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Based on the book: 

Home Staging: First Impressions

When I drive up to a listing I am to work on, I put on my "buyers eyes" as I approach the location. There are many things I am assessing as I drive in....what is the neighborhood like? many houses are for sale?...who has the prettiest house on the block and what did they do to make me notice it? As I park my car, I am asking exactly what a potential buyer is asking..."Do I want to go further?"

My first assessment is the yard. Is the grass cut? Leaves blown? Shrubs trimmed? The attention to the landscaping is often a large clue as to what the home will look like inside, and tells me that the owners are either quite fastidious about keeping up their home, or...we may have some issues. If there is a front porch, I am looking at the paint, porch furniture, lighting. Your potential buyer is going to imagine their friends coming to visit. Is it an impressive walk to the door?

Last year, I did a job in which the house was stunningly located, perfectly clean inside, and yet, the front stair rail was peeling and showing metal. The welcome mat was old and tired and the front door had peeling paint. That first impression had me looking for oversights inside the house: perhaps leaking toilets or moldy shower areas. I didn't find a single thing, but that first impression made me consider that the owners were not "detail people."

Before putting your home on the market, take the time to get the yard in shape. Look at your home as an artist would: are the shrubs in balance with the lines of the home? Are trees off of the house and healthy? Could the yard stand edging? If this is not your forte, hire a yard service to trim, and mow, and blow and edge.

Check every inch of paint. If your front door is dirty or peeling, a fresh coat of paint is needed. Windows need to be shiny and clean, as to light fixtures. Wash or powerwash mold off any exterior areas.

Lastly, "dress" the approach. If you have a porch, set it as an outdoor room with pretty furniture, pillows that work with the exterior of your home, and pretty pots of flowers. Invest 15.00 in a new welcome mat. Plant some annuals at the approach. But don't "overdo". I've walked up to many a house with far too much outdoor googah....birdhouses next to UGA dogs next to whirlygigs next to light up yard stakes. Edit your approach to be gracious and welcoming. Remember you want your buyer to approach the house and think, "THIS is the house I want to come home to every single day."

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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