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Learn How to Stage Your House to Maximize Its Selling Price

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Staging is the art of editing your home to put its best face forward for buyers. Donna M. Dazzo, president of Designed to Appeal, a New York City and Hamptons home staging business, says, "When selling or renting your home, you need to get buyers and renters to fall in love with your home, picture themselves living or staying there, and make them want to live there. Most buyers and renters do not have the vision to see past your clutter or taste-specific décor. And buyers don't like projects. They want clean, fairly updated and move-in ready homes. Home staging is the art and science of merchandising your home, just like any other product on the market."

The first thing you need to do is to take a fresh look at your surroundings. How clean is your house, really? Deep cleaning is the first step. Then take a look at those niggling little household fix-ups you've put off—the water stain on the ceiling, the cracked tile. Fix those. Buyers will notice them straightaway and they'll get a bad impression.

What about the floors and walls? Get rid of the emerald green carpet you've had since the Ford Administration.

And take down the Reagan-era wallpaper. You might still love it, but buyers won't. Paint any Easter-egg-color walls a nice linen white.

Next: declutter. You may like your clutter, but buyers won't. We're not just talking about personal photographs—however, yes, put those away—but all the bric-a-brac people collect that turn into visual clutter. Are there magnets on the fridge? Get rid of those. They're not cute, they're messy. Do you have a curio cabinet full of figurines? Put it in storage. Rent a storage space for all these things and put them there until you move.

Empty out your closets. A bulging closet says "not enough storage space" to a buyer. Have all your clothes and kitchen items neat and tidy—your storage should be as orderly and clutter-free as the rest of your house, because rest assured, buyers will look there. Store or get rid of excess items.

Now, take another look at your surroundings. Is the furniture placement the best it can be? Is furniture blocking the natural flow of traffic through the house? Rearrange if so.

Finally—is your problem not too much clutter, but not enough? There's a happy medium between "Collyer brother" and "operating room." Warm up the space, if needed, with throws, cushions, rugs, and plants, all of which can be bought cheaply at discount stores.

And if it all seems like too much to deal with or you can't figure out what's wrong, consult a professional stager. There are plenty of them around and a pro can sort out your home issues in no time flat. [Curbedwire]