Everyone who sells a home thinks to tidy it before potential buyers visit. But do sellers understand how to play up their home's assets and mask its flaws in order to sell it quickly and for top dollar? This is exactly what a home stager does. A home stager is a designer or stylist who suggests ways to make the home more appealing to potential buyers.

"When selling your house, you're emotionally invested in the home you've created," said Holly Slaughter, editor-in-chief of the RealEstate.com Tips and Tools. "Hiring a professional home stager, who is impartial, can help highlight your home's selling points and make it more appealing to a wide range of buyers."

When deciding whether or not to hire a home stager, consider:

Select your level

Home staging offers many levels of service. For $100 or less, a home stager will walk through your house and offer advice on what is the best way to present your home for your upcoming showings. You may be told to clean up the clutter, hang pictures or mirrors in new locations, repaint the walls or scrub those hard to reach areas of the floors. For a higher fee, a stager can perform a more hands-on role such as repositioning furniture, arranging flowers and suggesting great tips for highlighting your home's curb appeal. And then for an even higher fee, home stagers can redecorate your home from a warehouse full of furniture and decor items, bring in shrubs and annuals or clean out that one room collecting clutter over the years.

It may be worth every penny

Stagers say the cost is worth it. Some studies show that a house that has been staged is on the market for fewer days and sells for a higher price than comparable homes. Depending on the home and the neighborhood, a home stager may be just what you need to sell your home more quickly and get the top dollar you're looking for.

Your time is valuable

Consider your time. For busy people, hiring a home stager is money well spent. If you need to sell quickly, or if your house has been on the market for some time with little interest from prospective buyers, home staging might be the answer.

You can find home stagers through associations such as the International Association of Home Staging Professionals, Accredited Staging Professionals or the Interior Redesign Industry Specialists.

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