Staging involves reorganizing, refreshing and reducing; identifying the target market; editing, merchandizing and showcasing, so the potential buyer does not feel like a guest but rather feels at home. Both the interior and exterior of a property are important. Curb appeal is critical. A staged home draws in a buyer as it presents its best first impression. It is arranged so as to appeal to as broad a range of buyers as possible. A staged home is prepared in terms of repairs and condition so that the buyer will see no reasons to lower their offered price or go elsewhere.

Today’s average home buyers are educated, savvy and in a hurry; looking for a “toothbrush house”— plunk their toothbrush in the holder and get on with their lives. They want a house that requires no work or changes, and offers the lifestyle they desire. A buyer will form an impression of a home within the first five seconds. That may be all the time a seller has to put their home’s best foot forward.

Consider the demographic realities of the current Canadian real estate market. The average first time buyer is 32 years old. The average seller, on the other hand, is 57. There are significant differences in how these two parties spend their money and view the world. A typical 32 year old buyer expects instant happy, has little or no cash flow, is willing to carry a big mortgage, and has no repair or maintenence skills. Staging provides the necessary bridge between the different lifestyles of the buyer and seller.

In many cases the critical first impressions of a home are formed online. In fact over 90% of people across Canada home shop online. Buyers decide from the pictures they are shown whether to view a house or not. Pictures of a staged home show the property at its best. A recent study showed that while 28% of the interior value of a home is determined by its floorplan and room sizes, a whopping 72% of its value is for how it is presented, which the seller can control.


  • 94% of buyers aged 25-44 use the internet to search for homes. Photos that draw in buyers are key. (NAR profile of home buyers and sellers 2008)
  • 79% do drive-by’s first. Staging the exterior of a listing is as critical as staging the interior. (NAR profile of home buyers and sellers 2008)
  • A 1-3% investment in professional staging has a 69% return. (NAR)
  • 63% of buyers will pay more for Move-In-Ready homes. Staging professionals address the potential concerns of buyers which could reduce an offered price.(Maritz Research 2006)
  • 87% of 15,000 people surveyed online said home presentation makes a difference. Staging allows the first impression to be the best impression. (AOL Money and Finance Poll 2006)
  • 90% of the buying population cannot visualize the potential of a property. These buyers do not see beyond just what is shown them. (Canadian Staging Professionals 2010)
  • 79% of sellers are willing to spend up to $50,000 to get their property ready for sale. The investment of home staging is actually much less than this amount. (Maritz Research 2006)
  • The National Association of Realtors found the average home staging investment is between 1 and 3 percent of the home owner’s asking price, which generates a return on investment of 8 to 10 percent!
  • Professionally staged homes present and show better than competing houses for sale, including new construction homes and higher-priced houses.
  • Staged properties will sell faster when compared with houses that have not been staged. From the date of listing until the day of closing, home staging shortens this time frame, even in a slow real estate market.
  • Buyers view staged listings as “well-maintained”
  • Buyers’ agents recognize that professionally staged listings are “move-in” ready and are inclined to show staged properties.
  • Photos of professionally staged listings look better in print and web media.
  • Professionally staged listings “stand-out” in prospective buyers minds.
  • A survey by Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corp. found that staged homes spent half the time on the market than non-staged homes and sold for more than 6 percent above the asking price.

1. Plan Ahead

  • Walk through each room and criticize the home from a buyer’s perspective.
  • Ask a few local real estate professionals for their advice.
  • Consider getting a professional home inspection to see if any repairs are needed.
  • Hire a contractor to handle any major projects.
  • Consider getting an appraisal to find out your current market value.
  • Hold a yard sale. Sell, donate or trash anything you don’t need.
  • 2. Clean, Declutter and Depersonalize
  • Thoroughly clean the entire home.
  • Scrub tile in the kitchen and bathrooms.
  • Clean hardwood floors, re-wax if necessary to make it look newer, cleaner and better.
  • Steam clean carpets. Consider replacing carpet if stains are prominent.
  • Remove heavy drapes and let more natural light in.
  • Get rid of all dust bunnies.
  • Repair cracks and holes in the walls.
  • Paint interior walls with neutral colors, like light grays, cream or light pastels. Pale blues are good for bathrooms.
  • Remove excess and oversized furniture.
  • Rearrange furniture to maximize space.
  • Organize room closets and store out-of-season clothes.
  • Remove all small appliances, toys, magazines and pet items.
  • Remove family photos, personal collections, and medications.
  • Remove items from the garage and store them off site.
  • Secure valuable items, including cash and jewelry.

3. Maximize Curb Appeal

  • Paint the home’s exterior, including trim, doors and shutters.
  • Check front door, doorbell, address number and welcome mat.
  • Power wash the siding and windows.
  • Inspect the roof and make repairs as needed.
  • Repair cracks in the driveway and sidewalks.
  • Sweep the entryway and walkways.
  • Mow, water and fertilize the lawn.
  • Trim shrubs and trees and rake the leaves.
  • Plant colorful flowers and shrubs.
  • Store any toys or equipment lying in the yard.
  • Clean up pet droppings.
  • Clean the gutters and downspouts.

4. Pay Attention to Kitchens and Bathrooms

  • Mop and wax/polish the floors (highly recommended!).
  • Clear the countertops.
  • Replace outdated hardware.
  • Clean appliances and fixtures.
  • Clean and organize the pantry, cabinets, and drawers.
  • Replace old caulking around sinks and bathtubs.
  • Remove stains from sinks, toilets, and bathtubs.
  • Keep all toilet seat lids closed.
  • Hang fresh towels.

5. Appeal to the Senses

  • Replace busted light bulbs and install higher wattage incandescent light bulbs to brighten rooms.
  • Turn on all the lights.
  • Open windows to let in fresh air and let the house breath.
  • Open curtains or blinds to let in natural light and show off views.
  • Turn off TVs.
  • Relocate pets on the day of the open house.
  • Refrain from smoking in the home.

6. Show Off Your Home’s Best Features

  • Remove rugs to show off hardwood floors.
  • Pull back drapes to showcase nice views.
  • Stage the front porch or deck with furniture and potted plants.
  • Make sure fireplaces are in working condition.
  • Clean the backyard and pool area.

7. Prepare for the Open House

  • Hold an exclusive brokers’ open house to let local agents know your home is on the market. Offer food and refreshments.
  • Inform family, friends, and neighbors of the date and time of your open house.
  • Put ads in real estate publications and on social media (it’s free!).
  • Put up “Open House” signs on the front lawn and at nearby intersections with directions to the house.
  • Create property description sheets and prepare important documents, such as homeowner’s association rules, inspection reports, and purchase offer forms.