May 27, 2012

Staging your home for sale

Worried about trying to sell your home in this buyer's market? Adopting some
simple staging tips from the pros can help your home sell faster.
The effort may be well worth your time, according to the Real Estate Staging
Association. The group studied 174 homes that had been on the market for an
average of 156 days before homeowners hired a professional home stager. After
staging, they sold an average of 42 days after re-listing.
But there's not always a need to call in a professional for this job. "Keep that
money for yourself," says Thomas Rouse, who was a lead design producer at
"Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and has worked on other home television
programs. As long as you have a friend with a strong eye to give you a second
opinion, staging a home for sale is often something owners can handle on their
own, he says. Many real-estate agents agree. In a recent HomeGain survey of 500 real-estate agents, cleaning and de-cluttering, lightening and brightening rooms, and staging were among the top five low-cost, do-it-yourself home improvements
suggested for people getting their homes ready to sell.
Professionals often say staging goes beyond just basic de-cluttering and painting,
focusing on the arrangement and mood of rooms, says Louis Cammarosano,
general manager of HomeGain, a provider of online programs connecting real-
estate agents with home buyers and sellers.
Here are Mr. Rouse's top tips for home staging on a budget.
1. Put on a fresh coat of paint.
It's one of the most obvious and inexpensive upgrades, but fresh paint on the
walls and trim will give home sellers a lot of bang for their buck, Mr. Rouse says.
Stick with a neutral palette for the walls, and consider giving the exterior of the
home a fresh coat as well, if you have the extra cash.
2. Don't leave a room empty.
Furniture helps buyers visualize living in that space. Try to avoid furniture with
patterns, Mr. Rouse says, and use pops of color through bright throws and
3. Use the TV as artwork.
A flat-screen TV, mounted to the wall in a size appropriate for the space, can
function as a piece of art in a living room or other common area, he says. A TV is
"the modern-day family hearth," so use it to your advantage: Play a simple,
silent slide show of nature images. Don't include pictures of people, which can
be distracting to buyers, Mr. Rouse says. And keep TVs out of bedrooms.
4. Fill up dead wall space.
A lack of wall hangings can make a home feel cold, so add framed artwork,
photography or mirrors. If using photos of people, choose prints that are black
and white or sepia, which is less distracting. But don't be afraid to mix it up, Mr.
Rouse says; hanging reclaimed wood or plates on walls are creative options.
5. Add window treatments.
A blank window can make a house feel sterile. A simple curtain rod and drapes in
a solid color will cozy up the place. Curtains also frame the view to the yard, Mr.
Rouse says.
6. Maintain the yard.
"People think they're selling the house, not the property, and it doesn't have to
be something great, Mr. Rouse says. "But at least keep it maintained, cutting the
grass before the buyer shows up."
7. Choose flowers wisely.
Live plants and fresh-cut flowers add life to a home, but keep it simple. A bunch
of store-bought flowers of the same color, placed in a simple glass vase on the
dining-room table, will be appealing without being a distraction. Don't use fake
plants, trees or flowers. They will make your home appear dated, Mr. Rouse
8. Tidy your bookshelves.
Remove protective covers from books on bookshelves. The books' solid colors
will turn your personal library into a more decorative focal point.
9. Keep the bedroom gender-neutral.
Avoid gender-specific elements in the master bedroom. Bedroom color palettes
should be neutral, and simple white bedding can make a room feel fresh.
10. De-clutter the entire house.
Remove personal items from rooms, including family photos and some of your
collectibles. Cutting down on clutter will make your rooms appear bigger and
cleaner. A simple test to see if you've removed enough: If you stand in the back
of the room and no item stands out too much, you've done your job, Mr. Rouse
says. In the kitchen, clear small appliances off countertops, Mr. Cammarosano
adds. Straighten up and organize the food items in your cupboards and tidy up

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