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You can sell your home for more if you “stage” it.

Here is a quick story that illustrates how this works.  A home owner had decided to sell his home. The home had recently suffered a small grease fire and the inside needed to be deep cleaned and repainted.

The insurance company was paying for new carpet, deep cleaning, and repainting the inside of his house. He spent two entire weekends fixing everything and putting the home in tip top showing condition.

He put the home on the market and it quickly sold for $645,000.  Thirty days later another home up the street that was not staged sold for $565,000.  Around the same time a home that was described as having “good bones”, but was very dirty sold for $512,000.

All of these homes were very similar – they had the same number of bedrooms, baths, and very similar square footage. The only thing the $645,000 house had that the other homes did not was a small outdoor patio.

The moral of the story is that a staged home can and will sell for 8-10% more money than a comparable home that is not staged.


So, how do we “stage” our home so it will sell for more money? Consider a Quick, or Not so Quick, Facelift

No one wants to pay top dollar for an old, grungy looking home.  If you really want to sell your house quickly and for the absolute best price, you should consider making some updates and repairs.

Now, this doesn’t have to be a full home remodel from top to bottom, but it never hurts to spruce things up a bit.

Squeaky Clean is Your Ace in the Hole. I can’t stress the importance of a junk-free, impeccably clean home when you’re bringing in potential buyers.

No one wants to pay for something that’s dirty, and you certainly aren’t going to get the best price if your home isn’t super-clean.

When following your deep clean checklist, think of what you would want to see if you were buying a home.


Your Deep Clean Checklist

* Remove all cobwebs. Do this first so that you don’t have to re-dust furniture and re-vacuum rugs.

* Vacuum and shampoo carpets.  Mop and polish all slick floors to a mirror finish.

* Wash all linen, including curtains, bedspreads, sheets, etc.

* Dust from the ceiling fans down to the baseboards.  Don’t forget the blinds.

* Clean all glass services, including windows, glass doors, television screens and even china cabinet doors.

* Polish all wooden furniture.

* Make sure your entire kitchen is immaculate.  Kitchens sell homes.  Get rid of all of the extra countertop junk, the mountain on top of the refrigerator and even the message center hanging on the fridge.

* Bathrooms are imperative in the cleanliness department.  Actually, they are just as important as the kitchen.  Make sure everything gleams and smells fresh.

* Clean out all closets, cabinets, drawers and storage spaces completely.

* Eliminate dirty smells such as greasy food, animal odor and day-old trash.  Smell sells, or if your home is stinky, prevents your sale.

* Make sure that if you smoke you begin taking your breaks outside.  Non-smokers detest the scent, and it can actually break a potential sale.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a scented candle or two will trick non-smokers.  Believe me, they won’t.

* I always hate to say this, but you need to erase all proof of inside pets before showing.  I know, I know – it’s heartbreaking.  But, it’s also only temporary until your home is sold.

Before viewers show up, remove doggy dishes, litter boxes, puppy pads – you name it – and take the pets somewhere safe and out of sight until the visit is over.  Be wary of animal smells, too.


De-clutter and Sell Faster. De-cluttering is often the most difficult task that home sellers face.  It’s hard work, but it is also well worth the effort.

A good majority of homes that sit on the market endlessly do so simply because the sellers refuse to get rid of their piled up junk.  Don’t make that mistake, and follow the checklist below.


Your De-cluttering Checklist

* Use the 50% guide.  Pack, trash, sell or donate at least 50% of your stuff.  I just ripped that band aid right off, didn’t I?

* Rent a storage building a little larger than what you think you’ll actually need in a well-lit, safe environment.

* Eliminate furniture that is unnecessary to open up your rooms.

* Organize everything, including what isn’t readily seen (like the insides of those closets and cabinets you just cleaned out).  Coordinating baskets, containers and other organizational tools all aid in a more unified, neat appearance.

* Go ahead and pack up seasonal clothes.  The less in your closets, the better.

* Try to get everything off of the closet floor.  Doing so makes them appear larger.

* De-personalize by removing framed photos, memorabilia and other items that shout your family’s personality.

* Go for a neutral mood throughout your home.  Your goal is not to show just how wonderful you and your family are, although I’m sure that you’re quite lovely indeed.  The goal is to present a fresh place for your home viewers to visualize their own wonderful families in.


Facelift Projects. This is touch and go, really, but it never hurts to do a little freshening up throughout your home.

You have to find that happy medium of what you can afford to do, what is actually going to help increase the value of your home and what isn’t going to drive you insane.

However, there are some small to medium projects that really can put you at the front of the game when you have a lot of competition around.


Your Facelift Checklist

* Painting is a great way to give your home a clean, new feel.  Go for neutral tones, such as beige, creams and greys.  This is a good project to tackle, too, because it’s relatively inexpensive and most folks can handle it themselves.

* Floors are important, but can also be costly.  If you can get by with a thorough cleaning, you might just want to stop there.  However, if there are very worn spots, faded carpets or other unsightly damage, you might consider replacement instead.

Hardwood is always a favorite, and can add value to your home, but is also expensive.  Don’t be afraid to use linoleum, vinyl floor tiles or ceramic if you need new floorcoverings on a budget.  Any of those are preferable to flooring with holes in it.

* Buy new hardware, or refurbish your old ones.

* Make sure all tile grout is either thoroughly cleaned and/or repaired.

* Replace anything that is incredibly outdated, damaged or simply non-functioning.

* Think about thoroughly cleaning or replacing your outlet covers.

* Lighting fixtures can really make or break a room.  Inexpensive types are available at all of your big chain stores such as Lowes and Home Depot.

Even Wal-Mart and Target have them.  Adding a brighter, nicer lighting fixture to a room can really make a world of difference.

* Exchange all of your old light bulbs for new ones.  I know it sounds crazy, but when you brighten up your spaces, they appear cleaner, bigger and more comfortable.

* Add new blinds.  Old, stained and broken blinds can really make a room look dreary and even dingy.


Improve Your Curb Appeal. Curb appeal is an often overlooked area of preparing a home that can really cost you both money and time in the long run.

Putting it into perspective, your curb and yard are the first and last things buyers see when they come by.  A good first and last impression is critical to you selling your home with speed.


Your Curb Appeal Checklist

* Make sure your lawn is neatly trimmed.

* Pay attention to debris, even something as small as a cigarette butt.  Those things make your home look far less inviting.

* Trim up all of your shrubs and trees.

* Make certain your flower beds are weed-free, and colorful.  Dead foliage and fauna are huge turn-offs.

* Neat, clean landscaping is far more preferable to out-of-control, over-the-top landscaping any day.

* Repair your walkways.  Not only is this safer, but it also gives your home a much more comfortable feeling.  Perhaps add lighting or flowers to accentuate them.

* Repair or replace anything that is broken, such as porch railings, outdoor lights or shutters.

* Pay attention to your front entrance especially.  A solid door with a nice wood or paint finish will lend your home the look of security that homebuyers crave.

* Don’t forget the less than wonderful aspects of the outside of your home like the guttering.

* Clean them out and repair them.  Make sure your screens are in good shape.  Things like that matter.

* Repaint or replace worn out and rusty outdoor furniture.

* Make sure there are no pet reminders all over the yard.  Having a viewer step in a stinky land mine is not the way to make friends or sell homes.

* Help your children to keep all of their outside toys picked up.  Parents are used to seeing five balls in the bushes, a skateboard on the steps and baby dolls enjoying a day at the spa in the birdbath.

Buyers, on the other hand, aren’t going to appreciate these little eccentricities so much.


Pay Attention to Details. Really, details do matter.  Don’t look at your home from the eyes of a person who is used to their surroundings.  Try walking through your yard and home with a fresh perspective.

Pay attention to the smallest issues (the mailbox letters look shabby), as well as the largest (the garage door doesn’t open).  Take notes, and take the time to make necessary changes.  Your buyers will appreciate it, and you will come out far more profitably.

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