Is selling your house, loft or condo your to-do list this year? Even in a softening real estate market, there are ways you can turn your property into a can’t-pass-up opportunity to buyers. Here are tips for getting your home resale-ready – as well as some pitfalls to avoid.

 1 DO your best to create a warm and welcoming space that looks clean, bright, well cared for and up-to-date. The majority of potential buyers are seeking a place that is ready for their decorating touches but not in need of a major overhaul.

2 DON’T put your trademark on everything. If you’re committed to selling your home, you have to be ready to say goodbye to it before you sell. Once you make the commitment to list, get ready to start erasing your personality from the space, so the largest number of potential buyers can envision putting their stamp on it. In other words, that midnight blue living room you love should be repainted white or sand before you list. (If a bold colour really makes the space, leave it on one feature wall and paint the other walls a neutral colour.)

3 DO invest in relatively low-effort, low-cost, high-yield facelifts, like repainting the walls, replacing dated lighting or faucets, sealing your driveway and so on. Make a list and tackle one project per weekend afternoon. Small cosmetic changes add up to make a great first impression of your home.

4 DON’T invest in high-effort, high-cost renovation that you hope will net you a sales premium. Listing your home and buying a new one is stressful enough, so don’t frustrate yourself with overly ambitious plans you may be forced to abandon or cut corners on. Think refresh, not renovate.

5 DO invest in upgrading yard features like a deck or patio. Potential buyers love decks, so make yours look its best by repairing any damaged planks, refinishing the surface, and even investing in a nice barbecue and outdoor furniture set, which can help “sell” a relaxing outdoor-living lifestyle.

 6 DON’T splurge on big, watery backyard investments like a swimming pool, hot tub, or large pond. You won’t make back your investment and in fact, may alienate many potential buyers who are put off by the work involved in maintenance.

 7 DO bring your kitchen up to date with a facelift. You don’t need premium bells and whistles. A neutral palette, new-looking cabinetry, unblemished countertops and floors, recent-model appliances (stainless steel is a plus) and a welcoming, clean vibe will help you get – or exceed – your asking price.

8 DON’T create the grand cucina you’ve been always dreaming of. At least not here: save it for the home you’re moving to. Let potential buyers visualize what they could do with the space instead. If your deluxe vision isn’t in line with theirs, they won’t spend top dollar to underwrite the work you did.

9 DO tread lightly on the earth when getting your home resale-ready. Donate home fixtures that are in working order to Habitat for Humanity’s Restores across Canada, and use low- or no VOC paints on your walls. Consider refacing or repainting kitchen and bath cabinetry rather than replacing them, and if you’re refreshing your flowerbeds, opt for native perennials and shrubs, which tend to be more drought-resistant than exotics.

10 DON’T assume a new buyer will be willing to pay a premium for your eco-friendly retrofits. The solar panels or tank-less water heater you install are great for the environment but not necessarily recoverable in your sale price. Have them installed in your next home instead, where they’ll pay for themselves through energy savings.

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