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10 Home Staging Tips from the Experts

You may have heard a lot about staging a home for sale and are wondering if you should do this when you’re ready to sell. Staging, or strategically arranging furniture and decorating your home, can help it stand out from the competition. But there’s one central home staging tip — look at your home from the buyer’s perspective because most home purchases are emotional decisions. It’s that simple.

Home staging doesn’t require a big remodel, although you may choose to update your paint before your house is staged for sale. Neutral paint colors are the best choice for selling your home. It’s okay to use one neutral color throughout your home, as it makes your home look larger and more organized.

Staging a home for sale also doesn’t require an investment in new furniture — you can use your current furniture, but you may want to remove extra pieces to make the rooms look more open. However, if you’re selling a vacant home, consider renting furniture. It’s easier for buyers to imagine living in a home that’s furnished. Additionally, vacant homes appear smaller when there’s no furniture to give buyers a frame of reference.

Now that you know the secrets, here are tips for staging a home.

General home staging tips

1. Spruce up your walls

If your walls are already a neutral color, repair any holes, scratches, or marks. Once you fix any blemishes, match the paint color, and touch up those spots. Alternatively, you may find it easier just to repaint an entire room or select walls with a highlight color.

2. Brighten the house

Clean all the windows and keep the drapes and blinds open to let the natural light come through. Make sure the bulbs work in all your lamps and, especially, your permanent light fixtures. This can help make your rooms look bigger.

3. Give it a fresh scent

You don’t want your vacant house smelling musty. If you’re still living in the house, you don’t want buyers smelling the trash, or any kitchen or laundry odors. Think about adding nice smelling plants, potpourri, or scent plug-ins.

If you’re staging a vacant home

According to Diana Hathaway, the author of “Sell Your Home Without Losing Your Zen,” there are three key house staging tips for vacant homes.

4. Develop a plan

Two things should dictate the extent of your staging plan — your budget and the strength of the real estate market in your area. If your budget is small or the local real estate market is hot, you can be more strategic and only stage a few specific rooms. If you’re selling a luxury home or the market is more competitive for sellers, you’ll want to create a bigger plan and budget for staging.

5. Strategic partial staging

If you aren’t going to fully stage your home, you can strategically stage the most important rooms — living room, kitchen, master bedroom, dining room and bathrooms. Buyers don’t find it odd if all of the rooms are not furnished in a partially staged home. Just be sure to fully stage the key rooms.

6. Staging your entire home

Once you’ve created your plan, visit rental showrooms to view available furniture and accessories. Many furniture rental showrooms offer full-home or room packages, complete with accessories, linens, and artwork. Ask about rental period minimums and any hidden fees. Also, ask if the showroom has an outlet or salesroom where they retire furniture and accessories. You may be able to pick up inexpensive accessories to make your rental budget go further.

If you’re staging your occupied home

7. Declutter

Hathaway points out if you only have time for one home staging step, it should be decluttering. After years of living in your home, “stuff” accumulates unnoticed. Start with your closets and cabinets. Set aside time every day to tackle a closet or two, then move on to a room-by-room effort. You’ll be donating, packing, or storing things that make your rooms look cluttered. This could include decorative knick-knacks, seasonal items, or anything you don’t use on a daily basis. An added benefit of decluttering now is it will help you when it’s time to move, as much of your sorting and packing will already be done.

8. Rearrange

Your staged home needs to appeal to buyers and make viewing easy for them. Hathaway suggests placing your furniture in a new arrangement — moving your sofa to a different spot or placing your bed against a different wall. While the new arrangement may not feel natural to you, it will accomplish your goal of opening up the living space so that your buyer feels their furnishings will fit. Rearranging your furniture and accessories can create an atmosphere that appeals to a buyer’s desire to have an open space for their own things.

Keep flow and function in mind when you’re rearranging. Avoid the “square dance” approach to furniture arrangement when trying to make your home look larger — don’t arrange your furniture against the walls. Doing so creates an awkward open space in the middle. Pay attention to the rooms’ focal points through the eyes of your buyer. Control what you want them to notice first.

9. Depersonalize

Hathaway’s most difficult, but essential home staging idea is to depersonalize your house. Your buyers need to see themselves living in your home. Your goal is to present an attractive, clean, and spacious home that they can move right into. Depersonalizing can also mean removing some photos, artwork, collections, and memorabilia so that your home’s personality shines through.

 10. Clean

A deep cleaning from top to bottom is only the beginning. Before every showing, make sure everything is picked up and put away — dishes, clothes, toiletries, games, tools, and more. You want your buyers to focus on the house, not your belongings.

The bottom line

Staging your home for sale will put it in the best possible light. Following a few simple home staging tips can potentially help you sell your house faster and for a higher sales price.

Frequently asked questions

Is staging a home worth it?

Yes. According to the National Association of Realtors, staging a home can increase the buyer’s offer between 1-5%.

Is staging a house necessary?

Yes. A study by the National Association of Realtors showed that 83% of buyers’ agents said it was easier for their clients to imagine themselves in a house they were viewing when it was staged.

Do I need to rent furniture to stage a house?

If you’re still living in your house, you can use your current furniture. If you’ve already moved out and your house is vacant, you should rent furniture to stage the most important rooms – living room, kitchen, master bedroom, dining room, and bathrooms.

How much does staging a house cost?

According to the National Association of Realtors, the median cost of staging a home is $400.

This article was originally published on May 9, 2019. Updated on June 29, 2020. Laurie Garrison contributed to this report.

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