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One of the biggest hurdles to purchasing a new home is getting your current home sold at the time and price that make the most sense for your move.  A good staging effort will not only make or break the sale, but help reel in more interested buyers to visit your home if it presents itself well in photos.  Research shows that over 90% of all home shoppers pre-shop online before they decide to come visit a home for sale. This helps people save time by weeding out the homes they don’t want to spend the time to go see in person, and of course you’ll want to do all you can to make sure your home not only makes the cut, but stands out from the rest. The 10 basic staging tips below are a good checklist to start with to help get your home sold sooner, and for more money.
1.    Declutter/depersonalize/accessorize- First things first: Remove all clutter! Yes, the 214 baby toys are clutter, as are cat and dog toys, books, magazines, papers, refrigerator magnets, unfolded laundry. You get the point. You want your house in the best shape to sell it fast, so make it look organized and clean. Remove the personal pictures in your home and clean out your closets to make them appear larger. If you need to, start packing away your seasonal clothes. Now is the perfect time to clean out those closets and donate unwanted items to those who really need them. You may even consider storing those boxes of year books and children’s clothing in an off-site storage facility or relative’s basement. Once you have removed all the clutter you may think your house looks empty. A few well placed accessories (Odd numbers are preferable) will do wonders. When decorating, imagine a triangle and place objects at each point.
2.      Create curb appeal- The outside of your home is the first thing a potential buyer will see, so make sure it’s in tip top shape. Mow the lawn, hose down the walk ways, remove any cobwebs, clean the front door, and yes wash the windows. To add a little wow factor, plant some flowers and purchase a new welcome mat.
3.      Fix it up and Clean it up- Make any repairs you have been putting off, as well as recaulking the shower areas and replacing any burnt out light bulbs (make sure darker areas in your home show well by selecting a bulb with the appropriate wattage) don’t forget to fill in any nail holes, wipe down the window sills, clean the oven (yes, they will look), bleach sinks and bathtubs, dust the blinds, clean the windows and last, but one never to forget…always make the beds before you leave.
4.     Freshen up- Let some air in. Open the windows for at least 10 minutes to eliminate any stuffiness. Cut up a lemon and run it through the garbage disposal to freshen up the kitchen, and add bleach to all the toilets. Invest in a scent burner and chose a scent like chocolate chip cookies or fresh apples, it will entice buyers.
5.      Let there be light! Open the drapes and blinds and let the sun shine in. If you have a particularly dark room, purchase a floor lamp that will bounce light off the ceiling.
6.      Bring the outside in- Grab your garden sheers and go to town. Clip fresh cut flowers, twigs, fern stems, dried leaves, hand picked fruit, you name it. You will be amazed at how fresh and clean your house looks (and smells) by utilizing what you have in your own backyard.
7.      Play that funky music- Playing soft jazz can help create a soothing environment and camouflage neighbor and traffic noise.
8.      Create groupies- A common misconception is that a room looks bigger if all the furniture is pushed up against the walls. To create a more inviting space, float the furniture away from the walls and create a cozy conversation area.
9.      Be Switzerland- Keep it neutral. Painting a room a fresh neutral color will help tone down any dated features in the space. Bold walls have a way of reducing offers and price, so it’s best to go with neutrals. If you have any rooms with questionable colors, invest in a gallon of Roasted Sesame Seed or Oklahoma Wheat paint and get painting!
10.    Color me beautiful – Purchase some new throw pillows for couches and beds to freshen up the area. Get creative with art work: frame Campbell soup labels for kitchen art work, frame pretty wallpaper for art work in the living room, put some toothbrushes in a shadowbox for fun bathroom artwork.
Remember you can only make one first impression on buyers…make it your best!

How to sell a vacant home
Staged homes sell faster, and for up to 17% more than vacant homes, so trying to sell your home once you’ve already moved out can be tough. But, for a few hundred dollars, a new technology trend can come to the rescue. It’s called virtual staging, and a quick google search will reveal a number of companies that provide this service at reasonable prices. You basically take several photos of the inside of your home (or have a friend who is a good photographer take them for you), upload the photos to the company’s website, and then select virtual furniture and accessories to plop into the photos. You don’t have to worry about being a technology wiz either, it’s pretty user friendly.  I know what your thinking- won’t that look fake and cheesy? Not necessarily. The photo realistic technology has advanced over the past few years to the point where if you don’t look close enough, you can’t tell the difference between reality and fiction. To keep things on the up and up though, most services provide a disclaimer or watermark on the photos to let the viewer know that the image has been virtually staged. For most people who have a hard time visualizing what an empty space looks like when furnished, this can be a very helpful in realizing a home’s potential.
Once you’ve done all this, it’s a good idea to get a fresh set of eyes on your home to see if there’s anything you’ve missed. A REALTOR®, or trusted friend can bring fresh perspective and point out the things you haven’t seen because you live in your home every day.
Have you had success in staging your home for sale?What worked for you?
Post a comment and let us know.

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