Luxury living room with fireplace and large windows

How to Stage Your Home for Sale: The Complete Guide

If you’re trying to sell your home quickly, home staging could be your secret weapon. Learn how home staging works and if it’s right for you in our complete guide below!

Should You Stage Your Home?

Wondering how to get your house ready to sell? For most homes, staging has a positive impact. However, there are two variables to consider before deciding if staging a home is right for you.

Consider the Market

For sale sign in front of house. Photo by Instagram user @inlandempiresfavoriterealtor
Photo via @inlandempiresfavoriterealtor

Take stock of your local real estate market before making the decision to stage your home. If you’re in a city that’s experiencing a buyer’s market, then home staging might be worth it to help you sell your home faster and for top dollar. But if you live somewhere that’s seeing a seller’s market, it might not be cost-effective to spend time or money on home staging.

Analyze Your Home’s Condition

Kitchen with vintage sink. Photo by Instagram user @paper_and_pate_interior
Photo via @paper_and_pate_interior

If you have a property that’s in “fixer-upper” condition, you might want to consider selling your home as is because you’re unlikely to see a positive return on home staging. But there are other ways to market your property.

“A high-quality video with sound and music will be much more effective than trying to stage a property that may need work,” said Paul Esajian at Fortune Builders. “A stager will not replace the appliances or countertop. There is only so much that staging can do, so you shouldn’t expect miracles.”

Factor in Costs

Woman's hand on calculator near pile of invoices. Photo by Instagram user @marinahomesinc
Photo via @marinahomesinc

How much does it cost to stage a home? According to professional home stager Neil Bindelglass with Saratoga Senior Move Managers, an occupied home can cost between $3,000 to $5,000 for full staging while staging an empty house might be anywhere from $5,000 to $7,000. But these costs can vary greatly depending on what you need. Factors considered include:

  • If your home is vacant or occupied
  • How many rooms need to be staged
  • Duration of the staging
  • How extensively you plan to stage each room

Benefits of Staging Your Home

There are lots of reasons to stage your home. Getting your home off the market fast and garnering the biggest offer possible are the two most important factors.

Staged Homes Sell More Quickly

Staged living room. Photo by Instagram user @greenhouse_nyc
Photo via @greenhouse_nyc

Hoping to get your home off the market as soon as possible? A top tip for selling your home fast is to create a space where prospective buyers can imagine themselves living. According to a National Association of Realtors survey, 83% of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home.

Staged Properties Sell For More

Staged entryway near stairs. Photo by Instagram user @staged4more
Photo via @staged4more

Staging does more than get your home off the market quickly. It can also get you better offers. In fact, 39% percent of realtors surveyed said home staging increased the dollar value offered between 1-10%. This is largely because buyers will pay more for a home they love or that’s updated.

“Many of today’s buyers are looking for specific homes that won’t necessarily require a ton of work before moving in because, honestly, who has the time to gut and renovate?” said home stager Tori Toth. “Hence, buyers want move-in ready spaces they can enjoy instantaneously.”

First Home Staging Steps

Preparing your house for sale starts with letting go! Before bringing in a home staging expert or trying to tackle rooms yourself, try these ideas to ready the space.

Declutter & Depersonalize

Decluttered kitchen and dining area. Photo by Instagram user @ruffledthread
Photo via @ruffledthread

One of the first steps is to declutter your entire house. Anything that can be discarded should be, according to the team at Home Ingredients Staging. All items with personal significance to you—family photos, heirlooms, religious artifacts—should be put in storage. If you’re already in the process of moving into a new home, take this opportunity to expedite that process.

“Clients need to begin the packing process and mentally move into their new home,” said Sara Affonso of Styling Spaces Home Staging & Re-Design. “All clutter, personal photos, [and] personal objects should be packed away ready to assume their position in their new home.”

Break Out the Cleaning Supplies

Woman cleaning kitchen counter. Photo by Instagram user @vistamagcanada
Photo via @vistamagcanada

It might not be spring, but it’s time for spring cleaning! Making your home sparkle is a real estate marketing hack that anyone can tackle.

“Cleaning your home is a very important step in home staging,” said Jennifer McDougald of Legacy Home Staging. “I’m not referring to your regular household cleaning, which, of course, should still be done. I’m referring to deep cleaning your home and cleaning parts of your home that you have possibly not cleaned in a very long time, if ever.”

This is also an ideal time to update interior paint colors and make any minor wall repairs you can.

Give Every Room a Purpose

Staging home office in bonus room. Photo by Instagram user @compass_modern
Photo via @compass_modern

Of all the home staging ideas, giving each room a clear purpose is one of the most important. This not only helps potential buyers imagine what they can do with each room, but it also ensures that no room in your home is thought of as unusable space. Stage bonus spaces to function as a guest bedroom, home office, or playroom. Don’t forget to show off closets and storage rooms, too!

“If you’re living in the space, organize all areas, clear out closet floors, and remove unused hangers so that the closets feel larger,” the Home Ingredients Staging team said. “The idea is to demonstrate that there is ample storage available to the potential buyers.”

Don’t Forget Curb Appeal

Exterior of single-family home with red door. Photo by Instagram user @lexielongstreet
Photo via @lexielongstreet

First impressions are everything when it comes to selling your home. Help put potential buyers at ease with inviting landscaping, a welcoming front door, and an uncluttered entryway. Need inspiration? Here are some ways you can level up your real estate marketing game:

  • Edge and mow the lawn (reseed any spots where the grass looks thin)
  • Refresh pine straw or mulch
  • Put seasonal flowers in pots or flower beds
  • Pressure wash the driveway and sidewalk
  • Give your mailbox a fresh coat of paint
  • Paint or re-stain your front door (replace any worn or dated hardware)
  • Remove any children’s toys from the yard

Room-by-Room Staging Guide

There’s a fine line between maximizing your home’s value and over-investing in staging—which could result in a diminished return. Find home staging tips for sellers and inspiration below on how to do just enough in the important spaces.

How to Stage a Living Room

Staged living room. Photo by Instagram user @tacticstagingandinterior
Photo via @tacticstagingandinterior

Buyers declared the living room the most important room to stage in the Profile of Home Staging survey. Putting some extra time and money into living room staging often pays off. Creating the appearance of an ample, flowing space is key here. Swap out oversized furniture or loud patterns for items that will cultivate a more neutral aesthetic.

Laura McHolm, co-founder of the NorthStar Moving Company, has a couple of additional staging tips to make the most of your living room:

  • Reduce items on shelves and tables: “If you have ten things on a shelf, make it three so people can visualize their things there. Pack or donate the remaining items.”
  • Make the room pop: “On open house day, place cheese and crackers out. Or if it’s a TV room, put out popcorn. Match the food to the room.”

How to Stage a Bedroom

Staged spacious bedroom. Photo by Instagram user @kathykuohome
Photo via @kathykuohome

As with most rooms you’re staging, bedrooms best connect with potential buyers when they are simple and gender-neutral. Bedrooms should also highlight ample storage space, as many buyers will look for large closets.

Jennifer Carroll, creator of the blog Celebrating Everyday, shared her top tips for staging a bedroom:

  • Don’t fill the space: “Consider taking some furniture out of the room, if necessary, so that it feels roomy.”
  • Make it feel soothing: “Bedrooms are havens that we all want to retreat to at the end of a busy day. Use soothing, serene colors so potential buyers feel like they are entering a ‘retreat,’ almost spa-like room.”
  • Go with neutral decor and bed linens: “You want as few negative distractions as possible, and dated fabrics are a quick turn-off to everyone.”

How to Stage a Kitchen

Staged minimalist kitchen. Photo by Instagram user @bellepropertysurryhills
Photo via @bellepropertysurryhills

Wondering how to stage a kitchen? Cut the clutter! Remove microwaves, blenders, toasters, coffeemakers, and random items from countertops. Once counters are clear and the room opens up a bit, you’ll want to organize any cupboards and other storage spaces—yes, potential buyers will look here. This is also a top spot to add real flowers or set out fresh-baked cookies for the open house.

How to Stage a Dining Room

Staged dining room. Photo by Instagram user @strandrealty
Photo via @strandrealty

Simplicity is the key to staging a dining room. You’ll want to create a single focus point and leave plenty of room to create a nice flow of traffic from this room to the next. Try placing a tall plant or decorative arrangement in the center of the table to vertically expand the room. Rather than pack up your fine silver or dinnerware, use these items to set the table and illuminate the vision of potential buyers wining and dining their guests in the space.

How to Stage a Bathroom

Staged luxury bathroom. Photo by Instagram user @jettsetfarmhouse
Photo via @jettsetfarmhouse

A top home staging tip is to depersonalize the bathroom as much as possible. Remove toothpaste, clothes hampers, and any products from the shower or countertop. The key to staging a bathroom on a budget is to get it sparkling clean and then stick to simple decor, said real estate broker Elizabeth Weintraub.

Hiring a Professional Home Stager

Should you hire a professional to help you stage your home before listing it on the market? Explore the why and how of working with a professional home staging team below.

Decide If It’s Right for You

Professionally staged living room. Photo by Instagram user @ninistaging
Photo via @ninistaging

If you don’t know the first thing about furniture rental for staging or the latest home design trends, it might be best to enlist a home staging professional. Especially if you’re a sentimental person or have been in your home for many years, having a fresh set of eyes to draw attention to the selling points and minimize personal taste can be helpful.

What to Expect When Hiring a Home Stager

Professionally staged dining room. Photo by Instagram user @ninistaging
Photo via @ninistaging

Professional home staging is all about crafting a space that appeals to home buyers. This means covering up personal touches and setting a room just so to help those touring imagine themselves living there. Yvonne Laanstra at Staging Calgary breaks down the process of working with a professional to stage a vacant property:

  • Initial consultation: This allows the staging team to get a feel for the home’s size and style. Then, they can tell homeowners how much of the home needs to be staged.
  • Plan of action: The consultation might also include advice on what needs to be painted, what needs to be cleaned, and what needs a full-on renovation to get ready for staging.
  • Recording home details: Next, the team will take photos and various measurements. This way, they can get an idea of how small furniture must be to fit through the door and garner a general idea of furniture rental costs.
  • Time to start staging: Once you’ve confirmed the plan, the team can book movers and staging assistance while you paint and make any remaining repairs. The team will then visit the furniture warehouse to select every piece needed for the job.

When Should You Hire a Home Stager?

Professionally staged bedroom. Photo by Instagram user @ninistaging
Photo via @ninistaging

So you’ve decided you want to hire a professional, but when should you do it? Laanstra said it can take two days just to source furniture, artwork, and accessories, as well as get things packed and ready to deliver to the home.

“The logistics are often the harder element in the planning of staging,” she explained. “To keep it all running smoothly, we like to have at least have a week’s notice to plan it properly, but if time is of the essence, it can be done a bit faster, keeping style and quality in mind…We prefer at least a week from visit to the house to staging a property.”

Debbie Boggs with BY Design points out that spring and summer are busy seasons, so it’s not uncommon for their team to be booked at least two weeks out. To hit personal deadlines and allow for wiggle room, consider reaching out at least three to four weeks before you need your home staged.

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Whether you decide to hire a professional home stager or try tackling home staging on your own, self storage will likely come in handy. Extra Space Storage has convenient storage facilities throughout the U.S. that can help. Find a storage unit near you!

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