Staging is all about making the home easy to remember, says John Veneris, regional vice president of the National Association of Realtors and broker/owner of Exectives/ProTeam in Downers Grove.
Buyers can visit six to 10 houses in one day, he says, and they remember the little things: cookies on a plate for buyers to eat, for example.
Veneris estimates about 35 percent of the houses he sees are noticeably staged. Besides those fresh-baked cookies, here are some other tips to get your house ready for the spring selling season:
•Use your imagination. Creativity is the trend in staging, says Barb Schwarz of International Home Staging. Beyond neutral colors and a fresh smell, stagers are looking to make rooms more interesting. "Use what [props] people have already," she says.
For example, she transformed a 12-year-old boy's basic beige room into a fishing hole. "Shopping" in the homeowners' garage for things to use, she replaced a broken curtain rod with a fishing pole. She then cleaned up fishing boots, made a lamp out of one and put a vase with a branch (cut from a tree in the yard) in the other.
A baseball theme for boys and a ballerina theme for girls are "generic, but fun," she says.
•Clean up your act. "Get squeaky clean. Colors [should be] neutral, use [brighter] color in accessories such as bath towels. Put away personal collections, family photos," Schwarz says.
•Create ambience. Veneris suggests putting roses on the bed in master bedroom, classical music, cream walls and white ceilings. Take down wallpaper. Put air conditioning on in summer, heat in winter. A cold house doesn't encourage buyers to linger, he says.
•Follow your nose. "You need to neutralize the home. No pet, smoking or cooking odors. Hire a cleaning service to jump-start the process," says author Martha Webb.
•Let it shine. Use timers on lights, Webb says. "People drive by houses at night."
•Get ready for your close-up. After you get your house staged, take photos of your work. "Eighty-three percent of buyers are looking online before first showing," Webb says.