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10/09 - Selling, Staging

How to Get Your Home Ready to Sell

Pre-Staging Checklist | FM Design |

Pre-Staging Checklist: Preparing Your Home to Sell

The first thing that I notice at an initial visit for most properties about to go on the market (well, maybe the second after I absorb the entire space) is, “what do we need to do before we can start staging the property and/or what to we need to address during staging?”. These are little things that you might not even notice anymore, but a potential buyer will. I get it, by the time I’m in a space people have already made the decision to sell. So, their relationship with their space has changed. But, in my opinion, if the work needs to be done, why wait? Do the work now and enjoy the fruits of your labour while you’re still enjoying your space. This starts with a solid pre-staging checklist. 


7 Things That Should Be On Your Pre-Staging Checklist

Make your pre-staging checklist and get things done. Take a supercritical walkthrough and itemize everything you’d want to do to sell your home. To clarify, not everything that you’d want to do to your home, but everything you think your real estate agent would tell you to do to appeal to potential buyers. 

These are the biggest things that I notice and they are mostly super easy fixes. So, set aside a few hours over a few weekends, tackle this pre-staging checklist. Then, enjoy your home in its pre-staged condition until you’re ready to take it to market.


1. Dirty Walls

Pre-Staging Checklist: Dirty Walls | FM Design[image via Unsplash]

True story. I did a pre-staging walkthrough of a unit once and the walls were covered with kids’ drawings. Not like art taped all over the walls, but walls that had been used as a canvas by not-so-budding young artists. To sell the unit we had to paint the unit. That’s extreme dirt. But so many walls are filthy. Filthy. 

You should be repainting your walls every five to ten years. More if they are high traffic areas. I’ve seen too many condos that have never been painted beyond the basic builder white…and I don’t think that paint is meant to last more than about a year. If it’s not time to repaint yet then I strongly suggest getting a Magic Eraser (no, this is not an affiliate link) and giving your walls a good scrub. You’ll want to do this especially in high traffic areas around light switches. I’m guessing that most of your walls are dirtier than you think.


2. The Small Things You’ve Learned to Just Put Up With

Pre-Staging Checklist: Small Things | FM Design[image via Pexels]

A toilet handle that you have to jiggle just so. Or, a microwave fan that’s never properly worked. Cracks in the window sills or walls or tile floors. A leaky faucet. Every property has a few flaws that you just learn to live with. You’ve likely noticed them but they keep getting bumped down the priority list. I’ll notice them when I visit for a walkthrough to complete my own pre-staging checklist. Potential buyers will notice them too. I’ll likely ask you to fix them, so why wait?


3. Ceilings. What’s Going On Up There?

Pre-Staging Checklist: Ceilings | FM Design[image via Pixabay]

Chances are, you’ve lived with cracks and small discolorations in your ceilings without more than a second glance. To a potential buyer, they are often an indication there’s a problem. If this is indeed a problem, then you should investigate and fix it. If it’s just cosmetic, then enlist a handy person to patch and repair the damage. Or, if it’s minor, a patch and paint touch-up may do the trick. A coat of paint on the ceiling will really make it look like new.


4. Grotty Bathrooms

Pre-Staging Checklist: Grotty Bathrooms | FM Design[image via Pexels]

Dirty bathrooms = yuck! I’m not going to tell you to clean your toilet and mirrors. We all know better, right? But soap scum or residue on glass shower doors or the bottom of tubs are easy to overlook. I use an eco-friendly all-purpose cleaning paste (Universal Stone) to wipe my shower doors and tub once a week. This is great for keeping the residue at bay – so is a professional cleaning service.

Unless you are uber diligent about drying your tub or shower after each use, chances are the silicone/grout/caulking/whatever you want to call it, is going to get a little mouldy. It’s gross. It’s a super easy DIY and super cheap to reseal your tub.


5. Dingy Windows

Pre-Staging Checklist: Dingy Windows | FM Design[image via Pinterest]

I’d say, 90% of the time I’ll suggest you wash your windows. And, 50% of the time if you’re a condo dweller, I’ll wash them for you. I know, I know. It’s difficult to keep the windows clean especially if you’re close to construction or any major roads – and that’s most of Toronto. But seriously, a little elbow grease goes a long way and clean windows make such a huge difference.

Don’t forget the screens. Dirty screens are like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. Soapy water and a brush are really all it takes to remove the layer of grime and city pollution from the screens. Once the window to your world is clean, clear and sparkling you’ll wonder why you didn’t make this a regular part of your cleaning routine!


6. Declutter. What’s With All the Stuff?

Pre-Staging Checklist: Declutter | FM Design[image via Unsplash]

This could be a separate post all on its own. Trust me. If you’ve got overflowing and jam-packed cupboards, closets, dressers and drawers you’re telling potential buyers that storage is a real problem. Maybe it is. Or maybe that’s why you’re moving. Maybe you’ve just got too much stuff.

Why wait until you’re ready to move to get rid of the stuff you just don’t use or need? One of the reasons I love moving is because it forces me to pack away stuff and figure out what I actually need and use. It’s also one of the reasons that moving stresses me out so much. It is so liberating to do a “mock move” at least once a year and say goodbye to the clutter.


7. Why Are You Living in the Dark?

Pre-Staging Checklist: Living in the Dark | FM Design[image via Est Living]

When I stage a property I make sure that every single light is on and your space is bright. I usually have to replace at least one burnt bulb. In fact, I’ve staged a stunning condo where an entire ceiling fixture never worked. Not once in over ten years. The seller was thrilled at how one light could make such a difference. I know – you don’t want all the lights on all the time. I get it. But, trust me, you’ll feel so much better in a space without dark shadows where there should be light.

I’ll also swap out light bulbs so that they all produce the same light. I personally find uneven lighting very disconcerting so I’ll ensure all the bulbs are the same wattage and output. A mismatched ceiling with some soft white bulbs and some bright white bulbs look, well, mismatched – and it’s such an easy fix.


What’re You Waiting For? Start Doing Your Pre-Staging Checklist.

These are the big little things that I notice when I visit a property – not the big big things, like structural issues that might get flagged in a building inspection. That’s not my forte. The big little things are easy fixes. Why wait to fix them until you’re ready to move. They really are little things that might just make you “love it” before you’re ready to “list it”. 

As the days get colder and we start spending more time indoors to prepare for our winter hibernation (or is that just me?) we owe it to ourselves to ensure that our homes are as cozy and well-loved as possible.


This article is written by Kathy Mighton, Project Manager and Lead Designer here at Fox Marin Associates. She is FM Design’s creator of well-crafted spaces that inspire and impress! A true design enthusiast, there are not enough walls or surfaces in Kathy’s life to display all the art that she loves.