Clear countertops, beautiful lighting, fresh neutral paint, tasteful decorative accents to top it all off — it’s amazing what a little home staging can do to help your house sell quickly. According to our research, nearly 83% of top real estate agents across the country say that a staged home sells faster than an unstaged home, and a total 58% of agents say that a staged house sells between 6% to 50% faster.
We like those odds.
Top-selling Manchester, New Hampshire, agent Kim Daneault confirms: “Staging is imperative. A staged house sells for more money and the quickness of the sale is much faster, especially in today’s market.” Since time is of the essence, we’ve put together 15 helpful staging tips that not only attract buyers — but are also fast and easy to execute.
1. Stage the outdoors
Staging your home to sell quickly begins with the outdoors. Once you’ve mowed the lawn and trimmed up your trees and shrubs for a manicured look, use these creative staging techniques to add visual interest to your home’s exterior and draw buyers in from the start:
- Plant flowers in shades that accentuate your home’s color palette, and create an emotional reaction in potential buyers with floral color theory (yellow flowers add a warm, youthful energy, while white flowers create calm on a busy street).
- Set up a porch vignette that reflects your home’s locale, style, or amenities:
- Pay homage to your beach town with ocean-themed porch decor.
- Reflect your home’s mountain cabin style with a pair of Adirondack chairs.
- Allude to your big backyard garden with farm-to-table-themed porch accessories.
2. Enhance your front entryway
Turn your regular ole front door space into a grand entrance with some simple cleanup. Brush away dirt and cobwebs, then polish up the hardware (handle, hinges, and door knocker) with a homemade solution.
If your front door looks faded, spruce it up with a fresh coat of paint, which you can do yourself with a day’s work and $50 for paint and supplies. Pick a color scheme that’s either monochromatic, analogous, contrasting, or complementary using the color wheel.
Top it off with these final touches:
Add a new doormat — we recommend:
Put in a new mailbox — we recommend:
Update your house numbers — we recommend:
- Rolling hills personalized address plaque
- Nature twig house numbers
- Custom walnut house number plaque
3. Clean from top to bottom
“For sellers short on time and money, cleaning is the priority. If your home is covered in dust and clutter, it makes buyers wonder what other maintenance you’ve neglected,” explains Daneault. “Cleaning shows buyers that you’ve cared for your home.”
Here are a few go-to cleaning hacks that’ll help pull your staging together:
- Give a like-new shine to your stainless steel appliances and faucets by buffing the metal finishes with olive oil.
- Use a squeegee to remove stubborn pet hair from furniture and carpets.
- Use shaving cream to remove stains from your couch and carpet.
4. Get rid of clutter
Closets crammed with clothes. Counters covered with small appliances in the kitchen. Knick knacks in your living room. Enough toiletries to supply a pharmacy in the bathroom. While this clutter seems harmless, it’s actually the enemy to selling your home fast!
Here, you have two options:
“Either get rid of your excess stuff or stash it in a storage unit for between $75 to $150 max a month,” Daneault advises her clients.
Hide away any daily necessities — such as toiletries, utensils, and small appliances — in cabinets if you have room, or stash them in some decorative storage boxes with lids. Here are a few options that make storing your stuff easy (and dare we say stylish):
5. Remove telltale signs of your taste and personality
Much like the clothes we wear, our homes reflect our personality, which is fabulous for expressing interests and tastes to friends and neighbors. But if you plan to sell your house fast, you need to take your personality out. Daneault explains:
“When I walk into a home that has the personality of that seller, I love it. Just like I like my own personality in my own home. However, if buyers see a lot of family photos, or they aren’t a fan of the seller’s particular style, it’s harder for that buyer to imagine themselves living there.”
When you remove personalized photos, knickknacks, and other home décor that makes a strong, eye-catching statement, you transform your home into a neutral canvas that buyers can envision personalizing.
6. Stage only the main areas of your home
Staging your entire house can seem daunting and even impossible if you’re in a hurry to sell. Thankfully, you don’t need to tackle every room. According to our research, the main rooms that need staging include: the living room, the master bedroom (including the master bath, if attached), and the kitchen.
So focus on the main areas, and then do an audit of any awkward layouts.
“Spaces with an odd shape or no defined purpose can really benefit from staging, too,” explains Daneault. “It helps buyers see the area as an asset, instead of a waste of space that they’ll have to figure out how to utilize.”
Let’s say you’re selling a historic Victorian house with a classic turret that looks picturesque from the outside, but inside it’s a circular nook that’s not really big enough to be useful. Rather than leave that space empty, give it purpose by staging it with a small armchair and side table, or a small desk and chair to transform it into a reading nook or mini home office.
7. Improve your furniture flow
Speaking of awkward — sometimes misplaced furniture jams up an otherwise functional room. Make sure your arrangement doesn’t block entryways or the ability to walk comfortably from room to room. If visitors have to squeeze through spaces, they’ll assume your home has a “bad layout” that won’t work any better with their own furniture.
So take a look at the big sectional sofa in your living room. Comfy and fits your whole family? Check. Great for staging your home? Maybe not.
“In my 15 years of experience, twice my team has come in to stage and rearrange the furniture, and the sellers liked it so much that they decided not to move,” Daneault says.
When in doubt, follow these general rules for rearranging your furniture:
- Seating should be placed at least 30 to 36 inches apart.
- Face furniture toward the room’s focal point, like the television or fireplace, or flank the focal point with a face-to-face arrangement no more than 8 feet apart.
- Move furnishings away from the walls with a floating furniture arrangement anchored by a large area rug.
8. Roll up those bathroom rugs
Speaking of flow, it’s not just bulky furniture that can ruin the flow of a space. Rugs can do it too, especially in the bathroom.
Plush area rugs are a must to combat cold bathroom floors when you’re living in a house. But when you’re selling, they break up the floor space, making your bathrooms seem smaller than they actually are.
So prepare to suffer with cold toes for a few weeks, and keep your bath mat under the sink or draped over your tub behind the shower curtain when not in use. Doing so opens up the small room, making it appear larger than it actually is.
9. Amp up your natural and artificial lighting
No one wants to buy a house that’s dark and dreary, so if you’re looking to sell fast, you need to maximize your home’s lighting, both natural and artificial.
Maximize natural light
Make sure your windows sparkling clean, both inside and out:
- Buff out stubborn water spots with dryer sheets.
- Use coffee filters for a streak-free clean.
- Degunk sticky tree sap from your windows with rubbing alcohol.
And take down those heavy drapes that offer plenty of privacy but allow little light inside.
“Sheer white curtains or no curtains at all is your best bet to allow in as much natural light as possible, especially for your listing photos,” says Daneault.
Feel free to rehang your curtains after you take photos to restore your privacy, but make sure they’re pulled back for any daytime showings. And open your windows, too, if the weather is nice and you’ve got screens to keep the insects out. Sunlight and fresh air make visitors feel welcome and happy.
Amplify artificial lighting
Lived-in houses are already pretty well lit, but there’s still room for improvement if you want to up your chances for a fast sale. For starters, create a feeling of consistency and comfort by using light bulbs that are identical in wattage and color temperature throughout the house:
If you have any dark corners, fill them with large, tall lamps to brighten the space — here are a few of our favorite lamps for staging:
Alternatively, place bright white or neutral furniture in those dark corners — the light hues reflect light to show off that hidden corner.
10. Hide worn out or distracting furniture with slipcovers
Don’t have any white or neutral furniture to fill those corners? Don’t worry, you can create it with slipcovers. Slipcovers are pretty handy for hiding stained, worn-out furniture, and pieces that have distracting patterns, too.
For around $30 to $75, you can purchase slipcovers to fit almost any piece of furniture in a variety of colors and styles. But don’t get too crazy with your color and pattern selections. Stick to neutral hues like white, beige, taupe, or grays, and go for solids or very subtle patterns.
11. Repaint with neutrals to tone down bright walls
Repainting the whole interior is too time-consuming when you want to sell fast, but don’t rule out repainting completely. If you’ve got a room or two that’s overly bright or way too dark, it’s worth a few days’ delay to repaint just that space:
“Brighter, bold colors are pretty popular now, which can overwhelm buyers. Neutral colors help open up smaller spaces, making them more clean and inviting,” explains Daneault. “A bright accent wall is okay in today’s market, as long as they have the right staging to make it work.”
If you’re not willing or able to pay a professional painter, follow these painting tips to get a pro finish:
- Scrub down walls before painting to remove any grease or dirt that might prevent paint from adhering properly.
- Need several gallons to cover one room? Mix them together in a 5-gallon bucket to ensure color consistency.
- Remove all light switch and outlet covers before painting.
- Protect windows, door frames, and trim with painter’s tape, leave it in place until it’s completely dried, then cut it free with a blade to ensure a clean line.
12. Bring neutral spaces to life with colorful decor
With neutral walls and furniture, your place may look rather bland.
While you don’t want to see dramatic color in a house you’re trying to sell, it’s acceptable to add in a few splashes with your decorative accents. In fact, it’s the decorative accents that bring the staging of a room all together.
For example, a fuzzy blanket makes the sofa feel cozy while adding a bit of texture. And colorful, subtly-patterned throw pillows add a pop of color that draws the eye without dominating the space and distracting buyers from evaluating the room.
13. Rent furniture to define space in an empty house
Empty rooms appear smaller than they actually are — which is why many buyers will think that empty houses are too small to meet their needs.
“I’ve been in the business for so long that I know about 80% of buyers can’t envision how their furniture will fit into an empty house,” explains Daneault. “Buyers say, ‘My bed and my dresser won’t fit in here,’ but when we measure it, they discover it’s the same size or even larger than their current bedroom.”
When selling fast is the goal, you can’t waste time waiting for buyers to measure and reconsider. Your best bet is renting furniture for the main spaces, including a sofa and chairs for the living room, a table for the dining area, and a bed for the master bedroom.
14. Tell a scent story
Have you ever ordered barbecue or a cup of coffee simply because you the scents made your mouth water? Almost everybody has because research shows that scents can actually trigger you to spend money. You can deploy this same tactic to help sell your home faster, too.
Start by placing an air freshener in the bathrooms to keep it smelling fresh and clean. For safety reasons, stick with fresheners that don’t require a flame to disperse the aroma, like these fragrance diffusers. And skip the spray air fresheners, too, as the scent won’t last long enough.
Creating appealing, homey scents in the kitchen is easy, too. Simply keep a roll of pre-made cookie dough in the fridge, and bake a single cookie right before a showing. Then turn the oven off right before you go and let that sweet home-baked scent permeate the house.
If cookies aren’t your thing, try boiling a few cinnamon sticks in water on your stovetop. Just make sure you turn the burner off before leaving the house. The warm, spicy scent should still linger throughout the showing, even with the burner off.
15. Hire a pro stager to do it all for you
All of these tips are pretty quick and easy, but it can still feel overwhelming to tackle staging solo when you already have a massive to-do list.
If this feels like too much to take on, but you still want the benefits of staging to help your house sell fast, consider hiring a pro to do the staging for you. You can also ask your real estate agent if they offer complimentary staging, or a staging consultation, as part of their services.
“I have several staging professionals on my team who give a list of staging tips, telling sellers what they should and shouldn’t do in each room,” explains Daneault. “My sellers then look at that list and decide whether or not they want to hire that stager or stage it themselves.”
Prepping a home to sell is a massive undertaking so big that it’s a push to get it ready in a few weeks. But if you want your house to sell fast, staging is one item on your list that you shouldn’t neglect.
Header Image Source: (Francesca Tosolini / Unsplash)