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Staging your home for a sale
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But if the house could fetch a higher asking price with new flooring, minor repairs, paint or other improvements, she'll call in Redesign to Sell, to work up a cost estimate, then advise her seller. The subsidiary company also works with homes not listed with Redesign Realty.
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"If you're going to spend $100, you should be able to get $1,000 back," Seely says, though she admits her sellers more realistically will see closer to $3 for every $1 they spend on redesign improvements.

Seely also saves sellers time and money by warning them away from certain improvements they might otherwise have made. For example, you may be inclined to replace worn carpet with new, however that can work against you because most buyers would rather replace the carpet to their own tastes rather than live with your choice.

A redesign can also shorten selling time.

"Right now we have a glut of homes for sale in several areas, and if you want to be the one who sells your home, you want it to stand out. It may not be about getting more money in your pocket; you may not get any money in your pocket if you don't do something to make your home more salable," she says.

Why are home-staging services, such as hers, on the rise today?

"The general public is more knowledgeable about buying and selling property," Seely says. "People move more than they used to, and they have more ways to learn about how to do it, whether through TV or the Internet."

George Wonica of Wonica Realtors & Appraisers in Staten Island, N.Y., says in his market, the effectiveness of staging still depends on the classics: supply and demand.

"In areas where there is a lack of inventory, it's not going to make a difference; in areas where there is plenty of inventory, it's going to make all the difference," he says. "If you're looking for a house and there are 15 on the market, you're going to choose the one that you have to do the least work for and suits your taste."

Lose that vacant look
Vacant homes are particularly challenging to sell without a little staging help.

"A vacant house that is staged and has some furniture shows very well if it is kept immaculate," says Gaylord, a Re/Max agent in Long Beach, Calif. "A vacant house without furnishings can sometimes make it difficult for buyers to put themselves in there."

Realtors Kevin and Diana Uphus of Spokane, Wash., found another drawback when their vacant home was vandalized: Many homeowners insurance policies, including theirs, will not cover a home left vacant for more than 30 days. They paid for the damage and immediately called a home-sitting service to carry it through the selling process.

They were so pleased with the results that they started their own business, Diana's Home Sitting Services to give empty homes that comfortable feel that lures buyers.

"In order for a home to sell, it needs to speak to all of your basic senses: It needs to look good, feel good, smell good and have that lived-in appearance," says Diana Uphus. "My goal is to find a sitter whose belongings and lifestyle are going to complement the home, which will enhance its marketability."

Diana Uphus charges her carefully screened sitters a fee of $300 to $400 per month plus utilities to live in a client's home; she then provides their service free to the home seller. Since the home is neither vacant nor rented, there is no change to the homeowner's insurance coverage.

 
 
Next: "We are changing the way that real estate is sold."
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