Debra Gould, the Staging Diva
Photo: Virginia MacDonald
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Secrets of a House Stager

Who knew that getting rid of family photos and clearing off countertops could help you snag top dollar for your house? These are just two secrets from Debra Gould, founder of Staging Diva. Gould, a professional home stager, has helped scores of homeowners clean up, rearrange, and style their homes to command top price. That can mean anything from putting extra books in storage to getting rid of moldy caulk in bathrooms to renting furniture to fill up too-bare spaces. "The goal is to make your home clean, organized, and welcoming so potential buyers can picture living there," says Gould. Thus the no-family-photos rule: "They make people feel like they're invading your space," she explains.

Based in Toronto, Gould has trained a network of 800+ home stagers across the U.S. "Most owners aren't seeing bidding wars the way they were a few years ago," she says. "But with the right staging, you can get close to your asking price."

Here are before-and-after photos of rooms in houses Gould has staged in the Toronto area, along with information about fees paid and sales prices.

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