Yikes! You have a month to prepare your home for sale, a limited budget and very little free time. How do you invest your time, effort and money to “stage” your home so that it will sell quickly at the best possible price? Follow this recipe to reap the best return on your efforts:

Yikes! You have a month to prepare your home for sale, a limited budget and very little free time. How do you invest your time, effort and money to “stage” your home so that it will sell quickly at the best possible price? Follow this recipe to reap the best return on your efforts:

Give Buyers What They Want
Potential buyers are looking for a spacious, light-filled, well-maintained home that is ready to move into. They want uncluttered, clean and tidy rooms in which they can visualize their furnishings, and an exterior with curb appeal. So give them what they want:
• Improve your home’s presentation to the street.
• Create a spacious, uncluttered look in every room.
• Bring in light.
• Make repairs which reassure buyers the house has been well maintained over many years.
• Neutralize finishes so that the new homeowner can move right in.

Curb Appeal
Make sure your house numbers are easy to read and that your mailbox is in good shape. If you need to repaint your home, paint the body of the house in a light beige, khaki or gray and the trim in white with the front door and shutters in a coordinating color, such as hunter green, navy blue or black. If your home’s neutral-colored paint is in good shape but the trim is an unusual color, simply paint the trim out in white and repaint the front door. Power wash a dirty house to make it look freshly painted.

Give your front yard a manicured look: fertilize and edge your lawn, thoroughly weed, and trim any dead or misshapen plants. Provide easy passage to the front door by trimming low hanging branches or overgrown hedges. Cover planting beds in fine tan bark and plant oodles of colorful flowers. Move any trailers, boats, cars or trash cans from your driveway so the buyers can see your home and not your toys. Take care of repairs: fix that leaning fence, a broken pane of glass or replace missing shingles.
Make your front entry inviting by purchasing a new welcome mat, adding a brass kick plate to the bottom of your door and replacing a dated light fixture. Remove your screen door and store it in your garage. Remove tired garden furniture and scraggy potted plants, and replace with a few clay pots brimming with fresh blooming plants. Place only high-quality wood or wrought-iron furniture on your porch -- no plastic or aluminum.

Interior Staging
Most Realtors will encourage you to repaint your home’s interior in white and re-carpet in light beige so your home’s interior appears bright and spacious. This can be expensive, but you’ll get a very good return on your dollar.
Your entry will seem larger if you remove the area rug and any furniture, which crowds the space. Add light by replacing art with a mirror and by using the maximum wattage in the light fixture.
Arrange your living room and family room furniture so that it invites visitors into the space, rather than blocking them. Keep the curtains open and lights on, remove excess furniture, and de-clutter every surface. Visitors my not enjoy viewing religious items, racy artwork, guns, animal skins or an over-abundance of family photos, so it’s best to pack them away. Add a few nice touches: Place several logs in the fireplace and position healthy potted plants or fresh flowers here and there.
Increase space in your dining room by removing a leaf from the table and storing several chairs. Don’t use a tablecloth or set the table, simply place a live plant or bouquet of flowers, flanked by a pair of candlesticks, on the table.
Brighten your kitchen by painting out dark cabinets and adding new hardware. Remove appliances and clutter from the countertops and display several decorative items instead. Remove all refrigerator magnets and items stored on top of the fridge. Clean every surface till it shines.
Your bathrooms also should be squeaky clean. Remove tired window coverings to let light in. Increase space by removing floor mats, de-cluttering the vanity top and keeping the shower curtain or door open. Store all hygiene items and the trashcan, invest in new towels that coordinate with the tile color, and add a plant or dish of potpourri on the vanity.
Remove furniture that crowds your bedrooms, de-clutter all surfaces and remove any art that is tacked or taped to the walls. Also, a new bedspread and colorful pillows can add a fresh look.
For additional help, check out books in the library on selling your own home and copy their preparation checklists or ask your real estate agent to walk through your home to give you room-by-room suggestions. Or, hire a staging specialist to get the honest feedback you need. Everything you do to prepare your home for sale is money in your pocket!

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