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Homes | Staging for a sale

First impressions matter when staging home for sale

You dress to impress when you have a hot date or a job interview. So doesn't it make sense to do the same thing to your home when you have it on the market? That's what staging is all about. To find out how that's done, we talked with Jeanne Warner, owner of Staged by Design in Apollo Beach; Tim Swanson, real estate agent for Caldwell Realty in Gulfport; and Chris Lenz, director of sales and marketing at Strobel Design Build in St. Petersburg. Here are some of their tips for showing your home at its best.

Focus on the details: Fix all the little things: rotten siding, doors that won't close, stained carpet. These are things you might not notice anymore, but to a potential buyer they mean the home is neglected. If the owners don't even bother to change a burned-out light bulb, are they really taking care of the big stuff?

Paint, paint, paint: Taupes, light golds and light greens do well, Warner says. And remember that "builder's white" is not a neutral. Paint it.

Curb appeal: First impressions matter. Spruce up the front porch with potted plants and a bench. Freshen up flower beds ("There's nothing worse than dead flowers," Lenz says), zap weeds, replace the mailbox. Be sure there's a clear path to your front door. If buyers can't find the entrance easily, they'll walk away.

Kitchens and baths sell the home: These rooms get the most return for your money. If you have a sizable budget, go for new appliances, cabinets and flooring. If you have a few hundred dollars, replace the dated countertop, paint cabinets, replace knobs. And no matter what your budget is, deep-clean.

Clean and declutter: A general rule, Lenz says, is to take out one piece of furniture from every room. And don't forget to clear the garage. "Pay someone $200 to haul everything out and hose out the garage," Swanson says. It's worth it.

Check out the competition: Explore the open houses in your neighborhood. Make sure your home looks better.

Save your money: This isn't the time for huge projects. If the windows are functional, don't replace them.

Don't rush packing: Keep the staged look until the final walk-through, Warner says. Your home isn't sold until closing.

First impressions matter when staging home for sale 08/01/08 [Last modified: Friday, August 1, 2008 2:29pm]

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