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When you're selling your home, you want prospective buyers to enter your house and immediately get excited about living in it. But if your running shoes are littered around the entrance, the whole place smells like your pets, and your walls are painted neon blue – they will have a harder time doing so.

That’s why real estate agents often recommend you stage your home to sell quicker or for a higher price. That means preparing your home so it appeals to the greatest number of potential buyers.

Here are some easy and inexpensive ways to help buyers see the potential when they view your home instead of the drawbacks:

1. Paint Changes Everything

You might love your bright blue walls, but a potential buyer will see them and think that their red couch will clash with them. To help people picture themselves in your home, paint your walls in neutral colours. It creates a crisp look that makes your home look bigger.

2. Spruce up Your Yard

A clean and well-landscaped yard creates a great first impression and can make a huge difference when it comes to selling a home. Plant some flowers, trim trees and hedges, cut the lawn, and uproot those weeds that have been growing so long they’re starting to provide shade.

3. Banish Pet Odours

You might swear your house doesn’t smell like your pets, but that’s because you’ve lived with Fido so long you don’t smell him anymore. People viewing your home will smell your pets and wonder about the home’s cleanliness. Be sure to clean everything thoroughly and deodorize fabrics. Consider baking or reheating an apple pie before a showing – it will overpower any pet scents.

4. Pack Up The Clutter

You love your knick knacks and family photos, but that’s because they have sentimental value to you. Home buyers react best to well-decorated rooms that look clean and uncluttered. Family photos keep them from imagining themselves in the place and stacks of papers destroy the polished look. Rent a storage unit if you need to but find a way to clear out your space.

5. It’s All In the Details

When buyers view your home, you want them to be thrilled by how impeccable your place looks. Buy flowers to put around the house. Steam clean your carpets and get brighter light bulbs to give your place more light. You can even set your table as you would when you’re hosting a dinner party.

6. Move Out Some of the Big Items

Many of us have rooms where the furniture isn’t optimally laid out. Perhaps we’ve crammed a desk into the family room so the kids have a place to do their homework. Or maybe the guest bedroom has a treadmill in it. Children may have over-sized toys or play areas that make a room look smaller. Pare furniture down to the essentials and organize it so that it makes the room look bigger. Group chairs and couches into conversational nooks and make beds look comfy and inviting. Keep fewer toys and accessories just for the duration of the staging. Then you can return to your previous style!

To sell your home successfully, it needs to appeal to the greatest number of potential buyers. And staging—though it may feel like additional work—is an important sales tool in helping buyers picture themselves in your home, and ultimately, make an offer.