Staging your home to sell to a first-time buyer

Everyone knows the basics of home staging, thanks to an endless stream of HGTV shows, news articles, and websites: de-clutter, clean, take down photos of your children, neutralize wall colors, and eliminate pet odors.

But here's where it can get a little bit complicated: targeting the right market for your house.

Hanging a Norman Rockwell print over the fireplace might resonate well with an elderly couple -- but a Gen Y punk rocker is unlikely to be impressed. To a large extent, your target market depends on your location and the specifics of your property. But in today's market, you might do well to err on the side of courting younger buyers. Consider:

  • In 2009, according to the National Association of Realtors, almost half of all home sales in 2009 -- 47% -- were to first-time buyers. That was an all-time record, up from 41% in 2008.

  • The same survey also found that the median age of first-time buyers was 30.