Let's start with the home's exterior -- or "curb appeal," in real-estate speak. Staging professionals say that the outside of the home makes the first impression, so cross the street and consider what you see. The pros offer this advice:
- Can you see the house? Trim hedges, trees and grass so that your house is "framed" like a photo. Make messy hedges uniform in shape, and add color with flowers.
- Color is good in flower beds, but not necessarily on the house: Most experts advise a three-color maximum, and many advise using only two paint colors. If you don't have the money to paint, at least pressure-wash the house, shutters and walkways.
- There are other, sneakier ways to stage the outside of a home. One way to make a dead lawn come to life is to steal a trick from golf courses and spray-paint it. There are nontoxic paints on the market that can cover brown spots in the grass.
- Another way is to add artificial flowers, shrubs and trees. Most silk arrangements, typically arranged in large planters, won't last long outside in the elements, but many can hold up for a couple months -- long enough for you to sell your home.
- Make sure the yard is mowed, raked and generally in good shape. Remove toys and pet accessories (and also any sign of pets inside the house). Ask friends or family if they can watch your pet during a showing, so you can get rid of the dog bones and kitty litter. If you have a deck, some stagers suggest buying a new grill to give buyers an idea of where they could be enjoying an evening outside.
Next, we'll head inside to check out how to stage the interior of your home.