It’s no secret staging has become synonymous with selling a home. A staged home can boost perceived value by as much as 10 percent, according to listing agents surveyed in the National Association of REALTORS. Staging is so effective, in fact, it may influence a buyer to bid above asking price. It can be challenging to keep up appearances once staging is complete, but when your home is for sale, it’s important to be prepared for a parade of discerning buyers. There will be households that encounter some difficulty living in staged conditions, so planning is a must, says Lottie Kendall of Today Sotheby’s International Realty in San Carlos, Calif. “We need to find out what is causing the difficulty in properly preparing the home for each and every showing,” Kendall explains. “Small children or teenagers living there? Pre-teens and teens can often be incentivized with gifts or gift cards, and generally respond favorably when they feel included in the process and understand the importance of tidiness and how it benefits them and their parents. Toddlers and infants? Perhaps showings need to be lumped together at pre-set times. Frail, sick or elderly residents? Again, find out set times that work for them and plan accordingly. In some circumstances, top dollar isn’t as important as minimizing disruption.” Once you and your agent have coordinated a showing schedule, cordon off rooms you do not need to use while your home is on the market. Limit use to one bathroom, if possible, and shut the door to any guest rooms and the dining room – according to the NAR profile, REALTORS® dub the dining room a definite for staging, so do your best to preserve its picture-perfect state. REALTORS® also prioritize the kitchen, but paring down activities in the heart of your home is impractical. To avoid pre-showing stress, remember the see-and-sniff rule: buyers don’t want to see last night’s half-eaten dinner on a plate, and they don’t want to sniff last night’s dinner upon entering the kitchen. “Too often [sellers] overlook odors – cooking odors and pet odors both. They simply aren’t aware of them,” Kendall says. “We can help by gently pointing out the situation and offering suggestions.” At minimum, place dirty dishes in the dishwasher before vacating your home for a showing. Another, and perhaps better, solution is to pack and store your dinnerware and use disposable plates and utensils for meals instead. One task you should never skimp on is making the beds each morning, especially in the master bedroom, which REALTORS® also ‘green lit’ for staging in NAR’s profile. Aside from indirectly establishing a good habit, a freshly made bed, plumped pillows and all, recreates the staged effect and helps buyers visualize concepts like comfort and safety. The bathroom is another room that will benefit most from staging, the NAR profile reports. To prolong the staged look, store toiletries in an inexpensive caddy and leave towels purposed as props in place. Before a showing, remove the caddy and any wet towels. Place the latter in the dryer for half an hour, and they’ll be fresh for use when the showing appointment is finished. As Kendall points out, always complete the task sellers neglect most. “Ready for this? Flush the toilet and put down the lid. At first this might seem incredibly sloppy, but in drought-stricken California, not flushing every time is common. Flushing before leaving for a showing is essential!” Taking these steps while you live in staged surroundings can make the difference between a speedy sale and “that home I toured once.” When buyers come knocking, do a sweep in these key rooms to get the most bang for your staging buck. Happy selling!