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It needn’t cost a bundle to make an old house look like an awesome new home to a prospective buyer. You just have to think like a Northeast Los Angeles buyer.

Places like Eagle Rock and Highland Park have gone from fringe to hip in recent years. But if you are selling your own (or your parents’?) house things might go much better, netting you a higher price, if you stage it correctly.

Thoughtful staging isn't just smart. It's vital. Even in red-hot Mt. Washington, for instance, a realtor who specilizes in real estate in Mt. Washington will tell you that correct staging can make a difference in the final purchase price. In older, up-and-coming neighborhoods like Highland Park, some of the more effective Highland Park realtors have become staging experts.

To that end, check each of these five key considerations in staging a home to sell in NELA: 

1. Remove clutter – While this advice is obvious, consider this: Everyone tends to be messy, even the clean people. They don’t want to be reminded that the new house they buy will eventually have dust, magazines, junk mail and fingermarks around light switches and kitchen cabinets. Show them instead their new-home ideal, where they can start clean and envision a new life that will be smudge, dust, clutter and dog-hair free. 

For hints on how to do this, search for “declutter” on Pinterest. While you get rid of unneeded items, you might even earn a tax deduction by donating furniture, clothing and other items to charity resale shops. 

2. Depersonalize – If you are a Democrat and your potential buyer is a Republican, do you think it might be just a tad off-putting if you keep a Hillary poster in the home office? The same might be said for religious items and artwork. There’s no need to introduce these things into the discussion. Alas, family photos and anything on a refrigerator should go. Along with Larry the Labradoodle and Dorey the goldfish, who might live temporarily with friends (you can reunite with both once the sales contract is signed).

3. Paint it to neutral, but not blah –It’s common knowledge that very distinct, dark or bright colors (e.g., red, black, orange and cerulean) on walls are no-nos. They are too you-specific and might actually make spaces feel cramped; more neutral shades (off-whites, creams, mushrooms, etc.) enable the prospective buyer to imprint their own ideas on how the space could work for them. But it is a mistake to simply paint it a stark white in most rooms: wood floors and other features of the room will quite likely look better with a shade that complements other hues in the room. Again, Pinterest offers ideas when you search for “match walls with wood.”

4. Update if the numbers work – Many buyers will not tolerate a 30-year-old kitchen or an old bathroom. But your Realtor can counsel you on how much to invest in those kinds of fixes. The return on investment ($5,000 to $50,000) may or may not be achievable in the sale, depending on a number of variables.

5. The most excellent welcome – Some say that buyers decide if they are interested or not interested within the first 30 seconds of visiting a property. A good portion of that time is arriving at the curb, walking up to the front door and entering the house. So walk through that process in your own home. Is there a convenient place to park? Is the front walk appealing, does your landscaping look well tended, and is the front door inviting? (Hint: large potted plants can quickly add life to a space where there is no permanent landscaping.) Once in the front door it should provide a clean, fresh flow into the larger rooms. Don’t forget that smells, good and bad, add to the experience.

A Realtor with 25 years experience in Northeast LA is Tracy King. She has sold homes that were staged and those “as is,” and knows where to invest time and other resources to achieve an optimal sale.

tracy 150x175With over 30 years experience in helping clients buy and sell homes in Northeast Los Angeles, Tracy King has a depth of real estate knowledge that makes her the go-to for both the first-time home buyer and the seasoned real estate investor. When she's not holding open houses or negotiating offers, Tracy enjoys wine tasting, cooking, or planning her next trip to Paris. If you are looking to buy or sell a home in Northeast Los Angeles, contact the Tracy King Team at 626.827.9795 or