In a sluggish home market, first impressions can make or break a sale.

More homeowners are turning to professional stagers to ready their homes before listing their properties.

Staging a home could be as easy as putting away the kids’ toys or as complex as renting all new furniture.

We spoke with staging expert Mary O’Grady, whose Newton staging business has grown rapidly in the past two years, about what details should never be overlooked.


“Right now there are so many homes out there that yours has to look the best,” says O’Grady, who founded Stage to Sell by Mary six years ago in response to customer demand.

According to O’Grady, people “engage” with a home in the first 30 seconds of viewing it, therefore the critical areas to focus on are the yard, front door, entryway and first room in the house.

“In the spring market, have the lawn trimmed, the debris picked up and colorful flowers planted,” says O’Grady. “Make the entryway welcoming so people want to continue to the next room.”

O’Grady says redecorating isn’t necessary. In most cases, paring back the clutter is the key to success: “That means clearing the counter tops in the kitchen so it looks like it’s ready to have a party or putting away the toys and books. ... The longer you live in a home, the more you accumulate.”

Staging doesn’t have to be a huge investment. O’Grady receives $250 for her first consultation, which includes a report on recommendations for the homeowner. The homeowner can choose to make the changes themselves or contract with O’Grady to facilitate the upgrades — including renting furniture, redesigning and painting.

O’Grady says:

Tips to get your home ready for the market:

De-clutter to make the most of your space.

Hire a professional cleaner to clean the house from top to bottom.

Neutralize the colors on the walls.

Remove 99 percent of the family photos.

Make sure the outside is litter-free.

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