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Staging Your Home for Resale

Updated on March 30, 2018

You Only Have One Chance To Make A Great First Impression

Selling a home can be a daunting task in any economy. It can be incredibly difficult to compete with all of the other properties on the market.

It is generally agreed that an investment in updating and/or making your house look fresh and cared for will cost less than your first price reduction. If your house is not appealing to more buyers, you can be sure you'll end up reducing the price

I'm going to show you how to stage your home so that it sells in the shortest period of time for the most money.

What Is Staging?

Staging a home for resale means preparing it so that it will appeal to the most number of buyers.

If it is properly staged your home will sell in less time and for more money! That's a fact.

Where Should You Begin Staging Your Home? - At the front door for Curb Appeal

There's a lot of truth to the old saying, "You only have one chance to make a good first impression."

There are studies that show that buyers will make up their minds whether or not they like a house within one minute of seeing it for the first time.

If the property doesn't look good from the outside, they won't want to see the inside.

  1. The first thing you need to do is to stand in front of your home to really look at the first impression buyers will have when they first drive up to your home.
  2. The front door should look fresh and new. If it doesn't look fresh and new, give it a new coat of paint or stain. If the hardware is old, replace it. If the threshhold is in disrepair, replace it.
  3. Repaint the house and/or the trim, if needed. Potential buyers will want to enter the house if it looks cared for on the outside.
  4. Is the lawn green and weed-free? Does it need to be mowed and trimmed?
  5. How about shrubs and trees? Are those that are already growing in good shape or do they need attention?
  6. If it's growing season be sure to plant flowers. Even a pot or two of brightly colored flowers near the door will let people know that you value your home and want it to be attractive.
  7. Is the driveway in good condition? How does your mailbox look if it's near the street?

What's The First Impression As You Enter The Home? - Is Your Entryway Bright and Clean?

When you enter your house, does it appear to be welcoming and bright?

  1. Clear away any clutter that greets you as you enter the home. Shoes, coats, toys, etc. cluttering up the entry way are definite no-no's.
  2. Open your entry closet. How does it look? Pack away any out-of-season clothing and remove jackets and other clothing that you don't use on a regular basis. The bigger that closet looks, the better.
  3. Is the floor nice and clean? Do you have a fresh rug for guests to step on when they enter?

It must be white glove clean!

A sparkling clean home will tell buyers that this home is well-cared for.

Before Listing Your Home You Should...

Start Packing Now!

That's right. Obtain a bunch of moving boxes and pack away anything that you don't need for everyday living. It's especially important for your closets and cupboards to look tidy and spacious and they won't if they're crammed with dishes, linens, clothing, etc.

If that task seems daunting just remember that you're going to have to do it sooner or later (preferably sooner, right?) so the sooner you do it the better.

1) Start by determining what you can live without. Do you need your good china? Can you keep two sets of linens for each bed and pack the rest? Do you really have to have ten sets of towels available at all times?

2) How about cooking supplies? If you don't use your waffle iron or crock pot on a regular basis, could you pack those just until you move? If you rarely use them at all, consider selling them in a garage sale or donating them to a shelter.

3) How many toys and books do the kids really have to have at their fingertips? What about books, videos, computer games?

Just take the time to evaluate what you really need and get rid of the rest - one way or another. You will be amazed at how much more organized your house will look.

An Uncluttered Living Room

An Uncluttered Living Room
An Uncluttered Living Room

Go Through Each Room With An Objective Eye

What can you eliminate?

Check each room to see if it looks cluttered or spacious. Does it need to be freshly painted?

Is there a beautiful view or a focal point that's hidden? Try to make the most of the best features of the room such as a fireplace or a lovely view.

Do you have too much furniture? Can you look at the room and really see the room - not the furnishings in the room? A general rule of thumb is to reduce the pieces in the room by one-third. That's a good starting point.

For example, my little dining nook has a round table with four chairs and a baker's rack. It's darling. Very Martha Stewart.

BUT I would need to lose the baker's rack before lising the house.

Why? Because the dining nook will look much larger if that baker's rack is gone.

Another example: I also have stacks of cookbooks (very neatly arranged, mind you) on a sideboard. I consider it part of my decorating scheme. Looks good. Plus, I'm a good cook and I use those cookbooks.

BUT I would definitely need to pack those cookbooks (and lots of other things) before listing the house.

Why? Because, not only will the kitchen look larger but it will be less distracting for a potential buyer.

My Closet Before Staging

My Closet Before Staging
My Closet Before Staging

Bedroom Closets - Important!

You can be sure that serious potential buyers will open closets and cupboards. Keep them tidy.

This "Before" picture of my closet shows that I am often in a rush and just shove stuff in there to get it out of the way. So the rest of the room looks nice and tidy. It's a "quick fix".

Well, opening the closet door might indicate to a potential buyer that I'm sloppy about home maintenance - even if I'm not. And I'm not - it's just that I'm not ALWAYS tidy.

But the potential buyer doesn't know me. They can only make a judgement based on what they see when they tour my home.

My Closet After Staging

My Closet After Staging
My Closet After Staging

Speaking of Closets...

Here's my closet after I tidied it up. Took maybe 15 minutes and I accumulated a few nice offerings for the local goodwill.

By the way, we have two closets in our master bedroom. My husband's closet is a walk-in closet. Yup, he's got twice as many clothes as I do.

His closet needs staging, of these days before we actually put the house on the market I'll do that.

What's the Bottom Line?

Look at your rooms with a very discerning eye. Be as objective as you can. Be ruthless!!

The bottom line is "You will sell your house faster and for more money" if you stage it right!

Update Rooms, if Possible

A little effort can yield huge returns if you can turn an outdated feature into a brand new space. You sure don't need to "gut" a room to give it a whole new feel.

The kitchen below is an example of that. These homeowners replaced the countertops and sink but even if you painted or put fresh stain on your cabinets and added a backsplash, you'd have a fresh, new space. Just changing out the hardware would be a positive change, as well.

The Kitchen - Before

The Kitchen - Before
The Kitchen - Before

The Kitchen - After

The Kitchen - After
The Kitchen - After

Overwhelmed By Everything?

Lower Your Stress Level - Hire Help!

This website can help you locate, compare and hire temporary help to make your homestaging job go smoothly.

Whether it's a quick cleaning before moving in, deep cleaning before moving out, or just all around help with chores around the home, cleaning helpers are at your service!

Don't have the time or physical ability to carry heavy objects? Hire a couple moving helpers to provide moving help for you: (2 Helpers x 4 hours = Approx $120*).

Check it out!


Pack away your family photos.

As cute as those kids are, you need to pack up those framed photos.

Ditto for your mega collections of Precious Moments or Hotwheels, etc.

Keep a few, if you must, but pack most of your collections away. They will just be distractions and that's a bad thing.

You want potential buyers to see and remember the rooms NOT all your personal photos and collectibles. You want the buyer to see how spacious your home is.

You want the buyer to be able to visualize living in that house.

Rent A Storage Unit, Have A Garage Sale, Donate to Charity

In other words, clear out as much as possible...

It's a very good idea to rent a storage unit for all those boxes that you're packing. It's also an excellent place for storing extra furniture.

Not only does this give you the chance for some early packing, but it also will show you that there are lots of you possessions that you really don't need at all. Storing everything for a few weeks gives you time to determine what you really want to move.

So what to do with the furniture, clothing and other things you no longer need or want? Have a garage sale. Or better yet, donate to you local charity store.

Garage Sale Stuff - Everything you sell you won't have to pack!

The key to a successful garage or tag sale is really to price everything right. You'll make more money in the long run and everything will sell faster.

And at this important time - trying to sell your house - time is of the essence!

Photo courtesy of REAL ESTAGING

O.K., you've got your house all staged and listed with a realtor. What now?

Keep your house looking clean and tidy and ready to show at a moment's notice.

If you have children, explain to them that it's important to keep their rooms tidy. But first you have to set a good example.

It's great advice even if you're not moving, actually.

When the Realtor Calls for an Appointment to Show - Set the Stage...

These are tried and true ideas.

Photo courtesy ofGreenbroke

Bake cookies or bread when you know your home is going to be shown. The smell of homemade baked goods is irresistible and gives a warm and cozy impression.

You don't have to bake from scratch...that takes time and is messy. Keep slice and bake cookies or a cookie mix (there are some great cookie mixes out there) in your refrigerator or cupboard. Takes ten minutes to bake a tray of cookies.

Or you could simmer a pot of cinnamon sticks or apple cider spices for a short time. You can burn a scented candle or two for an hour or so, too, but just make sure it's a "baking" scent. Flowery scented candles might give the impression you're trying to cover up an unpleasant odor. Just be sure to blow out the candles and turn off the stove before you leave.

Keep a basket or a nice lidded box in each of your bedrooms - especially the kids' rooms. It's easy to zip through the room and toss loose items into the box or basket.

Turn on lamps and lights. If you have ceiling fans and it's summer, turn those on, too.

Have a photo album available on the kitchen counter or table with photos of your gardens or your yard at different times of the year. If you have lots of flowering shrubbery like lilacs or hydrangias or flowering trees, be sure to have pictures showing how gorgeous they are when they're in bloom.

Moving extra large items? A car, a boat or maybe a horse?

If you need to move large extra car, boat, or even a these professionals for a quote.

Need A Reference Book?

Learn all there is to learn in one fell swoop!!

Useful tips, constructive criticism and experiences you've had are all welcome here.

Got A Tip? Share it here!

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    • KateHonebrink profile image


      6 years ago

      Wonderful lens! Very thorough and complete! I am always shocked when I go to various open houses and discover how many homes are not staged or even very clean! Astounding! Every home deserves to be staged and looking the very best it can!

    • CherylK profile imageAUTHOR

      Cheryl Kohan 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      @julieannbrady: I love that foyer, too, Julie. I know what you mean...we'd love to downsize but the market is just to "IFFY" right now. But I promise that staging will make a huge difference when the time is right.

    • CherylK profile imageAUTHOR

      Cheryl Kohan 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      @SarahHappens: You were very smart! I'm so glad this worked for you. Thanks for stopping by!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I really love that foyer example ... it reminds me of my "last place" that went to the ex. [sob] ... I just recently met with my real estate agent, who listed the house that I bought, to contemplate selling it. After seeing the figures that I would lose at least $15K [sob] I opted to hold off. If I do sell, I might have to do it myself ... so it is good to know staging tips!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great tips! I agree that you positively must do all the things you mentioned. We did all those things, plus a few other things, and had multiple over the asking price offers. We sealed the deal within 36 hours of the first agents-only open house!

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 

      9 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Excellent tips! When we bought our first home, we knew we'd be there for at least a couple of years while we did a complete makeover on it, inside and out, but we knew we'd sell it not long after that. Basically, I kept it "staged" the whole time we were there (partly because I prefer my house that way all the time). And the home sold to the first person who looked it and for close to what we were asking, though the economy was already slipping at the time. The things you suggest really do work!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Get a pro stager to do a consult at a minimum before you sell your home! They see things sellers don't - sellers live in the home so they stop seeing things which might be *show stoppers* for buyers. Trust me, its worth the investment!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Terrific lens!Very good

    • jfield profile image


      10 years ago

      Very good lens. Rolled it to my 2 real estate lenses. Thanks!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      This is a terrific lens with great information and photos. This book really helped me to stage my home which helped me to get a quick sale.

      Home Staging Success

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      great tips here.


    • Janet2221 profile image


      10 years ago

      Terrific lens! Lots of great info here. 5*'s, lensrolled to my Real Estate FSBO lens and Blessed by a Squid Angel. :)

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      Ruth Coffee 

      10 years ago from Zionsville, Indiana

      I see more pictures on this page than previously...nice addition. They illustrate the point well.

    • CherylK profile imageAUTHOR

      Cheryl Kohan 

      10 years ago from Arizona

      Thanks to everyone for the kind comments. Jaguar Julie, you're one in a million...and rockycha, your suggestion about baking cookies is great - will add it in a module, too.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Cheryl, Cheryl, Cheryl ... I absolutely LOVE that foyer picture with the high ceilings and yellow walls ... I think if we try REAL hard, we could get our entry to look like that charming picture you found. You know, this is a very helpful, straightforward type of lens that should help lots of people! ;-)

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Outstanding lens! High Fives :) One of my best tips is check your smells - bake some cookies, leave them out for the showing, people love that!

    • Winter52 LM profile image

      Winter52 LM 

      10 years ago

      Just took a second look at our front foyer and no extra flip flops by the front door. ;) I'm slipping!! Thanks for the nudge.

    • cannedguds lm profile image

      cannedguds lm 

      10 years ago

      Very informative lens you've got here, CherylK! I'm sure my wife will find this very educational if she wants to learn more how to become a home stager. I would also like to share to you this site that helped her decide in becoming a house doctor. I'm sure you would love this one, too! Your lens has just earned 20 decorative stars!

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      Ruth Coffee 

      10 years ago from Zionsville, Indiana

      Excellent suggestions, very helpful for those in the process of selling their home.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      We have just decided to put our house on the market - what timing to now be introduced to this lens!! ***** for such great advice.

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 

      10 years ago from Royalton

      I love your suggestions. Many of them would be great to take into account on a daily basis.

      You might like to check out my Natural Bathroom Décor lens.


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