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Getting a Home Prepared to Put on the Market 

  1. Stand in the Doorway to Look at Each Room.
    ”If the buyer’s not in the room, they’re not buying the house,” (Barb) Schwarz (a real estate agent and former interior designer) says, as she stands, hands on hips, below a decorative wrought-iron tree festooned with beaded ornaments and in front of a large living room crammed with knickknacks and red upholstered furniture. “Where does your eye go? Buyers only know what they see, not the way it’s going to be.”
  2. Make a Plan and Pick a Focal Point.
    Every room has a focal point: a fireplace, a bed, a desk. “In this living room, it’s the fireplace,” Schwarz explains. “We have to make sure it’s not covered up.”
  3. De-accessorize.
    ”Get rid of the ‘room dandruff,’” she says. “We usually take everything out and pile it in the hallway.” She starts stacking unnecessary stuff on a red couch: extra throws, an exercise machine, burgundy wineglasses filled with sprays of iridescent eucalyptus branches, magazines.
  4. Decide What Furniture Leaves and How to Arrange the Furniture That Stays.
    ”Most rooms have too much furniture. You don’t need more than three to five pieces in a living room,” says Schwarz. “When you put things into storage, you can breathe. There’s more room. There’s less for the buyer to deal with. It’s less stressful.” In this carefully decorated Concord living room, Schwarz will recommend getting rid of a wrought-iron end table, two stools, a magazine basket and probably one of the oversize easy chairs.
  5. Re-accessorize.
    From the pile you’ve created, put just a few things back. Schwarz likes to work in groups of threes, and positions decorative items on the glass coffee table. “That feels better,” she says. “It’s freer, cleaner.”
  6. Keep Going Back to the Doorway. Keep Reassessing What You’ve Done.
    ”It’s important to create an airy, open feeling for each room. Remember that potential buyers aren’t going to be hanging out in your house, but wandering around it. “Try to think about what breaks up the flow of walking,” she says.
  7. Fine-tune.
    ”The tags on these cushions will have to go,” she says. “The cords from the blinds will be tied up. It will be clean, Q-tip clean." Arrange a few pillar candles or votives on a table.