Tips on getting your home show-ready before listing

When you go to an open house, the house is in pristine condition and is staged beautifully. It's set up to show its beauty, space and livability. In reality, there's been a ton of prep-work done before that "for sale" sign goes up in an effort to get the maximum dollar value for the house. Yes, your professional real estate agent will often help you with the staging aspect, but there are plenty of things you can do beforehand to help your own cause.

I give my clients these tips and advice before the listing goes live to reduce stress during the selling process and to increase the speed of the sale.

Clean everything

Shampoo the carpets and polish the floors. Wash the walls, windows, blinds, drapes and lighting fixtures and dust the ceiling fans. Kitchens and bathrooms should be absolutely may want to hire a cleaning service, which is definitely a justified investment. In the kitchen, remove any unnecessary clutter on counter tops. Clean the stove, fridge and microwave.

On the exterior, clean anything that is dirty. Polish light fixtures, remove dirt and cobwebs from anything that is broken or worn. Wash the windows. Pay careful attention the front entrance as this is a prospective purchaser's first impression of your home, so make sure it is a beautiful one. A few of my clients have painted the exterior for an inexpensive makeover.

Organize storage areas

Storage areas and closets need attention too. Now is the time to organize the garage sale you've been putting off, or to make a few trips to Value Village/Salvation Army. It helps de-clutter your house and it's less to move into your new place.

Make repairs

If there are any items that need repair, now is the best time to tend to them. Whether it's dripping faucets, squeaking doors, chipped paint, etc. In the bathroom, re-caulk the tub if necessary and be sure the tiles sparkle. Ensure the problems are resolved before your home is on the market. Often times, if a prospective purchaser notices these unattended items, they may wonder if there are other unseen problems. Also, consider adding a fresh coat of paint in a neutral colour that will brighten the interior if you want to take the extra step.

Tour the house like a buyer

Do a thorough walk through of your house, inside and out and take detailed notes. View your property through the eyes of a prospective purchaser. Note items that need attention without worrying about the time or cost. You can review the list and determine which items you are able to remedy yourself and which ones require the help of a professional.

Empty the garage

In the garage eliminate as much clutter as possible. Hose the floors to lift off dust/dirt/leaves/etc. If you have a two-car garage, ensure that prospective purchasers can visualize parking both their vehicles inside.


Clients that have followed the aforementioned advice have sold their house faster, have had terrific "showings" to prospective purchasers, and increased their chances of selling their house above the listed rate. Yes, it can be a lot of work, but remember, you're investing in yourself and your family. 

Holly Maricotti is in the top 1% for the Toronto and Mississauga Real Estate Board & Sutton in Canada. She's one of Mississauga's premier real estate agents and has earned Top Performer status several times over the past decade. For more information, visit