How to Stage Your Home to Sell

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Staging home sellingThis post originally appeared on Zillow.

For many sellers, the word “staging” conjures images of an out-of-reach home in an upscale design catalogue with a giant price tag. The assumption is they can’t afford staging, or their homes don’t need it. Many sellers believe their homes already show well, they have nice furniture, and they’ve carefully chosen their paint colors — all of which will help sell their homes.

The reality is, most sellers would benefit from at least some level of staging. And staging doesn’t have to involve a high-end designer who takes over your home, removes all your stuff and completely transforms it. There are many ways to stage a home. It can be as simple as a one-time, slight design and furniture placement consultation, or it can involve a complete renovation of your home in anticipation of your sale.

Don’t be turned off immediately if your agent suggests staging. The goal is to turn your home into a marketable “product,” and just a little bit of work can go a long way. Here are five options for staging that sellers should consider before listing their home for sale.

1. A One-Time Consultation

Most home stagers are actually designers. They know what looks good, what sells and how to best showcase a home. Your home may need a good paint job, could use some new carpet or might even need some landscaping or help with curb appeal. A designer can offer advice about your current home and suggest paint colors, types of carpets, new light fixtures and all kinds of feedback to help you get your home ready for sale.

Think a designer will cost a fortune? Think again. A designer can come in and charge by the hour (as little as $75/hour and up to $200/hour, depending on your location) and consult with you on colors, fixtures and finishes. This can be one of the best few hundred dollars a seller spends prior to listing.

2. Partial Staging

Partial staging is exactly what it sounds like. You may have some outdated furniture or lack good art for your walls. A stager/designer can come in and just do a little bit of work. Maybe you use one bedroom as an office. The stager can bring in a day bed and small dresser to help show this room as an office or a bedroom. You may want to get rid of your oversized sectional sofa and have a stager bring in something smaller to give the appearance of a bigger family room. Have some rooms that seem bare, cold or sterile? A stager can bring in carpets or throw pillows to give any room some life.

3. Fluff Staging

Have some nice things but not sure your home shows at its absolute best? Have a stager come in and do some “fluff” staging. Fluff staging might involve moving your current furniture around to best showcase a room or moving big pieces to the basement. You may have some great pieces hidden away or simply mismatched where they currently sit in your home. A stager working with your stuff can save you tons of money because they don’t need to bring in any of their own furniture. You can simply pay the stager by the hour to come in and redesign your current home.

4. Full Staging

Do you need to move out before listing your home and don’t want to put your home on the market without furniture? Full staging is the answer.

Buyers sometimes have a difficult time imagining where the furniture goes or how they could potentially live in a home. A home without furniture won’t provide them any ideas or vision and may hold them back from falling in love with your home. Also, a home without furniture often echoes, feels empty, cold and sometimes sad. These aren’t the impressions a smart seller wants to give potential buyers. Full staging costs more, because the stager needs to hire the moving truck and use their furniture. But agents around the country highly recommend full staging on an empty home.

5. Full Staging Plus Renovation

Moving out of your home, and it needs some updating? Have a few thousand dollars to invest? Bringing in a stager and some affordable contractors can be a wise investment, especially in the kitchens and bathrooms.

Stagers tend to work with contractors who don’t cost a fortune and can work quickly. Doing things such as replacing old appliances with new stainless steel ones can go a long way. Have old knotty pine cabinets in the kitchen? A cheap upgrade is to strip them down and paint them white. Take out your old Formica countertops and replace them with granite or Caesarstone.

Some other common renovations or improvements include upgrading outdated light fixtures, refinishing hardwood floors and taking out an old sink in the bathroom and replacing it with a smaller pedestal sink.

It’s all about putting your best foot forward

If you’re serious about selling your home this year, you should put your best foot forward. Any improvements, whether big or small, should be planned well in advance. Work with your real estate agent early in the process so you know how much work you need to do on your home, how long it can take, and what kinds of costs you’ll incur. Nearly all agents can recommend local stagers as well as painters, floor refinishers and contractors if you choose to go it alone.

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