Staging Your Home to Sell (For Cheap!)

It’s spring, and besides seeing lots of flowers bloom, bird nests everywhere, and parks filled with kids, you’re probably also seeing For Sale signs on every street corner. It’s prime time for putting your house on the market. If your family is ready to take the leap from homeowner to home seller, then we’re here to help. We’ve rounded up some ways to get your home in tip top shape for showings and open houses this spring. All of our tips are geared towards staging your home for little or next to nothing out of your pocket. Before you pull out the big guns of total kitchen remodels or professional home staging services, see what you can do yourself with a few weekends of work, a little bit of cash, and a whole lot of motivation to sell.

  • The first thing you should do is clear the clutter. There are two reasons why this is important. One, there’s nothing more off-putting than walking into a home you’re interested in buying to see nothing but the current homeowner’s china tea cup collection lining every visible surface. Two, you’re planning on moving, right? So, take the time now to prepare for packing by purging items that don’t need to follow you along to your next destination.
    If you can give yourself a full month, or sooner if you’re on a selling time crunch, to go through our 31 Day Organization Challenge, then we can walk you through a room by room decluttering schedule in a guided, organized, and stress-free way.
  • While you’re clearing out the clutter, don’t forget about the refrigerator. This large food-storage box sometimes becomes a multipurpose holding facility for all sorts of things, from birth announcements and coupons to kid’s artwork and homemade magnets. Potential homebuyers aren’t interested in the latest family newsletter, despite how exciting it may be, they just want to see a refrigerator.

  • As you sadly take down last year’s Christmas card from your refrigerator, it’s time to make the rounds and continue to remove all evidence of your personal life from the walls around you. Depressing, huh? It won’t be when you snag asking price one week from listing, and who knows, it could possibly have something to do with this tip. Grab some packing boxes, and pack away family pictures, awards, trophies, and religious and/or controversial items. Anything that is personal enough to be distracting to potential buyers. You want to be sure they are focused on key aspects of the house, instead of being pulled in the direction of the blown up headshot of your once-famous Uncle Tom. Also, they want to imagine themselves living in your house, without the feeling of being guests in a stranger’s home.
  • As you’re starting to pack, keep going by removing all non-essential items in your home. This gives you a head start on moving and leaves your home a neutral, minimalistic, and clutter free space, which is ideal for selling. Store all boxes in your garage or an out of the way area, in neat stacks, because the detailed potential homebuyer will look everywhere!

  • Move to the closets and pack up all out of season clothing or anything you don’t plan on wearing in the next few months. Try to clear out the closets as much as possible. This will give the appearance and illusion of a larger closet area and more accurately shows the amount of storage space. Move all remaining hanging items to one side of the closet rod, leaving the rest of the rod clear.
  • As you continue to downsize, pack, and minimize your items, do the same for your shower areas. Grab good sized toiletry bags for each member of the family, and plan on living out of them until your house sells. Remove all the items that live or hang in your shower, leaving the space empty. Potential homebuyers don’t want to see your hair-growth shampoo, your grimy razor, or a half used bar of soap in the shower they want to buy.

  • For those of us with pets, we know all too well the mess and smells that our beloved furry children make. We’ve learned to live with it, but the new potential homeowners may not be as accepting of the litter box dust and the stained, but oh so comfortable dog bed that Biscuit has had for years. Consolidate pet areas into one out-of-the-way space in your home, preferably the garage or laundry room. For showings, try to remove as many of those pet items as you can while potential buyers are walking through.
  • This goes without saying, but you must have a clean home to increase interest and offers. If you have to hire a weekly service to be able to keep up on the cleaning, then do so. It will be well worth it in the end. Scrub and shine your home like you’ve never done before. And do it often, more often than you’ve ever wanted to. Make your home model-home worthy.

  • When you get to the dreaded bathrooms, focus on the shower. If you have shower doors, then whip out the arsenal of products that you know will wipe that grime away. Keep the shower shining until your home sells. Also, clean the walls in the bathrooms. They get the most dirty and stained out of all the walls in your house. Wash them thoroughly with mild soap and water. If you have more than one shower in your home, consider only using one while your house is on the market. It’s easier to deep clean one bathroom every few days than four.
  • Once your bathroom is sparkling, toss aside the old floral green towels that you’ve come to know and love, and replace all bathroom linens in the color white. Towels, bathmat, even possibly your shower curtain, should be in a crisp, clean white. Think hotel linens. You want to convey a sense of cleanliness, neutralness, and brightness. Consider buying a new set of white towels that you only pull out for showings or open houses, thus guaranteeing they will remain clean and plush. Then once you move into your new space, you have brand new towels to christen your bathroom with.

  • If you need to repaint your whole home, then do it, but that doesn’t fall under cheap ways to stage, so we’re focusing on areas that just need touching up. If there are any holes or small areas that you’ve been meaning to spackle and repaint, but haven’t gotten around to in the last 5 years, then now’s the time. Touch up baseboards, trim, settling cracks, and other areas.
  • Go from lamp to lamp and check for burnt out bulbs. Look outside at your outdoor lighting and replace any light bulbs that need replacing. Bright light is one of the most important staging tips that can make a home appear larger and cleaner, so don’t skimp here. Even consider replacing some of your bulbs with higher wattage bulbs for extra light.

  • Be sure that each room in your house clearly shows its purpose. Be sure there are beds in guest rooms and bedrooms. Put a desk in an office space. Potential homebuyers don’t want to see multi-purpose rooms that are so multi-purpose, you can’t even figure out one way to use the room. If you have to rearrange furniture to accomplish this, then do it.
  • Keep the master bedroom decor gender neutral. Ditch the glittery bedspread, which your husband has probably been begging for for years anyways. Dismantle the man cave portion of the room until you’re into your new space. Make this bedroom equally inviting to both male and female, even if that means stripping it down and keeping it bare bones.

  • If you have to rearrange furniture to make your rooms more show-house worthy and you’re left with the dreaded carpet dents, have no fear. It’ll take you two seconds to fix those up, using a common free household object everyone has: an ice cube. Place an ice cube right on the dent and let it melt. Once it’s completely melted, use your fingers to fluff up the carpet, vacuum over the area, and voila, no more dents!
  • Bring the beauty of outside indoors. Try to put one piece of nature or greenery in each room, whether that’s fresh flowers, a houseplant, or a new wreath. It will give your rooms a fresh, natural, and cared-for look that’s appealing to most everyone.

  • While you’re picking the flowers from your flower bed to put on your nightstand, take a look around your yard. Curb appeal can make or break a potential home buyer’s first opinion of your house. Give them something nice to remember. Make sure the lawn stays mowed, lay down fresh mulch, plant fresh flowers, and remove any visible eye sores, such as kid’s toys or lawn ornaments. Be sure your house number is clearly visible, your mailbox is in good shape, and your front door is cleaned and freshly painted. It doesn’t hurt to stick a nice wreath on the front door and a new welcome mat below, giving a homey, welcoming touch.

*Tech Tip: Staging your home is important, but what about marketing your home to potential buyers? Find out what you need to know about Real Estate SEO to maximize your chances of being found.

Here are some extra tips we’re throwing in for when you get the call that someone wants to stop by and take a peek at your house. Do these few things to go the extra mile towards making your house look and show its best. Bonus: They’re all free and take less than a few minutes to pull off!

  • Go from room to room and close all toilet lids and closet doors.
  • Go from room to room and open all shades and raise blinds all the way to the top. Turn on all lights. You want the brightest amount of light in every room.
  • If you have a gas fireplace, flip the switch and turn it on.
  • Make your house smell irresistible. Pop some frozen cookie dough in the oven (your kids will thank you later), light vanilla scented candles, or whip up a stove top fragrance.
  • Turn on some soft, soothing background music.
  • Set your dining room table for a dinner party, or at least a nice home dinner. Let them see your house in staged action.
  • Additional Staging Tips.

Good luck selling your home! Stage it right and get the most bang for your buck, as well as a happy homebuyer.

Photo Credits: PIN IMAGE: DanielSTL (CC BY 2.0), White Vase with Twig By SnapwireSnaps (CCO), Light Living Room By Real Estaging (CC BY 2.0), Cleaning Products By Condesign (CCO), Shower By PublicDomainPictures (CCO), White Towels By Life-of-Pix (CCO), Refrigerator By Shannon Demma (CC BY 2.0), Bedroom By Anqa (CCO), Our Three Peas

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Dani lives in North Carolina with her two preschoolers. She is a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom who loves to clean and organize anything and everything. Her happiness is found in Jesus, days at the spa, and combating dark chocolate peanut butter cups with everyday workouts at the gym. She owns a wedding, lifestyle, and freelance photography business, Dani Nicole Photography.

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