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Set the stage for sale

Selling a house is a lot like romance. It really pays to set the mood. Real estate pros call it staging -- showcasing the best side of a home to create interest and help you get top dollar.

Here are some tricks to selling your home from the pros:

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1. Make room. Clear out as much furniture as you can. Put it in storage, give it to charity or have a garage sale. Hallways and doorways, in particular, need to be clear and open.

2. Follow your nose. A home should smell good. That means no noticeable odor -- no pet scent, no stale cooking smells and no cigarette smoke. "People just don't realize how much odor plays into this," says Scott Griffith, president of ERA Griffith Realty in Brighton, Mich. Get rid of smell problems at the source: Scrub the house, have the air vents cleaned, replace old, smelly carpeting and smoke outside.

3. Make your home ageless. There's a difference between an old house and a classic home. "If the house looks 40 years old with 40-year-old paint, 40-year-old appliances and 40-year-old carpet, that's a hard sell," says Ron Phipps, principal broker of Phipps Realty and Relocation Services in Warwick, R.I. Keep everything fresh and up-to-date (read well-maintained) and you have a solid home in an established neighborhood -- a real looker.

4. Get a home inspection. Most buyers will have one done anyway, so do it now -- and make any needed repairs before you put the home on the market. Depending on where you live, the service will probably run about $200 to $400.

5. Learn to love white walls. When it comes to walls, color is popular. The problem is that the next buyer might not like the same colors. Paint is a relatively inexpensive way to make a house look clean and fresh. And if you're going to repaint prior to selling, stick with neutrals.

For more tips on how set your house apart from the others, check out this Bankrate story.

-- Updated March 18, 2004




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