In our first article on preparing your home for showing, we talked about curb appeal and some tips on how to make the exterior of your house look good for showings. We mentioned that a high percentage of homes are actually sold within minutes of a potential buyer pulling into the driveway, which is true. However, you could have the nicest looking exterior in the world, but if a buyer enters your home and see messy, cluttered living spaces you’re going to find that your home is on the market for a long time.

The best advice we give to our clients regarding preparing the interior of their homes for showings is to start off with a targeted approach involving items inside your home. Chances are that you have accumulated a lot of “stuff” throughout the years, some of which you’ll never touch again. So go through your home and put everything in one of five categories:

Sell: If you have items that are somewhat valuable but that you don’t necessarily use, put them for sale on Kijiji or eBay. If you have a ton of little items, maybe a yard sale is in order.

Store: Family heirlooms, mementos, seasonal clothing or furniture that you don’t have room for (but that you might want to keep for your new home) should be stored away. If needed, renting a storage unit for a few months while you home is being showed could make a huge difference in the decluttering process.

Donate: If you have older furniture, electronics or clothing that you don’t use or need anymore, consider donating it to the salvation army. Clothing can also be picked up by organizations such as the diabetes association.

Keep: This one is self explanatory :)

Throw Away: When going through our homes, it’s amazing the amount of stuff we pile up over the years that we simply do not need and that really would be of no use to anyone else. Consider renting a dumpster if you have many larger items.

Keep these categories in mind when going through each room of your home (one room at a time). After you’ve went through your house and slimmed down your possessions to a reasonable amount, it’s now going to be time to stage your home for showings. Here’s some helpful advice on some things you’ll want to do to enhance your home’s interior:

Cleaning: This is of the utmost importance. Clean the interior of your windows, dust everything and clean all floors and surfaces. If you have stains on carpets, consider renting a carpet cleaning machine. You may also want to consider hiring a professional cleaning service to give your entire home a thorough cleaning before you put it on the market.

Painting: If you have walls in your home that look old, dingy or soiled, you should consider applying a fresh coat of paint. Stick with something neutral such as an off-white color.

Repairing: Repair any damage to drywall, plaster, walls, trim or any woodwork throughout the home. Repair any leaky faucets and shower heads as well.

While those are general tips for your entire home, we also want to share some room specific ideas for you:

Bathrooms: Cleanliness is key here. Make everything clean to a shine and hide away any toiletries that are not purely for decorations. Before someone comes through your house make sure your toilet seats and lids are all closed!

Kitchen: Again, much like your bathrooms having a spotless kitchen is key. Keep all surfaces clean and remove any non-decorative items from counter tops. Empty your trash bags and make sure your trash cans are kept hidden. If you have children you should also consider removing pictures, magnets and everything from your fridge.

Bedrooms: Put away any personal effects and photos. Make sure beds are made and that no laundry can be seen.

Living Rooms: Try to remove any photos or personal effects from living areas. Remove any dead looking plants or better yet, replace them with new plants. Get rid of magazines, newspapers, mail, etc.

Basement: Whether you have a finished basement or not, make sure there are no signs of water damage or any mouse/rodent traps laying around. If you use your unfinished basement primarily for storage, make sure it at least looks somewhat organized.

The goal with all of this really is to be able to give a potential buyer an idea of what your home will look like if their furniture and possessions were in place of yours. We think by following this advice you should have a fairly clean and decluttered home and be in a great position when it comes time to have people through your home for showings.