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Based on the book: 

Little Secrets to Being on the Market

A friend of ours is currently house hunting and is constantly amazed by the state of the homes she is seeing on her search. "There is so much clutter around, you can barely make out what is going on in the rooms. And WHO doesn't put laundry away?"

Having your house on the market is a TASK. Mine is currently on the market and the daily upkeep and presentation chores can be overwhelming to many. If you are living in a house as it is on the market, it can feel like a burden to great to bear. But there are simple set ups that can make a house easier to show without much warning.

1. Create spaces in which to store daily items.

When I stage a home that is being lived in, I help clients think through a showing. My easiest suggestion is to purchase a stack of inexpensive laundry baskets and create a pre-made space in each room to swipe up personal items and tuck them away. Shoe boxes are also great for areas like bathrooms. Keep the storage containers in their spots, and simply fill them when potential buyers are arriving. Be honest about your abilities. If you have a house full of pets and children? You need more tuck away spaces. Make an area in a closet or adjacent garage where you can swipe up the playroom floor of toys in a few minutes. Keep a shoebox in a bathroom vanity cabinet and clear surfaces quickly. If you have no closet space? Purchase some under the bed storage that can easily be accessed.

2 . Speaking of pets....

We love our pets. I have a house full of dogs. But we get used to their odors while visitors will not. Consider having your carpets professionally cleaned by a service that has pet certification. Could you possibly restrict your pets to easier cleaned areas while the house is on the market? Such as the kitchen? if not, remember that pets SHOULD NOT be present for showings and their beds should be wrapped up in a plastic trash bag and tucked away. (I love my dog's cozy beds but they do have their scent.) . There should be no evidence that you have a hair inside, no "presents" outside.

3. Other scents:

If you are a fan of cooking with strong herbs and spices or frying, you may need to take those tasks to the outdoor grill or limit them while the house is on the market. My husband LOVES cabbage and all sort of greens. To me, the smell of them is something that makes me run out the door for fresh air. You don't want to drive buyers away with lingering scents that they don't like. Your house should smell clean and without a particularly strong odor of any sort.

4. The final look?

Your house should be in good order, ANY time there is a showing. I tell clients that it should look clean and clear, like a hotel. No personal pictures nor knick knacks. No refrigerator art. Clean off your kitchen counters except for things you MUST use daily. Make your beds every single time. Never go to bed without a clean kitchen. Water your plants. Put clutter away. Look at every single room as if Southern Living were coming for a photo shoot in the morning. Edit everything. What is on your dresser, coffee table, counter, that could be put away?

5. Your Job

Although hiring a real estate agent is a terrific first step, you need to work in tandem with your agent. She/he will do the work of bringing potential buyers to you, but the product HAS to be sellable. We look at items in the grocery store before we buy them. None of us wants to buy an open box of cereal or a six pack of soda with a soda missing. The product has to be in great shape. As does your home. You are selling a product to the public. They don't want to excuse the imperfections or clutter any more than we'd excuse open boxes at the grocery store. Make the experience of visiting your house seamless. Your hours of preparation will pay off in real funds, if you do it wisely. Be prepared. Make spaces for last minute tucking away. Have cleaning supplies on hand. Have a plan for your pets. All of your preparations will eventually lead to a wonderful sale!

Laurie Easterlin is a real estate agent with Keller-Williams, a professional stager and a Masters rental specialist. To learn more about her services, please visit

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