Home Staging Tips: Everything You Need to Know

Published on November 17, 2017

– 5 min read

Many sellers these days are turning to home staging to help their home sell more quickly, for a top dollar. But is it right for you?

In this article we’ll help you better understand what home staging is all about and help you determine if 1) you want to stage your home and 2) if you’re up to the job yourself or would be better off hiring out.

What is Home Staging?

In a nutshell, home staging is the art of balancing a depersonalized look with visual appeal. It can transform your home from show-ready to show-stopper. Think of a staged home as being “dressed” for a job interview — simple and put-together — while also working a little magic, like a theater set.

The goal of home staging is to emphasize the following attributes in each room of your home:

  • Space – not only size, but different areas and use
  • Purpose – each room should “be” something
  • Features – special details to show off
  • Lifestyle – functions or pleasures the room provides

You may be thinking, “my stuff already does that!” While that may be true for you, it’s important that your personalized style, or the practicalities of everyday life, doesn’t distract potential buyers from the house itself. Staging helps market your home by making it a “product” people can see and buy.

The visual experience should invite, even compel, potential buyers to imagine themselves living there. This makes the emotional connection that can lead to an offer. Realtors consistently find that staged homes get offers faster — 87% faster than non-staged homes according to professional stager, Betsey Wilbur, and anywhere from 6-20% higher than homes that aren’t staged. According to the National Association of Realtors, for every $100 invested in staging, the potential return is $400 .

How-to Stage a Home Yourself

Step 1: Declutter. Big time.

Almost everyone has more stuff in their home than is appropriate for home staging. Remember home staging intends to be suggestive of how someone could live. It shouldn’t show off how someone actually lives. This means a good portion, if not all, of your stuff should go — even if that means renting storage space temporarily. If you have a new place, it’s a chance to get ahead on packing and moving. Disruptive, yes, but financially, it could be well worth it.

Step 2: Create Lifestyle Vignettes

As mentioned, in home staging you’re trying to suggest how someone lives. The secret here is to create lifestyle vignettes.

Let’s use a family room as an example on what to do. How can you suggest the room’s purpose and comfort with minimal furniture and accessories? Let’s say the room has a fireplace. You should group cozy seating around it, with a coffee table holding colorful mugs. Maybe you’re not a fireplace fan and never used it, but to potential buyers, this is a key feature of the room and you’ll want to make it the star. As top-ranking agent Elizabeth Weintraub writes, “Home staging is about illusions. It’s how David Copperfield would sell a house…It’s about perfecting the art of creating moods.”

If the room has built-in shelves, arrange some books with a comfortable reading chair and lamp nearby. Or they could become a display space for art and treasures. A window with a nice view can anchor two conversation chairs. An odd corner might hold a simple table and chairs with a half-done puzzle.

Enhance the lighting with extra lamps or new bulbs. Windows need only the simplest dressing, to tone down style and let the daylight in.

It’s a message about the room, suggested by minimal furnishings and accents that are nicely arranged. Add to the look with pops of color, such as throw pillows, plants and flowers, or mini-vignettes with eye-catching objects.

Step 3: Leave No Area Unstaged

Now that you have the hang of staging one room, it’s time to tackle everything else. Set tables in eating areas, arranging bowls of fruit on kitchen counters, and placing candles and luxurious towels in the bathroom. Bedrooms can be oases of soft color and fabrics. The strange little den could gain a workspace to be a neat home office.

Remember to also stage outside. Vignettes on decks or porches show how the buyer could enjoy them. Potted flowers and seasonal decor–like a pumpkin arrangement–add those color pops. Make sure lighting shows off the outside as both safe and welcoming.

Step 4: Ask Family & Friends for Feedback

It’s hard for most people to be objective about their own belongings. Don’t be afraid to ask family and friends to look around and to be honest about what they focus on in each room and what they find appealing or not. Remember, it’s not about what you like. It’s about what helps the most people imagine living there.

Should you hire a professional home stager?

A professional stager can save you time and help your home sell. Rates vary, depending on the number of rooms, the amount of your belongings that are appropriate for staging, what props are brought in, and where you live. The range is wide, from $500 to $5,000 or more, but it can bring a return on the investment.

You can also turn to real estate agents to help with staging, since realtors can give expert advice on your home’s look. Some are trained stagers themselves, or they can recommend a trusted pro.

Ultimately, the decision to hire out depends on how much time and energy you have for home staging yourself, your home’s potential value, and the market. Hiring a pro might be the best decision for your situation, or you may be just fine doing it yourself.

And there you have it. Everything to know about home staging. If you’re ready to find your next home, you can apply for pre-approval completely online with Clara or chat with a licensed Loan Specialist.

Steven Fung
Steven Fung is a licensed Loan Specialist at Clara with over 17 years of experience. When he doesn’t have his mortgage hat on, he enjoys repairing old cars and working on home improvement projects.
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