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How to make your house shine in a shaky real estate market

Consumer Reports News: September 29, 2011 12:09 PM

Home buyers and sellers don’t always see eye-to-eye, and view a house through different perspectives. What seems like an artful display of seashells to the homeowner could be considered clutter by the potential buyer. And those fake palm trees in the corner? They won’t sway potential buyers that this place is paradise. Here's what will.

When you live in a house for some time you get used to certain odors, including odors from pets, cooking, smoking and even mildew. But a potential buyer will immediately pick up on them, and will head for the door. Cleanliness, down to the smallest detail, is also crucial as it gives home shoppers an idea if this is a house that’s well cared for.

If you’re trying to sell your home, take a critical look at each room and become the buyer. One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make is not putting things away, creating a lived-in look that doesn’t allow prospective buyers the opportunity to imagine a place as their own. Consider these tips from Barb Schwarz, CEO of Stagedhomes.com:


  • Remove pieces of furniture from an overcrowded room to make the space appear larger.
  • Clear unnecessary objects from furniture; limit decorative items to groups of one, three or five items.
  • Put away items lining kitchen counters that aren’t needed, and remove pictures, magnets, and messages from the refrigerator.
  • Remove some of the pictures from the walls.
  • Clear unnecessary items from the bathroom vanity, shower stall and top of the toilet. Hang fresh towels that are color coordinated but not more than two colors.

Finally, when showing your house, turn on all lights and lamps.

Kimberly Janeway


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