In real estate, it's a well-known fact that many buyers have difficulty imagining what a house would look like if the furniture was arranged in a completely different way. Worse yet, buyers typically have a hard time getting past furnishings that aren't to their liking or style. That's why I'm a big believer in staging a home prior to putting it on the market. I've been known to go to great lengths to stage homes, and even greater lengths to avoid marketing a vacant home, especially when furnishing it and staging it is a possibility. I've even used excess furnture from one home to stage another! And I'm an even bigger believer that in these challenging economic times, sellers need to be even more open to advice and counsel about staging their home than ever before.  

Finding a trained stager is not difficult. There are several courses readily available to Realtors to become certified in staging. You may find that your Realtor already does home staging. I've found that I enjoy staging homes so much my clients ask me to stage the homes that they move into, not just the homes they're selling! You can also hire a designer for about $150. Of course the cost rises astronomically if you don't already have furniture or furnishings to work with.

There's no question a well-staged home will attract a great deal more attention from prospective buyers than a home that is not well-staged. In fact an unstaged home will often sit on the market much longer than it would have had it been staged in the first place. In fact not staging your home can be the equivalent of over-pricing your home: if you don't stage your home your home may sit on the market and even require a price reduction at some point to get the market's attention again. If you want to get top dollar for your home, stage it, stage it, stage it!

The really amazing thing is that, you and your Realtor (if they're a trained stager) can achieve incredible results with staging for little to no money. All that's needed is a little time, energy, and creativity.

Here are the staging principles I personally use most frequently when preparing a home to go on the market:

  1. remove clutter from surfaces and replace with items that can be displayed in "twos & threes" 
  2. don't mix clashing furniture styles in the same room (Victorian+Modern Contemporary=Ouch!) 
  3. remove rugs that are sitting on top of carpeting (it might give the impression you're hiding a stain)
  4. avoid clashing patterns when it comes to bed linens, throw pillows & blankets on couches, etc.
  5. give each room one purpose (e.g. don't combine office equipment and bedroom furniture)
  6. create "white space" in bookshelves, on side tables, on kitchen countertops, etc.
  7. relocate any lamp that's sitting directly in front of a window
  8. put fresh fruit or flowers in the kitchen and set the table
  9. size artwork and pictures to the available wall space
  10. open up spaces by removing or relocating furniture
  11. if possible, create a focal point for each room
  12. avoid putting too many pictures in hallways 
  13. avoid displaying too many items on shelves
  14. make sure outdoor furniture is left outside
  15. avoid displaying personal items & photos

Be prepared to invest about three hours of time for every 1,000 square feet of living space (give or take an hour depending on how much prep work needs to be done).

Here are a few "before and after" pictures I shot the other day while preparing a listing for the market.

Before and after shots of the Master bedroom:



This effect was achieved simply by removing clashing patterns and pillows from the bed, relocating the office equipment and office furniture that was in the Master bedroom, moving a set of drawers to the other side of the room, removing outdated blinds from the patio doors and hanging sheers, setting up a small bedside table at the front of the bed, folding a blanket and placing it at the bottom of the bed, and placing a small number of decorative items on the remaining furniture.

Before and after shots of the deck:



This staging effort was simply a case of straightening the wrought-iron deck chairs (also taking one outside that was being used indoors) and opening up the umbrella. Within less than two minutes we had a far more hospitable-looking outside area to relax in!

The office equipment (relocated from the bedroom) looks great in this former spare room:


For this job, seven rooms in total were staged in about three hours for no money. Just a little time, creativity and teamwork got the job done. Most importantly, we got the job done before going on the market. In a buyer's market there's simply no point in putting a home up for sale that isn't ready for prime-time - so spend the time upfront to get your home in tip-top showing condition!

Call us today at (563) BUY-SOLD (563-289-7653) about listing your home or visit our website to get more tips about preparing your home for sale, staging your home, or to request a free market analysis of your home.

Posted by Jolenta Averill on


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I agree that staging your home is so important. You dont even have to spend alot of money to do this. Simple things like putting out fresh flowers, lighting a few candles, moving some furniture around.

Posted by strand property on Wednesday, November 25th, 2009 at 1:48am

Is staging really essential? I am working with a couple preparing their home for sale due to divorce and they would like to show the home as is. It's very clean but they seem to have more furniture than they need for the space.

Posted by Relocating after Divorce on Saturday, November 24th, 2012 at 3:57am

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