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Too Clean!

One of the biggest complaints I used to hear as a Realtor was that once a home was staged for sale, it was "unlivable" because the occupant didn't have access to their belongings. I would refer to this as "over-staged" or sterile. You know what I'm talking about.... you walk into a home and it looks as if someone lives there but only visits once a month! No coffee maker on the counter, wine glasses and bottle artfully arranged in the corner. Tray sitting on the corner of the bed with fresh flowers. Puh-lease. No one lives that way - it would be lovely to be able to live like that, but only the residents of Downton Abbey could pull it off.

The point of staging a home is to de-clutter and remove items that scream "This house belongs to a family of five and they have three dogs!" You want to not only make the house more inviting and roomy, but also to allow the potential buyer to imagine their own family living in it. Sometimes this means moving things that are too personal, like pictures and sometimes it means putting some larger items in storage until after the move. It doesn't mean removing all traces of human touch throughout the house.

Here are the most common changes I make when staging a home:

* Remove all family photos as well as any items that are personal in nature. (Great Grandma's oil paintings from the '70's have got to go)

* Remove "cultural" items if they are in excess, for example religious symbols or collegiate collections (We've all see the "college room" with every item A & M item ever produced, right?)

* Clear as much from the entry way as possible. Make it inviting to enter, not challenging. This isn't an episode of Ninja Warriors, after all.

* If there are very young children or babies, put away all of those Einstein toys and mats and keep all the toys in their rooms or a playroom. Please also remove that plastic picnic table from your kitchen!

* I see that you are an avid reader, based on your over-flowing bookshelves along with that stack of magazines next to your bed and on your night stand. Let's put those into storage until you buy your next home with a library in it.

* Faux plants and plumage look, well, fake! Let's get those into storage as well.

* A coffee maker on on the counter is just fine. A coffee maker, toaster, waffle iron, mixer and juicer are too much. Keep out what is only used every day. Even if you use all of those items every day, pick your favorite two and put the rest away.

* All personal bath items need to be put under the sink every day. Get an inexpensive caddy for all of it. Yes, you use them every day but your toothbrush and hair gel are not going to sell your house. This includes bath mats. Towels should be folded every morning. Just ask Martha about that one!

I like to leave a personalized list at every home so that the homeowner can do additional staging on their own. An example of this is to clear seasonal clothing items out of the closet to make the space look larger. I also recommend organizing what remains by colour. It just looks nice and shows better.

The goal of staging is to make the house look as if the homeowner cares about his or her environment because that indicates that they've taken care of the home and kept up on maintenance. It makes a buyer feel more secure when considering a house to buy.

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