Create a Stunning First Impression

There are three key methods to leaving buyers with an unforgettable first impression on your home. The first happens before your home even goes on the market, and that’s strategic updating. 

Which items will add value to your home and help with resale when the time comes to sell?

The answer is: “Only the ones that future buyers will also want and be willing to pay for.”

As a general rule, choosing the functional over the merely cosmetic and choosing neutral over unusual or exotic will pay at resale. Your goal is to appeal to as many buyers as possible, and help them visualize themselves in the space.

These updates provide the most bang for their buck:

  • Modernize the kitchen and/or bathroom(s). Read up on current design trends, and help your kitchen and bathrooms match. Repaint with a neutral color, update countertops and floors, and resurface dated tubs & sinks
  • Increase usable space. Add an extra bathroom, upgrade or expand your kitchen and/or master bedroom suite, add more closet space, or convert an unused area to a more functional space, like a spare bedroom to a home office or basement into the ultimate hangout space
  • Lighten and brighten your rooms. Paint rooms white, beige, or greige to neutralize the space. Add skylights, windows, or French doors
  • Revamp the exterior with updated landscaping to draw in buyers before they even walk through the door. Keep your shrubs, trees, and grass trimmed and tidy. Add a splash of color with vibrant plants or by painting the front door an eye-catching color. Consider a focal point like a flagstone walkway or a water feature 

Once you’ve updated the important areas of your home, you’ll want to stage it appropriately. The second key to generating an awesome first impression of your home is cleaning and decluttering. Remember, buyers will pay more for clean and streamlined homes. Psychologically, they feel like cleaner homes are less likely to have issues, and decluttered homes allow them to see all aspects of the home as well as makes it easier for them to visualize themselves and their stuff in the rooms.

Remove as much stuff as you possibly can from the home, even if that means getting a storage unit for a couple of months. You’ll want to make it easy for buyers to walk through rooms, open closets, check out the garage etc. If possible, add neutral decor and store most family photos etc. It may sound harsh, but the more of “you” there is in the home, the less room there is for buyers to see themselves.

Must-do minor tweaks to make your home sparkle…


  • Powerwash the whole house, and have the windows professionally cleaned. You’d be amazed how much of a difference this one step makes
  • Replace the front door if it’s worn, or paint it a bright and inviting color
  • Touch up all exterior paint, including shutters, trim etc
  • Replace any missing roof shingles/tiles
  • Clean up the landscaping and make sure grass is watered. Put down fresh mulch. Check gutters and/or roof for dry rot. Make sure all plants are trimmed away from windows etc


  • Professionally clean the entire house, top to bottom
  • Replace faded wall-paper, or, better yet, repaint the entire interior to a neutral color
  • Repair/replace worn woodwork
  • Steam clean or replace all carpeting
  • Repair loose knobs, sticking doors and windows, warped cabinet drawers, broken light switches and other minor flaws
  • Check and repair caulking in bathtubs and showers
  • Rearrange furniture to flow smoothly between rooms. Use furniture and lighting to highlight the "living areas" of your home, such as a pair of chairs near a fireplace, or a table in a breakfast area. Help buyers understand what each space is for
  • Clear all unnecessary objects from the kitchen countertops. If it hasn't been used for three months…put it away!
  • Clear refrigerator fronts of messages, pictures, etc
  • Remove any unnecessary items from countertops, tubs, shower stalls and commode tops. Keep only your most needed items in one small group on the counter. Coordinate towels to one or two colors only

Once you’ve repaired, updated, and cleaned your way through the steps above, your house should be looking better than it ever has! The last key to your success comes once buyers raise their hands and want to come view the property. A good showing can make or break a buyer’s impression of your home, and either accentuate all the hard work you’ve put in, or negate it all.

Follow our 9 Steps to Showing Success (that only takes ten minutes to complete!) and you’ll be reviewing offers in no time:

  1. Sound: turn off all TVs and tune the radio to a soft or classic rock station on low volume

  2. Sight: turn on all light fixtures in the house except harsh overhead lights (remember, you’re going for “warm and inviting”, not “inquisition”). Open all drapes and blinds

  3. Smell: use candles, air fresheners, or a diffuser to neutralize every room. Heat some frozen cookies slowly in the oven, or heat a pan on the stove with a few drops of vanilla

  4. Kitchen: clear and wipe counters and wash or place dirty dishes in the dishwasher; keep a fresh set of hand towels for showings and swap out with the used ones

  5. Bathrooms: clear and wipe counters and flush and close toilets. Keep a set of fresh towels for every bathroom and swap out with the used ones

  6. Living/Family Rooms: hide magazines, newspapers, and games; remove any dishes/glasses, or clutter

  7. Bedrooms: make the beds; hide clutter under bed (not in closet— buyers will open that)

  8. Exterior: put away toys and clutter; clear walkway of debris

  9. Goodbye: Sorry, but this is the single most important thing you can do in a showing to help sell your home! Even if the showing agent insists that it is okay to stay, you must leave. Buyers must get emotionally committed to your home to buy it and they cannot become emotional about "their new home" if you, the current owners, are "hanging around." We promise, they’ll discover all the cool features of your home on their own without a need for you to narrate for them. Showings rarely last more than half an hour. Take the kids and dog on a walk, or run that errand you’ve been meaning to check off your list