Five Declutter Tips To Help Sell Your Home

moniqueNothing can kill a prospect’s interest in your home like clutter. Please welcome Monique, also known as the Clutter Ninja, as she provides some tips to get you started in decluttering your home for a quick and painless sale. We’ve worked with Monique on a few real estate projects and can testify to her awesomeness.

Five Declutter Tips To Help Sell Your Home

If you have plans to sell your home this spring, you may want to take a look around to see if you need to declutter first. Decluttering can help your home to sell because when people shop for homes, they want to picture how the home would look with their décor and personal touch; it can be difficult to visualize that if the home is cluttered.

Here are 5 declutter tips to help sell your home:

1. Determine your time frame. Do you have time to go through the work of setting up a garage sale? If not, donate items to charity (many will pick up for you). This can speed up the decluttering process immensely and is a lot less work than having a sale.

2. Decide if you need help. Decluttering can be overwhelming, and can take some manpower. Decide if you can do the project on your own, and if you can’t, ask family or friends, or a Professional Organizer to help.

3. Focus on one room at a time (storage areas can be a good place to start). Categorize items into things you’ll keep, sell, donate, toss, or recycle. Keep going until the project is complete, don’t stop half way! Your future self will thank you.

4. Depersonalize the home as much as possible. Taking down family photos or personal touches will allow potential buyers to see how their things would look in it. Home staging can also be of great help when selling.

5. Keep it clean. When a home is cluttered, it can be hard to clean and potential buyers pick up on that instantly. Sometimes a showing can come up with little notice. Decluttering can help you to keep your home tidy and clean so it’s always ready for a showing.

Decluttering and downsizing your belongings can not only help your home to show better, but can also make moving a simpler process. Why go through the task of moving belongings you don’t use, need, or want any longer? Deciding to move into another home is a fresh start… Take only what you enjoy with you.


Home Staging – How to Give a Five-Star Showing

Please welcome guest contributor to, Rachel Vanderveen, a Calgary real estate blogger and home stager who is writing an eight-part series of home staging advice for our blog. This is the final post in that series. Rachel’s previous home staging posts can be found here.

So the table is set, the carpet is vacuumed, and the house is sparkling and geared toward all of your newly installed focal points. Your listing contract is signed and your Saskatoon real estate agent has told you that you’re going live tonight and to be prepared for your first showings!

How do we make your listing stand out? We’ve done all the groundwork, but now the curtain is going to be lifted and the audience will soon be in your home to view the stage you have set. So, much of giving a five-star showing is about creating a mood, and that’s what we’re going to talk about here today.

Let’s start with lights. For every showing we have, I want every single thing in your house that makes light to be turned on, and I mean everything:  every lamp, pot light, puck light, art-feature light, even the work light on the hood fan. (No, not the interior oven light. I had someone ask me that once, so I figured I better clarify). I want those lights up and running, even if your showing is happening at 9 am. This means that if you’re going to be at work all day, you need to switch them all on before you leave. I know, I know, Al Gore would read this and cringe, but you’ll see the benefits of it in the purchase price of your home. Maybe you can use the surplus to buy some carbon credits.

Why is light so important? Because people who are looking to buy Saskatoon real estate love natural light. Light is something that you can’t often change. A house is either well-lit, or it’s not, and if it’s not, it’s often difficult to renovate in. Having all of your home lights on—especially in the middle of the day—gives the impression that there is bountiful light in the home, and therefore adds perceived value.

Next, music. I like to make sure that every time there is a showing happening you have music playing in the home. The best source is often using the music stations on your digital cable because you can choose by genre, it’s never-ending, and it’s often non-descript. You also don’t have announcers coming in and out. I don’t like local radio stations as they can be a little too in-your-face and a little too personal, when we are aiming for neutral. Buying a CD and playing it on repeat can often work. But music selection is paramount. I like instrumentals the best. Stay away from things with vocals. The type of music you choose really depends on what you’re trying to sell. If you’re selling a renovated townhouse in Saskatoon’s more trendy areas, go for some instrumental light jazz. If you’re selling a luxury home in an older more established area go for light classical. If you have a house that overlooks water, find one of those CDs that have flutes playing with ocean noises in the back. It’s all about creating the mood. The music should be loud enough so you can hear it, but not so loud that you couldn’t have a comfortable conversation if you were standing right near it.  You may want to consider playing music on every level, but try to play from the same source. If there are different songs playing everywhere you’re going to have the feeling of confusion in areas where you can hear it all playing.

Finally, there is etiquette. You never want your Saskatoon real estate shopper to feel rushed. For that reason, if you get a call from your Realtor to book a showing from 3-4. You should be totally gone from the house from 2:45-4:15. This gives your buyers all the time they need to be able to show up and explore. No, you may not stay home for any showing. No, you may not wait in the garage, backyard, shed or whatever wild idea you come up with. You and your family must be totally gone from the property. Otherwise you have totally spoiled your scene.

In addition, the only acceptable excuse for declining a showing that your Realtor requests is the following: you or an immediate family member is dead or dying. No other excuse is acceptable. If you want to sell your home, you’ve got to be serious about it. If you decline a showing, you’re giving the message that you don’t really care if you sell or not, and that does not inspire people to write offers. Additionally, nine times out of ten, if the buyer’s agent can’t book a showing on the first try, they won’t attempt to rebook, and you may have just lost an offer or a multiple offer.

You’re at the end of the road here. Reaching this point in the process of selling your home means you’ve done most of your work already! Now all you have to do is maintain that sparkle in your home, and trust your Realtor to bring an offer. So kick up your feet and relax! You’ve staged your home to sell!

Until Next Time…


Rachel Vanderveen is a Calgary Christian Realtor specializing in Calgary condos for sale, South Calgary Real Estate, Calgary home staging , McKenzie Towne Real Estate, and Auburn Bay Real Estate.  But more importantly, she is a mother to four adorable children, a lover of Auburn Bay Realty, and an avid writer of Calgary Real Estate blogs. For more information on Calgary, or searching, visit her website here.


Home Staging – Setting the Stage

Please welcome guest contributor to, Rachel Vanderveen, a Calgary real estate blogger and home stager who is writing an eight-part series of home staging advice for our blog. This is part seven in that series. Rachel’s previous home staging posts can be found here.

Now that we’re in the final steps of staging our home, we need to get to the heart of un-decorating. Why is it that all of us stagers seem to want to take your house apart and make it so plain? Well, the answer you’re looking for is right there in the name of the job we do: staging. We’re setting a stage for buyers. Think of what you see when you go to the theatre. It’s not often that you see ornate sets and backgrounds. Even shows like the Phantom of the Opera have fairly minimal backgrounds. There’s not a lot to look at. The background just sets the scene; it doesn’t tell the story. The actors tell the story. I happen to have seen Rent on stage a few times, and when I think about the actors in that show, they sparkled. At one point, Mimi—clad in bright blue sparkly tights—actually flips her hair and a poof of sparkles actually releases out into the air. You hardly notice the iron rails she is dancing on when she herself is taking up so much space.

“Ok, Rachel, we get it; you’re a theatre geek, what does this have to do with selling a home in Saskatoon?”  The point is that the actors are the ones who have to fill the stage with whatever story they want to tell, and those who want to buy a home in Saskatoon, are the actors on the stage you’re setting. So what happens when you’ve left your story all over the stage? Well the result is confusion, and unsettledness. It would be like walking onto the set of The Lion King and trying to tell the story of Showboat. It doesn’t work. People need to be able to imagine their story unfolding on your stage, so our chief concern today will be making that stage interesting, inviting, and yet neutral and ready for any story that needs to be told. This is done mainly by de-personalizing. It’s hard to imagine raising your kids in a certain real estate listing, where you can see the photos of the children who live there, and the marks of the owners who are raising them. That’s not a blank stage. Saskatoon MLS shoppers will feel more like guests in someone else’s home, rather than being able to enter a residence and truly try it on for size.

So what needs to stay, and what needs to go? Well let’s start with all of the personal photos. Everywhere. Wedding photos, graduation photos, the whole nine yards. Gone.  “But, Rachel, I had my wedding photos professionally shot by an up-and-coming avant garde photographer; they’re really more art than personal!” Nope, sorry, those are personal, and in some ways they may even be worse than wedding photos taken in a studio. The problem we have with personal photos—no matter how well they were photographed—is that now we have someone who is honestly looking to buy Saskatoon real estate in your home, and they’re not looking at your home; they’re looking at your wedding photos! They’re ooohing and they’re ahhhhing, and they’re pulling their husband significant other away from looking at the home, in order to look at your photos. Once you have that happening, in many cases, you’ve lost them. This isn’t a home for them anymore. This is your home, and they’re just visiting.  So junior’s baseball championship photos, all of his trophies and ribbons, everything needs to come down to make room for the new junior who happens to be into soccer and math.

Most people who have made achievements in university or higher education like to post their certificates, degrees and diplomas in their study. This is a no-no. Not only is it pulling people out of the blank stage mentality, but it is also giving them cause to give you a stinky low-ball offer on your home. “Ohhhh, so this seller is a doctor? Reeeeaaaally? Well, then I guess he has gobs of money, and he doesn’t need to get his asking price on this property. They can afford to give me a few thousand dollars off.”

Then there is art work that may not have personal photos in it, but it’s pretty loud all the same. Your artwork should not draw attention to itself. Your artwork is in place to compliment the space and to reinforce your focal points. I once staged a home where a bachelor homeowner had a medieval sword hung above his bed. Is the sword cool? Yes. Is it a totally different approach to decorating? Yes. Is a sword appropriate to hang over the master bed for the purposes of staging? NO. That gives the opposite message that we want to give off. The whole scene of a “come-hither” environment is spoiled by such a hard image which calls up thoughts that are the last thing we want Saskatoon homebuyers thinking about when stepping into your master bedroom.

So what’s the main thrust here? You need to set a stage that looks like the “best life.” The kind of life we all hope to live, and isn’t really possible in reality….but darn it, we just keep trying!  Don’t know what that looks like? Pick up an issue of Canadian Home and Garden, that’ll start to give you a good idea! You don’t need to worry about spending the money on all of the expensive furniture and accessories, just take note in those pictures of what you don’t see, rather than what you do see: no mess. No personal photos. Blank stage.

Good Luck! We’ll see you here next week for my final blog on how to give a five-star showing!

Until Next Time…


Rachel Vanderveen is a Calgary Christian Real Estate Agent specializing in Calgary condos, South Calgary Real Estate, Calgary home staging , McKenzie Towne MLS Listings, and Auburn Bay Real Estate.  But more importantly, she is a mother to four adorable children, a lover of Auburn Bay Realty, and an avid writer of Auburn Bay Community News blogs. For more information on Calgary, or searching, visit her website here.

Home Staging – Focusing on Focal Points: How to Adjust the Lens of Your Saskatoon MLS® Listing

Please welcome guest contributor to, Rachel Vanderveen, a Calgary real estate blogger and home stager who is writing an eight-part series of home staging advice for our blog. This is part six in that series. Rachel’s previous home staging posts can be found here.

Now we get to the fun stuff: decorating. Actually in most cases, we will be un-decorating, but for those of you who live a little too plain and minimal—not naming names… *ahem*… bachelors and the like—it may be time to add a few pieces to dress up your spaces and create interesting focal points in your rooms in order to make your home stand out on the Saskatoon MLS®. Most Realtors out there do not offer staging services, so you can bet that once you have your home neat, trim, and staged, your listing will make an impression on your pool of Saskatoon home buyers.

What are focal points, and why do we need them? Focal points are the parts of the room where your eye can rest when you enter, and which cause a calming and relaxed feel to visitors. Having several different focal points in the room tends to communicate to real estate buyers, a feeling of confusion and overwhelm. It just feels cluttered, even if it’s not.

So before we start into how to create interesting and inviting focal points, I need to take you right back to square one. I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record here, but we have to de-clutter a space before we can create a focal point. Once you have decided where your focal point is going to be, you need to seriously pare down the space around it to make sure that your vignette is going to get the attention it deserves.

So let’s use, for example, the great room. In this space your focal point will likely be your fireplace. If you don’t have one, you’ll have to create a similar feel. You can make a focal point out of tons of things, such as old musical instruments, a collection of hang-able antiques, old record albums, or framed sheet music. The options are only limited to your creativity, and to being neutral in colour. These are to be used in the great room only if you do not have a fireplace. However, I’m a huge fan of fireplaces in great rooms; if you don’t have one, you can buy them fairly inexpensively at your local big box store. These things are so easy to set up. Just open the box, assemble, and plug in. No saw, hammer, or nails required. Think in the neighbourhood of $500 for a basic one, and around $1000 for your more ornate feature fireplaces. Costco is also a good place to go for these fireplaces. This may seem like a big investment, but remember, you get to take it with you! Don’t forget to point out to your agent that the fireplace is not an attached chattel of the home, so that they can be sure to exclude it on the Saskatoon MLS® listing.

Okay, back to the example. So the fireplace is your focal point. That means that you should undress the rest of the room. Take it down to essentials. Keep the lamps on your side-tables, but take off the figurines, coasters, and magazines. Just keep it simple. Your focal point, however, should be interesting. You may decide to place a neutral urn on top of the fireplace, or neutral—yet eye-catching—picture in a frame hung above the mantle. Mirrors are also great to hang above the fireplace. In fact, I’m okay with mirrors hung just about anywhere. They open up the space, and can multiply the light available. Put bright throw pillows on your couch (make sure they all match and are one colour) and place them so the points, actually point towards the fireplace. The centerpiece on your coffee table should not block the view of the fireplace in anyway; it should be something that will help guide the eye toward it.

In the bedroom, your bed will likely be the focal point, just because of its sheer size. For that reason, again, I do urge you to consider a bed-in-a-bag, if you do not already own a modern set. A modern bedspread can have a huge effect on instantly modernizing a space. Be sure to have a head board in place. If you do not, you can construct one out of some wood, batting, and a length of fabric. Assemble with construction glue and a staple gun, and hang securely where the headboard is supposed to go. Above that I’d love to see a mirror that spans the width of the headboard, or a decorative item of the same length. Failing those large accessories, you can place three medium neutral items on the wall above the headboard, or five small ones.

Remember, it’s not about how much you have to decorate; it’s about how little you can use and still make the space interesting and above all inviting! Happy (un) decorating!

Rachel Vanderveen is a Calgary Christian Realtor specializing in Calgary condos, South East Calgary Real Estate, home staging , Calgary Real Estate Investment, and Auburn Bay Lake MLS Listings.  But more importantly she is a mother to four adorable children, a lover of Auburn Bay Real Estate, and an avid writer of Auburn Bay Community News blogs. For more information on Calgary, or searching, visit her website here.


Home Staging – Mastering the Master Bedroom and Bath

Please welcome guest contributor to, Rachel Vanderveen, a Calgary real estate blogger and home stager who is writing an eight-part series of home staging advice for our blog. This is part five in that series. Rachel’s previous home staging posts can be found here.

As we work through the outer parts of the house and begin to move towards the inner parts, it may be tempting to start to believe that no one is really going to be looking at these parts as much as the main floor and living areas, but I can assure that this is not true. People will indeed look into the bedrooms, the closets, the pantries, and the bathroom cabinets. Some people may even open up your fridge, dishwasher, washer and dryer to see what they could expect from an appliance that they may soon acquire. This week, I would like to move deeper into the master bedroom to see what needs to be done there to make it shine and stand-out on the Saskatoon MLS®.

Let’s start with the master bedroom and bathroom. Over the years, I have found that it is easier to tell clients what I do want to see, rather than what I don’t want to see in the bedrooms. So let’s start with the basics. First, I would like to see a bed, two nightstands, and two matching lamps. Anything else in the room should be sharply questioned in terms of whether it’s going to stay or go. All of your extra bedside materials will need to be boxed up. No books, glasses of water, prescription drugs, or eyewear. The tables should be totally clear. To make things easier, you may consider getting a small Rubbermaid bin for your nighttime accessories and sliding it under your bed.

If you have a dresser in the room, there should be lots of room for it. A good rule of thumb is that two people should be able to hold hands and walk all the way around the bed without hitting the dresser or the bed on any side. If you don’t have that kind of space in your room, I would strongly suggest removing the dresser. There are two reasons for this. The first one is the obvious one, and that is that the less we have in a space, the bigger the space appears to be. The second is that having an extra dresser in the room tends to say that there isn’t enough room in the master closet to store all of the clothes. If you’re like me, there probably isn’t enough room in the closet. This is why it’s important to pack up all the unnecessary seasonal clothes and store them away as mentioned in previous blogs.

Unfortunately, TVs in the bedroom are always going to be a big no-no. The same goes for video games. TVs in the room bring a harsh value to the space. The feng shui is all off. I would very strongly recommend removing them and boxing them up.

If you have the same bedding that you received as a wedding gift in 1994, I would suggest getting a bed in a bag from Walmart, Winners, or Home Sense. These products are worth their weight in gold. They can be purchased for a very low price and they come with sheets, comforter, bed skirts and usually a few throw pillows. Be sure to pick a neutral shade. Stick to browns, beiges, whites or creams. Being that your bed is the going to be the focal point in the room, you want to make sure that you make it look modern and inviting.

Moving into the master closet, be sure to follow the instructions of previous blogs by removing as much as you can. Remember, the less there is in the closet, the bigger it looks. Once you’re all done boxing everything up, colour block what is left.

When I describe the master bathroom to my clients, I tell them it should look “spa-like.” Totally clear the counters of all products. Buy a five-dollar shower caddy from Walmart and keep all of your products in there so that when you need to shower, you can take the caddy in with you, and when you’re done, you can place it back under the sink. You can keep a pump-able hand soap on the counter (no, you can’t have a bar of cracked and grey-stained bar soap) and a neutral vase with fake white flowers in them. Everything else should go. The only other thing I would like to see on the counter is three hand towels folded in perfect squares, and then three face clothes folded in perfect squares on top of those. Then on the very top, I want you to fold a fan or a swan to sit on top of the pile. You can find out how to do that here. On the floor by your tub or shower, take a basket and fill it with rolled up white towels, and place it where it won’t be in the way. I know this is not the way that people honestly live in their homes, but remember, we are selling an experience as much as we are selling a house in Saskatoon, so remember that every little bit counts!

The bathroom itself should shine from head to toe. Every surface should be polished and clean, and potential Saskatoon home buyers should be able to walk into your shower and eat dinner off the floor. The most important spaces in your home to keep clean as a whistle are the kitchen and the bathroom, so don’t skimp on polishing time in these areas.

The master bedroom is one of the most serene spaces in your Saskatoon real estate listing. You need to make sure that this space tells a story to your buyers. So let your room be the main space of the house that says, “Come on in, and enjoy!”

Until next time…


Rachel Vanderveen is a Calgary Christian Realtor specializing in Calgary condos, South East Calgary Real Estate, home staging and Calgary Real Estate Investment, and Auburn Bay Realty.  But more importantly she is a mother to four adorable children, a lover of Auburn Bay Real Estate, and an avid writer of Calgary Real Estate Blogs. For more information on Calgary Home Buyers, or searching, visit her website here.