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RISMEDIA, August 8, 2007–Agent teams often include listing agents, buyer agents, closing managers, and perhaps even marketing managers, but you rarely hear of agent teams with a staging specialist on board. This, however, seems to be changing. Brandon Fairbanks of Montecino & Associates Real Estate recently partnered with a home staging specialist in his area to announce free home staging consultations for sellers.

According to Fairbanks, the preparation that goes into selling a home is very similar to what you would go through to sell a car: “If you were going to sell your car wouldn’t you first wash it, clean out the trash, and vacuum it? It is just that simple when preparing your home to sell. You must detail your home like you would detail your car.”

When Montecino & Associates Real Estate signs a listing contract with a seller, one of the first things they do is send in the expert, Teri Lucas, an Accredited Staging Professional, to inspect the premises. Lucas enters the home and takes notes as she views the home from the perspective of a prospective buyer. She then prepares a detailed written report that she presents to the seller. This report can be 12 to 20 pages of ideas and suggestions that, if followed, can make the home sell for more money and in less time than if it were not properly prepared for sale.

Here are some of her tips for properly staging a home:

1. Remove the clutter and clear out the closets to make the home appear more spacious and orderly.

2. Remove family photos, religious symbols, or any other items that may prevent a visitor from envisioning themselves living in the home.

3. Furnish the home, but don’t overdo it. A vacant home looks spacious but has no emotional appeal. Add furnishings, so visitors can envision themselves living in the home.

4. Bring the outside in. Open the windows if it is nice outside. Bring in fresh flowers and greenery. Steer clear of scented candles, incense, and artificial air fresheners—they can turn off prospective buyers.

5. Do a thorough cleaning and dusting to make the home look immaculately clean.

It is a proven fact that staged homes sell faster and for more money. One of Lucas’s clients had her home on the market for over a year with another agent.

After she gave her a written consultation and the seller followed all of the suggestions in the report, the home was in escrow four weeks later with a full price offer.

As a real estate agent, you do not have to be a home staging specialist to offer this service to your clients. You can find certified home stages at the following Web sites:

Home Stagers www1.stagedhomes.com
International Association of Home Staging Professionals www.iahsp.com

Simply contact a specialist and work out a deal in which you put the home stager in touch with every seller you contract with and pay the stager a nominal fee (typically about $75) to provide the free consultation. If the homeowners do not want to do the work, they can then hire the staging professional to do it, and if the homeowners don’t want to pay for it, you may consider paying a portion or all of the staging fees. The important thing is that you get the staging professional inside the home to offer a recommendation. You can then decide how to proceed from there.

Don’t let a lackluster housing market get you down. Fight back by offering your clients the tools and resources they need to make their properties more competitive.

Ralph R. Roberts, official spokesperson for Guthy-Renker Home and author of Flipping Houses For Dummies and Foreclosure Investing For Dummies (John Wiley & Sons), can be contacted at 586.751.0000, or by e-mail at: RalphRoberts@RalphRoberts.com. To learn more about Ralph, investing in real estate, and protecting yourself against real estate and mortgage fraud, visit www.aboutralph.com, www.getflipping.com and www.flippingfrenzy.com.

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