always be part of any real estate transaction. If the home is competitively priced for the area, you really like it, and it meets the needs of your family, there’s no reason to hold off on making a prudent investment.

4. Be wary of bargains

When you see marketing buzzwords designed to lure bargain-hungry buyers, be careful. A house represents a good deal based upon it’s historic price, the area’s comps, current marketing conditions, the home’s features, potential resale value and your family’s needs. If you have to remodel it so you can live in it, chances are it wasn’t a bargain. Buyers decrease their chance of making emotional mistakes dramatically by working with an experienced real estate professional who knows the local market.

5. Spending too much

When you decide to buy a home, you’re going to pay more than just the cost of the house. Some of the additional costs will include inspection reports, home insurance, moving costs and closing costs. As you determine if you can afford the property, make sure you factor in these costs, so there are no surprises later.

You will also want to consider any renovations, the cost of utilities, strata fees where applicable, property taxes and a budget for unforeseen repairs. Don’t be afraid to ask the current owners what they spend a year on bills. Evaluate your fixed costs and leave yourself some breathing room.

6. Spending too little

Focusing only on the price can also be a mistake. If you need a larger home, or have specific requirements, the money you save today could end up going towards a move when you buy the home you actually need. Evaluate your plans over the next five to ten years to determine whether the home you’re considering represents the best long term investment for you.

7. Lowball offers can be expensive

Every home buyer wants the lowest possible price, and it’s your prerogative to negotiate on the price. There’s a big difference, however, between firm negotiations and lowballing. Lowball offers run the risk of being rejected out of hand by the offended seller. There may be no going back after that. If this is your dream home, remodeling second best so it will work could be costly. If the home is a good fit for you, a market savvy professional can help you present a respectful and realistic offer that is not too far off from what you would like, or what the seller will accept.

The seller will usually be invested in the property. Even if you’re a cash buyer, if you actually want to buy the property, it’s best not to insult the seller by throwing out a lowball offer.

8. Be proactive and do your homework

Buying a home that hasn’t been thoroughly vetted could become a large, expensive and regretful mistake. You may feel a lot of pressure to make a quick buying decision, from family members, friends, the seller and your Realtor. If you love the home, you don’t want to take too long, so schedule a home inspection report immediately. Inspections can uncover problems like structural issues, termites, flooding or mould.

Remember, it’s more than a real estate investment. The decision will change your life, so make sure you’re fully engaged during every step of the process.

“A day in the life” can be a very profitable exercise. Walk the neighbourhood and meet some of the neighbours. If you plan to walk your dog to the local park, why not park in front of the home and take your pooch on that walk. Drive to the stores you’ll be shopping at. Check the streets at night. Are the neighbours rowdy, or is it pretty quiet? Buying a house can be both exciting and daunting. Doing your due diligence can get you into your dream home with a bit less stress.

9. Get pre-approved

It’s important to go to lenders before you look at properties. Find out how much they are willing to lend you, so you can focus on homes you are able to afford. It can be very disappointing to find your dream home, only to discover you can’t have it.

10. Evaluate your loan options carefully

Buying a home can be stressful, and there’s a temptation to just sign on the dotted line to get the paperwork over with. Some buyers choose an adjustable rate mortgage to receive a lower interest rate up front, but fail to consider that their rate and monthly payments could increase in the future. Others will jump on a 15-year term, so they can pay off the debt in less time, only to realize they can’t swing the high payments if there are any changes in their income. Taking the time to educate yourself and find the right mortgage for your needs is a very important step in the buying process.

Staging Your Home for a Quick Sale, at the Best Price


Home buyers don’t want to move into “your” home, so prepare a blank canvas with many possibilities.

If you’re thinking of selling, you’ll want to make your home welcoming to prospective buyers. Almost everything that makes your home uniquely “yours” is going to tell them it’s not for them.

Many sellers believe that if the home looks “lived in” it will feel like “home,” and that will automatically resonate with buyers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. It feels like home alright; your home.

When a staging professional comes in, the goal is the make your home appealing to the highest number of potential buyers, so the home sells in less time and for more money. Most staging artists prefer to work with an empty space, so they can start with a blank canvas. When staging a home that’s lived in, and already furnished, there are several steps they will employ.

Here are some of the staging tactics you can utilize to make your home more appealing to buyers.

Define the rooms

When house hunters look at your home, they have specific needs and are looking for certain types of rooms to cover all the bases. They’ll be looking for spaces to serve as bedrooms, offices, games/recreation and family areas, hobby rooms, a den and perhaps a home theatre, to name a few. If they see rooms that are used for several purposes, it can be confusing.

A room that’s used part-time as the dining room, a sewing area and home office space tells the prospective buyer that you didn’t have enough space in the home, so you had to make do by using a space for several purposes at once. They won’t want to find themselves in the same situation, and will likely keep looking for a home with clearly defined rooms, and generous space for everything to fit in neatly.


Many experienced real estate agents will refer to the place you’re selling as a “house” and they one you’re considering purchasing as a “home.” They’re trying to remove the emotional connection you have with the current property. When it comes time to negotiate it’s important for the real estate to be anonymous.

But there’s another important reason to begin de-personalizing as soon as the decision has been made to sell. You’ll notice that staging professionals don’t put up family pictures or quirky pieces of artwork. In fact, they’ll recommend these personal items be boxed up and stored until the property sells. People can’t see the possibilities your home offers to them, when everywhere they look they see your stamp of ownership.

Home buyers can also become distracted by your life, and the interesting collections and knick-knacks in it, so they lose sight of the reason they’re there.

The walls and flooring in staged homes usually have neutral colours and the furnishings are designed to define each living space of a room, without overwhelming the space. Every piece works with the rest of the room, and is designed to appeal to most people that will view the property.

Put away the family photos, the sports trophies, knick-knacks, collectibles and souvenirs. The same goes for unusual furnishings. If you have rooms that have been painted in loud colours, you should consider re-painting in a neutral tone. This is one time you do not want to flaunt your individuality.


The number one reason buyers give for moving to a new home is they’re running out of space where they are. If your rooms are filled with stuff, chances are your place will appear to have less space than the one they’re currently in. Buyers need to see the space they’re getting.

The best real estate photographer won’t be able to make a cluttered home appear spacious. You have to become absolutely ruthless with clutter, pack things up and store them out of sight. Not only is your property more likely to sell with less stuff, but you’re getting a jump on packing for your new place. You are also emotionally beginning the move, making it much easier when the time comes.

Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance. If you need some help in deciding what needs to go, be sure to ask a real estate or staging professional, or a professional organizer.

Sort things into three categories: things moving with you, things to donate, and things to toss. As an alternative to giving items to charity, you might consider holding a garage sale.

Get your personal spaces in order

Clutter likes to hide in corners, so you need to look beyond what the eye can see. Home buyers will look into everything. They will open the dishwasher, fridge, oven, washer, dryer, cabinets, closets, and they’ll even look under beds. If you’re thinking of clearing the clutter from the main living areas into the closets, think again. Piles of boxes in closets and the garage will not make your property appear spacious. That’s what storage rental units are for.

One of the things home buyers look forward to most is the sense of order that usually follows the move into a new place. There’s plenty of space and everything is neatly stored in a designated place. The place looks and smells clean. That hope is quickly dashed if they find dirty dishes in the dishwasher, smelly socks in the hamper in the closet, kids toys strewn across the room and teenage posters on the wall.

When they open a bedroom closet, they should see clothes neatly hung, all facing the same way, and shoes organized. Be sure to clean the floors in the closets. If they open a cabinet, shelves should be wiped clean, and dishes should all be tidy, with cup handles facing the same way. The food items in the pantry should be arranged with labels facing forward. Bathroom towels should be hung neatly, in descending order. The sink, tub and toilet should be spotless, and there should be a fresh bar of soap in the soap dish. One or two vases of fresh cut flowers should be strategically placed in rooms, to invite buyers to walk in.

The takeaway

If the agent ushers the home buyers in, and they experience the same “wow” factor they get when the bellhop opens the doors to an executive luxury suite, providing the price is on point, the home is staged for a quick sale.

Attract a Buyer by Making The Interior of Your Home Sparkle

Attract a Buyer by Making The Interior of Your Home Sparkle


Sellers only get one chance to make a good first impression. People definitely will judge the book by its cover. Most homeowners understand the importance of curb appeal, and will go to great lengths to spruce up the outside of the home. But little turns a buyer off faster than entering the home, only to discover the pages don’t match the cover. If the interior is dirty, poorly maintained, outdated, or there are lingering odours, the second impression can be a deal breaker.

In addition to neglect, trying too hard can also be a mistake. A heavy renovation just prior to selling may suggest the home was in serious disrepair, and that the problems could extend beyond the visible upgrades.

Smaller updates that suggest the house has been well maintained, and that style elements have been kept up to date, can often be just as effective, and will be better for your bottom line.

Clean it and make it smell fresh

The first thing home buyers will notice is if the home is clean. A neat, organized house is far more attractive than one that is a mess. Blasting the home with Febreze before a showing raises red flags. It should smell clean because it is clean. If your home is being shown, you may want to avoid cooking with fish, potent spices, onions or garlic.

One way to ensure that the house is well organized is actually having a designated place for everything, and seeing that items are returned after use. This is particularly important when you have children. You may want to practise getting the home tidy on short notice for a showing, making a family game of it.

Dispose of the garbage before it begins to smell. Clean any dirty dishes. Dispose of any spoiling food in the fridge and don’t store dirty dishes in the dishwasher. (Like it or not, people will look in there.) Keep the home well ventilated.


A well-lit house is welcoming. Great lighting can significantly improve the perceived value of your home. If you’re thinking of selling, take a walk through the rooms to determine whether there is sufficient lighting. Lighting in this case covers both natural and artificial lighting. Make sure that the windows are not obstructed, unnecessarily limiting the amount of natural light getting inside the house. When it comes to artificial light fixtures check that the lights are all working and have the brightest bulbs the fixture ratings permit.

Having lights that were installed ten or twenty years ago can make your home appear very dated. Every time a prospective buyer sees something they’re going to have to upgrade, they tend to inflate the costs of those updates in their minds. It’s better to address some of the things potential buyers are going to want to change. If your home has dated or poor lighting, a very modest investment in some new fixtures can go a long way in making your home sparkle.


The little things that don’t seem to matter are often what sell homes. Your door knobs and cabinet handles, as well as towel racks, matter. A new set of knobs on the cabinets can do wonders. Also shop for some modern, attractive door knobs to replace any old worn out ones. Brushed stainless, nickel or brass are a good choice for door knobs and handles.


Holes in the walls, hand prints and other marks, and old peeling or faded paint signal neglect. Bright colours in children’s rooms may please the kids, but will represent a paint job to most prospective buyers. Be cautious of bright colours and those potential clients might dislike. Warm soft colours will appeal to the broadest range of potential buyers.

If you’re tackling the painting yourself, take the time to fill holes, sand any rough spots and mask the edges with care. A sloppy paint job can send a negative message.

Polish the floors

Floors are often forgotten. Female buyers in particular are likely to notice floors that haven’t been cared for, and it’s only natural to assume the neglect extends to other areas of the house. Inspect the floors in your home for broken tiles, cracks in the hardwood or tears in the linoleum. Also check the baseboards for damage, discolouration and scuffs. Often inexpensive repairs can be made with materials available at the local hardware store. Clean the floors thoroughly and then give them a polish.


Squeaky hinges, and broken or marked up doors, also indicate neglect. A squirt of oil on the hinges and a fresh coat of paint  can go a long way. Replacing doors is generally not necessary, unless a door is broken. Choose a semi-gloss paint designed for doors and trim, and apply it with either a foam roller or Purdy brush. If you use a brush, make sure all of the strokes are parallel to the long axis.

Cabinets and counters

Give your cabinets a thorough cleaning. Tattered drawer and shelf liners should be replaced. If the cabinets look dated, they can often be refreshed with a coat of Melamine paint on the cases and perhaps a replacement set of modern doors.

If old laminate countertops are in serviceable condition, but the colour is out of date, or there are stains and burn marks, a coat of Melamine paint in a contemporary colour can bring them back to life. Granite and marble countertops can be polished to restore their original lustre.

Curtains and window blinds

Curtains and blinds must be clean and in good condition. Begin by vacuuming draperies with a gentle upholstery brush, and dusting the blinds. If your window coverings are in need of professional cleaning, you’ll want to call one of the local services. Where curtains and blinds are damaged or in poor condition, or very out of date, it may be time to invest in new ones.

Electrical plates and switches

Even though your electrical plates and switches may be working perfectly, it might be a good idea to replace them with modern items. Besides looking dated, old electrical items can suggest that the home’s electrical system needs work.

The modern family has many electronic devices and appliances to plug in. Older homes typically had very few outlets, and this can be a red flag to a family that loves their gadgets. In primary rooms, you may want to have an electrician come in to install a few more electrical receptacles.

Spring Cleaning is the Perfect Time to Increase Your Home’s Curb Appeal


Since we were very young, most of us have been told not to judge a book by its cover. But the simple fact is, people do. Marketing psychologists claim that people take only about eight seconds to determine whether they are going to consider a home or not, based upon seeing it from the curb.

An appealing front view tells the buyers that the house is well maintained and things are in order, while an unattractive first look suggests otherwise. Like it or not, appearance is everything when it comes to buying and selling homes, and if you want your home to command attention there are some things you can do during spring cleaning that can greatly improve the value of your home.

General cleaning

Cleaning your home’s curb itself is a vital step that is often overlooked. Next you’ll want to sweep and then pressure wash your driveway to get rid of tire marks from cars and bicycles, and footsteps. Children’s chalk drawings have to go. Any mud, sand and dirt on the driveway should of course be removed. Grass growing at the side of the driveway, that is slowly creeping inward, should be trimmed. Edging your driveway insures there is a clear division between the end of the lawn and the pavement. Grass growing in cracks should be pulled. A few squirts of weed killer can keep them from coming back in the near future.

Pick up any litter that is around the home. Any unused items that are lying around the compound should also be removed from view.

The front door

The entry is the most important part when it comes to the visual impression of the house. It doesn’t matter how good the house is inside, the front door must be attractive and feel inviting.

Consider painting the front door in an attractive colour that provides contrast, while fitting the home’s palette. The best way to paint, stain or varnish your door is to take it down and remove all the hardware. Any peeling paint should be scraped free, and then the door should be sanded with fine grit paper and cleaned with a degreaser like T.S.P. A brush may be required to get into contoured areas. Make sure you use long smooth strokes, so there are no visible brush strokes when dry. For flat areas, a foam roller works well. Give the door ample drying time before rehanging.

If the door dates the home, or looks out of place on the street, consider replacing it.

Garage door

While tending to the front door, take a look at the garage door(s). If you’re repainting the front door, or replacing it with a new one, you’ll want to be sure the garage door looks great too, and still matches.


A fresh coat of paint is usually one of the least expensive investments, and can be a simple do-it-yourself project, with visual improvements that can often make a home look dramatically more appealing in less than a day. But if done poorly, painting can leave a negative impression. Drips, sloppy edges and brush marks send a message that the rest of the home has been poorly cared for as well.


Good lighting makes the home appear lively and more secure. Dated fixtures send the message that the interior is also very out of date, and quite likely in need of a very expensive renovation. Investing in some modern, stylish fixtures can make a big difference, even during the daytime. Locate some matching lights for the driveway. If there are dark areas to the side of the home, consider adding some security lighting.


Planting flowers is one of the easiest and most cost effective ways of improving the perceived value of your home. Some common places to plant flowers are along the driveway, in beds around the house, in flower boxes and in large pots near the door.

Remember to inquire at the local nursery about flowers that grow well in your locality and consult on how best to grow them.

Mailbox and house number

Many people really don’t think about the appearance of the mailbox, as long as it’s serving its purpose. If you have a box at the road, this might be the time to replace that old leaning mailbox. Consider building a new mailbox stand that matches with the finish of your house. Also remember to carefully paint the mailbox itself, or replace it with a modern and attractive one. Remember, your mailbox makes a statement about the finishes of your home, and how you care for things.

If you have a mail slot, make sure the metal has been polished, or has a fresh coat of paint.

House numbers also say a lot about the state of your home. Rusty, crooked, falling or invisible numbers are an indicator that the entire home is in a state of neglect. It’s simple to buy new house number plates and fasten them where they are easy to read. Use a bubble level to set a reference line, pay attention to using equal spacing between letters, and where applicable, the centring of the letters. If your letters have been previously painted, and the mounting is good, removing them and applying a fresh coat of rust paint may be all that’s required.

Trees and bushes

It doesn’t matter how beautiful your home is if it’s hard to see. Carefully manicured greenery will complement the look of your home. Trees and bushes that obstruct the view of the house, or create dark shadowy areas that pose a security risk, should be trimmed.

Windows and exterior of the home

We’re all busy these days, and it’s easy to clean the interior of the house and forget about the outside. Consider pressure washing the exterior of your house to get rid of the deeply embedded dirt and anything that might have been clinging to the walls. Keep an eye open for anything that needs repairs or a bit of paint.

Windows that sparkle make a huge difference to the perceived value. You’ll notice that the jeweller always gives the ring a quick polish with a soft cloth before presenting it.

The house next door

Don’t let all your hard work be ruined by your neighbour who has garbage all over. Neighbours matter a lot, because this is the neighbourhood your prospective buyers are considering moving into. If your neighbour has garbage lying about, or an untrimmed lawn, you might pop over and explain that you’ve been bitten by the spring cleaning bug, and wonder if it might be okay to give their lawn a quick trim while you’re doing yours. It’s so much simpler than quarrelling with them, and will go a long way in improving the curb appeal of your home.

Getting the Best Price for your Riley Park / Little Mountain Home

Getting the Best Price for your Riley Park / Little Mountain Home


Riley Park / Little Mountain has seen a significant increase in property values as interest in detached houses has shifted towards East Vancouver. Riley Park in particular has become a hot spot for detached buyers because it straddles East and West. It has two thriving hubs of restaurants, grocery stores, and boutiques, along Main Street as well as Cambie Street. Young families love Riley Park because it’s a great atmosphere for both children and adults. It’s near some outstanding parks, like Queen Elizabeth, offers easy access to downtown and is neighbour to Mount Pleasant and Sunset.

If you’re a home owner in Riley Park, considering a move, downsizing or upgrading to a larger home, it’s an outstanding time to sell your home for top dollar, capitalizing on the current demand.

Unfortunately, even though Riley Park’s a popular area, it will probably take a bit more than putting up a for sale sign and waiting for a bidding war to ensue.

Here are some things you can do to make your home more attractive to buyers.

Check your home’s curb appeal

Take a long slow drive by your own home. Does it look amazing? Does it look as good as the day you first checked it out? If prospective buyers don’t like the outside, chances are they will never come inside.  Make sure the lawn is mowed, bushes trimmed, flower beds weeded and sidewalks swept. Polish the house number and door latch. Clean the front door, and consider a coat of paint if it’s faded.

Fix things that are broken

Replace burnt out light bulbs, doors that don’t close properly, and cracked tiles. If the faucet is leaking, have it fixed. Refresh worn bed linens.

If there are any holes in the walls, have them patched and painted. If you have any brightly coloured walls, consider having them repainted in neutral colours. Most people are not very good at visualizing decor possibilities, so you don’t want them leaving with only the memory of the colours they absolutely hated. HomeGain respondents estimated the cost of “lightening and brightening” a home at $230 and the pay-off at $1,300 — a whopping 570% return on investment.

If the roof is leaking, or there is remaining evidence that there was a problem a while ago, these are things you want to take care of. The fear of potential costly repairs can kill a deal, or give the buyer a reason to negotiate for a much lower price.

Consider having your house professionally inspected before it’s shown, and providing your agent with a copy of your home’s glowing  report card.

Make it sparkle

If you want the buyer to pay for a priceless gem, the home must look like one. People will pay considerably more for a spotless turnkey home than they will for one that will require a lot of elbow grease and investment before it can feel like home.

You only get one chance to make a great first impression. A 2010 Home Sale Maximizer Survey by the blog HomeGain estimated the cost of scouring and organizing a house at about $200 and the expected home price increase at $1,700. That’s a whopping 870% return on your investment and a very good reason to give your home a thorough once-over.

Before your home is shown, rent a pressure washer and clean the sidewalks and exterior. Sweep the leaves out of the valleys on the roof. Wash the windows inside and out.

Vacuum the carpets several times a week. Dust the furniture, polish the floors, clean the ceiling fan blades and light fixtures. Check for any cobwebs. Recaulk the tubs, showers and sinks, and bleach any discoloured grout. Polish the mirrors and chrome. Clean out the refrigerator and throw out any old food, bottles and jars.

Make it smell fresh and clean

Air the house out and address any musty areas or sources of odours. Smells can be a turn-off, and it’s a good idea to limit cooking with garlic, onions, heavy spices or fish if the home will be shown the following day.

You can rent machines that will get rid of almost any smell. If you can’t freshen a smelly carpet or drapes, consider replacing them.

Let there be light

If your light fixtures are more than 10 years old, they are neither trendy or vintage. You can pick up a few stylish new fixtures for $100 – $250, and the transformation can be stunning.

Replace the hardware

Kitchens and bathrooms sell homes. Replacing all the cabinets can be costly, but switching handles or knobs and towel racks,  with brushed nickel or aged brass, can be an affordable option.

Define the rooms

Buyers need to understand the living space. A dining room that’s also being used as an office, playroom and eating area is confusing. If they do not see a dining room, they could come to the conclusion that the home doesn’t have enough space to suit their needs. And people count bedrooms. If you’ve converted one to a home gym or office, staging it with bedroom furniture can make or break the sale.


Potential buyers are looking for a blank canvas, a home they can move into and make their own. If you have a lot of furniture, knick-knacks, photos  and toys, your place may appear far too small to fit their stuff in.

Most house hunters will not be able to visualize the space with all your stuff gone. If your home suffers from clutter, you will have to get tough. If you haven’t used something for a year, put it in storage, donate it or toss it out.

In 2016, most people will first check out your home on the Internet. Even a professional photographer, who specializes in making homes look gorgeous online, won’t be able to make a cluttered home look spacious and inviting on the web.


Buyers need to see themselves living in your home. That can be difficult to do if your photos and artifacts are everywhere.

Get your bedrooms, closets and cabinets in order

Do you find the thought of strangers opening your cabinet and closet doors unsettling? You need to come to terms with that, because they will. Instead of worrying about it, use this as an opportunity to show them what an organized space they will have if this is their home.

It’s also natural for them to conclude that if you have taken such meticulous care of the places people don’t look, everything else in the home must have received the same loving care and attention to detail.

Hang like clothing together in the closet, shirts and blouses buttoned, all facing the same way. Line all the shoes up neatly in pairs. Buff the shoes if they need it. Check the laundry hamper every day. If anything smells funky, run that load of laundry. Sachet bags of potpourri can cover up mild clothing doors, but if the first whiff isn’t great when the doors open, a trip to the dry cleaners is advisable.

In the kitchen, stack your dishes neatly, turn the handles of coffee cups so they all face the same way, and hang the towels neatly. Don’t just put dirty dishes in the dishwasher, out of the way. Home buyers assume appliances will stay with the home, so they will look in there.

If the children’s rooms are typically messy, consider investing in a large toy box, and run a few drills in which the kids are enlisted to help get the house show ready within minutes. Make a game of it.

Remove or replace items you don’t want to part with

If there are favourite light fixtures, furnishings and appliances, that you absolutely want to keep, it’s a good idea to remove them before the house is shown. Some items, like appliances, may have to be replaced. If it’s not in the home when they view it, they won’t expect it to be included with the home. Trying to omit items later can result in unnecessary tension during the closing.

Pricing it right

When interviewing agents, it can be tempting to pick the one who promises the top selling price. Unfortunately, over-pricing a house doesn’t help anyone. If yours is priced too high, you’ll actually be helping to move homes in the neighbourhood that are priced right.

The first week the home is shown is the most critical because that’s usually when it will receive the most attention. If it’s overpriced, you could miss an opportunity. If it’s underpriced, you’ll be leaving money on the table. An experienced agent that knows the local market should be able to help you price the home at market value, and it should sell quickly.

Enlist the help of a pro

Choose an experienced real estate agent that specializes in the Main Street area, and is intimately familiar with the Riley Park / Little Mountain neighbourhood. Even in a popular area like Riley Park, it takes some selling to get top dollar for your home.

The takeaway

If something isn’t working, successful sellers have the ability to fail quickly, making decisive and effective adjustments to their strategy.

If it’s difficult to get showings, chances are the price is too high. If, on the other hand, there’s a steady stream of buyers touring the home, but the offers aren’t coming in, there’s something about the house that’s putting them off. The problem must be identified and corrected.

To sell your Riley Park home for top dollar will take some hard work and a commitment to show your home to it’s greatest advantage. The list above should point you in the right direction.