7 Expert Tips on Home Staging to Sell Faster

Help your home stand out with this proven advice for attracting more potential buyers and selling faster.

7 Expert Tips on Home Staging to Sell Faster
These expert tips on home staging will help you attract house hunters and sell faster, sometimes for more money. | Rate Simple

Whenever you stick a For Sale sign outside your house, your goal is the same: Sell it fast. That's true no matter why you're selling. Whether you are eager to move into a new home with your best mortgage ever, are downsizing now that the kids are on their own, or are pursuing job opportunities in a new town, a faster sale is a better sale.

Rate Simple can create a home mortgage so appealing that you might consider selling your current place sooner rather than later.

Increasingly, people selling their own home take a page out of the book of new home developers, who have long used tidy, attractively appointed model homes to entice buyers. Transforming your own lived-in rooms this way could be as easy as rearranging your furniture and deleting clutter or as intensive as renting major furnishings and repainting.

Home staging pays off when the first photos are taken "because it presents the home in a much better light," says Los Angeles realtor Dorene Slavtiz. "The home will sell for more, and often much faster. It's in everyone's benefit that the home be staged. You only need to look at a new home development and their models to realize this."

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Home Staging Tips From the Experts

Real estate experts agree that one of the smartest ways to make your home stand out is through staging. Brad McCallum, a real estate agent at Remax First, said, "Staging helps the home sell faster, and it generally helps it sell for a higher price."

Some real estate agents contract with home stylists to ensure that the house makes a strong market debut through efficient repairs, lighting upgrades, furniture placement, houseplants, and deep cleaning. Naturally this service adds to the listing fee. Fortunately, you can probably tackle most or all of the jobs yourself.

Whether you stage your home yourself or hire a local stylist, these are the basic steps to making your house shine.

1. Depersonalize, Delete, Declutter

Strive for the minimalist interior design of a model home or even a well-appointed hotel suite. You want to encourage potential buyers to imagine themselves living there.

It's natural that as we live in our home over the years, we cover the surfaces and buy more furniture in order to have more surfaces to cover. Consider taking out a short-term lease on a storage locker for your excess furniture, knickknacks, wall photos, and the like.

Offloading just one category of items can start an encouraging domino effect that declutter "therapists" extoll. With the souvenirs and photos and books all cleared from a surface, the cabinet has no purpose and can be removed. The cabinet's absence leaves that extra chair looking out of place, so remove it too. And so on.

When buyers walk into a home and see a lot of personal effects, they can feel like they are invading someone's personal space. That is not the feeling you want to give, warned McCallum. "The line you draw is to make it feel like a home but not someone else's."

2. Swap Out the Covers on Outlets and Light Switches

Yellowed, aged plastic electric covers might spark a potential buyer's worry about what else in the house is old. That is too big a risk when new covers are plentiful and cheap. Take off the old covers before you paint the walls, then put new ones on.

3. Paint

Malcolm Lawson, a real estate agent in Maryland, offers repainting as a prime example of the deferred maintenance you should tackle before listing your home. Every household maintenance task you leave undone, however minor or relatively inexpensive, is another item that potential buyers add to their mental list as they tour the home.

Painting tops many experts' lists of staging advice. "For the love of all that is good, please paint!" says the CEO of Larimar Home Staging, TJ McArdle. "Way too many home sellers think they can skip this and just let the new homeowners worry about it. Paint is one of the most effective and least expensive things you can do (especially if you do the painting yourself) to update your home and raise its perceived value."

Did You Know?
A totally empty home isn't actually better for selling. Buyers like a reference point. The size of your sofa, for example, helps them imagine their sofa in the same room.

4. Lighten Up

It goes without saying that you should choose a light, neutral color for the new paint. Lightening up is the approach to take all over the house, advises Lawson (the real estate agent in Maryland), from lamps to window coverings to carpets, rugs, and upholstery. Staged homes are bright homes for a reason. Dimness can be cozy to longtime residents of a home but unsettling to potential buyers.

Before every showing, draw back the curtains and open the blinds to flood the rooms with the natural light so appealing to homebuyers. Turn a lamp on in every room too, because lamps look best when lit. For more of his solid advice, watch Lawson's video How to Get Your Home Ready to Sell on YouTube.

“Paint is one of the most effective and least expensive things you can do to update your home and raise its perceived value.”

5. Improve the Curb Appeal

Everyone's heard that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Prospective buyers on the street will judge your home by yardwork, pavement, paint, and windows long before they tour the interior—if they get that far.

From landscaping and repaving to power-washing the siding, repainting, and replacing chipped shingles, the repairs and improvements you make to the home's exterior not only increase its value but raise its appeal when buyers first set eyes on it from the street. When buyers like what they see, they are more likely to assume they would like what they don't see, such as the wiring, plumbing, and subflooring. Conversely, if a buyer's first impression is an overgrown yard, handball marks on the garage door, and peeling windowsill paint, fears arise as to what else might need work.

6. Don't Show a Bedroom as an Office

The number of bedrooms affects the value of your home, so show the number the buyers expect to see. Show a bedroom as a bedroom, not a home office.

That insightful tip comes from Lauren Lindsey, a Redfin concierge who assists agents in preparing homes to sell. "Stage all bedrooms as bedrooms," she advises. "If you're staging one bedroom as an office, you've just lost a bedroom because your buyers aren't going to come in and see it as a bedroom."

You might wonder: Can't your agent just explain that it was originally a bedroom? Sure, but as with curb appeal, you are trying to manage first impressions here. Besides, you probably don't want strangers walking into your home office anyway, peering at your Post-it notes and files.

7. Capture Your Glorious Home Staging in Great Photos

Chances are your home will make its first impression on buyers in photographs, not in person. This was especially true during the pandemic, when open houses declined and virtual tours by photo and video gained popularity.

What about virtual staging?

Virtual home staging gained popularity in the pandemic too. That's when home interiors are replaced or augmented with digital fakes, often with realistic results. But some homebuyers view digital staging as deceptive, a sneaky shortcut that raises suspicion about what else the sellers might be hiding. When you see hardwood floors in a picture, you don't expect green shag carpet in person. On the other hand, when trying to sell a completely empty house, computer-generated furniture and decorations can liven up the photo gallery.

Optimize the effects of your home staging efforts by capturing it in professional (or professional-looking) photographs. Pay attention to when light is best inside and out. Wait for a blue sky. Take dozens of shots, and review them on a big monitor, not your phone, to choose the best pics.


Using a few or all of these seven expert tips on home staging should help you garner more attention from house hunters and sell the property faster, sometimes for more money. Continue the winning streak by reaching out to Rate Simple for your new home mortgage.

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