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As the Canadian real estate market heats up, houses are listed every hour. If you want to get in on the real estate game but don’t have the extra cash to hire a professional designer, take a deep breath. Staging your home is simpler than you think, and all it takes is a bit of elbow grease, some rearranging and a little paint.

“You can get up to 15 per cent more for your home if it’s staged properly,” Toronto-based realtor Nasma Ali points out. So how do you do-it-yourself? Read on for her top tips and let the bidding wars for your property begin.

1. Declutter, declutter, declutter. Ali says her number one tip is to declutter your space: “Follow the cantaloupe rule — if it’s smaller than a cantaloupe, then it’s out!”

2. Inspire a homey feeling. Little trinkets tend to distract potential buyers from looking at the room they’re in. But that doesn’t mean you need to get rid of all your family photos. “Subtle personal touches such as these actually reinforce that homey feeling for buyers,” explains Ali. “They start to picture themselves making memories there.”

3. Keep things open and airy. Ali recommends getting rid of any unnecessary furniture to make the space feel larger and more open. “This is a good opportunity to start purging things you’ve been wanting to get rid of. I like to advise my clients to donate their stuff to places like the Habitat for Humanity ReStores. It’s a wonderful program that’s been helping families own homes of their own for 25 years!”

4. Neutral is key. Something as simple as putting on a fresh coat of neutral paint also helps prospective buyers see themselves — and their stuff — in the space. Even if you like bold colours, remember they may not be everyone’s taste. The same goes for your accessories — any flashy throw pillows, blankets or lamps should be put into storage if you plan on keeping them for your new space. Pillows are great design elements, just make sure they look crisp and clean.

5. Practice cleanliness and tidiness. “You need to keep potential buyers focused on the house − that means don’t distract them with dirty floors and odd smells,” Ali advises.

Ironing your curtains and steam-cleaning your carpets goes a long way for an open house. To up your scent game, burn some scented candles or buy some fresh flowers. Above all, remember it’s the little things that make the biggest difference — make sure all your light bulbs work, that your walkway is shoveled in the winter and your lawn is mowed in the summer.

Article courtesy of www.newscanada.com