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How to Create a “Show Ready” Home

The spring market is in full swing!  With a strong market and some uncertainty about how long the Portland real estate values will stay as robust, there are a lot of homeowners considering selling.  Seller’s often feel overwhelmed with long to-do lists and don’t know quite where to begin.  Hopefully, the following advice will help you stay focused, motivated and guide you in getting your home “show ready”.

Remember, not everyone will love your home’s décor, but don’t take it personally because it’s almost certain that you wouldn’t like theirs either. Think of your home as a product in a marketing campaign.  Staging is about creating a “show ready” home that has wide appeal.

Here are a few tips that will get you started:

  1. First Impression

  • Curb appeal – The initial perception of your home sets the mental tone of the viewers. If they drive up to your home and the landscaping is nicely manicured, the walkway is clean, there are welcoming potted plants at the front door, the door itself is inviting, the windows are clean, the exterior paint is in great condition, perhaps there are even a couple of nice chairs or a porch swing (if applicable), it will create a positive first impression. Remember you are just trying to set the stage that tells the potential buyer this is a quality home and a lot of care has gone into it.


  • Interior – The main entry room, whether it’s a foyer, living room or something else, is equally important for building on that first impression. Take extra care to make this space as warm and inviting as possible. Also, notice the scent of your home when you enter the front door (this is especially important if you have a pet). A nice scent helps create an inviting atmosphere that works on a subconscious level with the prospective buyer. Nothing will dissuade a buyer faster than “house-a-tosis”. It’s important to correct the odor instead of covering it up if it’s due to mold or carpet damage caused by pets, etc. Stay away from heavy perfume scents or anything overbearing. Freshly cut flowers in the entry and throughout the house can provide some natural scent and add extra beauty and warmth to your home.


  1. The Nitty-Gritty

  • Clutter – Remember that “less is more” in preparing your home for sale. You may love your collection of widgets, but a prospective buyer might be distracted by all of the clutter. You want the buyer to look carefully at your home, not your possessions. A good rule-of-thumb is if it’s smaller than a grapefruit, pack it up. Remove any countertop appliances that are not built-in.  Your furniture and accessories should help them get a sense of the space in the room and allow them to envision moving their own things in. Consider removing your personal photographs and memorabilia. You want buyers to envision creating their own memories in your home, not distracted by yours. Closets, basements, attics and garages should be clean, well-lit and organized. Ample storage is a common buyer request so make yours appear as spacious as possible. Do not make the mistake of moving the clutter from the living spaces to these areas. A temporary storage unit might be well worth the investment while your home is on the market. Plus you are moving, so consider the packing process underway!
  • RepairGo through each room with a very critical eye and see what might catch prospective buyers’ attention. Look at every surface: floors, walls, doors, windows, ceilings, built-in furniture, etc. Also make sure that all of your home’s systems are in good working condition (electrical, mechanical & plumbing).




  • Improve – Remember you are trying to appeal to the masses so if your home is decorated in a way that only a select few can appreciate, change it. Don’t remodel – it’s amazing what a fresh coat of neutral paint and simplifying and rearranging your current possessions will do. A few new accessories like fluffy new bath towels, accent pillows and fresh flowers might just add the finishing touches. Also, if your house is on the dark side then purchasing some extra lamps or using LED bulbs will be money well spent.
  • Clean – Hire a professional cleaning company to do a thorough cleaning after you have completed all the clutter removal, repairs, and improvements. This is money well spent and will put the final polish on your “show ready” home. And don’t forget the windows!





  1. It’s Show Time!

  • Pets – Make sure there is no trace of your pet (leash, dish, litter box, bed, etc.) It’s a safe bet that your home will appeal to more people when it’s pet free than not.


  • Children – Ideally, you and the children should not be home during a showing. It’s also important to make sure that toys aren’t strewn throughout the house, for two reasons: one is to avoid the clutter factor, and two is being responsible for a buyer tripping on a roller-skate.


  • Daily preparation – You can’t be sure when the phone will ring and a realtor will say “we’re right around the corner!” It’s important to keep the house in “show ready” condition at all times so you simply do minor touches before you head out the door.


The following check-list will make sure your home is “show ready”.

Showing Check-List:


__ Floors swept and mopped

__ Appliances cleaned

__ Counters clean and free of clutter

__ Fresh flowers or scent (vanilla or cinnamon)


__ Mirrors and glass cleaned

__ Bathrooms cleaned and smell fresh

__ Tubs and sinks cleaned

__ Fixtures cleaned and polished

__ Toilet seat down

__ Fresh towels neatly arranged


__ Beds made with pillows arranged neatly

__ Clothing and clutter put away

Living Areas:

__ Sofa and chair cushions fluffed

__ Pillows arranged neatly

__ Rooms tidy and uncluttered

Laundry Room:

__ Clean and tidy

__ Clothes picked up

__ Cleaning products put away

Overall Interior:

__ Floors mopped and vacuumed

__ Surfaces dusted

__ Windows cleaned

__ All lights on

__ No odors (nice scent at entrance)

__ Interior doors open

__ Curtains open

__ Soft music playing

__ Fresh cut flowers

__ House at comfortable temperature

__ For extra safety, secure all valuables & medications


__ Garage swept

__ Workbenches cleaned and uncluttered

__ Garage door closed

__ No cars in garage, driveway or curb (if possible)


__ Front entry cleaned and uncluttered

__ Yard and exterior cleaned and uncluttered

__ Animal droppings in yard picked up

__ Leaves etc. in yard picked

Kim Hagstette

Owner, Marketing & Business Development
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