Dear Kari: I am changing jobs and my wife and I need to sell our home quickly, but we don’t want to give it away. My wife has been talking with several of her Realtor friends and they say we must have our home staged. Our house looks fine and my wife does a great job. Do we really have to spend money on this staging thing? Answer: The good old saying in residential real estate is, “The way we live in a home and the way we sell a house are two different things” and that “less is more.” Statistically, a staged house will sell faster, and for more money. When your home is put up for sale, your house becomes a product again and must be presented in a way that will appeal to both a broad range of tastes, as well as people. Staging is the idea of highlighting the positives and minimizing the negatives so that you have a better edge than the competition. Make your house more desirable than all those homes that are competing with yours. The idea is to win. How do you win and get the best price and the quickest sale? Home staging! When you sell your home, you need to shift gears from regarding it as your home to the thinking of it as a product. Staging does not usually mean spending a lot of money or time. It neutralizes your home so that potential buyers can see the property for sale instead of the furnishings inside it. The old adage that you get only 15 seconds to make a good first impression is as true with a home as it is with people. Home staging is not to be confused with home decorating. To stage your home, clear the clutter, make the space look larger and depersonalize it by removing family photos and collectibles. Usually the stager will try to work with items that are in the home already. The case may be just moving them around, or into other rooms. This holds true for both the interior and the exterior. For example, if there are big trees which block the house, you can trim them or remove them altogether. Once you neutralize or take items away, you make room so the buyers can better imagine their own things in the house. Staging the exterior of the home can make a small yard look large, too. It can create ambience and make the buyer want to stay in your yard, and not run off to the next 55 homes the Realtor has to show them. Please know that in today’s market, you definitely need more than cookies in the oven and flowers on the table when you’re selling your home. The wall colors should be natural or tastefully chosen by a profession decorator. Ask yourself, “What’s going to get us chosen over the other 250 houses?” Right when the buyers hit the front door, you want to make them feel the very best about your home. Remember, you are not selling your home, you are selling your house. Staging is one of the best advantages you can provide for your property. Ask your local Realtor if he or she can provide you with a list of professional stagers. Talk with more than one and ask questions such as “How will they tackle your home,” “What do they recommend” and “What are the fees or costs?” Kari McCoy has been a Realtor for 25 years and owns the Kari McCoy Group, Residential Real Estate, at Coldwell Banker. She can be reached at 941-9540, firstname.lastname@example.org or at karimccoy.com.