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What you can do to sell your home

Expert: Step-by-step guide to staging

Posted: March 5, 2010 11:31 p.m.
Updated: March 6, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Before, the front room of this home had been set up as a studio, which might not appeal to many buyers.

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* Surfaces should be clean and clutter-free. What is clutter? Clutter is anything that is not decorative. Remove bills/paper piles, medicines, collections, family photos, cleaning aids, toothpaste and the like, toys, gaming equipment, CD towers, garbage cans, dirty laundry, excess furniture, items or boxes on the floor - "negative energy items," etc. 

* Sofas and chairs should be in good condition. If not, and no other furniture is available, covers should be purchased. For balance and interest, throw pillows or throws should be added with touches of the home's accent color. 

* Rugs should be clean and appear new. Replace outdated, worn, faded and, especially, stained rugs. Remember, if it isn't adding visual beauty, it is better to go without.

* Towels should be fresh and new. Buy a separate set of decorative towels in the appropriate color scheme just for showing purposes. Bathrooms with new (and decorative) towels feel clean and well-detailed.

* Windows, carpets, flooring, cabinetry - the entire interior should sparkle. A clean home sells. It is hard for buyers to visualize themselves in a home full of someone else's germs. 

* Refrigerator exteriors should be free of magnets, photos, etc., and all appliances should be clean.

* Homes should be odor- free. Odors can prevent a sale.

* Kitchen, bathroom and floor grout and caulking should be clean.

* Kitchen counters should have fewer appliances and more decorative items, such as bowls of fruit, cookbooks open to a pretty picture on a stand, decorative oil bottles, plate stands with pretty plates, etc.

* Paint should appear fresh. If walls are dinged or marked up, a paint job is in order.

* Advise clients that pets should be put away during showings.

* Reduce the amount of accessories per surface. For instance, an average size chest of drawers should have one to three decorative items.

* Accessories should be larger in nature. Small items should be packed away. Smaller items make a surface feel cluttered while making the room feel sparse and unbalanced.

* Use different sizes and textures when grouping accessories. For instance, a lamp, a plant and a small decorative box. Advise clients not to cover the entire surface or it will feel cluttered. Empty space gives the eye a rest. Different heights gives the grouping a natural and visual interest.

* Window treatments should be clean, attractive and frame the window. If there is an undesirable view, add an attractive sheer to maintain the room's brightness.

*Toilet lids should be down when showing the home. Plungers, garbage cans, scales and toilet brushes should all be stowed out of view.

* Showers should be clean and have minimal products in view.

* Closets should have nothing on the floor other than shoes (if there is no shoe rack). Showcase the size of the closet by reducing items and clothing so that it would appear to have plenty of space.

* The inside of cupboards should be organized and not overflowing. Excessively full cupboards may indicate to buyers that there is not enough storage in the home.

* Pull blinds all the way up to showcase the views and let in the light.

Exterior Staging
* The curb appeal is the first impression of the home, so it is imperative that it actually have "appeal." Make sure weeds are pulled, plants are trimmed and any dirt areas are filled with ground cover or new bark. 

* Many houses can use a good power washing, especially in windy areas. Power washing and window washing can often be performed by the same company. If not, advise your clients to make sure the power washing company is scheduled first as they will drip dirty water down the windows as they are cleaning.

* Often, shutters and door paint are faded. If power washing doesn't help, these items should be repainted to give the exterior of the home a fresh look.

* Decks, porches and patios should have some sort of furniture seating to feel inviting and detailed. Furniture should be clean and have fresh seating cushions or pillows to bring in a pop of color.

* Garages and exterior areas should be swept.

* Garbage cans, lawn equipment and toys should be put away. If no other storage space is available, things may be stacked neatly, preferably to one side of the garage.

* Pools should be sparkling clean, with inviting seating areas.

* Advise clients to make repairs now instead of after they receive the home inspection citing these issues. Sellers can save time by attending to them now, and the home will show better.
* If a view is available, trim whatever plantings need to be trimmed to expose this valuable asset.

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