9 home staging tips for a quick sale

Selling your home in a down market requires the kind of attention to detail that helps prospective buyers envision the space as their own. This is where staging comes in, helping to make any home look like new and reflect care, quality and cleanliness.

Industry surveys show that staged homes sell faster and at higher prices than those that aren't, so the effort and minor expense you invest in the process can definitely put dollars in your pocket at closing time.

Here are nine home staging tips for a quick sale.

  1. Tour with a buyer's eye view: Take a subjective look at your home's interior and exterior. What do you notice first -- everyday clutter or the home's best features? Make a list of what needs to be cleared away, cleaned up, repaired and repainted.
  2. Edit furnishings: Along with clearing away everyday clutter and stowing family photos and personal effects, trim down furnishings for the kind of just-right balance and scale that would suit Goldilocks. There needs to be enough in place to suggest proper scale and capacity within each room, but not so much that traffic flow is hindered and architectural elements are obscured.
  3. Neutralize interiors: Create a backdrop for buyer imagination by replacing patterned wall coverings with off-white paint, and install low-grade tan wall-to-wall carpet.
  4. Clean, clean, clean: Ensure that every inch of your home sparkles for a fresh, welcoming appearance, from ceiling cobweb hideaways to windows to floors. Also address and banish odors resulting from pets, cooking, smoking and the like.
  5. Tune up the details: Repair or replace inoperable hardware, touch up interior trim, and make sure all light fixtures are clean and loaded with brand-new bulbs.
  6. Re-accessorize with care: Limit wall decorations to fewer and larger pieces of artwork, and include a couple of strategically placed mirrors to expand the space and reflect its best assets. When introducing display pieces to a room, use the rule of threes to create attractive, uncluttered groupings, and add a few well-placed plants for welcome vitality.
  7. Spend time in the garage: Don't forget that prospective buyers will be visiting the garage! Clear away corner cobwebs, sweep floors, dust surfaces and pack up any straggling tools and project materials.
  8. Create curb appeal: Lush landscaping is one of your home's best exterior assets, and according to the Professional Landcare Network, it can add as much as 15% to the property value. So get out the mower, fertilize all turf and plantings, weed diligently and add seasonal color to flower beds.
  9. Build a grand entry: Touch up exterior trim, clean windows and repair loose or damaged shutters, supply light fixtures with [sparkling] new bulbs, polish front door hardware and address numbers, roll out a new doormat, and add a few pots of colorful blooms on the front porch.
Tom Kraeutler is the AOL'S Home Improvement Editor and co-author of My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. He delivers home makeover tips each week as host of The Money Pit, a nationally syndicated home improvement radio program.

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