You’ve heard the expression that you have only one opportunity to make a good first impression. The same holds true for an open house when you are trying to sell your apartment.

The apartment must be in tip-top shape, accentuating all the positives, eliminating the negatives. It has to be crisp and clean, with washed windows, and it should be inviting and naked enough so that the potential buyer can see him- or her-self living in the space. Your potential buyer should be encouraged to use their imagination to arrange their own furniture in the space; removing or relocating furniture can sometimes help. “Minimal” and “beautiful” are the key principles used by Zelda when staging an apartment for showing.

Zelda has a keen eye for detail as to what has to go, be moved around, and be organized. She will help you decide whether an apartment needs to be painted and what has to be fixed prior to your first open house.

Personal items like photographs of family or individuals need to be removed. Likewise, displays of earrings or any “tchotchkes” that one has acquired over a period of time can divert the attention of the buyer. Instead of looking at the views or the apartment as a place to live, potential buyers might be examining the items left out. The idea is to sell the apartment or home, not to display things. Eventually, you will have to pack everything anyway. Get a head start.

Keep a pathway to the windows and clear the window sills of everything. People gravitate towards the windows especially if there is a view. And if there is a view, you want that to be the focal point with no obstructions.

Effective staging helps to sell the apartment quickly for the best price; otherwise it may linger on the market and lose precious time and value.

Zelda had a seller recently who had way too much furniture in her apartment. She was well traveled and had collected many mementos. Additionally, she maintained several large collections. When she was accused of being a drill sergeant, Zelda took it as a compliment. Yet the seller followed all the directives, which even required getting a moving truck to move half the furniture and clothing out. The apartment looked fantastic and it sold for higher than the asking price with only one open house.

In another case, a couple tried to sell their apartment on their own and without success. Then they called in the expert. When Zelda opened the front closet, a baby’s shoe jumped out at her from the top shelf. Surprised, she asked the sellers whether they were ready to take some notes. She told them to empty out the closets, for starters. Potential buyers need to imagine placing their own items in closets, and if a closet is jammed to bursting, buyers might underestimate its capacity. Zelda removed a few pictures from walls, regrouped some art work, suggested that window sills be painted, and so forth. When the apartment went to contract, there were at least a dozen people begging for it.

Your apartment deserves the same treatment to help it look its best. Get your yellow pad and pens ready!