10 Tips To Staging Your House To Sell

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Good morning, lovelies! I hope you have had a wonderful weekend! I’ve mentioned on Facebook that my favorite online “time-wasters” {besides Pinterest} are real estate listing and house plan sites. I love looking at the potential in real estate listings.

I know a lot of folks hire a home stager, which is great, but it can get expensive. We sold a home back in early 2011 after showing it during peak-Christmas season {yes, it was decorated!}. I implemented these home staging tips to allow our home to shine.

10 Tips To Staging Your Home To Sell

10 Tips To Staging Your House To Sell

The first five tips are all about making your home sellable and the last five tips are about making your home memorable. The buying and selling process is both psychological and financial. 🙂

Make It Sellable

1. Curb Appeal

It is incredibly important that your house look good from the outside. If there is a “for sale” sign in the yard, but the yard is un-mowed and the shrubs and flower beds are uncared for, people aren’t typically going to schedule a showing. Buyers often look at the front-of-the-house photo and then do a “drive by” before calling the realtor.

2. Declutter and Minimize 

Potential buyers want to look at the entire house, so stuffing clutter in a closet or drawer isn’t going to cut it. Go through all closets, cabinets, drawers and storage spaces and get rid of junk. It is especially important to declutter every room, so people can see the room and not piles of stuff.

3. Remove Personal Items

Some realtors say get rid of it all, but I say, put away personal items {photos, toiletries, food, drinks etc} that take away from your home. Anything that could be categorized as clutter should be put away, but if you have family photos hung in a tasteful way on the wall, please don’t feel like they *have* to come down. It’s still your house until you sign it away to someone else.

4. Neutral Palette 

If you’ve decorated with crazy, bright colors in your home, then it would be very wise to tone things down both for the listing photos as well as for showings. When a house is decorated with neutral colors on the big things {think walls, floors, trim, cabinetry}, potential buyers can more easily envision their belongings fitting in.

5. Decorate Thoughtfully

I’m not here to tell you to get rid of all your pictures, photos, pillows and other accessories. {I personally dislike when decorators and designers tell clients that.} Just be thoughtful about it. Keep things minimal, pretty and enjoyable for you who are still the owner.

Make It Memorable

When a realtor calls you for a showing, here are my five top things to do before-hand.

6.  Burn Candles or Bake Bread

While you’re flying around the house, cleaning up and putting things away, burn candles to make your house smell good. I almost always had time to whip up some banana bread or cookies before a showing. Making your home smell good is one of the most important things you can do after jazzing up the curb appeal and de-cluttering.

7. Open Curtains and Blinds

No one wants to buy a home they can’t really even see. Light is your friend, so make it work for you by opening all curtains and blinds. Create a happy, light-filled space that will make an impression on potential buyers.

8. Turn On The Lights

Not only is it important to allow natural light to come in, but also remember to turn on the lights throughout your home. Lamps as well as lighting in closets and the laundry room will make it easier for the realtor to show your home and no one will have to search for a light switch.

9. Play Music

Soft, easy-listening, instrumental-type music is the best for this situation because you have no idea what a buyer’s music taste is. Whether your home has a sound system throughout or if you play a CD on repeat, either one works.  Just make it quiet and soothing.

10.  Always, Always Leave

I can’t reiterate this enough. After you’ve worked hard making your home sellable and memorable, please leave and let the realtor do his or her job. It is awkward enough for a potential buyer to walk into your home. If you, your kids or your pets are there it makes it even more awkward. They will be wishing their way out the door instead of enjoying looking at your home. Trust me.

Showings are grand opportunities to make potential buyers feel at home in your home, so be thoughtful in using these tips next time your home is on the market. Also, if you know someone who is trying to sell their home, I would love it if you passed on these tips to them!

10 Tips To Staging Your Home To Sell

Do you have a home staging tip to add to the list?



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  1. Awesome tips, Myra! I probably won’t ever be able to use them, but my sisters will. I’ve been in my home 16 years and when my husband and I want to move to a smaller home, we’ll sell it to one of the kids.

    Our house is a “family” home (on my husband’s side). It’s been in the family for over 100 years and my children are 5th generation to live in it, so selling isn’t an option.
    Amanda Padgett´s last blog post ..Raw versus JPG

  2. Can I add a really loud Amen to #10! We bought our house three years ago in spite of the sellers. If we hadn’t absolutely fallen in love with the place, we would have run for the hills. The first time that we saw the house without being shadowed by the sellers was after the closing. (Even if they had just stayed in the living room, it wouldn’t have been as bad; but they literally followed us the entire time.) They were there for every showing, the home inspection, and the final walk-through (despite our requests that they not be present).

  3. My husband and I are big believers in house staging! When we sold our first house, our realtor had someone come in and stage it. Sold in 2 weeks. We did it ourselves at our second house. It didn’t sell quite as fast but it was winter time. The buyers liked how we’d staged it so much that they asked if they could buy the furniture too!

    We just recently moved and are closing tomorrow on another house. My sister-in-law, who LOVES interior design, staged it for us before the realtor took pictures and we had 2 offers within a week! She also prayed over every room as she staged it!!

  4. Christi,

    As a Realtor, you are spot on with the staging. I love the idea of soft music. One of the hardest things to do on a listing appointment is to tell sellers to DECLUTTER!! The less stuff, the bigger the space:)

    Thanks Christi, I will repin this:)

  5. Great tips! I staged my sister’s house and it sold in one day! It was quite the feat to get it ready since she and her husband love stuff, stuff, stuff! 😉

    As I was working, she kept saying sadly “It looks so bare.” LOL. We used her things plus a few things another decorator friend loaned us, but we just used a lot less of everything. I would like to have made more changes but there was a “low to no- budget” for this. I think we spent about $100 getting a few necessary things from the ReSale store.

    Here’s a link if you’d like to take a peek. http://cndesigns.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/staging-a-home-photos-and-tips/

    And the hardest thing I’ve found when I do staging is getting the client to realize that they must now think of their home as just a house.. just another “thing” that’s for sale. That’s very hard to do when they might have lived there and built many memories. I know. We just moved 8 months ago from a home we’d raised our children in and lived for 25 years! Sad to leave our old home but happy to be getting to the new one. And knowing another new family is just starting out in our former home, helped too!

    1. depends on the Ikea you have … a friend of mine was totally shocked when I told her it was Ikea when we left Fort Irwin after she expressed concern about all our “heavy wooden furniture” and our weight allowance 🙂

  6. When we sold our house in 2006, we did ALL of your suggestions – these absolutely work! We sold our house FAST {in ten days} and made a good profit from it to be able to buy our current house. The owners of this house WERE home everytime we looked at it, but fortunately they were nice and we kept our mouths shut about things. My hubby was smart and took a TON of pictures of every nook and cranny because I was busy asking the owners all kinds of questions about the history of our house and got a lot of information. Of course, once we decided to buy it I couldn’t remember what everything looked like so it was great to have all those pictures he took to be able to think through where to put everything – AND, as a blogger, they are priceless pictures to have today to compare the before and after!!!

    Becky B.
    Organizing Made Fun
    Becky@OrganizingMadeFun´s last blog post ..OMF to the Rescue: Master closet organizing dilemma!

  7. Reading your posts brings back memories of the experience I had while selling my house in Miami Beach. Gilles Rais Fine Homes made this process a light weight for me. The Rais team went above and beyond to ensure I got the greatest value for my home . Their service is incomparable! You should check them out at http://www.gillesraisfinehomes.com (954.305.1579), I highly recommend them to anyone looking for the ‘best in business’ when selling their home.

  8. When we sold our home I couldn’t believe how much of a difference it made to make sure there was nothing on the closet floors. Not shoes, not blankets in the linen closet… nothing showing on the floors. It really opened the closets up and made them look bigger. It also helped that we boxed up 1/2 the contents!

  9. I’m a Realtor and I will tell you that I showed a home one time and there was music playing and in the kitchen a pitcher of ice cold water with little plastic cups and a plate of yummy cookies—all with a note to please help ourselves and enjoy!! It was awesome and brought such a warm nice feeling to the home.

  10. We’ve moved many, many times and I can say these are all great tips, Myra. Nothing worse than going into a house that smells like cat pee or doggy doo. I looked at a house once where the lady had left her bra on the bed, though everything else was immaculate- not sure what that was all about, but it left an impression. 😉
    SheilaG @ Plum Doodles´s last blog post ..Early American to French Country Rocking Chair Makeover

  11. I would like to add that while in the process of de-cluttering your home in preparation for staging it do some deep cleaning. Some people deep clean as a part of their normal home cleaning routine, but others don’t. Staging and candle burning won’t make much difference if your home is dirty – cob webs, moldy tile grout, dusty light fixtures, dirty baseboards, etc. You may not notice these things, but a potential home buyer will. Clean cabinets, doors, wood trim, and light switches with soap and water. Take globes off of light fixtures and wash in hot soapy water – dust fixtures or ceiling fans. Replace filters in the return and A/C or heating unit. If the weather is nice open all the windows to allow fresh air to flow through the house. A clean home is appealing to potential buyers even if the house is not the most up to date. It shows a potential buyer that the owners have tried to take care of their home. A dirty house is a turn off.

    Another tip I’ve read is to take a couple of photos of each room. When you look at the photos you often will see things that your eyes miss seeing during day-to-day living in your home. It is supposed to help you see your home through the eyes of a stranger.

  12. Where is the best place to advertise if you are trying to sell your home? Should you focus on online or just do a realtor?

    1. Emily, it probably depends on what the market is like in your area. We used a realtor, but I know people have had success advertising online as well.

  13. Great tips Myra!! I can’t tell you how happy I am that I’m finally done with selling houses and plan to live in this one until I die. LOL My grandkids will have to throw me out before I’ll move again. 😀 I’m passing this link on to a friend that is selling, she will definitely benefit.
    Amanda´s last blog post ..Magnetic Locker Pencil Holder

  14. These are awesome tips, we used most of them back in 2008 when we sold our house, it sold the same day we put in on the market. Another tip, clean your oven. I think, if you keep your oven clean, it says alot about how well you keep up the rest of your home.
    Amy P.´s last blog post ..Mountain Getaway

  15. good tips, although I would caution burning candles. If there is anyone out there like me, and I know there are, candles are a reason for a major headache if not full blown migraine. Bake cookies, bake bread, but for heavens sake, DON’T burn candles or have lots of fragrance things in the outlets. To me, that says that something smells!!!!! Make sure your house is clean and you won’t need to use artificial things to make it smell nicely!!!!!!!! And my head will thank you!

    Oh, and I have moved 5 times in the last 10 years and have looked at hundreds of house each time we relocated and I will tell you, headaches will not bring offers! I even mention it to my realtor to ask that they not use them when we are going in for a showing so I don’t get a headache!

  16. just a thought: all clients think: can I fit MY bed in here or MY couch. did they measure it, probably not. did the real estate either measure or get the measurements. probably not. got a computer. then after you have cleaned, cleared and arranged. photograph. put on an eisel or in a folder at the front door; give measurements. this room can accommodate a queen bed, this room can accommodate a full sectional. this room is 8×10 this closet is.. blah blah. may sound too much but, when I looked; I needed to know, my real estate agent had the facts, it made it so much easier.
    ps: no rugs. people think: what are they hiding. what is the hard wood like?
    just my two cents

  17. Great tips. Staging a home is important when trying to sell it. I think the most important is to declutter and neutralize everything. You want people to come in and be able to picture themselves living there. I like the added music, good one!

  18. Great roundup of all the important things to do, Myra!

    I agree with Kristi about scents. Some people have serious allergies to strong aromas, especially chemically created ones like air fresheners. Baking is a nice alternative, but you don’t even have to do a batch of cookies. Just microwaving some spices in water can do the trick. And, leaving candles burning might not be the best thing to do unless you know the realtor will extinguish them.

    So true about leaving your own home during a showing. It seems that some sellers like to point out the improvements they’ve made, but buyers just care about how things look in the present, not the past. Sellers who follow buyers around the house during a showing give the impression of being overly anxious (not good) or that they think something will be stolen (also not good).

    Thanks for a helpful post. I blog exclusively about this very topic!

  19. I read most comments-not sure if this was included. I had a clear container I kept in our mud room with fresh new towels for bathrooms and kitchen. Fresh, clean area rugs etc that I pulled out for ‘the’ showing. I decluttered but kept family photos etc displayed. I did not want it sterile. Picture Real Simple magazine would be my decorating style. My oven and fridge were spotless. Beds were made. A house built in 1969 with remodeling by us thanks to Lowes-went up for sale on Friday afternoon. First offer came in Saturday morning at 10 and a second at 1400. The first offer bought it-with less than 24 hours on the market. On the downside my husband was 3/4 of the way through a training with industry assignment on the East Coast so myself and five girls 10 yrs and under lived a month and some at the Marriott finishing out the school year.

  20. Do you have tips for keeping a house fairly show-ready but still allow it to be functional? Thanks!

  21. If you’re going to bake, try something that you already had frozen so you don’t have to make a big mess in the kitchen you carefully cleaned! I prefer to put cinnamon sticks in a tiny little crockpot with some water and stow it away in a place it can’t be seen, but can be smelled.

  22. We sold three houses in one summer–long story and so exhausting! Staging makes all the difference. Also, if you have indoor pets a couple things can help…

    If you have a dear relative who will petsit use them–many people are opposed to animals inside (especially birds–lots of fear over our feathered friends) and they do not want to think that a pet has been in their future home.

    Get rid of animal smells–apple cider vinegar can remove smells from carpet when added to a steam cleaner (test a small area first). Have a really honest and good friend tell you if they detect animal odor after. If they do…repeat!

    Animal odor will drive potential buyers away…especially those pregnant ladies!

    Vanilla in a concealed dish will nicely diffuse good smells throughout the house if you do not have time to bake.
    Christine´s last blog post ..5 Things to Do in 5 Minutes__to Prevent YOU from Shopping

  23. Great suggestions! We are working on getting ready to put our house on the market. Our last house took 5 months with staging, which, believe it or not, was fast for the area (rural and high unemployment.) My realtor at that time told us that most houses he listed were dirty and packed full of STUFF. It made a big difference just to be clean and de-cluttered.

  24. I always love when I go to an open house and I smell a nice candle. It makes it feel much more like home! Thanks for sharing these tips!

  25. Hey Myra, Great tips! The tips you have mentioned in this article is really impressive and also very beneficial to me in the near future. Thanks for sharing the valuable information with us and I loved your post.Hope to learn more RE tips from your side.

  26. Curb appeal is important! These are all very true. We sold our house freaking fast last year. We worked our booties off decluttering and boxing stuff up. We lucked out with an amazing agent made things faster and we are all grateful of the result.

  27. This is important to remove unnecessary items from the home to sell it faster. It will make space in your home through that your home will look bigger. These strategies buyers can attract easily. Thanks for such useful tips!

  28. I’ve been planning to sell my residential home; that’s why I’m currently looking for a real estate company that would help me out. I’m glad you shared this by the way; I’ll make sure to start decorating my home with neutral colors, so it’ll appear more appealing to the buyers. I also like your idea of whipping up some bread or cookies during the buyer’s home tour, so they will experience a great smell swirling around the home.

  29. Thanks for telling me to keep the decorations and things minimal just in case interested buyers would visit our house. The property where we live has a lot of rooms and a huge lawn but we only realized later that we weren’t able to maintain it properly. It might be a good idea to consult a real estate agent and see what else we can do before selling our house.

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  31. These are brilliant tips! I have pleased to read the entirety of the post as mentioned above in detail. I hope people will get a lot of points from this post and make a decision. By the way, I am going to share the on my Twitter page to see my followers.

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