Is staging your home worth the effort?

Whether you stage your home yourself or call in the professionals, staging your house can make the difference between a quick sale and a house that stays on the market. In a slow economy it can mean that you won't have to drop your price. So, yes, staging is definitely worth the effort.

If your property is in a good location and you are asking a reasonable price to begin with, you can probably do the staging yourself. Otherwise, even though a professional staging costs anywhere between $500 and a few thousand dollars, it can save you money in the long run.

Because part of the idea of staging is to depersonalize your house, you may need to rent storage to both free up space and to stash valuables you don't want prospective buyers to see. Taking down all your family photos and personal possessions will enable prospective buyers to imagine themselves living in your house. You also need to declutter and clean ruthlessly, so that people see clear spaces, lots of room and a sparkling, shining home. Professional stagers may even supply neutral furniture, rugs, and pictures if yours are unusual or particularly worn.

Staging the outside of your house is very important too; this is what is known as "curb appeal." Make sure the yard is attractive and tidy; buy and plant large, showy shrubs, trees or flowers (even artificial ones will do, to give that "wow"' effect). You may have to paint the front of the house to give the right impression, or have it professionally pressure-washed. Your goal is for people to get a great first impression as they come through your front door, so even the scent of cookies baking in the oven can make them feel at home. Statistics show that 91 percent of professionally staged homes sell in less than one month.