Home Staging Tips: A Guide to Staging Your Home

My house is your house. It’s a phrase we often find ourselves saying to houseguests, but the saying takes a new meaning when it comes to selling a house. Bottom line, when prospective buyers first approach a property, they’re trying to envision it as their home, not the current owner’s. And first impressions are everything in the sale of a residential property. That’s why it is so critical to take the time to stage properties as part of your marketing prep.

home staging

Luckily, staging can be a lot easier (and less expensive) than it sounds. Typically, the cost to the property owner is minimal, and the increase to the property’s value is substantial. For example, Grandma’s hand-knit curtains may mean a lot to the current property owner. Yet, to a buyer, they may come off as chintzy and kitsch. Installing inexpensive wood blinds can provide a more streamline look that broadens a property’s appeal.


Another tip is to take a good, honest look at the current owner’s furniture. Is it inviting? Is it past its prime? Does it clutter the space? As a general rule, I find that less is more, but empty is bleak. Too much furniture makes the space seems smaller than it is; having no furniture can leave potential buyers unsure of how they would occupy the space. I try to have just enough furniture to spark the buyer’s imagination; the rest should go into storage. And don’t be afraid to rent or borrow furniture that could help better define the space; again, this can be a minimal cost for a big return.

Staging the Exterior

The same principles can be applied to the property’s exterior; keeping the lawn trimmed is just the beginning. I’ve found that removing old patio furniture, updating outdoor lighting fixtures, and filling empty flowerbeds are a few more low-cost, value-adding fixes.


After the house has been staged, one important prep element remains: photography. A picture is worth a thousand words, and in real estate, a good picture is worth thousands in property value. This means hiring a great photographer can make all the difference. In today’s market, homes can literally be sold through the Internet, and great pictures and a website are the tools to get this done.

Staging from the Buyer’s Perspective

As a final note, the most important thing to keep in mind is staging a home in the buyer’s tastes, not the seller’s. This may seem to go without saying for a realtor, but it can be more difficult for a seller, who is still considers the property their home, to grasp. Throughout the staging practice, just remind them of that little saying, “my house is your house.”

Photo by Annahape.

About the Author

By , on Mar 10, 2013
Stacey Valnes is the Broker and owner of Sunset Park Realtors. He has been a licensed California realtor since 1989. Stacey created SPR in 2005 when he was Keller Williams #1 agent for the Westside and one their top agents nationwide. Experience, great service, and hard work are the cornerstones of his business.

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  1. Great article! It’s amazing how many sellers underestimate the power of staging. Some perceive it as an unnecessary expense, and it kills me to see clutter, excessive family photos and even unmade beds in a home for sale. This article sums up its importance beautifully. Well done!

  2. Great tips! Presentation is everything when selling a home and it is best to make it look as clean and as uncluttered as possible so the buyer can get a good perspective on what they are getting themselves into. I agree that taking down old and personal belongings that are important to you and insignificant to someone else (aka grandma’s old curtains or old family portraits) are key to making a space look new and presentable.

  3. Great help! Installing wooden blinds is an amazing tip.

  4. Mike Swenson says:

    Another tip that I’ve heard holds true is to stage all bedrooms as bedrooms (meaning with a bed in them). Sometimes a bedroom may actually be an office, play room, sitting room, etc., but the buyer wants to see it as a bedroom. If it’s not staged as a bedroom, they may not think of it as that – thus limiting the options of the buyer.

  5. Great post, with clear perspective on a tricky subject. Thanks for this!

  6. I believe home staging is great if the “designer in someone” is just not there. A home stager is great for sharing tips and ideas and helping to get stuff out that doesn’t need to be there. It’s worth the money if you can sell your home fast. Great tips!

  7. A little bit of time and money on staging can have a lot of mileage. I recall spending about $100 on a few “decorative” items to spruce up a few rooms, and got an uptick in positive feedback from buyers (via the agent). The place ultimately sold. It’s interesting how those things that helped to stage the place weren’t permanent parts of the home that anyone could keep, but it helped me improve perceptions anyway.

  8. I wondered to start with what you meant but it is obvious really. If you have to move, these things are essential. But add in a bread machine to give the smell of fresh bread, coffee too and people can be won over!

  9. Photography is such a big part. A bad set of photos are you will never get anyone to step foot in your home.

  10. Jose says:

    Good tips on staging! Personally, I find a minimalist home far more appealing than one that is cluttered or too busy. If your going to paint, use neutral colors, vibrant colors that are appealing to some may repel potential buyers.

  11. Thad says:

    This can add so much value to a home. Thanks for the great post!

  12. Great post! Staging makes a BIG difference. I love your last point about staging from a buyer’s perspective. One thing we did that really helped is empty our closets to about 40% capacity, it makes them feel much larger than if they are jammed full.

  13. Kelly says:

    I neve really thought about the impact that a lot of these points could have, but it seems so obvious after reading this. Having simple furniture and window treatments can make all of the difference in how potential buyers see the inside of a house. Simple tweaks could the key in selling a home. Good advice.

  14. One thing I can not say enough is to de-clutter! No one wants to see piles of papers, messy book shelves, or even a disorganized closet. People open drawers, closets, and cabinets too, so it never hurts to see if you can’t make them appear more organized and spacious.

  15. staging is so important to selling your house. On thing we did was took anything that didn’t necessarily belong in a room and put it in storage. I feel staging is also really important if you’re in a market where it’s harder to sell your home because it could be the difference between someone buying or not.

  16. Michelle says:

    These are all great tips. There are so many things that we need to do!

  17. I have been watching a lot of property shows on TV recently and the amount of work that goes into staging a house for prospective buyers is pretty crazy. I had no idea there was so much psychology involved.

  18. Pauline says:

    Great tips. I have sold a property recently and a little staging really goes a long way. Any clutter or small defaults can deter a potential buyer so better get rid of them if you can.

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