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Based on the book: 

I'm selling. What should I do first?

As a home stager, I am often called in at the very start of the process: a home is about to be sold and the client needs a game plan. As I listen to clients discuss their thoughts on what needs to be done first, I am always surprised at the unusual "order of operations" some clients have. So what SHOULD one do first, prior to putting the house on the market?

1. My number one task is....clean and clear clutter. Most homes simply have too much stuff. The best way to deal with it is to allocate a part of the house...a wall in the garage, the back of the being a very organized storage space. If you don't have the room to do it "in house", rent a storage space while you sell your home. Get rid of excess toys, clothing, etc....Your closets should be organized, your garage in great shape, your attic in logical order. A potential client will see the overstocking of your house as a sign the house is lacking space for their things.

2. Fix what is wrong. Leaking faucet? Broken screen door? Paint chipping off of your shutters? Make a list and deal with all possible things that buyers might encounter. If there are large issues, such as nearing time for a roof replacement, you need to factor that in to your selling point. However, your home should be in working order, freshly presented and immaculately clean.

3. Create a gorgeous entrance. Your front yard is the first image a client sees. Is your grass green? Landscaping in order? As you approach the front door, do you feel a sense of welcome? Add pots of flowers, a fresh welcome mat, clean any windows and light fixtures, and keep the cobwebs swept. Many a potential buyer will drive right past a house that has entry issues. Remember, you are selling the idea of a lifestyle to your buyer.

Lastly, once these things are done, it's worth having a second set of eyes on the project before it goes on the market. If you are not sure you are showing off your home in the best light, hire a home stager to walk through and point out potential selling points that you may not be aware of. Simply moving furniture around, organizing shelves, helping you to see what else needs to be stored can make the difference between a sale and waiting for a sale. If you aren't 100 percent sure it is just right for photos, hire a home stager to add that second set of eyes.

- 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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