Show & Sell – 10 Practical Tips for Home Showing Success

Homebuyers will view your house at least twice before deciding to make an offer. Their first viewing is via the pictures online and the second is an on-site visit (such as at an open house). The better your property looks for the pictures and for the site visit(s), the better (and more likely) the offer.

Here are 10 tips to make your home present even better:
1. Create space by reducing excess or oversized items.
How we live in our homes is usually functional for us, but is more often than not quite different than how it needs to be for showings and pictures. We want to provide as large of a canvas as possible and allow the prospective buyers to mentally and emotionally paint their stuff into your space.

People don’t want to see your blender as much as they want to see your countertops; nor do they want to see your book collection, your extra filing cabinet, crates of craft supplies, and so forth. If you have a large bed or couch, for example, in a small room, switching it for something smaller again increases the size of the proverbial canvas.

What should I do with the excess?

  • Store it
    – tidily stack stuff you must access in the garage (you can even bring it back in between showings)
    – store non-essentials off-site, such as in a storage unit (you want your garage to look spacious, too)
  • DON’T fill the closets and crawl space with stuff – these important areas are part of the canvas.
  • Donate it to a thrift store (many will even pick up!)
  • Sell it via garage sale or Craigslist
  • Trash it if it isn’t usable for you or someone else

2. Make a “Hertz Impression”.
An executive at car rental giant Hertz once explained that his detailing staff spends a disproportionate amount of time detailing the area in and around the driver’s side door, so the customer’s first impression is a positive *WOW!*.

Make the first impression of a prospective buyer positive by making your home’s entrance impressive by:

  • Freshening the paint on doors, door jams, handrails
  • Removing cobwebs, weeds, and cleaning siding
  • Ensuring that handrails are attached, doorknobs and door bells are functional, and there are no tripping hazards
  • Adding a potted flower arrangement
  • Eliminating any unpleasant smells
  • Putting out a welcome mat

3. Let there be light!
There is very little appeal to living in a cave, so don’t allow your house to look like one! Besides being a little depressing, dark rooms appear smaller. A handful of ways to brighten things up include:

  • Open all blinds and curtains, maximizing the amount of natural light.  
  • Repaint darker coloured walls with lighter neutral colours.  
  • Replace dim light bulbs with brighter ones – even brighter than normal – preferably uniform in shade of white and style.
  • Add lamps to areas with less light.
  • Also, if it’s a nice day, open some windows for fresh air.

4. Little things can be big problems.

  • Make a list of little fixes that need to be made around the house and projects that haven’t quite been finished; then prioritize them; then start one at a time. What belongs on the list? Anything distract someone from all the good that is in your home. Examples include, but are not limited to:
    – Closet and cupboard doors that don’t open properly
    – Torn screens or jammed screen doors
    – Dated or unfinished paint
    – Cracks, nicks, and dings in the drywall
    – Burnt out lights
    – Detached siding

5. No one needs to see that!
This is a companion to the others, but deserves its own category. Put items out of sight that would distract in any way from the “canvas”. Some double as security issues, too. This is intended to be a broad statement because the options vary widely. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Jewelry and other valuable items
  • Prescription medication
  • Your bills
  • Animal poop in the yard and/or litter box
  • An excess of family photos (some are fine)
  • Rodent traps
  • Personal items in your walk-in closet
  • Exposed dirty laundry (no one wants to see your underwear!)
  • Stinky garbage

6. Exterior touches.
This is a cousin to 2, but has a focus beyond just the entrance to the entire yard.

  • Cut and edge the grass
  • Trim the bushes
  • Kill and pull weeds from the driveway, patio, and yard
  • Plant some flowers and/or put out flowering hanging baskets
  • Pressure wash the siding
  • Fix the fence
  • Freshen paint and stain
  • Ensure that patio furniture is not distracting
  • Tidy toys, etc.

7. To update or not to update? . . . What a good question!
What decade does your kitchen look like when you walk into it? At what point do you swap out the lighting fixtures, the cupboards, upgrade to granite countertops, and bring in stainless steel appliances?

Here are a few considerations for the kitchen or any other room:

  • Updates usually will not entirely return your investment (just because I put $13,000 into my kitchen doesn’t mean I can expect a $13,000 higher sale price), but it may be difference between selling your home or making your competition look even better.
  • A fairly typical order of priority is 1) kitchens, 2) bathrooms (especially master), 3) flooring, 4) paint. This order changes quickly depending on the buyer and/or the condition of any of these. Someone may be able to look past laminate countertops that are still in good condition, but not past the bubble gum pink walls.
  • In lieu of completing updates, you can price your property below the competition or offer, for example, a kitchen or flooring allowance. Keep in mind that many people do not want to walk into a project or won’t be able to see past the dated look. However, some don’t mind at all and rather customize to their taste.
  • Make sure whatever you have looks and operates as good as it can. Examples include, but are not limited to:
    – Cupboards are properly attached
    – Water sprays from the faucet properly
    – Light fixtures are secured and don’t flicker
  • Not every update needs to be an overhaul. While new kitchen cabinets may be optimal, painting or re-staining the existing ones and updating the knobs would put them leaps ahead of where they are for a fraction of the price.
  • Modern stainless steel appliances and kitchen backsplashes are very attractive features for buyers right now, both of which are easy to employ.

8. Clean – not just tidy.
It’s great that we’ve got rid of our excess stuff, updated some things, and the place is looking quite tidy; but we’re falling short if it’s not also clean. If you don’t have time for a deep clean, hire someone with expertise who does. A few key areas include, but are not limited to:

  • Cobwebs and dust layered in the corners or on fans
  • Cloudy residue on shower doors and counters and other residue on toilets
  • Glass and mirrors
  • Grease, etc. in appliances and in the kitchen
  • Get dirty dishes in the dishwasher . . . or even in a covered tote in the garage temporarily if time is tight.

9. A great smell makes a house memorable.
A bad smell turns people off, but a good one does just the opposite. Before showings, bake cookies (and share them with your Realtor), or boil cinnamon sticks, or light vanilla-scented candles. Avoid perfume or other strong fragrances. You can spray Febreeze in areas that need it, but that is not the intended smell. Glade Plug-Ins or similar products (vanilla scented) work great also.

10. Fresh linens.
Make sure beds are made and bathrooms are stocked. Try to have beds look their best (i.e. blanket in good condition and attractive, bed skirt), especially in the master. Put out bathroom linens that are clean and look fresh and new. Make sure the toilet paper and soap are stocked, too.

What else you can do:

  • Go walk through Ikea. Their store is one staged room after another, one good example after another.
  • Google or YouTube “Home staging for selling” or similar phrases. There are endless numbers of people with opinions on this. Some will differ from mine, and some may explain what I’ve written even better. Accumulate ideas and start implementing them.
  • Remember that typically most improvements won’t increase your sales price as much as they cost, but they will position your home better against your competition. However, when your home looks A LOT better than the competition, in a busy market especially, you may start attracting multiple offers, which drives up the price and you might find that your investment had a fantastic return.

For additional questions, contact me. I am happy to help!

“ReliableJim” James Olson
REALTOR / Community Supporter
Macdonald Realty
778-680-7355 call/text


Buying a Home

Buying a home is both an exciting and scary venture. With the status of homeowner comes the costs of maintaining the property you are now tied to. If you are going to take on a lot of added responsibility it is your right to be selective when choosing a home. While your search may start out with enthusiasm, it can quickly grow tiresome as their are so many listings to browse.

Our question would be: why do all of the work when there is someone willing to help? The process goes a lot smoother with more that one set of eyes scouring the housing market for your perfect property. This is where our team truly shines, as we make it our duty to get our clients the keys to their ideal home! Simply tell us what you are looking for and we will go to work searching through our database of available homes. From there, we will give you a list  that most accurately match your requirements. With a list that is narrowed down to a handful of properties, your decision will be much more manageable.

Whether you are a first time buyer, or it has just been a few years since you’ve last bought a home, the process of buying a home can seem like a bit of a mystery.  I would be happy to sit down with you to walk you through the home buying process and the key milestones we will hit along the way.

home buying process infographic


Selling a Home

Selling a home can be a difficult task for even the most seasoned of sellers. There is so much that goes into the process of placing a property on the housing market. First, the owner needs to get the home in condition to present it to potential buyers. From there, taking proper pictures that display your residence in its best light is a must. These are the images that are going to grab the attention of those that are searching online through all the homes available for sale. Unfortunately, even the best pictures don’t ensure that your property will be seen. After all, you are competing with your neighbours for the attention of a select few buyers.

As with any competition, it is important to find an edge. This is where an experienced REALTOR® can be your ace in the hole. With an extensive list of interested buyers, as well as the knowhow to market your listing to a greater audience, real estate agents make it their mission to get the most money for your property. When you have a team of skilled agents on your side, the competition gets left in the dust!

I would be happy to sit down with you and explain the home selling process and all that I can offer to maximize the exposure of your home to potential buyers.

sell your home infographic


Introducing my global network… LeadingRE

Did you know that while I’m a real estate professional here in our community, I’m also a part of a global network of leading independent brokerages with over 120,000 real estate professionals who are experts in their own communities?

That means that if you ever need to buy, sell or invest in real estate elsewhere in Canada, the US or around the world just ask me to make an introduction to one of these local experts.  My company has helped clients successfully buy or sell in 9 provinces (including Nunavut!), over a dozen states (including California, Arizona and Hawaii), and internationally in countries like Mexico, England, France and China.

As we like to say… “I’m local, I’m global“.

Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (LeadingRE) is the home of the world’s market-leading independent residential brokerages in over 50 countries, with over 500 firms and 120,000 associates producing over one million transactions valued at $321 billion annually. Our by-invitation-only network is based on the unparalleled performance and trusted relationships that result in exceptional client experiences.  Watch this short video for an introduction.

Increasing Your Property’s Value

The most common question to a REALTOR® when looking through a home is, “what improvements can I make that will increase the value of my property?”

What is your time and effort worth? Too many times we meet people who are eager to do the work, but don’t consider the buyer’s perspective. Some people may pay more for some features that won’t matter to others. Consult a professional to determine if the improvements you choose will be worth your money and will give you a return. Make sure this number is worth your time.

Increasing Your Property’s Value

This can range from buying a few flowering planters for around the front door to substantial landscaping work. A fresh coat of paint on the front door, and improved lighting can make a big difference for a relatively small expense.

Interior and exterior. Use neutral or modern colours and unless you are a pro, avoid creative patterns. No murals.

Upgrading from carpet or lino to hardwood and tile makes an enormous difference. Focus on look rather than price, since many buyers cannot tell the difference.

This is usually the focal point of the house. Open concepts and modern colours are key. Consider refinishing existing cabinets and just replacing the counter-top to save money.

Freeing up room in the bathroom makes a big difference. Pedestal sinks can work well for this. Also modern looking tile goes a long way.

People like to entertain and see their guests. When you enter an open concept home it also feels much larger. Furthermore, three small bedrooms may work better as one large master and a spare.

Please only use a builders, contractors or other professionals. Poor workmanship will be adjusted for at the time of the sale. You can do some work yourself, but leave the finishing to the pros.

Macdonald Realty Luxury Homes Magazine | Spring 2016

The latest edition of Macdonald Realty’s Luxury Homes Collection digital magazine is now available! This publication showcases unique and luxurious homes listed with my company across the province.

Highlights of this Spring 2016 issue include an exceptional “Super Prime Real Estate” in Vancouver, an article on Americans Investing Abroad and a new LuxeTrends: Make 2016 a Family Focused Year, content courtesy of our partner Luxury Portfolio International.

Simply click the cover image below to see the digital version!


If you have a luxury home that you are considering selling and would like featured in the next edition of Luxury Homes Collection, please give me a call to arrange a consultation.

The Local Housing Market

Whether you are buying or selling real estate, it is important to know the state of the local housing market. This way, each side knows where the advantages lie. For sellers, the market is at its best when there are fewer homes up for grabs. Less competition makes for an easier time getting your property viewed by the right individuals. On the flip-side, buyers will find top deals when there is a saturation of listings. When sellers are competing for your business, you end up the winner!

The housing market can give us a list of relevant information, such as: the number of homes for sale, the average selling price for real estate in the area, and the amount of homes sold during a specific period of time. With this data, both buyers and sellers can formulate a strategy on when to make a move. Perhaps more homes are sold during the summer. Maybe the average cost is lowest at the beginning of the year. Whatever the housing market shows, it is important to take the information into consideration.

If you would like some current statistics on the housing market in your neighbourhood, please contact me or sign up to receive my monthly email newsletter.