Which of the bedrooms shown here would you rather live in? Believe it or not, they’re actually the same bedroom. One happens to be before the space was staged. The clean, sleek room below is after staging. I know which one I’d pick.
Still don’t believe staging a home to sell is worth it? Consider this: a staged home is one that sells faster, says The Real Estate Staging Association, which did a survey on this topic.
According to a Wall Street Journal article on the survey’s results, “The group studied 174 homes that had been on the market for an average of 156 days before homeowners hired a professional home stager. After staging, they sold an average of 42 days after re-listing.”
Now, granted, an association of home stagers would want to share a study that showcases the benefits of their services. However, keep in mind that this study was about selling a home fast, not for more money. Another study on home staging showed that a staged home doesn’t necessarily sell at a higher price.
Even so, not having a home sit on the market for a long time should be incentive enough to stage your home on one level or another, and the truth is you don’t have to go broke getting your home staged. I spoke with a handful of real estate agents and interior designers for their tips on how to stage a home for sale on the cheap. Here are 11 of their ideas.
- Declutter and depersonalize. One of the best ways to stage your home for someone else to imagine living there is to get rid of your personal stuff. Declutter books, pictures, knickknacks, and anything else that is exclusively you.
- Paint walls in neutral tones. Real estate experts believe certain paint colors inspire buyers to put in an offer, and often suggest that sellers repaint their home in these hues to create a blank canvas for optimal staging. Paul Gorney of Prudential Rubloff in Chicago has four go-to Benjamin Moore colors he recommends his clients paint their homes for the best staging: Shaker Beige, Jackson Tan, Linen White, and Mellow Yellow. (Most paint stores can do color matches if you don’t have a Benjamin Moore store near you.)
- Turn on all the lights. If you don’t have enough light, things can look drab and dreary, especially if you have showings on a gray day. Diane Reidy with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Chicago suggests adding floor lamps to rooms that don’t have enough light or even borrowing table lamps from friends and neighbors to brighten things up.
- Set the table. A blank dining room table is boring. Instead, set it for a dinner party so there is a wow factor when buyers walk in and see your beautifully arranged table.
- Add mirrors. Mirrors make rooms look larger, says Brad Carlson, a Realtor with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene–The Woodlands, TX. He suggests picking up mirrors on the cheap at Michaels or Marshall’s.
- Keep furniture proportional to the room. Strategically placing a minimal amount of furniture in a small space works better than over crowding it with too much furniture, says interior designer Kaylan Kane of Olive Juice in Chicago. “A small desk, chair, and an area rug with one big piece of art in a small room,” she adds, “can give a small room a purpose without overfilling the room.”
- Minimize art and decorations. When staging a room, Kane suggests using paintings that are landscapes or abstract, or figurative art that brings out an accent color in the room without being too specific.
- Turn your bathroom into a spa. “I recommend clients purchase solid white towels, rugs, and shower curtains when preparing to sell their home,” says Jessica Edwards, a Coldwell Banker real estate agent in Wilmington, NC. “These simple luxuries don’t cost much, but can make a significant difference in the feel of the room.” Plus, who can argue with white?
- Add pops of color. Now that you’ve painted the walls a pleasure neutral hue, think about adding in pops of color. These could be colorful pillows on couches and beds, or a bowl of green Granny Smith apples in the kitchen.
- Clean out and organize closets. The experts at Redfin.com, the real estate website, suggest making sure hangers are evenly spaced apart, and matching your shoes, purses, and accessories to give a color-coordinated, organized appearance inside your closet.
- Clear off countertops. Get rid of all clutter in bathrooms and kitchens except for the bare necessities that “read” bathroom (soap dish and a hand towel) or kitchen (coffee machine). Shannon Vallentyne of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty in Seattle likes to put a cookbook on a stand on a kitchen counter, and have it open to a fun recipe. Kitchens are often the number one priority on a buyer’s list, so make yours look as clean, open, and spacious as possible.
Don’t forget that while staging the inside of your home is important, the outside—the site of your curb appeal—is just as critical if you want your home to sell fast.
Leah Ingram’s favorite price is free! She is the author of 14 books, including two on frugal living. Her book Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier for Less was just released as an audiobook. Leah is the founder of the popular frugal-living blog called Suddenly Frugal. Right now if you subscribe to Suddenly Frugal, Leah will send you an exclusive freebie. Each week here on Parade.com she’ll be covering different money-saving ideas. If you have an idea, let her know. In the meantime, follow her on Twitter @suddenlyfrugal and “Like” Suddenly Frugal on Facebook.