Staging a House for Sale: 11 Tips from the Experts

Homeowners looking to get the best price for their home are learning that if you want to sell quickly and score big profits, you need to remove clutter and make the place look inviting, not lived in.

Staging your house can help you sell it faster and possibly bring you more money, say many real estate professionals. The cost to stage a home is typically less than 1 percent of the list price, says Cindy May Davis, a Realtor with the Ann Wilson Homes Team for Keller Williams Realty in Arlington, Va., and the return is typically 1 percent to 5 percent over the list price.

Homeowners can hire a staging company, work with a real estate agency that does the staging for its clients or do it themselves. Here are 11 tips for staging your home that will have a positive impact on its price and appeal:

1. Give your home curb appeal

Most buyers start their home search on the Internet. Often their first impression of your home is a photo of the outside, Davis says. Before you take that photo, be sure you have spruced up the grounds of the house by weeding, mulching, trimming back trees and bushes, and power washing your siding and walkways.

2. Depersonalize and declutter

When buyers come into your house, it’s important they be able to visualize themselves living there, Davis says. So take down anything personal, including family photos, collections, diplomas or awards, , replacing them with generic artwork and photos. “This is often the hardest thing for people do to,” she says.

3. Clean your house

Make your house shine by cleaning everything including the inside of your appliances, the baseboards and windows, Davis says. Change your air filters and clean out your gutters. “This will show buyers that you do regular maintenance on the house,” she says.

4. Get rid of odors

If you’re a smoker or have a pet, it’s important to get rid of odors. Be careful of using air fresheners, Davis warns, because many are too strong and they might suggest you are trying to hide something. Open the windows instead.

5. Neutralize colors

Potential homebuyers might not love the dark purple accent wall in the dining room as much as you do, so it’s best to paint the walls a neutral color before you start showing the house, Davis says. You don’t have to paint every wall white but it should be a neutral color that will appeal to a variety of people.

6. Turn up the lights

At every open house, Davis opens every blind and curtain to get let in as much light as possible. If a room seems too dark or the lamp is outdated, Davis says she will bring extra lighting or a new lamp to the open house. Make sure all the light bulbs in your house are working on the day of the open house.

7. Pare down furnishings

Oversized furniture can make a room feel smaller, Davis says. Furniture is there to help the buyer visualize what the room is used for, but it’s best to minimize the number of pieces so the buyer can envision their own furniture in the room.

8. Accessorize

After you remove all the clutter add some accents such as interesting coffee table books, throw pillows and blankets on the sofa, a bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen counter and matching towels in the bathroom.

9. Make repairs

If there is anything that clearly needs to be repaired or if there are any unfinished projects, you need to take care of them before the open house. No potential buyer wants to see unfinished work inside the house.

10. Clean out the closets and drawers

Potential buyers will open every closet, cabinet, drawer and door, says Davis, and you will want to display as much storage as possible. Davis recommends using baskets to hold items that are normally just loose in drawers and in closets to make them look less cluttered. She also tells clients to remove 20 percent to 30 percent of what is inside each closet to show space between items that are hanging up. This will make the closet seem larger.

11. Check the floors

If the carpeting is stained, replace it. If you’re using an old area rug, remove it. If your wooden floors are scratched, cover them with inexpensive area rugs.

Staging a home is key to appealing to prospective buyers. Get more helpful information about selling your own home today.