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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Home Staging Do's and Don'ts

It's not easy to look at your own home with fresh eyes. You see a house full of memories and treasured possessions, but all potential buyers see is someone else's stuff. That's why we consulted several experienced home stagers to find out their top home staging dos and don'ts.

Karen Otto of Home Star Staging in Plano, Texas has had homeowners cry and walk out of the room when she tells them to remove sentimental pieces and photos from their home in order to stage it for sale. "I totally get it, but I tell them they're taking [the items] with them. We're not erasing their family from this home, we're allowing buyers to start seeing their experiences, dreams and memories in the home you hope they'll buy."

Home staging pros agree that an objective eye is a must. "Whether your Realtor, stager or neighbor comes by to offer it, take their advice," Otto says.

Read on to discover Home Staging Do's and Don'ts!  :)

We asked three expert stagers--Otto; online home stager Kelly Fallis; and Colorado home stager Jamie DeBartolomeis--for their top home staging do's and don'ts. Here's their advice:

Home Staging "Dos"

1. Clean, clean, clean!

2. Focus on curb appeal. Clear the outside of the house, especially the front yard and front entrance.

3. Get rid of garbage bins in the front. "Most people focus on the inside of the house but that's totally wrong," says Fallis. "You have to absolutely pay attention to the entrance of the house."

4. Whatever you think de-cluttering is, de-clutter times two.

5. Start your packing early. Take out everything that's going to the new house and move it off site into a storage space. "People are not signing up to live with you, so get rid of your stuff," says Fallis.

6. Do emotionally detach. Look as your home as a product on the market for sale.

7. Depersonalize. Remove family photos and heirlooms.

8. Remove unnecessary furniture and belongings.

9. Remove magnets and other mementos from the refrigerator.

10. Get pets out of the house when it's being shown.

Home Staging "Don'ts"

1. Don't do nothing!

2. Don't assume potential buyers will be able to look past your clutter and sloppiness.

3. Don't make people walk around obstacles like front walks littered with bikes and scooters.

4. Don't display your beer bottle or hat collections; box them up.

5. Don't display toiletries and hygiene items in the bathroom.

6. Don't bake cookies or set the table. "They're not going for cookies, they're not going for dinner," says Fallis. "It's distracting."

7. Don't burn candles. If you have odors in the house, get the vents and carpets cleaned. The house should have the smell of fresh flowers, and that's it.

8. Don't neglect the outside of the house, even in the winter. Shovel the walks and driveway. Trim overgrown bushes and low-hanging tree limbs.

9. Don't get upset about having to stage your home to get it ready for sale. "It's a price war and a beauty pageant out there, as one of my favorite Realtors likes to say," says Otto. "Win the contest against your competition!"

10. Don't forget the small stuff. Make sure to do all the little things like touching up chipped baseboards, repairing damaged walls, replacing outdated faucets and removing carpet stains.

Want more home staging tips and techniques? These AOL Real Estate guides can help: