Editor's note: As a special feature for April, the Street.com offers a 20-part series on virtually everything about real estate. This installment, which originally ran as part of Good Life, is Part 14.In the current real estate market, sellers are going to great lengths to score points with potential buyers.
Faced with dropping prices and surging inventory, some desperate homeowners are offering to pay a year's taxes, pick up all closing costs or even throw in a new car.
Others are burying statues of St. Joseph in their front yards and hoping for a miracle. But one factor is often overlooked: Although a house is the biggest purchase most of us will ever make, choosing one is often an emotional decision based mainly on love at first sight. "People are pretty logical about their budget and the area they want to buy in," says
Emotional DistanceIn order to stage your house to win a buyer's heart, you have to disengage your own feelings so you can see what changes and improvements are necessary to attract a buyer. "Once it's for sale, it's no longer 'your' house, it's 'a' house," says
Immaculate PerceptionInside, the house should be spotless from top to bottom, including inside the refrigerator, microwave and closets. Barb Schwarz, CEO and founder of
Can't Somebody Else Do It?Professional home stagers make the process easier for busy homeowners, either by walking you through what to do or by actually doing it. As Veto points out, "A stager could make a difference in the time it takes to sell your home, plus it may get you more money." Schwarz, the self-described "inventor of the industry," says that for hands-on clients, she goes through the house and prepares a room-by-room report, with specific suggestions for improvements. "I tell them exactly what to do," Schwarz says. "Move the sofa across the room, swap the coffee table in the living room with the one in the family room, buy yellow roses with ferns and put them in your white vase on the mantel before the showing. They can follow the report and do it all themselves." She says the average consultation costs about $375.