If you want to sell a home, look at a hotel. Most specialize in depersonalized and clutter-free areas designed for mass appeal. That concept is a winner in residential real estate, home stagers say.
¢ "Staged" properties sell about 50 percent faster than homes stuffed with quirky collections, unique interiors and personal photographs. Many professional tricks are easy and affordable.
¢ Create curbside appeal. An unkempt lawn, dying plants and a dirty walkway will discourage sellers, says Angelina Perez, owner of Bertone, a home-staging company based in Aventura, Fla. She recommends sprucing up the lawn with affordable plants, fresh mulch and the use of a pair of clippers.
¢ Hire or rent a pressure cleaner. Clean the driveway, walkway and exterior walls. Consider new paint for the facade. And look out for small handprints or paw prints on doors and windows.
¢ Depersonalize. Remove personal collections, one-of-a kind accessories and even family photographs, says Mark Baratto, a certified home stager and real estate agent at www.bInnovational.com, a South Florida-based home staging company.
¢ Streamline. Too much furniture and clutter detract from the basic bones of a home. "If you can't see it, you can't sell it," Baratto says.
¢ Hit the sales. Baratto recommends buying vases, candles and generic art from the sales section of Pier I and other retail chains. Look for generic items. "You gotta think hotel," Baratto says. Also keep an eye out for lightly scented candles, especially those that smell like just-baked apple pie or chocolate chip cookies.
¢ Spruce up the bathroom. Toss out the old shower curtain and replace unmatched, thread-worn towels. Shop for looks and don't fret over the quality of the towels, Perez says. "It's more of a show. You're showcasing your home."
¢ Clean, clean, clean. If you're not a competent housekeeper, hire a professional crew to do your dirty work. Rent a carpet cleaner or hire a professional.