To Stage Or Not To Stage?

Staging your home can contribute greatly to giving a potential buyer that “wow, pick me!” feeling. However, it is not a requirement or necessary for many homeowners. Think about it. Your house is already “staged.” It’s staged according to your personal tastes and how you’ve decided to display your furniture, personal belongings, artwork, etc. While your current home environment may not reflect all of the positive attributes of your property, for you it’s comfortable, functional and just what you need. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your house is in prime showing condition or that it will appeal to buyers.  So let’s get it there!

Staging Made Simple (aka – Staging 101)

Staging can be very simple and at low (or no) cost. Some experienced real estate agents have developed a knack for being able to perform staging functions. They are able to rearrange furniture, provide guidance on what items to put out of sight or in storage, and how to make the best possible buyer impression with the materials available.

You can be the Quarterback in staging your own home, while your selling agent acts as your coach and/or manager.  The Do It Yourself (DIY) staging approach consists of a number of elements that are so basic and common day that you probably wouldn’t even think of them in terms of staging.


We all accumulate knickknacks throughout the years. And we generally want to put them on display to admire and share with visitors. When selling your home, these “treasures” are just seen as "lots of stuff" to a potential buyer and it takes their attention away from the true appearance of your house. Pack up and store as many of those knickknacks as you can possibly part with during the selling process. Keep things neat and organized.

Toys, whether for small humans or furry family members, can be a distraction or a safety hazard. Find a convenient storage area where the items can easily be put away and taken out again as needed.

Remove personal pictures that may be standing on every table or hanging on every wall.  It’s ok to keep a few non-identifying ones in view, but again remember your purpose here.  The bottom line is to get the house sold and if a potential buyer feels like they are coming to visit your family, they aren’t going to be your buyer. They have to be able to envision their family and their possessions in the house.

Put the effort into making your home as clean as possible. No matter how old the appliances are, try to make them shine. Your bathroom counters, sink, tub/shower and toilet should sparkle. Don’t forget to remove that nasty toothpaste spit from the mirrors. Hang towels in an even manner and make sure there is always lots of toilet paper on the roll.

Have a laundry hamper? Use it! Get every item of clothes off the floor. If it’s not dirty and just folded in a pile, put the pile away or hang the items in the closet. “Shoe farm awaits you” does NOT make for a good marketing campaign. Put the shoes back in the closets or organize them on a shoe rack that can be placed in a less noticeable area.

Dust, dust and re-dust. It is impossible to not have tabletops, counters, artwork, etc accumulate dust and it happens daily.

Carpets should be freshly vacuumed. If the carpet has been there for some time and has seen significant traffic between family, visitors, and pets then invest in either renting a carpet cleaner or hiring a professional to do the job. Laminate/hardwood floors should be moped and tile flooring should be washed. This is just a brief list of the activities you can perform to keep your house clean each and every day. These “little things” can go a long way when you’re trying to sell your home.

What’s That Smell?
A potential buyer walks up to your front door, loves the landscaping and can’t wait for their agent to get the door open. One foot in inside and “wham” they are overcome by a very overpowering, unpleasant odour. If you have cats and carpeting, there is a very good chance that your house will smell like cat urine to your visitors. You don’t notice it because you are with it every day. Trust me, please – others will notice. This is when you call in a professional carpet cleaner who specializes in deodorizing such smells. Burning candles are no match for pet stink.

The smell of cigarette smoke in a home is right at the top of the list with cat urine. Take to smoking outside immediately and bring in that professional to rid your home of that nasty nose demon.

No pets? Non-smokers? No excuse! You should still pay attention to the smell in your house. Not everyone enjoys the same types of food and especially those that are cooked on the somewhat spicy side. This is where you can add some additional and welcoming smells. Slice up some apples, sprinkle with cinnamon and bake in the oven. Burn a soft vanilla or clean linen scented candle. Bake cookies. Let your imagination run wild, just be sure to keep it on the soft side.  Whatever you decide to do to add a pleasant scent to your home, just make sure you don’t go over the top.

Furniture Placement
You need to focus on making sure that there isn’t too much furniture in a specific room. This, of course, goes along with the idea of decluttering. Do you need two wall units in the dining room?...probably not. Be prepared to eliminate some pieces of furniture and other items in order to make rooms appear larger and more organized. Perhaps some rooms are a little more sparse and you can relocate items to those areas of the house. This is where your selling agent can be a huge asset to getting your home ready for sale. Selling and buying agents have seen every type of house you can imagine, good and bad. They know what works to create interest and what causes visitors to walk (or run) away.

Flip On The Light
Pull back those drapes, open up the blinds and let the sun shine through. Natural light is ranked very high on the list of what appeals to a buyer. No one wants to live in a house that requires all light fixtures to be turned on just to find your way around.

Buyers will visit on overcast and rainy days.  They will make appointments for late afternoon and evenings. Make sure that every single light bulb and switch is working. When a bulb burns out, replace it immediately. This also applies to the outside of your house. Make sure you light the path to the front door for anyone coming to see your home.
Professional Staging

Professional staging can turn your home into a show piece. The companies that perform this service do a fabulous job, but they don’t do it for free. Staging in this manner can become very expensive depending on the size of your home and to what extent you are willing to go in the staging process. Staging experts are able to provide all the furnishings for a complete “make over” of your home. If you elect to go that route and decide to stage your entire three bedroom home, you could be looking at thousands of dollars per month.

Professional stagers have everything from dishes, to pillows, to full bedroom sets. You need to keep in mind that if you are going to use the services of a stager for a portion or all of your home, you are going to need to put your current belongings in a temporary and safe location.

Professional staging can be ideal if the house you are trying to sell is vacant. This type of property gives the stagers a blank canvass to work with and can make all the difference in getting the house sold as quickly as possible.  
When your house is professionally staged, you might feel like you’re living in a showroom. Homeowners quite often comment on how they have to walk on tiptoes or eggshells while the house is still on the market. It is not easy to live in this type of environment where you are afraid of sitting in the comfy chair or touching anything on display for fear of getting it dirty or broken. This can be especially stressful and frustrating if you have children or pets that you feel need to be watched constantly in order to protect the “showroom.” Your life can get back to a more normal state once you have an accepted offer from a buyer. Once the house is sold, you have no need for more visitors and you will have no need for the professional staging items. You will be able to rearrange your own belongings and eliminate the staging costs.

Professional staging may seem like an unnecessary expense to some sellers, but just keep in mind that statistics show that it helps sell a home faster and at a higher price. It has the potential to drive up the purchase price by 5% to 10% which means that you could recover your expense once the house is sold.

*Not intended to solicit clients currently under contract*