Staging leads to quick sell

Name: Bob and Keri Allen. Bob founded NewSouth, which provided marketing strategies and marketing communication materials for the commercial real estate industry beginning in 1962.

The home: A six-bedroom, four full and one-half bath home built in 1998.

Where: Atlanta

Why they sold: The couple, who raised their four grandchildren, sought to downsize from their 5,000-square-foot home after two of the kids had grown up and moved out.

Time on market: 7 days

Original price: $499,900

Sale price: $499,900

What it took: The couple saw an opening in the market, as homes were starting to sell faster in their area, near Northside Hospital and St. Joseph's Hospital, Bob said. Hiring also appeared to be picking up due to the new partnership between Emory Healthcare and St. Joseph's, he added. The couple also thought that parents seeking to move before the school year began might be interested in the location near Marist School and DeKalb County public schools Montgomery Elementary and Chamblee Middle and High schools.

Their agent, Collette McDonald with Re/Max Around Atlanta, brought in Karen DeRuyter of Stage Right Designs, who recommended de-personalizing. The couple had an eclectic interior, with antiques, paintings, sculpture and pottery. They took down the portrait photographs of the children and placed artwork, sculptures and extra furniture in storage. The couple freshened up the landscaping and paint.

Then the family left for a weeklong vacation to Florida. “The house looked great. About two hours after we left, (McDonald) put the sign in the yard and it was officially on the market. We told her she had a week to show it. We couldn’t guarantee we would maintain it looking like it looked when we got back, with the kids on a daily basis,” Bob said.

Before they unpacked in Florida, they had a full-price offer. Within 24 hours, they had a backup offer for less than asking price. “We were stunned,” Bob said. “We figured we would do well to have an offer in 30 days. We were prepared for 60 or 90 days. I guess we just timed it right and priced it right. We were fortunate all the way around.”

He added that the size of the neighborhood, which only had 24 homes, was appealing to buyers, and the attic offered another 300 square feet, if finished. They closed on the home in July 2012. The Allens bought a Sandy Springs fixer-upper built in 1978 in July 2012 and were renovating the home in 2013.

Potential stumbling block: The backyard was small and steep, Bob said. The deck was about 30 feet above the ground, looking out at trees.

Seller's hint: Put away anything on display in the home that could distract buyers from the home's features. The couple, who collect religious art, removed items such as a 6-foot, 250-year-old hand-carved crucifix and a 30-inch Buddha. "We removed everything that would scream 'eclectic,' " Bob said.