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As the Toronto real estate market goes through its shift towards becoming a balanced market, Sellers will find more competition from other similar properties trying to get the attention of the perspective buyers.

Now more than ever is the need to distinguish the property, and examine the benefits of staging when the time comes to sell.

As a Seller, you must first separate your emotional attachment to your home and look at it as a product to sell. This enables you to assess what has to be fixed, cleaned out and changed to prepare it for the marketplace and buyers. You’ll want to package your house or condo so that it’s attractive to the buyers and that they’re choosing your property over the competition.

As real estate markets are forever changing, so are marketing strategies as they are geared to gain the attention of the public that are considering making a purchase either now or in the near future. To gain an edge when your property is ready to sell involves a number of factors beginning at being priced right and presenting itself better than the competition. The most effective and proven method of packaging your property and gaining that competitive advantage is to Stage your property to sell!

A large number of newly built condos and lofts in Toronto are tempting buyers with seductive model suites that have been designed to highlight the floor plans and special features using colour, furniture, art and lighting fixtures. The buyers immediately are able to relate to the mood of the suite and begin to envision themselves relaxing on that sofa and meal planning in the kitchen with the new appliances. These showrooms along with recent television programs have changed how buyers today look at purchasing properties. With few exceptions, today’s buyers have become accustomed to expecting a property to entice them from the moment they walk through the front door!  

Depending on their budget, some Sellers will opt to rent both furniture and art to dramatically alter the appearance of their property. Staging professionals can quickly assess which pieces can be added to complete a room. If renting furniture and art is not for you, there are still a number of simple staging ideas in preparing your home that will make a huge impact and help maximize the results of your sale.

You’re about to set the stage for a flawless production which includes the Realtors coming through with their buyers for a showing.

Remember, your home is not for sale, but your house or condo is! You’ve already begun to separate yourself from the emotional strings that float around the personal elements of your space and have begun to choose which areas need to be touched up before the first buyer walks through your door.

If you’re living in a house, you can look at it from across the street and ask yourself if it justifies the price tag that you’re asking or should you make some changes? If you were a buyer, would you be excited about looking at your place? Many Realtors have had to cancel appointments because once their buyers saw the outside they didn’t want to go further in viewing it.  Curb appeal is priceless and should tempt the buyers into wanting to see more!  Being well groomed and neat is a given, but you can go further with some small details and added touches that are definitely worth the effort and expense.

Starting at the front door, a new door mat, flower or seasonal plants in pots, sparkling hardware, new mailbox, keys turning easily, doorbell working are just some of the points to keep in mind. Drapes and blinds should be kept open so that in addition to allowing natural light inside, the exterior will also have a welcoming feel. 

 When buyers first enter your front door, what is the first thing they will see or smell? Subliminally they will have already begun to make a decision at this point as to whether your property is on their short list or off it.

Nothing smells better than clean! Fresh flowers that aren’t too strong can be fragrant and delightful accenting certain rooms and adding colour. Reed diffusers in oil with a soft and light aroma can help the property smell wonderful and fresh as you don’t want anything too strong or over-powering.

Your pets should not be on the property during showings, since some people are uncomfortable and you’ll want the buyers both relaxed and focused when starting to envision themselves possibly living there.

Another important reminder is to remove your personal and family photos. Buyers can’t move into your space emotionally if they’re staring at your wedding and kid’s pictures.  Organize children's bedrooms, removing posters, iridescent stars on the ceilings and overflowing shelves of stuffed animals and toys. These rooms can become more neutral so that buyers without children can still imagine the space as theirs. Simplify and organize your children's rooms as you are doing to the rest of your property.

Now is the time to become decadent and invest in new and beautiful bed linens and towels. Your beds should have at least two to three pillows per head with big and fluffed-up comforters and bed skirts. You'll be amazed at what a difference this effort makes and these are items you can use in your next home.

Another way to instantly add some punch in the living room is adding some new and exciting pillows. Be a little more adventuresome when choosing some elegant compliments to your furniture. 

Regardless of the time of year, you’re going to want to make sure your windows are clean and streak free. It has a huge impact of allowing natural light in and showcasing your neighbourhood views.

If you have deferred any maintenance on your property, this is the time to repair it before selling. Most buyers will tend to envision repairs being 2-3 times what it actually costs to fix, especially if this is their first purchase. Often they will assume evidence of needed repairs suggest your property hasn't been well-maintained and there might be more unseen problems lurking.

Your basement should also be dust-free along with the furnace and laundry rooms. Even if areas are unfinished, the walls and floors can be painted if necessary. When the mechanical area of your property looks well maintained, it inspires confidence in your buyers. 

Garages should also be well-organized and immaculate. If it's simply a place where you have stored boxes and discarded equipment, consider renting a storage unit and moving it there to free up space and get yourself a head start on packing.

If you’re selling your house in winter months, if possible provide pictures that were taken during greener seasons when plants were in bloom and you can showcase your gardens. Seasonal pictures of landscaping that surrounds condo and loft buildings can also be shown to advantage during dreary dark months.

What many sellers are forgetting and neglecting is the potential of expanding their living space to include the outdoors. You just have to look at the new design in outdoor furniture that now includes lounge chairs, sofas, fireplaces and affordable gazebo tenting that allows you to remain outdoors regardless of the sun or rain. Homeowners are even purchasing tall heating lamps that once would have been used only on commercial patios. Even these have become much more affordable.

Many of the properties in the older neighbourhoods of Toronto have smaller yards, but these too can still be transformed into huge selling features as an outdoor oasis for urban relaxing.   

More than ever people are looking at decks and yards as their private get-away or cottage in the city. Portable sinks are being used by the BBQ area and fire pits for ambiance and warmth. An array of potted plants with flowers can compliment any deck or patio. You can create a relaxing oasis with atmosphere and colour almost instantly.

With different choices today of decking materials, lighting and decorative accents, you can turn a nondescript deck into an awesome focal point of the house that grabs everyone's attention.

Remember that staging is not only for indoors. When you add decorative details to your yard and deck improving the ambiance and mood of the area, it also helps buyers visualize the endless possibilities for your property.

It doesn't matter if the space you're working with is small, you can still transform your yard and deck area into a magical oasis. Buyers will always react positively to a nice area that looks like a great place for them to hang out with family and friends. If they're looking at similar places, the one with the better outdoor space will usually come out ahead.

And above all, be sure your property is spotless and squeaky clean! The results of the effort taken to stage your property can not be overstated. Today’s buyers are influenced with media from magazines to television. Their expectations are higher than ever, and selling your property in Toronto can be very competitive. You're going to want your property to be described as “shows well” to help reach its maximum potential and what better way to start than from the staging preparation before it goes onto the market.  


**April Esteves is an Accredited Staging Professional (ASPTM) who can offer you staging recommendations that will create a positive impact on buyers from the second they walk through the door. She will help you prepare your home for sale-an added value service at no added cost and when buying, will help you see the potential in your next home

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