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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) --Sellers are enjoying the strongestlocal housing market since the bubble burst. Median prices are up double-digits over this time last year. Some Washington-area neighborhoods have been hitting new price records. Homes are selling at the fastest pace in overseven years.

But before a buyer makes an offer, you have to get them through your front door. Home staging can help you do just that.

Kim Mingo, Client Alliance Manager at MRIS, says, "Ninety sevenpercent of buyers are starting their home search online. The better you are able to showcase your home, the wider appeal it will have."

Nowadays, first impressions are made through online photos. Make your home picture perfect and get top dollar.

Home staging can really boost the price you sell your house for. For example, HomeGain.com reports that for every $300 you spend cleaning up, de-cluttering and plusing up the look of your home, you can make as much as $2,000 more at closing.

The initial step in home staging is deep cleaning and merciless de-cluttering.

Mingo offers these tips:

-- In the bedroom, try to achieve a zen-like space. Carefully make the bed. Fluff the pillow. Take away extra clutter on the bedside tables. Open the curtains to let in as much natural light as possible.
-- De-clutter your closet. Take clothes off hangers and shelves to make your storage areas look more spacious.Hangers should face the same direction and clothes should be lined up neatly.
-- In the bathroom, take everything but the soap off of the counters. Use neutral accessories. Make sure the bathroom is exceptionally clean.
-- The kitchen needs to be de-cluttered as well. Take all of the accessories off the counters, except for your essentials. Clean surfaces to the point where it looks like no one cooks in the space.
-- Kitchen cabinets and drawers also need de-cluttering. If they are packed, buyers might think the kitchen does not have adequate storage space.

Spending money getting your home ready to sell can be a wise investment. $300 spent brightening dark spaces can return as much as $1,500, a 500 percent return on investment, according to HomeGain.com. $400 in landscaping can increase your home's price by $2,000, which is also a 500 percent return. Painting projects costing up to $750 can put an additional $2,000 in your pocket, returning 266 percent.

If you do repaint, then tone down the color. "Using a neutral palette will appeal to more people. Using a light tan or off white will be fine," says Mingo. "You are really selling this lifestyle to potential buyer."

This is a good time to consider selling, too. Conditions are firming for local real estate prices. Last month, the median price of a home in the District hit a record high, up 13.6 percent year over year. Some pockets of the area are even enjoying flash sales, with homes selling in 24 hours. The key to that success: your home has to look great and you need to be bang-on when it comes to price.

More images of the staged homecan be found here: http://www.mrishomes.com/homes-for-sale/VA/ARLINGTON/22202/3600-GLEBE-RD-918W-78151590

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