False Start

Listing your home without being ready is like that false start in a race that gets you disqualified.  The outcome in the world of real estate is either a lack of interest or a sale lower then you anticipated.

Allow my clients testimonial and pictures to speak for itself:

“During and prior to our 35 years of travel both abroad and here in Canada, my wife and I have accumulated, inherited and picked up a lot of “stuff”.  To many it could almost be called hoarding and the houses have had to become larger and larger to accommodate these keepsakes!  We have reached a stage in our lives that we have decided to downsize both home and contents!

Enter Karen Donnan and her team, Leslie and Annalise.  They represent a wonderful combination of creative, organizing and selling skills all in one package!  Their unique talents are accompanied by a very personal touch of caring and understanding, so much so, that we feel as if we are honorary members of their team and they a part of our family!  Their pride and expertise shows through time and time again.

Our initial choice of REALTOR® was disappointing. Whatever we suggested, the agent simply agreed with us rather than providing constructive advice. They did provide an indication of a suggested price and when I suggested increasing it by $5K, they readily agreed without trying to rationalize their own position. Yes they had comparable listings to show how they arrived at that number but their instant agreement with a higher price was puzzling.

The house was listed for a total of about 5 months with this agency. During that whole period we had only one showing! We had four or five Open Houses which were always offered as the absolute cure or panacea for what was described to us as “a very slow market”. The most frustrating part was the need to push all the time for feedback and the response was always the same – they had to go and find out what was going on and get back to us. They did not know what they should really have been on top of and then advising us of what was happening. The lack of feedback was extremely frustrating.

We did not renew the listing for a third time. Instead, we obtained referrals from one or two people active in the local real estate market and we chose Karen Donnan of Sutton Realty Masters. 

Karen came to see us and to talk about her approach to getting a house ready for sale and to review, at great length, how to arrive at a price and the importance of pricing it properly. She was utterly straight forward with us and pulled no punches at all. She described her process which, initially, sounded daunting for the less organized types like me. She was instantly my wife’s heroine given their amazing abilities to organize!

I wasn’t too clear on this process of staging a house and kept wondering how it would help. The biggest concern was being able to remove so much “stuff” and find storage space in the house and to thus present a very elegant, minimalistic appearance and to do that by appealing to current tastes and especially those of the younger generation.

My precise thoughts were “bah, humbug” as I couldn’t picture how this would work and how to manage and work with Karen’s very creative process. My wife had it all down pat and followed it all without any difficulty visualizing the end result.

Karen was amazingly patient with us throughout and took all the time in the world to make sure we understood her process. 

Once the first part of the process was complete and we could corner Karen for explicit instructions on what to do, we set about moving and removing and moving again. Our guru, Karen, was due to return a couple of days later to check on our progress and very proudly we showed her everything we had done. Karen, with the utmost in diplomacy and politeness, told us we really had a lot more to do and also provided very hands on guidance as to what was to go where. This was so useful to us, especially since we had never done it before and then the whole project started to really click and fall into place. It felt like being part of a very precise military operation where everything had to be in place in order to measure success – and guru was the general!!

Karen always felt that staging a house should not involve unnecessary expense and kept telling us she could lend us anything we may need to complete the makeover. This was the third part of her process and it was amazing to watch her in action. Symmetry was the word of the day, especially for photographs of the house. Assuming one could keep up with her, the transformation was amazing as plants and cushions were moved around along with many other pieces. At the end of the day, the house presented absolutely beautifully and infinitely better than we could have done on our own. Karen’s creativity and flair for design is amazing and the house looked stunning. She also has a wonderfully patient demeanor that will put any client at ease while she explains the features and benefits of the house while selling them on the prospect of owning such a ”unique and wonderful property”!

The fourth and probably the most critical part of Karen’s process was taking photographs of the interior and exterior of the house. She insists on taking all her own pictures as she knows how she wants each room or space portrayed in order to allow clients to see the full potential of the house and how they would be able to use it to their best advantage. She will return to re-take shots if she is unhappy with her original effort.

It was the most fascinating, detailed process imaginable and it was nowhere near as daunting as we originally thought. It was a lot of fun and a really enjoyable exercise that happens to have the added benefit of making your house as attractive as possible for the market.

P.S. Karen has one other talent she is very shy to demonstrate. She has the great and unique ability to wear two different socks and have you believe in the artistic value added by her decision. Incredible!!!”

Allan and Sue Proulx

Enjoy the before and after photos


Dining room before
Dining Room Before
Dining room after
Dining Room After
The best feature about this kitchen is how bright it is with great windows. The picture needs to reflect its best qualities.
Kitchen Before. The best feature about this kitchen is how bright it is with great windows. Unfortunately this picture doesn’t reflect how wonderful the windows are.
Showing its best qualities!
Kitchen After. Showing the rooms best qualities and the terrific view!
kitchen 2 after
Kitchen After (2) Uncluttered and bright!
Main floor family room before
Family Room Before. Full of furniture that was haphazardly placed. The end result on MLS® is poor presentation and viewers cannot grasp the space available.
It's better to show good space with an empty room then a room with furniture that has an awkward layout online
Family Room After. It’s better to show good space with an empty room, then a room with furniture that has an awkward layout online
Master Bedroom Before
Master Bedroom Before
Master Bedroom After
Master Bedroom After
The lighting in this picture gave the impression that the room was pink.
Living Room before. The lighting in this picture gave the impression that the room was pink.
Living Room after
Living Room After.

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