When Shakespeare declared that "all the world's a stage," he couldn't have known the dark forces that would seize on his bit of metaphoric brilliance and turn it into the operative phrase for an expanding niche of the real estate industry three and a half centuries later. But now that theater has taken a permanent back seat to real estate as our most popular live spectacle, it's houses–not plays–that are getting staged. Back in the dark ages of the 1980s and the early '90s, staging – decorating a home to enhance its salability – existed in the rarified realm of elite services. It was like personal shopping, poodle jewelry and asset management – something the rest of us might read about in a glossy magazine but wouldn't be caught dead spending hard-earned cash on. But that was before the boom made hundred-thousandaires of even humble low-wage homeowners. Now your house is probably the apogee of something: If you bought recently, then it's your greatest ...
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