Home staging has become an important piece of the home-selling puzzle. Canadian home sales are at an all time high and if you want your house to look like it's worth every penny of the price you're asking, you will have to put your home's best foot forward.

Based on statistics released by the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA®), homes that are staged before they hit the market sells in an average of 23 days, that is 90% faster than homes that are listed on the market “as is”. 

Consider the carrying costs and stress associated with having your home sit on the market for as long as 26 weeks! After staging, the stale listings surveyed sold in an average of 41 days.

The best part? In most cases you don’t have to hire a professional home stager or break the bank to get great results. With a little elbow grease and some planning, you can easily tackle these top five golden rules of home staging.

Rule #1: Clean, Clean, Clean - and Then Clean Again.

No one wants to move into a dirty home. Wipe down baseboards, wash windows to showcase your views and let in more light, and keep floors clean and polished. 

Bathrooms and kitchens are the two essential areas of the home, and they can make or break a deal. Clearing countertops of clutter not only makes a kitchen look cleaner, it also makes the space seem larger. Create an open and fresh feeling in bathrooms with white bath and hand towels. 

Lastly, don’t forget the insides of refrigerators, ovens and dishwashers - potential buyers will be peeking inside them.

Rule #2: Depersonalize - Take the “You” out of Your Home

While your family photos are beautiful and your kids’ drawings on the fridge are adorable, buyers want to be able to picture themselves in the house. Take this opportunity to remove and store family photos, personal memorabilia and any valuables.

This rule can get tricky because if you take too much personality out of your space it becomes stale and boring. As an example, if you are selling a cottage property one or two photos that relate to the property (perhaps that great shot of uncle Joe waterskiing), or decorative pieces that relate to lakeside living, can highlight the fun to be had at your property.

Rule #3: Deodorize - Get the Smell Out!

If you only follow one rule, please make sure it is this one. Pet odours, stale smoke and musty smells will make or break a sale. Even if your house is professionally staged and the lawns manicured, any suspicious odours will counteract all of that hard work. 

Don’t try to mask the smells with candles or air fresheners - buyers won't fall for disguises. Address the root of the smell to eliminate the cause and be sure to open windows to air the house out. This may mean removing a pet while the house is listed, or refraining from smoking indoors.

Rule #4: Maximize the Space you Have

Declutter and maximize the area in your home. Stuffed closets make your closet space look inadequate - consider storing excess belongings offsite. 

Remove extra clutter from tables and countertops and edit furniture, removing any unnecessary chairs or sofas to make rooms feel larger and more relaxing.

Rule #5: Each Room has a Purpose - Showcase it

Ensure each room in the home is being used for its intended purpose. This means removing the home office from the living room or spare bedroom. Using a room for an alternate purpose may give a potential buyer the idea that the home isn’t big enough to function properly. 

If you happen to be selling an empty home, consider adding a few key pieces of furniture and a decorative items to define the space. It is especially difficult for a potential buyer to visualize how a space functions or how much room is available in each space without a few grounding pieces to guide them.

In today’s competitive housing market, staging your home or cottage properly can not only get it sold more quickly, it can also help you net money when it sells. With that in mind, why wouldn’t you do everything you can to guarantee the sale of your home? Your can bet your competition is.