How to Stage a House (& Why)
If you plan on moving this summer, you might be curious about how to stage a house so it sells quicker and for more money.
But what exactly is home staging and why do you need it? Isn’t a nicely decorated house good enough?
Here at Cento Family Moving & Storage, we’re moving experts, not real estate experts, so we reached out to MaryBeth Luiz, Owner of Property Love in Orlando, Florida for her insight on how to stage a house for sale (and why you’d want to).
Why Should I Stage My House?
I keep my house clean whenever there’s a showing and I’m a pretty good decorator…do I still need to stage my home?
“Home staging is necessary in today’s market, as the competition is fierce,” says Luiz. “Staged homes allow prospective buyers to identify a purpose for each space and also envision themselves in the home.”
Home staging is different from decorating it or doing a pre-showing clean up. When you decorated your home, you made it your own, but it’s the opposite when learning how to stage a house. Instead, you want to turn your home into a beautiful blank slate so that prospective home buyers can imagine themselves living there…not you.
According to a survey by the National Association of Realtors, 83% of buyer’s agents said that staging made it easier for their buyers to visualize the property as a future home and nearly 40% reported a 1-10% increase in selling price.
How to Stage a House With a Professional
Sometimes it’s hard to see your house through a buyer’s eyes. That’s where a professional home stager can help.
“My personal goal as a home stager is to make you feel as though you are home as soon as you walk in the door,” Luiz says. But it can be difficult to do that if someone else’s family photos are on the mantle.
According to a 2019 study by The National Association of Realtors, the median amount spent on home staging services was just $400. That’s an easy investment for something that could increase your home’s selling price and decrease its time on the market.
Tips for Staging Your Home
For those who would rather go the DIY route, these tips for staging your home will help your property put its best foot forward.
Make sure your home is beautifully and properly staged before your realtor takes any photos of your house for the listing. Buyers will likely see the photos before they see the house, and they won’t want to come for an up-close look if the photos are nothing to brag about.
If you have the time and money, you may even want to stage your house after you’ve moved out, to ensure that everything stays as pretty as the picture.
Here are 10 tips on how to stage a house to impress any buyer.
1. Give It Curb Appeal
Whether buyers first see your house online or in person, the exterior is the first thing they will see.
Give buyers a great first impression by refreshing any chipped or fading paint, adding some new plants, pressure washing any stained areas, and creating a welcoming entrance.
It’s one of the best things you can do to stage your home but also one of the most exhausting: keeping your house perfectly clean.
Whether you love to clean or not, there’s no denying that homes simply look nicer, bigger, and better maintained when they’re clean. “A clean, clutter free, and organized home is the first step to making your home feel inviting,” says Luiz, so get the entire household on board with getting it clean and keeping it that way.
Hire a professional cleaning company to take care of the areas you routinely ignore and consider bringing them in every couple of months while your house is on the market (if it even takes that long). Have your carpets professionally steam cleaned to refresh the fibers and get out any stains and keep the place looking clean at all times. This means emptying garbage cans at least once a day (or at least right before a showing), cleaning up messes as soon as you make them, and doing a thorough wipe-down and vacuuming every day.
The process is tiresome, but the results are well worth it.
3. Remove Clutter
Another part of making your home look clean and well-decorated is making sure it looks organized. “When it comes to staging,” says Luiz, “less is more.”
A messy, cluttered home could signal to buyers that there isn’t enough storage, so leave plenty of empty space.
Pack up lesser-used items (you’re moving anyway, right?) and stick them in a storage unit. Keep counters clear and leave plenty of space in each room for walking around. If you have young children, place boxes in (hidden) strategic spots, like under the bed, to quickly “clean up” before a showing.
Buyers may not peek under the bed, but they certainly will take a look at what storage space you have, so organize all the closets and pantries. Just as with the rest of the house, leaving plenty of empty space (or even an empty shelf, if you can afford it) will make your closets seem bigger than they really are.
4. Make Repairs
Potential buyers don’t have the information (or imagination) to know what your home has been through…or how well it will stand up to continued use. They might see just one or two broken items and assume the whole house is falling apart.
Take the time now to fix any broken appliances, hardware, or structural issues that could create doubt in buyers’ minds. Remember, now is not the time for costly renovations. Just focus on making your home look well-constructed and livable.
5. Remove Your Personal Touch
You love your family, friends, and pets. You cheer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers every football season. You collect and decorate with vintage comic books. These kind of personal details are great info for a dating profile, but your buyers won’t be as swayed by who or what you love.
Remove personal items (like family photos) to make your home feel more like the buyers’ home. Now is the chance to imitate those magazine spreads you love. The buyers will feel like they’re purchasing a showcase.
6. Include All Rooms
When staging your house to sell, it can be tempting to focus only on the major living spaces. But remember, buyers will want to examine the whole house before they feel ready to make an offer, so don’t forget about your bedrooms, bathrooms, dining room tables, garage, and outdoor spaces.
Set the table with a set of pretty dishes and an attractive centerpiece. Light some candles in the bathroom and bring out some decorative soaps. Clean out or organize the garage. Keep everyone’s bed made and the bedrooms picked up.
Even if you’re continuing to live in the house you’re trying to sell, consider the house as if it’s already sold and don’t allow yourselves to “move back in.”
7. Rearrange Furniture
Creating a more comfortable furniture arrangement can make a room feel bigger as well as more inviting. Start by removing at least one piece of furniture from every room (this will make any room automatically seem bigger). Next, arrange furniture for aesthetics, not what’s easiest or most convenient for your lifestyle.
Feel free to move artwork and furniture to different rooms in order to show everything to its best advantage. Your realtor might have some experience with this, so ask his/her advice when rearranging, or enlist the help of a friend with a good eye for design.
8. Lay Out the Red Carpet
When bringing potential buyers into your home, make sure you put out a welcome mat…literally. Make buyers feel special by setting out a pretty welcome mat at the front door and filling your home with inviting scents, sights, and other treats.
Fresh flowers, fancy towels, homemade cookies, and other touches of hospitality will create an association in the buyers’ mind that your house = home. Open the window coverings to make everything feel light and bright.
Making buyers feel like a million bucks could entice them to offer a million bucks…or, you know, at least your asking price.
9. Show the Possibilities
If your home has awkward spaces, add a few items to suggest how buyers might use them.
For example, a recessed space in the living room can be staged with throw pillows and a stack of books to create a cozy “reading nook.” A breakfast tray with cups and a small bud vase can turn a previously unusable patio into a cute spot for morning coffee.
The areas that might have seemed “ho-hum” at best are now amazing selling points.
10. Tips & Tricks
What if you have a really small, awkward, dark, or empty room that you don’t know what to do with? A few simple tricks can turn a “liability” into an asset.
To make dark rooms more inviting, scatter different light sources around the room at different heights. A good rule of thumb is 100 watts for every 50 square feet. Buy some inexpensive floor or table lamps if you don’t already have them.
You can make small spaces seem bigger by carrying the paint color into an adjacent room. (The continuous color makes it seem like one big space.)
If you have an empty room but no money to furnish it, use the excess items you removed from your other rooms to stage the unused space.
Home staging can sound intimidating, but it’s well worth it if you want to sell your home quickly.
Whether you hire a professional home stager for one room or the entire house, make sure you take the process seriously. If it’s important to buyers, it should be important to you!
When it comes time for your next move, these home staging tips should come in handy, but so can we! Cento Family Moving is always ready to take you on your next relocation adventure. Call us today for a free quote.