Homeowners must consider a variety of factors when putting their homes on the market. One of the more important things to remember is the benefits of making a strong first impression on prospective buyers. That’s why many homeowners rely on staging when selling their homes.

Staging requires more than just clearing out clutter or baking a batch of cookies to create a welcoming aroma. Staging helps potential buyers visualize the potential of a home and see themselves owning and living in the property.

While homeowners can effectively stage their own homes, sometimes it is well worth the investment to call in a professional designer or stager. Stagers often work their magic on vacant properties or those that have been sitting on the market awhile. A stager conducts careful research into the market of a particular area and learns about the neighbourhood before deciding how to appeal to likely buyers. For example, when staging a coastal home, a stager may go with nautical themes and create the impression of a relaxing and laid-back property for entertaining by the beach.

Certain rules should be followed when staging a home. Furniture, decor and other amenities in the home should not detract from the house itself. Instead, such items should complement the architecture and feel of the space. Here are some additional staging suggestions.

• REMOVE PERSONAL EFFECTS. Homeowners are urged to replace personal photographs with neutral artwork and remove other decorative items that reflect their personalities. As an example, an avid outdoorsman probably will want to remove hunting trophies. The goal is to help buyers see themselves in the home, and that can be difficult if existing residents’ personal effects are everywhere.

• PUT AWAY NONESSENTIAL ITEMS. Staging helps homeowners create dream spaces. Coffeemakers, backpacks hanging on the wall and dishes in the drainboard may be part of daily living, but they can make it hard for buyers to see a home’s potential. Store such items before holding an open house.

• MAXIMIZE LIGHTING. Whenever possible, take down or open window treatments to display architectural moldings and let in as much natural light as possible.

• OPT FOR NEUTRAL COLORS AND FURNISHINGS. Use neutral taupe and gray paint to keep homes prime for buyers. Homeowners who have more eclectic or colorful tastes can put their items in storage and rent neutral furnishings until the home sells.

Staging can improve the chances that a house sells quickly. Staging helps potential buyers see themselves in the space without distractions from the previous owners’ decorating or belongings.