Staging Techniques to Attract Better Buyers

Highlighting a space's best features and making it feel lived-in but also universally livable is in the details. You need potential buyers to see themselves in the space—knowing that it is staged—but still get drawn into the fantasy of making it their own. Staging is a proven tactic for increasing the value of your home and getting it sold faster.

Clever staging in high-end markets is even more crucial, with some professionals spending upwards of $400,000 to attract the right buyer—but for good reason! That spend can make a million-dollar difference in the sale. That budget might seem like an outrageous stretch for your listing, but applying similar methodology to houses in the average buying bracket can have powerful results.

These staging tactics—some fairly standard (scentlightingcurb appeal); some with more panache—could help you attract better buyers and sell your home for more.  

Universally livable

You're not just showing off the space, you're giving people a glimpse into the lifestyle they're buying. Potential buyers are more inspired to buy when they're able to see themselves in the home—so omit your family photos and personal keepsakes.

Personal items can be easily replaced with things like a cocktail making set, contemporary art or even a borrowed collection of rare vinyl. Just like in multi-million dollar listings, you want to fill your space with items that are desirable and aspirational.

Staging professionals have been known to replace personal family photos with striking landscapes and travel adventures. Some will even go as far as hiring actors and even pets to produce family photos to suggest a lifestyle to prospective buyers.

These tactics may seem a little extreme, but if you can think of simple ways to help the right buyers envision themselves in your space, you'll be off to a good start.

Rent a vintage or luxury vehicle

In one of the most expensive houses ever listed in the United States, the seller included a more than $30-million U.S. collection of classic and exotic cars, collectables and even a helicopter.

Okay, that's an extreme example, but exotic and classic cars can be rented from businessesrental apps or even local car owners to help strike a subconscious chord that gets buyers excited and attached to the listing. 

Add a bar

Multi-million dollar listings often have a wine cellar, complete with bottles on loan to impress buyers. 

Displayed properly, wine and spirits can help your listing punch above its weight class. If you are left with a variety of expensive bottles after the sale, you can put them towards a celebration in honour of all those who helped make it happen.

High-end staging gets results

In hot markets, staging might just mean a thorough cleaning and decluttering, but in other markets—especially in vacant or high-end properties—these extra details can have a greater impact.

Taking these tactics and applying them yourself with the input of your REALTOR® could make a surprising difference in the sale of your home.

More on staging: 8 Tips for Staging Your Home This Winter9 Things to Never Leave Out During an Open House



Stairs: The Functional Focal Point

Stairs are an often-overlooked but hardworking feature of your home. They take you from A to B, they're the stage of that adorable video you shot of your puppy learning to climb them and they've endured endless feet running down and then back up when something has been forgotten in a bedroom. “Upstairs” even pulls overtime shifts as an adverb, adjective and noun.

Remember, the stairs are often the first thing you notice when you walk into a house. Let's turn this often more utilitarian construction into the beautiful focal point your home deserves.

A big personality

Looking up a palatial staircase

A good staircase can do a lot to add new flow to your home and even change its personality; from traditional to contemporary, unassuming to head-turning, busy to breezy. If your home is feeling a little ho-hum, why not consider elevating your stair game?

Be sure to do your research before you start tearing things up; a staircase transformation can be costly and time-consuming, especially if you want to move your stairs from one side of your house to the other. Remember, you won't be able to easily access your second floor during these renos so plan ahead—you might need to camp out on the main floor for a night.

Stand in Scarlet O'Hara's shoes

Luxurious staircase with wood rails and cast iron detailing

A Scarlet O'Hara staircase, or split staircase, is the height of luxury to many. Those sweeping bannisters curling up into a second-level balcony are the scene of many prom and bridal photoshoots. If you have the room to spare in your home's foyer and love a grand entrance, a split staircase can do wonders to open up your space.

Multipurpose, but make it fashion

Custom under-stair drawers and cabinetry

Utilitarian design still has its place here—just jazz it up. Rather than a classic cupboard under the stairs, transform that storage space with sleek drawers and cabinet doors to hide away winter gear in the summer, your old DVD collection, luggage or whatever else always finds its way under the steps.

If your straight staircase is closed in, that blank wall can feel detached; you can't put much against it since that area is often a thoroughfare. A photo gallery will fill it up, but why not warm up to new ideas? This custom-built fireplace is a great use of space and makes the stairs the focal point for the room.

Staircase with a wood fireplace underneath

Loft life

Spiral iron staircase

A spiral staircase might give off loft vibes but there's no rule book when it comes to adding stairs to your home, big or small. In some cases, a smaller space might benefit the most from a flashy spiral staircase. This highly decorative wrought iron staircase is a work of art in its own right and ties the room together by matching with the granite countertop of the kitchen.  

Of course, a spiral staircase isn't for everyone, especially if you have mobility issues, small children or even pets. To help decide whether a spiral staircase is the right move for you, your family and even your home, consider asking your friends, family and REALTOR® for their opinion and insight.

Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery

Wood floating staircase with glass and wood rail

Marry the wow-factor of unique show-stopping stairs with the harmony of your home's décor and colour palette by matching your treads, railing, balustrades or risers to the motif of your home. Choose the same wood for your staircase as your hardwood floors—it's a great look if you're going with floating-style stairs.

The black countertops and backsplash in the kitchen below perfectly match and compliment the black railing and balustrades of the staircase and make the oak of the flooring, cupboards and stair treads seriously pop.

Wood and black iron staircase descending to a kitchen.

Don't forget the frills

Staircase with rail under-lighting.Photo by Alessia Cocconi on Unsplash

Ambient lighting can happen along the stairway, as well, especially if you backlight the railing. Not only can it help prevent any nasty spills in the night, but it's also a seriously polished look. For added effect, you could light up the risers or use LED strips as runners à la the movie theatre.

Looking for a stairway to inspiration? Take a look through our Pinterest board. We're always adding new eye-catching staircase pins. 

With a bit of creativity and a construction budget to boot, put your stairs to even better use as the breakout star of your home's interior design. But before you get building, check out these reno tips for more information on building codes and materials that might work best.



Room Colour Psychology: Choosing the Perfect Shade

Colours influence our emotions and mood in a number of surprising ways. According to colour psychology, the right paint shademay enhance productivity, promote calm, boost creativity levels and even increase your appetite. 

We dug a little deeper to unlock the meaning behind your favourite paint colours and the rooms they work best in. Keep in mind, it's not just colour that makes an impact; the intensity of the shade is also important. 


An illustration of a bedroom in deep purples and greys

Your bedroom is your oasis. If relaxation is your goal, you'll want to opt for soft, soothing colours—lavender, soft green or pale blue. Purple and blue are said to be stress-reducing shades. While deeper tones can often be intense on your walls, a muted amethyst or powder blue keeps things calm and cool. A neutral palette also works well in a bedroom, since you can always change out your décor accents to suit your mood. If you love bold colours like red or yellow, use a muted shade and opt for an accent wall instead of an all-red bedroom. 


An illustration of a small eat-in kitchen in red, brown, and blue

It's no surprise Martha Stewart is singing the praises of warm tones for this high-traffic area, as they're said to have a comforting effect. Red and orange are incredibly versatile and are thought to stimulate the appetite. This year, make way for terracotta and dusty rose—these kitchen-friendly colours are making a comeback. 

Living room

An illustration of a living room in shades of grey

Grey is a popular neutral for any room but looks particularly elegant in the living room. Grey is a safe bet, since it's versatile and will go with most styles of furniture, so you won't have to repaint even if you redecorate. Lighter hues will make your room seem bigger, while darker greys can add drama. Grey works fabulously as a backdrop for ScandinavianIndustrialUrban Modern and Minimalist designs. 


A personal office illustration in shades of blue

Blue is an intellectual colour, representing trust, logic, communication and efficiency. Green works great for an office, too, promoting calmness and concentration. Use blue or green as the primary colour in your office area if you require intense focus. If you're looking to spark creativity, however, yellow is your friend. Yellow is an emotional hue, representing friendliness, optimism and inspiration. Not brave enough to highlight all four walls? Choose one as a focal point, ideally the wall your desk will face. Remember, you can play with the shades–your space doesn't need to be all-over neon. 

Kids' room

A baby's nursery illustration in shades of green and brown

Kids are extra sensitive to a colour's psychological effects and green in particular may have a calming, soothing impact. We recommend involving your children in the process and letting them choose a colour that speaks to them (within reason). They generally have great intuition about how certain colours make them feel. Avoid using wall-to-wall red in a baby's room and save it for accents only, as it can be overstimulating. 


An illustration of a small bathroom in contrasting pink, black and white

The best way to make any bathroom appear larger is to use light colours. Play with happy, pastel colours like yellow and pink, don't be afraid to mix in some bright wallpaper as well. In small doses, pink has a calming effect but, if overused, can lead to irritation. 

Of course, paint colours are highly personal and should complement your existing furniture, lighting and taste. There are no “wrong” colours when it comes to designing your home. The best hues are the ones that speak to you. 



How To Get a Construction Mortgage Loan to Build Your Dream Home

For most, the fantasy of building a dream home is just that—a fantasy: the perfectly styled gourmet kitchen, the shower big enough to fit an elephant and every tiny detail carefully considered to be exactly what you want.

As a trained architect, it haunts me that at my age I still haven't designed and built my own home. With so much to consider, where do you begin? As always, a good place to start is with your budget.

The Basics: what is a construction mortgage?

View looking down through scaffolding at construction crew working

If you want to build a home from scratch or if you're planning significant renovations or expansions to an existing property, a construction mortgage can help give you the financial framework to make it happen. Essentially, it begins as a loan to finance the build during the construction period. When the construction ends, the loan is due and it becomes a normal mortgage.

To qualify, you'll likely need:

  • good to excellent credit;
  • A stable income;
  • low debt-to-income ratio; and
  • a down payment of 20%

Loan funds, totalling the full amount needed to complete the construction, are given to you in stages called “draws” throughout construction. Common stages include: purchase of land, foundation, framing, lock-up (for example, doors, windows and roofing) and completion. The work is inspected by the lender at each stage to ensure it's complete before the next draw is made available. Most lenders charge a fee for this inspection that goes beyond the cost of the loan. Also, keep in mind this inspection is different from the ones you'll require as part of your permit, so be sure the work is up to code.

If you're buying a new construction home through a builder, your construction loan is secured directly with them so you won't need to get one yourself.

Starting point

Construction plans and blueprints on a desk with notes, coffee and a black marker pen.

First thing's first: you need to consider what type of home you plan to build and how large you want it to be. Specific rules vary by province, so make sure you're well informed before you start. You'll likely want to (and may be required to) enlist the help of a licensed architect and/or engineer to help develop your plans. 

When building, you might be inclined to align your build's design with your wildest desires and whims. That might be fine for your forever home and if you have no intentions of ever leaving but, if future resale is a consideration, you might want to avoid unusual elements or unconventional floor plans. A REALTOR® is a great resource to help guide you through the most common and sought-after features of your neighbourhood.

Custom designed open concept kitchen, living and dining room.

Another consideration is the land you're going to build on. Do you want to raise animals or have a farm? Is accessibility an issue or do you think it might be? How important is privacy? If you're building a custom home to retire in, think about the future of that location and how its accessibility could factor in later in life. 

Choose what you want, but choose wisely. If you are buying your own plot of land to build on (opposed to buying a new home through a builder with predetermined land) you may need a different type of loan. Vacant lots can come higher interest rates and require larger deposits. Be sure to discuss your intentions with your bank so you can look at all of your options.

Getting the mortgage

Couple consulting with a mortgage broker

A construction loan can be obtained at any major bank or broker. The loan can be a fixed or variable rate depending on your preference and payment needs. 

Pro tip: fixed rate vs. variable rate

The difference between a fixed rate and a variable rate mortgage is fixed rates set the interest rate for the term of the loan, whereas the interest rate of a variable rate mortgage may go up or down depending on market conditions. 

Be sure to ask your lender the draw dates and percentage payout of their loan, as well as their inspection fee at each phase.


Smiling couple looking over constructions plans

Once you're approved (congratulations!), the construction mortgage can secure the purchase of land with an initial draw or pay off any existing loan if the property has already been purchased. 

You'll be able to request subsequent draws from the lender as the construction moves forward, pending inspection.


Woman looking over construction plans

Timing is the key to ensure everything runs smoothly. Consider the schedule around the completion of your project, including payment of subcontractors and inspection fees. You'll also want to consider the sale of your current home or whether you'll need to find a place to live in the meantime.


Custom designed living room with overlook from the second floor.

Once the scheduled construction is complete and on-time, the bank or lender will convert the loan into a mortgage with regular interest and principal payments. 

A construction loan/mortgage, coupled with the assistance of licensed, professional trades and contractors could be the key to your dream home! Imagine the satisfaction from moving into a house tailor-made just for you. 

The article above is for information purposes and is not financial or legal advice or a substitute for financial or legal counsel.


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