They say you only get one chance to make a first impression, and that may never be more true than when selling your home. Most sellers make an effort to clean up their home before showing it, but another action could help to decrease the time it takes to sell a home.

Home staging, according to the vast majority of Realtors, can make a lasting impression on potential buyers -- even helping to increase the amount of money offered for the home.

According to a new report from the National Association of Realtors, over 95 percent of buyer’s agents say that home staging has at least some effect on the buyer’s view of the home. Houses that make it easy for buyers to visualize themselves living there are more likely to sell quickly, according to realtors.

Most important rooms to stage

Most realtors polled agreed that the living room is the most important room to stage, followed by the master bedroom, the kitchen, and then the yard or outdoor space. The guest bedroom was considered the least important room to stage.

Sixty-two percent of Realtors said staging a home decreases the amount of time it spends on the market. But other efforts can also expedite the process.

The following pre-sale home improvement projects can make a big difference, according to Realtors:

  • Decluttering. 93 percent of Realtors recommend decluttering the home
  • Home cleaning. 89 percent recommended an entire home cleaning.
  • Carpet cleaning. 81 percent recommended that sellers have their carpets professionally cleaned.
  • Other projects. Depersonalizing the home, removing pets during showings, and making minor repairs can also help a home sell faster.

Home staging tips

A home's staging should ideally be designed to appeal to the largest number of potential buyers. To make it easy for buyers to visualize themselves living in your house, the home experts at Houzz recommend striking a balance between clean and lived in. 
 
You'll still want to declutter. However, adding a few homey touches can increase your home's appeal. Before a showing, consider putting out a vase of fresh flowers, a bowl of lemons, or a basket of produce on the kitchen counter.
 
Another tip for appealing to the widest range of buyers: choose "sophisticated neutral" interior paint colors, like mocha and "greige." These tones "create a sophisticated backdrop that makes everything look pulled together," say the experts at Houzz.

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