Dos & Don'ts of Home Staging

Given the option, you would most likely choose not to stage your home while you’re still living in it. However, it’s not uncommon to have to prepare to show your home before you’ve closed on your new home. Don’t despair; while it is definitely more challenging to keep a home show-ready while it’s occupied, it’s certainly doable. 

First, let’s look at why staging a home is so important. According to recent research conducted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR),  31% of realtors reported that home staging greatly reduced the amount of time a home remained on the market. 23% of both sellers and agents reported netting up to 5% more than the asking price, while 18% of sellers’ agents said they closed for up to 10% over asking. 

None of the sellers’ agents reported a hit to a property’s value as a result of staging. Based on this data (more of which is available in the report), we strongly suggest that you do everything possible to stage your home before you list it on the market. 

Today, we’re breaking down the Dos and Don’ts of Home Staging. Let’s dive in!


Hire a Professional

If you can afford to, invest in a professional home stager. You are sure to make back more than you spend, and your time may be at a premium more now than ever as you prepare for your upcoming move.

You should know that many home stagers charge a consultation fee and require a three-month minimum contract. If your home sells the first week it’s on the market, you’ll still be required to fulfill the terms of this agreement.

If you would like recommendations for excellent home stagers, ask your real estate agent to help. They will have established relationships with stagers who have returned outstanding results time and time again. 


Move Out—As Much as You Can

We’ve established that you may have to live in your house while it’s on the market. Still, consider the staging process the first step toward moving your belongings.

The goal is to make it look as though no one in particular lives in the home. Imagine Pottery Barn via a minimalist Instagram account. In order to make your house the perfect canvas onto which a prospective buyer can mentally project their own lives, your personal items have to go.

The rule of thumb is to declutter by at least 30%, but it’s not uncommon for this percentage to reach 75% in hectic family homes. Take this opportunity to donate or haul away anything you don’t plan to take with you during your move.

Of the remaining belongings, identify anything that will not be absolutely necessary for you over the next several weeks. If you were going on an extended vacation, would you pack your collectibles and hobby gear? Clearly not. Pack it up and store it until your house has sold.

Surfaces must be clear, your junk drawer should be empty, and closets should be as empty as possible. Every home, no matter the size, looks far larger and more open once this process is complete.


Deep Clean and Keep It That Way

Whether you deep clean yourself or hire a team to render every surface sparkling, the real task lies in maintaining this level of cleanliness consistently. Buyers may come any day of the week, and you must be ready.

Create a list of daily cleaning tasks. Divide them up with your family, then check each evening to be sure the entire list has been accomplished.

Your kitchen, bathrooms, living rooms, bedrooms, and laundry room will all be closely examined. Try to view them through a stranger’s eyes. Imagine you’re checking in to a hotel, and you notice soap scum, used towels, and a full basket of laundry. Yuck! As difficult as it may be, this “hospitality standard” is the level of tidiness to which your family should aspire.

A broom, vacuum, wet mop, dusting cloths, disinfecting wipes, and multi-purpose cleansers are going to work for most housekeeping tasks, so keep these on hand until you move out.


Refresh Your Entry

The entry to your home should be as neat as a pin and free from debris. Sweep, scrub, and polish fixtures. Your family should continue to remove their shoes, but they have got to put them away! Shoes piled in the entryway is an instant deterrent, guaranteed.


Present Neutrality

Your wall colors, towels, bath and welcome mats, bedding, curtains, wall art, rugs, and furniture should be neutral and welcoming. If your own furniture won’t fit the bill, put it in storage and rent replacements. Less expensive items should be purchased and used for the duration of staging, though they may serve you well in your new home!


Small Rooms Need Airy Furniture

By this, we mean that a heavy bed frame and solid chaise in a small guest room are only going to make it look smaller. If you’re staging a smaller room, choose furniture that sits up on dainty legs, exposing more floor space beneath. Swap out heavy curtains for gossamer sheers, and bulky bedspreads for a lighter weight blanket.


Pack Go Bags 

Each member of your family should have a small bag packed and ready. Fill these bags with items such as snacks, water, books/toys/games, and a phone charger. Have a list of potential destinations—the park, a movie theater, a friend’s house, or the library—where you and your family would be fine waiting for a few hours.

When your real estate agent calls to let you know they’re on their way with a buyer, grab your bags and make yourself scarce. This is the time to step back and trust the process; you’ve done a great job getting ready for this moment!


* Specific loan program availability and requirements may vary. Please get in touch with the mortgage advisor for more information.