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Agent Sets the Stage to Sell Homes

Selling a home in a tough market can be a challenge. Buyers have too many choices, and if a house doesn't look perfect from the outside, they might not even bother to look at the inside. Kitty Schwartz , a real estate agent with Prudential Douglas Elliman who works throughout Westchester and is also licensed in Connecticut, says the key to selling in a tough market is simple: "You have to have a great marketing plan, and you have to stick to it." Kitty's plans start with thorough research into the history of the home and the neighborhood so she can tell the story of the house in her marketing materials. She asks homeowners to think back to what made them buy this home. "I look for ways to trigger that same emotional response in a buyer," she says.

A crucial component of every marketing plan is full-house staging, performed by Kitty and her team. Before turning full time to real estate, Kitty worked behind the scenes through her business, Classic Home Staging . Over a five-year period, she staged more than $400 million in real estate across the tri-state area. This spring, eight of the properties she staged sold within a week.

"When I prep a home for sale, I strip away the layers the homeowner has added over the years," she says. Staging is complimentary for her real estate clients. She only recommends updates if she feels they will bring her client a significant return on investment.

In Kitty's book, staging doesn't end once the clutter has been boxed away. Her team makes sure every house remains perfect for all showings and open houses. Professional photos of every room enable the homeowner and cleaning crew to know "exactly how the pillows on the sofa are supposed to look." And if she sees a client struggling to keep the home perfect, like the mom with three kids starting school the same day as the broker open house, Kitty's troops will go in to whip the house into shape.

Now that she's an agent, Kitty enjoys controlling the selling process from the initial staging to the final closing. "Clients appreciate the added value that my skills and support services provide," she says.

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