Home Decor

Painting to sell your home: Four tips from a real estate agent

Jodi Gilmour, a seasoned real estate agent, decorating expert and the host of HGTV's For Rent, gives us the insider tips on how to use paint to stage a home for selling.

Living room, green wall, fireplace, white wall shelf

Angus Fergusson

We all know a little staging or sprucing up can go a long way when you’re trying to sell your home. One way to make a big transformation easily is with paint. Jodi Gilmour, a seasoned real estate agent, decorating expert and the host of HGTV’s For Rent, gives us the insider tips on how to use paint to stage a home for selling.

1. Buyers get a feeling as soon as they pull up to the curb
That’s why it’s essential that your house exterior looks its best. Your driveways, walkways and landscaping should be tidy and well-kept. Your front door should be welcoming. Painting your front door an attractive colour takes very little time and provides a budget-friendly update. Check the label on your paint can; some exterior paints can be used at temperatures as low as 4.4 degrees Celsius. A planter of inviting flowers beside a freshly painted door says, “This is a nice place to come home to.”

2. Focus on high-traffic areas
Paint is one of the least expensive yet highest-impact updates you can make to your home before you list. Focus on first impressions and high-traffic areas, like your foyer and main hallway, kitchen and family rooms. That is, unless you have a “sore-thumb” area to correct, like a sponge-painted bathroom or a meridian blue, hockey-themed bedroom. If you’re not sure whether you’ve got a “sore-thumb” ask your realtor.

3. Buyers don’t want to paint
Contrary to the belief of many sellers, buyers do not want to paint their own colours when they move in. The average Canadian home buyer is looking for a house in move-in condition. They’d like the option of just plunking down their furniture on closing day. Painting has become easier with built-in primers and excellent quality paints at affordable rates. A simple coat of paint will have your potential buyers saying, “Best of all, we wouldn’t have to paint!”

4. Paint on wood
Most Canadians cringe at the idea of painting over natural wood finishes. But if your house has wood floors with matching trim and doors, wood kitchen cabinetry and some wainscoting, you’ve got too much wood going on. Do your buyers and your pocketbook a service by painting your kitchen cupboards and trim. Try a light colour — it will brighten up your home and make it look bigger and newer. You will receive more buyer interest and a higher sale price.

One last tip: Buyers are going to determine if your house is worth seeing by the photos they see on real estate listings, so it’s important that you prepare your rooms for picture day. Determine a focal point for each room — typically a selling feature like a fireplace — and decide the best angle to photograph it from. Orient the rest of your furniture and accessories to complete a pleasing composition that is open to the camera. The layout for showings might be a little different; you’ll want viewers to easily walk through the rooms to check points of interest, like closets and windows.