(This is Part 2 of a four-part series. See Part 1: Simple tasks make real estate an easy sell, Part 3: Real estate agents tap ‘Feng Shui’ advice and Part 4: Real estate agents sell ‘lucky’ houses.)

If you have a listing no one seems to want, “staging” the home may be exactly what you need to replace the “for sale” sign with a “sold.”

Shakespeare’s famous quote, “All the world’s a stage…” is certainly apropos in the real estate business. Homes presented to their best advantage bring maximum purchase prices. To do a better job of “staging” your listings, utilize the following tips.

1. Curb Appeal

Take the seller outside the property with you and have them walk up to the front door just as a buyer would. What do you notice? Is the property attractive from the street? Is the lawn neatly manicured? If the weather is warm, are there flowers blooming in the flowerbeds? Does the house look well maintained from the street? Is there a car parked in the driveway–or worse–in the front yard? To achieve the maximum price possible for the property, the seller will need to address these “curb appeal” issues. Upgrading the landscaping, repairing any damage visible from the street, painting the trim, and parking the cars in the garage or on the street can make a big difference in how many people elect to view the property. Remind the seller you want to motivate people to pick up the phone and call you for a showing. Failing to address these issues will result in a lower price since fewer people will see the property.

2. Welcoming and Inviting

When the buyer walks up to the front door, what do they see? Does the doorbell work? What about the welcome mat? If it looks ratty, have the seller buy a new one. Does the front door need painting or restaining? If so, these are smart places the seller can spend a small amount of money that will yield an excellent return. Ideally, the home should beckon the seller to walk in and view it.

3. Common “Scents”

Odors have a strong effect on all humans. For example, a research study testing a perfume scents used cinnamon rolls as a control group. When tested, the men in the study overwhelmingly preferred the scent of cinnamon rolls to all perfumes in the study. To create the “cinnamon roll effect,” purchase canned cinnamon rolls and bake them prior to open houses or major showings. If the home has a fireplace, light a fire and use pine potpourri to accentuate the smell of burning wood.

4. Light and Bright

Most people prefer bright houses. If the trees have blocked the light, urge the seller to have them trimmed prior to listing the property. During showings, remember to open all drapes and to turn on all lights. To increase brightness, make sure the seller has the windows and skylights cleaned. Also, remember to have all chandeliers cleaned, as well as dusting the light bulbs.

5. Disguise What Is Ugly

Sometimes a major room faces an ugly view or the building next door. To change this, a simple white lattice and a few strategically placed plants can change “ugly” to beautiful. If the seller’s furniture is ugly, suggest they purchase some slipcovers to give it a fresh look. Another alternative is to throw several attractive throws over the furniture and then add pillows on tops of the throws. In the case of the college where I teach, my office had major earthquake damage. The walls were badly cracked, the floors had 50 years of accumulated gunk, and there was no storage. My decorator hung fabric over the walls, installed new carpets, and purchased a large painting that stands in the corner. Behind the painting, I store my garbage bags, vacuum, and other items that do not fit in my desk. One important caveat here–you must disclose damage in writing to all potential buyers. Concealing the truth can cost you and the seller thousands of dollars.

6. Give Weird Colors the Brush

Time after time, properties with strange colored rugs and/or walls will sit on the market until the seller decides to paint and re-carpet. If the sellers cannot afford to repaint or re-carpet the entire house, at least have them upgrade the primary rooms, i.e. the primary living area, master bedroom, and kitchen.

7. Create “Sex Appeal”

A new bedspread and plenty of pillows makes the bedroom look more inviting. Strategically placed candles, different varieties of attractively packaged bubble bath, and beautifully arranged towels can spiff up a tired bath.

8. Hire a Professional Decorator

Many decorators now provide “staging” services. The seller can hire them for one or two hours to make suggestions about furniture placement, how to best accent the home using the seller’s existing possessions, as well as inexpensive ways to improve the over all appearance.

Bernice Ross is an owner of Realestatecoach.com and can be reached at bernice@realestatecoach.com.

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