Discover 8 staging tips to sell a house that will make it “look like more than it is actually worth.” Be sure to read to the end for a big bonus tip!!
Well, we officially sold our second fixer upper last week for sale by owner. In case you missed it, our first fixer upper was a Vintage Victorian built in 1890 (read about it here!) and this last one was a Colonial foreclosure (read about it here!) that we bought 3 years ago. We are currently working on our third fixer upper (read about it here!), which will be the last one we live in until be build our forever home.
I am not a real estate agent nor am I an interior decorator by trade. We have made mistakes, and we have learned from them. One area, however, I have heard with both houses from EVERY REALTOR that brought a client through our home is how wonderfully it was staged. One realtor was attempting to negotiate their offering price by suggesting that the final appraisal wouldn’t be high enough due to the surrounding houses. I kid you not that he said over the phone . . . It’s a beautiful house, but your staging makes the home look like more than it is actually worth. Um, thank you? I guess? We had no problems with the appraisal, by the way. We sold this house for 30 grand more than the most expensive home that had sold in our neighborhood since we had lived there. If you missed the post from our first fixer upper, “Sold in 3 Weeks – 7 Tips to Sell Your Home,” then read it here!
Use these 8 staging tips to sell a house, and make it “look like more than it is actually worth!”
Staging tips to sell a house #1.
- Keep in mind that the first impression a potential buyer will have during your open house or any showing will be walking up to the front door. Mow your grass that morning. Place one decorative item on your front door that is seasonally appropriate. The exception to this is if you have decorative glass then let that speak for itself. You want to show off what is included in your home. Weed at least the front flower beds. Consider removing the garden gnome, your Dallas Cowboys flag (no offense to Cowboys fans), and the roller blades that were left on the side walk. If you have furniture on the front porch, then give it a once over. Is it adding or detracting from the first impression? Consider adding a decorative pillow or two, but if it is beyond “cutesifying” then remove it! Less is more. Place a couple planters of flowers on either side of the entryway to draw the eye to the entrance.
There was nothing flashy about the entrance, but we kept it neat.
This was the front door on the first house we sold. Gorgeous decorative glass. Don’t cover that up!
This was the upstairs side porch on our Victorian. There is nothing fancy about this 100 year old porch at all, but a simply staged area still creates a vision of seeing oneself enjoying a book and a cup of coffee up here.
Staging tips to sell a house #2.
- Turn on every light in the house and open every door. You don’t want anyone to think you have something to hide. Light also makes a room look bigger.
This was the basement that had completely flooded when we first bought this foreclosure. Checkout this renovation here!
Staging tips to sell a house #3.
- This is the time to make your kitchen counter tops look perfect. If you typically keep a toaster, a can opener, a set of knives, coffee maker, a basket of bills and all your spices on the counter top consider removing the majority of them to make it look more open. If you are struggling in the kitchen try Googling “staged kitchens” and mirror the images that you see. From a decorative standpoint – a good rule of thumb is to stage items in groups of 3. If you have a shelf of decorative knick-knacks and are unsure how to organize them, pick 3 and arrange accordingly.
This rule applies to bathroom counter tops as well. De-clutter!! It will immediately make a space appear more open.
This pic is from our Victorian. Again, keep your vignettes simple.
Staging tips to sell a house #4.
- You will find expert advice that varies widely on this subject. Some will say you don’t want to leave pictures of your family on the walls as you want the potential buyer to visualize themselves living in the house. For myself, I feel that several high quality, well-placed family pictures can serve as works of art. Large picture frames are a great way to accentuate a decorative style and can even make a ceiling appear higher. However if your family room wall is covered with 8×10’s of your super cute kids, I would recommend picking 3 or 5 with your nicer (preferably larger) picture frames and arranging them as a vignette above a sofa or other centered piece of furniture against the wall. Less is more.
These photos were on the entertainment center. But again notice they are carefully placed to accentuate a space and not clutter it.
This is from our Victorian fixer upper. Several large, nicely framed family photos can highlight the wall space. If you missed the Vintage Victorian family room renovation, then read about it here!
Staging tips to sell a house #5.
- Place fresh bouquets throughout your house. Consider a small one on your coffee table when you first walk in. Place one on the dining room table and take another one apart and split it between your bathrooms. It gives an organic and natural appearance to an otherwise staged room. Nice faux flowers are perfectly acceptable as well! For our first fixer upper I bought a large bouquet of roses for our coffee table, and I kept the bouquet and dried it, and I use it as decoration still today!
It is the one on the far left. The bouquet on the right is the first bouquet Zach ever gave me!
To read about this dining room renovation click here!
Staging tips to sell a house #6.
- It is no secret to those who know me that I have a small obsession with candles. Spread a couple of candles throughout the house (while observing all fire precautions of course). Some experts recommend baking cookies or bread prior to an open house, but a vanilla cookie or pumpkin spice candle can also stimulate that aromatic sense of home. And who doesn’t love the soft glow of candle light?? For an easy staging tip, cook a bag of popcorn in the microwave prior to a showing or set an automated coffee machine to start brewing right beforehand. Both create a familiar aroma that is generally pleasing to most.
Checkout all the details and before and afters of this kitchen renovation here!
I had a cake stand here for every showing with either bagels or muffins (bought them in bulk and kept them in the freezer) and of course we would eat them and then replenish as needed!
Staging tips to sell a house #7.
- This seems like an obvious statement, and yet I have walked through so many homes that appear to have missed this memo. Again, you need to think magazine cover clean. Consider hiring a cleaning service to give your house a thorough deep clean the day before or morning of your open house, or find a friend who loves to clean. I can tell you right now I am not that friend. Now if you need help organizing your linen closet I’m your girl! An important note here is that if you smoke or if you have any pets – professionally cleaning the carpets is a must. You may not notice the smell, but if someone does not smoke or have pets, it can be an immediate detractor. You do not need to deep clean before every showing, but we at least vacuumed every time. A great tip – a robot vacuum!! Oh my goodness, this was a lifesaver. Ours is here. This little guy is affectionately called by his first name in our house. The kids get really excited when “Deebot” comes out to play. The challenge is keeping our 1 year old from trying to “ride” him.
Staging tips to sell a house #8.
- After you have de-cluttered you need to organize. These are two different steps. De-cluttering involves removing excess items completely. Organizing involves taking what remains and arranging it in such a way as to optimize the visual appeal. This means that unless you are selling a home “as is,” it is vital to take the extra step with the anticipation that buyers will open the pantry, pull out your kitchen drawers, check the linen closet in the hall, and peer around the shower curtain. Don’t give them any reason to think twice.
I forgot to hide the baby monitor and unsightly cord hanging in this pic, but the point is we kept the laundry closet doors open for every showing.
We also had every bedroom closet door open. We weeded through our master closet and donated all unwanted clothing, and re-organized to maximize the space. Does our closet always look like this? Nope. But it did for every showing!
Open concept designs have become incredibly popular, but it is important to contain the clutter. I love baskets and feel they are the perfect way to manage open concept designs to make items more easily accessible but still create an organized visual. I bought these baskets 4 years ago, and they get used EVERY DAY. They are incredibly sturdy and have not broken or warped at all. They are here along with many others on Amazon!!
Make the beds EVERY TIME. Again, you would be amazed how many pictures of a house for sale are snapped with beds unmade!!
Every room. Every time.
I highly recommend organizing or setting up any kids play tables or even play areas. Again, your showings, listing photos and open house are the time to make your home look magazine ready. Just work with what you have!
This room is a great example of working with what you have. This was our spare bedroom that had a hodge-podge of furniture. I didn’t even have a comforter for our spare bed. So I used what I had! I did put light bulbs in the lamps and bought shades, but the point is again, you do not need to buy out Pottery Barn to stage your house.
Bottom line – clean is queen! De-clutter and organize.
Placards with renovation details in EVERY ROOM.
I did this in our first house as well, and I had so many realtors comment on how much they loved this idea. Even if you have not flipped a house, I am sure you have invested in lots of upgrades since buying your home. List everything even down to paint. It helps a potential buyer see all the work that you have put into your home and it also shows a transparency and attention to detail.
I hope these tips were helpful in making your home “look like more than it is actually worth!” 🙂
Pin any of the images below for later!