During my years working in the Atlanta real-estate market, I’ve noticed firsthand what attracts and what distracts a buyer. When listing a property, I do a thorough evaluation of the home and make a customized to-do list of items to be addressed before we put a sign in the yard. It may be hard to believe that a task as minor as cleaning windows or rearranging furniture can make a difference in the eye of a potential buyer, but those details really matter.  
As a real-estate professional, I have a trained eye and can usually help my clients achieve a look that will drastically improve their chance of selling their home. However, sometimes a third-party professional stager, who comes to the home to add, subtract or augment furnishings and decor, could be well worth the expense. A stager looks at the home with a fresh perspective and has the ability to arrange furniture and accessories to generate a strong first impression.
While no two homes are alike, here are a few staging tips that make a difference every time:
De-personalize the space: Limit the number of photos and personal trinkets (framed pictures, magnets with personal notes or kids’ craft projects stuck to the refrigerator, for instance). Buyers can be distracted when checking out your photos or a messy desk. Instead, you want them to look at the house! Remove those obstacles so the buyers can imagine themselves in your space.
Declutter storage: Edit and organize your closets and other storage areas, including the garage and basement. Consider taking items that you rarely use in your kitchen or closets to a storage locker. You want the buyer to think, “Wow! Big closets!” I’ve often heard a buyer’s feedback that “the house didn’t have enough storage,” when, in fact, the storage areas were just overstuffed with clutter.
Determine required repairs: Get ahead of the final home-inspection process by scheduling an inspection of your own before you list the house—then go ahead with any necessary repairs. Investing in the upkeep right away allows your house to show better for a buyer.
Remember that you’re putting your home on stage—make sure it gives a winning performance.
Justine Story photo courtesy of Dorsey AlstonJustine Story, a Dorsey Alston REALTOR®, is a 22-year veteran of the Atlanta real-estate industry, earning such accolades as Lifetime Membership to the Multi-Million-Dollar Sales Club and The Phoenix Award. She takes great pride in the relationships she establishes with homeowners and the rewarding process of helping them find the right home.  [email protected]