Potential homebuyers typically will take just 15 seconds to decide if they want to buy your home.
So if they're looking at your wedding pictures on the wall instead of the cherry built-in bookcases, you might have already lost them.
Worse still, perhaps they're distracted -- even turned off -- by the ultramodern décor, the lingering scent of smoke or the antlers hanging in the den. In 15 seconds, they're too busy judging you, the homeowner, to notice the stone fireplace, the screened porch or the gourmet kitchen.
In today's highly competitive real estate market, homeowners can't afford to make those kinds of mistakes. That's why more real estate agents and some homeowners lately are turning to professional home stagers to set a home apart.
"When it's a buyer's market, your house must be perfect," said Karen Reynolds, owner of the home staging company Champagne Staging in Wake Forest.
"Buyers have so many choices. You want your house to stand out. And a staged home will stand out."
According to a study by Stagedhomes.com, a group that promotes and teaches home staging techniques, 93 percent of homes staged last year by an accredited home stager sold in less than one month. And nonstaged homes stay on the market five times as long as staged homes, the group's Web site says.
Reynolds, who started staging several years ago for her own investment properties, said that for the 25 homes she staged and sold last year, the average time the homes were on the market was 18 days. And that includes a few that were listed for 120 days or more without a nibble before she staged them.
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