By Gene and Katie Hamilton
If you're thinking about selling your home, you can gain a competitive edge by using the techniques of professional home stagers to make your home look more spacious and inviting.
Focus first on removing clutter and personal items. "Remove one-third of everything in cabinets and closets to make your house look like a model home," says Michele Roark, an interior decorator and home stager in St. Michaels, Md.
Take a cue from model homes and remove small appliances on kitchen counters. In the bathroom, hide everyday items so surfaces aren't cluttered. A two-car garage is a must-have feature for many buyers, but if it's filled to capacity, it's a turn-off. Buyers usually look at several homes, so make yours is the one they remember as being spacious and attractive.
Roark staged Cecelia and George Laufert's Baltimore home. "It was wonderful," Cecelia says. "She moved a couple pieces of furniture and changed the entire look of the living room. We sold our house in 11 days last June and some houses in our old neighborhood are still on the market."
When Karen Lawlor of Staging Solutions in Ellicott City, Md., arrives at a client's house, she goes through a selective decluttering process. "I identify the focal point of the room, like a gorgeous view or stone fireplace, and arrange the furniture to highlight it," she says. Lawlor recommends renting a storage unit for stashing excess furnishings.
In addition to removing clutter, sellers should keep a clean house. Wash windows, clean carpeting and eliminate pet odors and any other signs of pets. Make small repairs, such as caulking around the bathtub or regluing torn wallpaper.
Don't overlook the exterior of the home. Power-wash a dirty deck, rake leaves, and clean gutters and downspouts. To a prospective buyer, a manicured lawn, a house with clean siding, a freshly painted front do or and a new doormat say, "Welcome to my well-maintained home."
Editor's definition: Professional home stagers are sometimes hired to declutter, arrange furniture and update the décor of a home so that it will be more appealing to prospective buyers. They are hired to refresh/update a home's space so that a potential buyer can imagine living there.
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