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By Nicola Bridges

April 15, 2019 6 min read

If a couple interested in buying your home were to walk into your house right now, do you think it would appeal to them? Appearance is a key factor in selling your home faster -- and potentially for more money. Staging helps showcase your house in its best light, inside and out. It is worth the time and cost and can especially help in competitive markets. According to the most recent survey by the National Association of Realtors, 83 percent of buyers' agents said staging makes it easier for people to see themselves in a home, and 22 percent of sellers' agents said the sales price of a staged homes can go up 1 to 5 percent. If you're getting ready to put your home on the market, follow these top Realtor-recommended staging tips to upgrade your home and see results fast.

*Curb Appeal

Potential buyers start to form an opinion the minute they pull up to your house. On the Houlihan Lawrence global real estate group blog, Laura Gaskill writes, "Many people thinking of touring your home will do a quick drive-by first, often deciding on the spot if it is even worth a look inside." First, make sure your street number is clean and well-seen. Tidy your driveway. Mow your lawn. Clean up your flowerbeds and planters. Trim any overgrown shrubs and trees, and remove any dead branches. And consider buying new plants that look their seasonal best.

If you have a porch, make sure your outdoor furniture is clean, or buy a new set. Have your windows professionally washed, and power-wash your driveway, entryway, garage floor and siding. If you have a porch or deck that needs some TLC, give it a fresh coat of paint or stain. Lastly, if you don't have a welcoming doormat -- or it's grubby and old -- now's the time to buy a new one. Make your home shine, no matter its size, so that you attract more buyers.

*Declutter

Nobody likes an untidy house, so whatever the season, do a major spring cleaning. Donate or throw out everything you haven't used in a year, that looks dated or that you've been meaning to upgrade anyway -- for example, your coffee pot, lamps and rugs. (Remember, the expense will make your new house much nicer to live in). Clear all surfaces of knickknacks and personal items. But don't just pile everything into cupboards and closets, as buyers will open them to check for storage space. Box things up and store them with a friend, or rent a storage unit just while you sell and move.

*Rearrange, Remove or Rent Furniture

According to NAR, the most important rooms to stage are the living room followed by the master bedroom and kitchen. Realtors' rule of thumb is to remove half your furniture. Donate or throw out what you don't want, and put the rest in temporary storage. Designers use a nifty trick called "floating" where you position furniture away from the walls and add an area rug, even if you have carpet. It better shows the potential of the space, allowing buyers to visualize how their items would fit.

If you've already moved and the house is empty or you get rid of all your furniture, consider pop-up furniture, which is often cheaper than paying a professional stager and can make your home look fresh, modern and more appealing. It's usually white and made of corrugated plastic.

*Keep It Clean

Many Realtors recommend that you hire a crew to do a deep clean that really makes your house sparkle, especially the kitchen and bathrooms. Then commit to keeping it clean. Instead of installing air fresheners in every room, which potential buyers may be allergic to, open all your windows to naturally air out your home. If you have pets, clean every surface they touch. Have your carpets cleaned -- either professionally or by renting a cleaner to do it yourself -- and then vacuum daily. If you hire professional window cleaners for the outside, have them do the inside, too, or at the very least, be sure to keep them sparkling yourself.

*Freshen Things up

New cushions, throw pillows and comforters are relatively inexpensive and can make for a more thoughtful and coordinated aesthetic. Consider new bed sets and comforters. Invest in new sets of bathroom towels for viewings, as well as new soaps. Keep your bathroom counters bare and crystal clean. If you have kids, give them strict instructions to keep their rooms clean and clutter-free. If you don't have kids, your Realtor may feel it's worth staging a bedroom as a potential kids' room. If you have a spare room that could be multiuse, consider staging an office or cozy reading room by adding a bookshelf and pair of cozy chairs.

*Appealing Touches

Most everyone loves the scent of fresh flowers. Place some vases throughout your home including bathrooms. Keep bowls of fresh fruit on display and an appealing centerpiece on your table. On open house days, bake fresh cookies and brew coffee to create a warm, inviting ambience for viewers.

Your home furnishings may suit you fine, but when you're marketing your home for sale, what's most important is appealing to the masses. These tips will help you keep your home in tip-top shape so you can prepare to welcome viewers at a moment's notice.

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