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Slow Market? Stage a Sale

By Rick LeForce Published 11/30/2007 | Real Estate

So the market isn't moving as fast as it was a couple of years ago – there's been a ton of bad press and now you're getting worried. If you've been thinking about selling your home, don't let the market scare you. It's true that sales have slowed, but with an extra little attention and some minor work your home will be in good shape for the market.

In a buyer's market you need to make your home stand out, because there are more to choose from. The key to this is in presentation. You need to make your home into a space that potential buyers feel a connection to, that they can imagine themselves living in. This means looking objectively at the space you have, taking care of the little details and helping the buyer make an emotional connection to your home.

In a recent study, professionally staged homes sold in approximately half the average time of houses on the market. They also sold for a higher asking price. If you can't afford to pay a home stager (they typically charge upwards of 100 an hour) you may consider hiring one for an initial consultation and carrying out the work yourself. If you are creative, or can't find a good professional in your area, there is no shortage of design magazines and online resources for inspiration.

Let's face it – your first impression counts, and with today's home buyers the first look is often on the Internet. Take good, well lit photographs, and ask your realtor to post more than one so that potential buyers can get a look at different rooms in the house. If there are certain rooms in the house that are less appealing, you may want to leave them off the virtual roster so that buyers are more likely to view the house. Then they can judge the strengths and faults in person.

The other important impression is what the viewer sees when they arrive. You want your home to be appealing from the street, so make an effort to clean it up. Trim hedges, lawn and shrubbery so that the house can be seen and the yard looks tidy. Walk around the yard – what needs to be fixed up? Repair fences, sidewalks, clean the gutters… taking care of the little details will help the buyer see the beauty, not the things in need of repair. Also take care of the entrance way – create an impression. Put in a new front door or paint the door a bright color. Remove any clutter from the door step and add an inviting welcome mat and a potted plant.

Your house should be spotless, and I mean spotless. If you don't have time to do it yourself, hire a professional cleaner. Again, take care of the minor repairs that you've been meaning to get to. This is a good time for a fresh coat of paint - it can go a long way in brightening up the space. You want the buyer to connect to your home, to imagine living there happily. This image that may be difficult for them if they are too busy imagining all the cleaning they would need to do.

Remove the clutter – all of it. Put away little Susie's gymnastic ribbons and take Billy's artwork off the fridge. Visit a show suite in a new development to give you an idea of just how uncluttered you want to get. Get some boxes, fill them up and put them in storage or into the garage.

Then air out your home and get rid of any foul odors – there is nothing worse than walking into stinky house. Be careful with chemical air fresheners as many people have sensitivities to the scent. Ban smoking from your home while it is for sale and clean out litter boxes regularly. Open the windows for a few minutes every day and make good use of the baking soda in areas like the fridge, garbage cans and anywhere else that needs attention.

And finally, when you have scheduled showings or an open house, set out freshly cut flowers, bake cookies and leave them for the viewers (the smell and the yum factor will leave a favorable impression). Make sure all the blinds are open (and the windows are clean), and the house is well lit. Think about the temperature – you don't want the house to be too cold or too stuffy. Leave some light jazz or classical music playing.

Remember, you want potential buyers to feel calm, warm and welcome. Looking after the little details will help them see the beauty in your home and help you sell your home faster.