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Based on the book: 

Home Staging: The Dating Game

Spring is underway, the weather is gorgeous, and the "For Sale" signs are popping up like daisies. Years ago, a home buyer found a real estate agent and went on physical home tours. Not so these days. We now live in a world of "online dating" in the housing market. Buyers perform their housing search at home, in their pjs, in front of a computer screen. They make a list of houses they'd like to "date" and contact the agents in charge for a showing. In essence, we've turned the housing market into a dating game, and consequently the rules have changed.

The most important impression of your home begins with the photos and presentation. I meet many clients who are unsure as to why they'd have to change a thing. They like their homes and can't understand why buyers would not. I have the task of telling them that although they think they are presenting their home as George Clooney, in actuality, it is coming off as The Fonz. It is often an easy fix, but many cannot see it.

A home stager's job is to be a second set of eyes. For the majority of us, we cannot see our homes as an outsider would. We are attached to the things which tell our stories. We picked that color because it matched the quilt our aunt passed down, or we want to show off our collections because they mean so much to us. My job is to use what an owner has to its best ability, just as I would help a friend dress for a first date. I'd comb through my friend's closet, looking for the best things she owns. I'd add some definition to her face with make up, help her get her hair just right and finish the look with a bright pop of accessories. It is the same task in a home, facing the real estate market.

Owners are often surprised at the amazing result of a change of furniture placement, or the removal of draperies, or creating a new space in a basement or storage room. It is all about a creative use of assets in the particular market. I once asked a homeowner to organize and put away many of the tools cluttering his workbench. The house was situated on a lake. Instead, we pulled out his fishing rods and set up a fly tying station. The image of the rods and reels and lures, with a view of the lake out of the window created a more positive thought inside a potential buyer's mind, reminding them of the lovely activity they could do if they picked that particular home. And the photo opportunity for the online dating game was easily created in an hour and served to "lure" (no pun intended) clients into seeing that home as a place to relax and fish.

So rethink your home. What could it become? What could you add? Subtract? What needs to be stored? What will turn off potential buyers that you no longer notice? If you aren't sure, hire a home stager. It may make the difference between a quick sale, close to your asking price, or a house that lingers for a year, taking reduction after reduction...and luring very few "fish".

Laurie Easterlin is a home stager and Masters prep specialist. If you would like to set up a free appointment for a home staging walk through, please contact her at or visit the website.

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