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How to Stage a House For Sale: The Ultimate Guide


how to stage a house for sale

Are you looking to sell your home?

In today’s competitive market it’s not enough to present some pretty pictures of your home. You need to sell it and give buyers a reason to choose your house over the many other similar ones on the market.

Staging your home is the best way to show off everything it has to offer and provide that reason. But if you’ve never staged a home before you might not know why you should go to the effort.

What benefits can it actually bring? Where would you even start if you did want to stage it?

Don’t worry, we’re here to help! Keep reading for our ultimate guide on how to stage a house for sale to get you started.

What Does House Staging Mean?

Staging a home is a selling tactic to add appeal to your home. It’s where you have a strategic arrangement of furnishings and decor to make your home look the best it can.

Home staging design is a fine art and takes skill and a keen eye for detail. It also takes knowledge of what appeals the most to local buyers in your area for your type of home.

How you stage your home will depend on your individual situation. In some cases, homeowners declutter and refresh their furniture and decor. For others, they move all their belongings into storage and rent decor and furniture.

Whatever method you choose, the goal is to present your home at its best. You want to draw in buyers to think about how their life would fit into your space, how it would work for them. You’re presenting a blank canvas for them to project their future on.

The selling process (and buying) is emotional. There is a lot of stress and pressure on both sides. This blank canvas lets potential buyers envision your house not as a property, but as a home.

Staging a House: What Are the Actual Benefits?

The NAR (National Associations of Realtors)’s Profile of Home Staging details the pros. They have a very strong case for why it benefits both owners and buyers.

It’s worth a read if you want to learn more, but we’ll go into an overview here. We’ll look at the specifics and statistics around home staging. We’ll also look at the role it plays in an effective, efficient sale to get you the offer you deserve.

Buyers Are More Decisive and Know What They Want

In the NAR’s home staging survey, agents state that 76% of buyers know what their ideal home is. They’ve figured this out before they even start to look for homes in a serious manner.

Home staging makes it easier for buyers to find homes that meet their expectations. It shows off the space a home has to offer in a way that maximizes its appeal.

Without home staging, it could prevent buyers from visualizing your home. To decide whether your home fits their ideals, they need to be able to imagine how your space will work for them.

Among those who responded, 47% said home staging had an effect on how they saw the homes they viewed. That’s compared to only 7% who said it had no impact at all.

The stats speak for themselves, and it puts you at an advantage. It gives you the power to put your home in a positive light for buyers. You have a chance to influence them before they step through the door.

Staging Highlights Potential For the Future Not the Present

Any interior designer will tell you that designing and living in a house is very personal. Everyone has their own unique tastes, styles, and personality. Not to mention that homes come in all shapes, sizes, and styles too.

But one of the most important home staging design tips is to not make it personal. It’s time to put buyers first, not your own personal tastes. If you want to sell, your home needs to appeal to buyers.

82% of agents acting for buyers said staging a house makes it easier for buyers to visualize the property. And 41% said that knowing a home was being staged made buyers more willing to go see homes they had seen online.

Agents will tell you that one of the major hurdles is getting buyers through the door. So, it makes sense that home staging would help in this regard.

You’re never going to please everyone or be able to predict each buyer’s exact tastes. But, you give your home a broad appeal that should invoke thought from the most buyers possible. The more you appeal to buyers’ hopes for the future, the more attractive your home will seem to them.

Staging Your Home Shows Off Its Key Spaces

Not all the rooms in your home have equal importance to buyers. So, they won’t have equal importance for staging a home. 46% of buyers said that the living room was important to them, and 43% also said the master bedroom.

Only 11% found the children’s bedroom very important, with 9% saying the same for guest bedrooms. Bathrooms came out at 20% and yard space might surprise you at 23%.

This is great news if you’re on a budget and can’t afford to stage all the rooms in your home. If you know which ones are most important to local buyers, you can make them a priority. This will give you the biggest returns for the least amount of effort (and cash).

Speaking with local agents will give you an idea of what rooms local buyers value the most. After living rooms and master bedrooms, the NAR’s survey has kitchens and dining rooms.

Great home staging will show off these areas at their best. It will also highlight any period features that you want to show off, things like:

  • Original hardwood floors
  • Period fireplaces
  • Original plasterwork

There are a lot of period features that appeal to buyers. Home staging gives you a chance to show those off to their full potential, adding further appeal.

The Right Staging Can Increase Your Home’s Value

Another huge benefit that staging your home brings is the fact it can increase your home’s value. Around a quarter of buyers’ agents said that staging increased the price offered by 1-5%.

Sellers’ agents said the same, with 23% mirroring these findings. And 18% said it actually increased the offering prices by 6-10%! No sellers agents reported a negative effect from home staging on the offering price.

As such, there could be a lot to gain by staging your home. It’s worth talking to an agent about how staging could boost your home’s appeal. It’s a lot of effort, and while you won’t lose anything make sure your agent thinks the returns are there.

For example, for homes with unique features or decor, it could be a huge selling point to have your home staged.

Staging can Reduce the Time Your Home Spends on the Market

One of the worst things that can happen when you’re selling your home is it becomes a stale listing. This is a home that’s been on the market for a long period of time and hasn’t had any offers.

The longer a house sits on the market, the harder it’ll be to find a buyer. Anyone looking for homes will wonder why your home isn’t selling. They’ll start to think that something serious must be wrong with it.

Your goal, when selling your home, should be to get it sold in as few days as possible. The NAR survey looked at the average time homes took to sell.

22% said they saw a slight decrease in how long homes with staging took to sell. And 31% of sellers agents noticed a significant decrease in the time staged homes spent on the market.

The reason why staged homes tend to sell faster is simple, and as stated above. It comes down to one thing: staging helps buyers see themselves living in a property. They can view the potential a space might hold, and make an easier, clearer decision of if it works for them.

How Much Would It Cost to Stage a Home?

As each property is unique, the cost of staging a home tends to be too. It depends on the space you want to stage and the features you want to highlight. It also depends on the extent you want to go to when staging your home.

Some homeowners, if their home has dated decor or a very unique style, might decide to redecorate. For other homes, it might be a case of a few new statement furniture pieces. Or even only needing to consider the current layout of a room to make it work better.

One thing that’s true is if you do the research, effective staging doesn’t have to break the bank. You’re looking at $150-$600 for the initial consultation with a home stager. After that, you’re looking at $400-$700 per room for each month you need it.

It will be an investment, but if you do it right, your home shouldn’t be on the market for longer than a month. And remember, you don’t have to stage every room, you can focus on the rooms buyers care the most about. If it boosts the offer price of your home, it could even end up paying for itself.

In some cases, if you’re using an agent, they will pay for the staging of your home. This is because it will make their jobs easier. They’ll sell your home faster and for a higher price if the circumstances are right.

In other cases, you’d need to call in the help of a professional home stager. If you do this, then you’ll be the one responsible for paying the fees. For those with experience and an eye for detail, some even take on the task of staging themselves.

Staging a House: How to Do It

Regardless of if your agent stages your home, a professional or you do it yourself, you need to know how it’s done. Understanding how to get the best staging results can only give you an advantage. So, here are some top home staging tips to get the results you deserve.

De-personalize Your Home

One of the main reasons you’re staging your home is to help buyers picture their lives there. The first step to achieving this is to create as blank a canvas as possible. You might love the personal items you’ve acquired over time, but the buyers don’t need to see them.

This isn’t to mean you’re taking the personality out of your home. You still want a home that’s stylish and packed with charm. It should be a general charm though, without any of your personal touches. You shouldn’t remind the buyer it’s your home, you should remind them of how this space could be theirs.

Take down any personal photos from both the walls and any furniture or displays. This should also include items hanging on your fridge. Keep your clothes stored out of sight and clear the bathroom counters. It might be annoying, but for viewings, this should include items like toothbrushes.

While it will feel weird to live in your home without your personal items, it will pay off. It’s one of the most impactful ways to help buyers get an emotional connection with your property.

Remove Clutter

The next essential step to staging a home is cleaning, and purging the space of clutter. A clean home that’s clutter-free will appear bigger, and show off your home’s features more.

Take your clutter and knick-knacks and store them. Don’t shove them in a closet, as buyers will open those up. Use this as a chance to start packing for your own move and consider renting a storage unit.

Once you’ve decluttered, do a thorough deep clean of your home. You want your kitchen and bathroom to shine, and make sure your toilet is clean with the lid shut.

Open all the windows to let in the clean, fresh air. Avoid scented candles and air fresheners as they could irritate allergies. You won’t know if a buyer has those, so it’s not worth the risk. If there is room in your budget, it’s worth hiring a professional cleaning service.

Choose Neutral Colors

This home staging design tip is a little more involved, but it could make a huge difference. It could give you that extra edge to reduce time on the market, and improve your sale price.

We understand that everyone’s personality is different. Your home plays a big part in expressing yourself. You might love those purple walls or bright red master bedroom, but to buyers that could be a turn-off.

Bold colors can detract from your room’s features, and make spaces look smaller. It also signifies you in a very personal way, it’s your personality splashed over each wall. That’s not helpful for buyers who want to envision their future in your home.

One of the best ways to stage your home is to paint over any bright, out-there colors. Choose neutral colors instead, like grays, whites, and beiges. Use white to paint the ceilings and any woodwork for an extra fresh look.

Buyers might want to paint with their own bright colors, but a neutral canvas lets them make their choice.

Get as Much Light as Possible

Brighter, airier rooms will have more appeal than dark ones. They also look more spacious and open too. Make sure all your blinds and curtains are open, letting in as much light as possible.

Get appealing light fixtures that help to add more artificial light if you need it. You don’t want lamps that are dingy, dated, or dim.

While you should use as much natural light as you can, it’s not always possible. In those cases, it’s better to use artificial light. So, replace any fixtures that aren’t giving enough.

Consider the color of the lighting too. Whiter lights will look closer to daylight. The Kelvin rating on the box should help you work out the right bulb. Soft white bulbs rank between 2700-3000K. To mimic daylight, get as close to 5000-6500K as you can.

Do Your Repairs

When preparing to stage your home use this time to tackle those little repairs you’ve put off. This include fixes for:

  • Scratches and nicks
  • Holes
  • Wobbly doorknobs
  • Dripping taps

A good place to start is using a melamine foam eraser on the walls to remove scuff marks. As you go through each room, give it a once over. Look for other jobs that need doing and areas that could use a bit of sprucing up.

If you aren’t repainting in full, look for areas that could use a little touch-up. You’ll want to refresh chipped paint for a fresh, clean look. Most buyers look for homes they can move right into without needing major works.

A scruffy home could show you didn’t put effort into its upkeep. They might worry that the little repairs hide bigger ones, which could end up costing them in the future. Once they believe that, they could walk away and you could lose a sale.

Spruce Up Your Furniture

A general rule most staging experts agree with says you should remove about 1/2 of your furniture. This might be difficult given that you’re still living in your home but the payoff is worth it.

With less furniture, it will showcase the available space to make it look as big as possible. This will be more appealing to buyers, as they can start to think about how their furniture would fit into the room.

If your furniture isn’t showroom-worthy, or you’ve already stored it you can rent some. Nice, new, modern pieces give a fresh look and feel to a room. It makes it look like a home, without overwhelming with personality.

Stick to neutral pieces that buyers can swap out for their own furniture in their minds. You want to give a cozy, lived-in feel still, it’s a fine balance. Too bare and it’ll be hard for buyers to picture how your space will work.

Arrange Your Furniture

Once you’ve decided what furniture to use (your own pared down or rented), you need to arrange it. Position the chairs, couches, and tables away from any walls.

This is a design technique called “floating” and you anchor these pieces with the use of a rug. Do this even in carpeted rooms. It will create a cozy, intimate feel.

Buyers will imagine having friends over for dinner at the dining room table. Or they’ll think about watching the latest sports game with them in the living room.

Staged homes shouldn’t feel lifeless and empty, that’s not what they’re designed for. They’re designed to give buyers the vision and tools to see the space working as a home and how it accomplishes it.

Spruce Up Your Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is what realtors refer to when they talk about how your house looks from the outside. There’s no point staging your home to appeal to buyers if they’re not going to give it a second look from the outside.

Remember, you need to get them through the front door. So they don’t drive up, gasp, and turn around again, make sure you do the following:

  • Clean the windows
  • Jet-wash driveways and walkways
  • Make sure the house number is visible
  • Trim overgrowing hedges and trees
  • Mow the lawn
  • Have planters or plant some appealing flowers
  • Consider a welcome mat and outdoor furniture for your porch

These little touches will go a long way when buyers first pull up to your home. You don’t get a second chance at first impressions so you need to wow them from the start.

Add the Little Touches

No home staging is complete without the little touches. Small additions go a long way to make your space feel more welcoming and cozy.

It might sound silly, but think of how nice the smell of cookies or fresh bread is. Bake some, and have a small spread for buyers to enjoy. Some light refreshments can’t hurt either.

Use items that aren’t personal, but will add a homey feel like some decorative vases, or nice artwork. If you don’t like how these items look, you can store them away when you don’t have viewings.

How to Stage a House For Sale: A Worthwhile Investment

So, there you have it! Now you’ve read this guide on how to stage a house for sale, you have all the information to make a choice.

There are benefits to staging your home if you’re going to sell using traditional methods. But staging your home will take money, time, and energy.

If you want to sell your house for its fair market value, but avoid the hassle of staging, get your instant home valuation today. Our online Home Value Estimator pulls market data to present you with the most accurate home value estimate in seconds.

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