If you’ve been doing any research about home selling – and if you haven’t, then you certainly should be – you’ve probably run across the term ‘home staging‘. At its simplest, home staging refers to making your home attractive to potential buyers.

Buyers tend to be ruled by emotion when picking out a home – and while financial advisors caution against that, buying a house that makes you feel good is not a bad way to make a decision. As the seller, your job is to make them feel good in the house you’re selling.

Old time real estate logic used to be that cookies or an apple pie baking in the oven would put your prospective buyers in a buying frame of mind. While there’s far more to it than that, making your house smell homey and inviting is one way to make it more appealing to those who come to look at it. Home staging shouldn’t be a piecemeal approach though. If you want to sell your house for top dollar, invest the time it takes to turn your house for sale into a buyer’s dream home – and follow through with a low-key showing style that lets them imagine themselves living the dream you manufacture.

Are you interested in selling your house for top dollar or faster in the slow market? Then try these tips to set up your home for showing to prospective buyers.

1. The number one rule of home staging is to depersonalize. If you do nothing else, you absolutely need to pack away anything that makes the house ‘yours’ as opposed to theirs. Your family photos may be precious to you, but to a buyer, they’re clutter. Clear off counters and shelves, pack away books and take down photos off the walls.

2. Pare the furnishings down to the bare essentials. If you’re going to be living in the house while you show it, this may be a bit more difficult, but it’s still important. Pack away your favorite old, shabby recliner and get rid of the stepstool or extra high chair in the kitchen. You want just enough furniture to define a room’s purpose without crowding the room.

3. The mood that you’re aiming for is cheerful and bright. If it’s a sunny day, open drapes and curtains to let the sunshine in – but make sure that those windows are scrupulously clean. If the windows look out on a back yard that’s less than appealing, get out the lawnmower and hedge trimmers to MAKE it appealing.

4. If the day is gloomy, turn on the lights in every room before the buyers show up. Using white or cream on the walls and keeping furnishings in light, bright colors will guarantee that the house you’re selling looks cheerful and appealing even on the gloomiest day.

5. Fresh flowers are one of those little luxuries that make people feel good. Use them both inside and out. Flower beds in the front of the house add to the curb appeal, and a path lined with flowers can’t help but put a potential buyer into the right frame of mind before they ever step through your front door. Inside, try a small table in the entry hall with a tasteful arrangement of cheerful flowers, a bowl of flowers or fruit in the middle of a dining room table or a vase of flowers on a dresser in a bedroom.

6. Remember that there’s more to appealing than what meets the eye. Make sure that your house is comfortable. If it’s hot, turn on the air conditioning an hour or so before you expect buyers so that there’s time to bring it to a comfortable temperature. If it’s cold, set the heat at a comfortable 68 – 70 degrees.

7. Appeal to all the senses. Psychologists tell us that the nose influences us far more than we imagine. Make sure that your house smells fresh, clean and appealing. CLEAN is the keyword. One of the best ways to freshen your home is to wash all the curtains and fabric fittings in a fresh-scent laundry detergent and hang them. For a quick air freshener that doesn’t leave behind a ‘chemical’ scent, toss a clean sheet in the dryer with a fresh-scent fabric softener sheet about twenty minutes before a showing, or sprinkle some cinnamon and fresh orange peels in a pot of water and simmer it on the stove. Just be sure to remove it BEFORE your potential buyers get there.

8. Beautiful bathrooms make a big difference. Replace your old shower curtain, and make sure that the fixtures, mirrors, porcelain and floors shine.

9. When you’re selling a home, you’re selling a fantasy. Buyers will see themselves living the lifestyle you ‘stage’ in your home. Get rid of anything that detracts from that fantasy. That includes pets and children. No matter how adorable you think they are, to potential buyers, they’re a distraction. Ship your kids and pets off to a neighbor’s while you show your house so that your buyers can explore the house undistracted.

10. Don’t forget the outside. Outdoor living spaces are more and more important to people. Treat your back deck or patio like another room in your home. A few decorating touches can make it more than just a ‘back yard’. Cover a worn picnic table with a bright tablecloth and replace worn chair cushions with new ones.

A little home staging, a fresh coast of paint and new carpet,  can go a long way to making your house appealing and attractive to buyers. Take the time to pare it down to the essentials so that little touches make a big difference.

If you don’t know how to do this, you can always hire a professional home stager. Typically, full home staging service will cost between $1,500 to $2,500. Hiring a home staging professional can really pay off consider that staged home can sell faster between 3 to 50 percent and increases the selling price between 2 to 10 percent more than an unstaged home. Get your home ready to sell, both inside and outside, by home staging now!