How to Stage a Home to Sell

Make sure your house makes a great first impression on buyers with these 7 steps to stage a home.

Amanda Thomas,
Episode #166

The real estate market these days can be very competitive. With property values going up, more and more houses are getting listed to sell. The more homes in your area are for sale, the more competition there is to get buyers to pay attention to your home when you list it. If you are listing your home to sell, you want to make sure your home is in tip-top condition to attract the most and best buyers.

While staging a home may seem like something that only needs to be done with fancy homes, there are certain things buyers of all price points are looking for. Not only do staged homes create better pictures for the MLS listing, which in turn gets more buyers to visit, but they also help buyers start to envision how they could make your home into their new home. By investing a weekend or two in these ideas, you’ll likely be able to sell your home the quickly and more profitably than if you didn’t stage it at all.

The tips today are only going to focus on the inside of the house, but remember that home buyers are going to be looking closely at the outdoor spaces too. Make sure your home makes a great first impression by cleaning up your front landscaping and fixing up your front entry.

Step 1: Declutter

Open any home magazine, and you’ll see examples of perfectly staged rooms and homes. If you look closely, there is one thing you won’t see in those pictures, and that’s clutter. There won’t be any piles of laundry, shelves full of collectables, or tables full of papers. The closets they feature won’t have clothes overflowing from drawers and hangers sticking out sideways because they can’t get crammed onto the hanging bar. That’s because no one thinks clutter is pretty.

Now, decluttering your home to stage it for market can be a little tricky. The problem is that you are going to still need to live in the house until it sells. So, you need to hold on to the things that you need to function in the house. The good news is that most of the stuff in our homes isn’t actually getting used. I’ve talked with a number of other home organizers, and we all agree that most people only use about one-fourth to one-third of the items in their homes. This means that you can probably pack up about 70% of the stuff in your home, and not miss it one bit.

Yes, I am indeed telling you to pack up 70% of the stuff you have in your home right now. It will make your house appear like it has tons of space, and lots of room for the buyers to move right on in. This includes decluttering your walls, and removing any personal items, like family pictures and diplomas. You want buyers to picture themselves in your home, not you living in your home.

To keep your stuff nice and safe while it’s out of your home, pack it in boxes, label it, and then order a portable storage container to be delivered to your home. You can pack up all the stuff you need to store, and the storage company will come back to haul away the container for safe keeping until they deliver it at the next destination.

Step 2: Finish All Your Projects

Imagine walking into what you think could be your dream home. You are falling in love with the big windows in the living room, and the custom cabinets in the kitchen. But then you see the bathroom that looks like it’s from 1987, and even worse, it's half torn apart. Most home buyers want a home that is move-in ready, so seeing your unfinished projects may scare them away.

Other things that can scare them away are projects that were completed, but without the essential finishing touches. A great example of this is if you have any water damage on your ceilings. The water damage could have been from something as simple as an overflowing condensate line, and you probably fixed the problem already. But if you didn’t put the finishing touches and fix the drywall and paint, home buyers are going to immediately assume the house has a leaky roof. Finish all the projects that have been started around your house to give buyers the peace of mind they need when looking at your home.

Step 3: Determine a Purpose for Every Space

You know that room you use as a storage room or junk room? That’s not going to cut it when you stage your home to sell. Buyers want to see how much livable space there is in a house, so each and every room needs to have a purpose. Make sure all rooms show how someone can live in them, like as a bedroom, an office, or if you’re short on furniture, a reading or meditation room. By showing the many ways potential buyers can live in each room of your home, you are giving them reasons to buy your home instead of the one down the street.

Even your storage areas should have a purpose. Whether it’s a utility room, a closet, a garage, or even a pantry, all of these areas should be decluttered and given a purpose as well. Show potential buyers how roomy the linen closet is by having just a few neatly folded towels in it. Display the amazing work station in your garage by making sure the countertops are clean and accessible. While most buyers won’t open every cabinet in your home, you can expect them to open every door to see how much storage space the home has, so make sure you have these areas looking their best as well.


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