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The Four Pillars of Home Staging

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Does home staging really work? I know it does, because study after study proves it.

Let’s start with a quick statistic from a study of 2,500 Realtors tracking it. The homes they prepared for sale using home staging sold 536% faster than the ones that were not. 33 days compared to 177 days. Crazy right?

For those of you not familiar with home staging, it’s a method for preparing your home for sale. It’s a proven method that allows your home to stand out from other comparable homes. If you do the same thing everyone else does, you’ll get the same results.

So why do people still do it the wrong way?

We believe the #1 reason more people are not using home staging, or attempting and doing it wrong is simple. Not enough education about how to do it right.

Our mission is to get the word out. That’s why we’ve created the Four Pillars of Home Staging. It’s a simple to understand and straightforward way to teach and implement home staging the correct way. What are the Four Pillars of Home Staging?

Here are the four pillars:

1. Depersonalize and de-clutter
2. Cleaning and repairs
3. Upgrades
4. Furniture and decor arrangement

Let’s cover these in greater detail. The purpose of this article is to enable everyone that sells their home to have the best tools available so they sell it fast, and for their target price.

Pillar 1. Depersonalize and De-clutter

When a buyer walks into a prospective house, their brain tries to picture their family and belongings there. If they walk in and see pictures of your family, and your stuff, they have a much harder time picturing their family there.

It may seem extreme, but you’re going to need to move out approximately 75% of your “stuff”. You do not want your house full of personal items. The buyer needs to have no idea someone lives there. Some “experts” in the real estate world say you need to do the opposite. They encourage you to make the house feel like it’s your house. This can be debunked with one question. If you rented a hotel room and could tell it was just used by someone else, would you want to keep that room? Obviously you would not. Most would even asked to be moved to another room. When you rent a hotel room, you want it to look fresh and like it was made just for you. Homes are no different. You want it to look welcoming but appealing to everyone.

The first step is to empty the entire home. A buyer should be able to open any door, closet or drawer and it should look like a model home. No medicine in the cabinets, no chemicals under the sink, no food in the refrigerator.

Now at this point, we know exactly what you’re thinking. “We can’t move our things out, we still live there”. Or, “Buyers don’t really care if our stuff is still there, as long as it’s picked up”.

Let’s start with the popular, buyers don’t care. This one is absolutely false. Imagine two homes, exactly the same except for one difference, one took our advice and moved their personal effects out, the other, did not. The first home looks move-in-ready. You can see every room has a complete purpose because the walls are not cluttered with family pictures, their tables and desks are cleared, and the closets look large and spacious after being emptied. The other house, left most of their belongings there, although neatly organized, you can see someone else lives there. Their dog dishes are in the kitchen, their children’s bedrooms are still bright orange and packed full of toys, the desk is still topped with messy computer cables and papers, and their closets are packed full of clothes and boxes.

If they are both priced the same, which house would you choose? The one that has only what is needed to show off the house, or the one that makes you feel like you’re walking around in someone else’s house?

The other major point is “We can’t move our things out, we still live here”. At this point, you need to remember this is no longer your home. This is a commodity you are selling. If you use all of our techniques, you will sell your house so quickly, it will not feel like an inconvenience. The trouble comes when you do the same things everyone else does, which leaves your home on the market for several months. So, make sure you follow all of our advice, and you’ll sell fast, ensuring a quick turn-around.

Here is the bottom line. If you follow our steps, you won’t have to live this way long because your house will not sit on the market and you will be onto your new home quickly. Because each home varies so much in what you have, use the last rule for removing items. If in doubt, move it out.

Pillar 2. Cleaning and Repairs

The entire home needs to be sparkling clean. This means that everything from floor to ceiling and all nooks and crannies needs to be completely clean and in good working order. Youtube will be your biggest friend in how to clean and repair various items if you are a do-it-yourselfer. Typically buyers, intentionally or not, will overestimate the expense and trouble of doing this themselves. Do it for them so it doesn’t even cross their mind.

It’s important to check everything – both the inside and outside.

On the inside, if your home has carpet, hire a professional carpet cleaning company for the entire home. Even if you clean your carpets with a household carpet cleaner, hire a professional. It’s unbelievable how much a residential grade cleaner misses compared to a commercial one.

Check all walls, ceilings and floors. Ensure they are all wiped down. Fill in any nicks or dings. Paint the surface after these repairs. You can not sell your home with pink, blue or yellow walls. If this is you, paint them the popular neutral color. And yes, this includes childrens bedrooms. Buyers do not want to paint after the sale, so painting a popular color will make your house stand out.

Windows need to be completely clear. For the clearest windows you’ve ever seen, use a water dampened cloth to wash them down and a dry microfiber cloth to dry immediately after washing, no chemicals needed.

Go through each room making sure everything is so clean, it looks brand new.

On the outside of the home, all drive ways, sidewalks and exterior of the home need to be clean. Borrow of rent a pressure washer and make sure they look brand new.

If your grass is looking brown or thinned out and you have the time to reseed, do so. Get some high quality grass seed filler and make sure everything grows nice and green by watering as recommended on the package. For landscaping plants, buyers want everything to feel new, yet established. This includes new flowers, neatly trimmed bushes and trees and fresh mulch. If you are not sure how to trim trees and bushes, hire out. It’s that important.

Remove all swing sets, trampolines, above ground pools, sandboxes, free standing basketball hoops and the like. Sell them on Craigslist for a bit of quick cash, or store them if want to keep them. Be sure to repair the lawn under these items as needed.

For repairs, start by making sure all of the home’s major mechanical systems are in perfect working condition. This means the heating, air-conditioning, plumbing, and electrical systems. Not only will it impress buyers, but if they move in and find out that the air conditioning doesn’t work, you can expect to hear from them and possibly their lawyer.

If you have been putting off any home repairs, now is the time to complete them. Everything from doors to cupboards, light switch covers to baseboards and light fixtures to railings, needs to be fixed. Many of these things are quick and easy to complete. If there are any larger repairs, check your budget and complete what you can. Check Youtube if you need instructions.

Pillar 3. Upgrades

A survey uncovered that 63% of buyers are willing to pay more for a home that is move in ready. Repairs and upgrades are the ideal ways to give your home that same move in ready feel.

Almost every house needs some upgrades. Keep in mind you will maximize your return on investment if you put in upgrades relative to your homes price range. For example, do not put a $40,000 kitchen upgrade into a $120,000 home. You will not get your money back. Use homes in your area and price range for comparison as to what buyers expect in your homes range. They vary in different areas of the country so unfortunately we cannot give exact price ranges. Also, don’t spend $500 on a fancy new fixture if you can get a very similar one for $50. The goal is inexpensive but stylish upgrades to maximize profit.

To aid in minimizing costs, we recommend starting your search for supplies at any discount building materials retailer, such as Habitat for Humanities ReStore. They carry overstocked, discontinued, new and used building materials donated by manufacturers, businesses, contractors and individuals. You can save up to 75% off retail prices.


Updating the lighting will yield a 299% return on investment. This means that if you spend $1,000, you can sell the house for $2,999 more. Lighting not only shows off your hard work but also gives your home a cleaner and more inviting feel. Even if the buyer will want to darken certain rooms, like the dining room, they want it bright when they see it. It subconsciously makes it more appealing. First, replace any burnt out bulbs in the house and turn on all the lights. Do this at night so you have only the lights in the home to provide light.

If you have a light fixture that is too small for the area and therefore making the area too dim, upgrade the fixture to something with more bulbs if possible. We also recommend putting in fixtures that shoot the light upwards so it bounces off the ceiling. This spreads the light better and prevents it from being too harsh on the eyes. Outdated fixtures are also cause for replacement. Ensure all of your light fixtures match the style of your home and the current decade.

Landscaping and Curb Appeal

Updating the landscaping and curb appeal will yield a 215% return on investment. This means that if you spend $1,000, you can sell the house for $2,150 more. Easily the most important aspect of staging is curb appeal. This is critical because if your house does not look appealing from the beginning, most potential buyers won’t even come inside, and if they do, their first impression is forever lowered. It’s crucial that you do not skimp on the landscaping budget.

Kitchen and Bathrooms

Updating the kitchen and bathrooms will yield  a 166% return on investment. This means that if you spend $1,000 you can sell the house for $1,660 more.

If you live in an area where everyone has a particular type of kitchen or bath, such as all tile floors or stainless steel appliances, and your house does not have these upgrades, it will be worth the money to  upgrade.

However, avoid huge kitchen remodels. They can cost tens of thousands of dollars which you will not likely get a return on. Instead focus on specific aspects that are most noticeable. These include cabinets, counter tops, tile back splash or simply changing out the cabinet hardware. Cabinets can be painted if they are old or dark and out of style.

Faucets are a cheap and easy upgrade. Replace any that are outdated. Do not buy a $300 unit. You can find similar styles that look gorgeous for only $50.

Moving to the bathroom, if your toilet does not look new, replace it. It’s very simple and affordable. If the bathtub is old and flaking, you will need to either replace the tub, or have it refinished. If the tub is solid metal as older ones often are, you are best choosing the refinish. Solid metal tubs are heavy and a pain to remove. If the tub is fiberglass, you can replace the entire tub for less than a refinish so go this route. This is a good time to replace the bathtub faucet if it is outdated or doesn’t look new.

Interior Paint

Interior paint will yield a 207% return on investment. This means that if you spend $1,000 you can sell the house for $2,070 more.

It’s a fast and easy way to make the whole house feel fresh. At 207%, there is no reason not paint it. Not only will painting over the green walls in a child’s bedroom yield a great return, it also prevents the buyer from having to do it themselves. Buyers love move in ready homes.

Pillar 4. Furniture and Decor

Now that you have almost everything out of the house, the repairs are complete, and you have upgrades finished, it will be easier for you to visualize the benefits or flaws of each room.

  1. What is the purpose of the room?
  2. How is the foot traffic directed?
  3. What are the focal points and benefits of the room?
  4. Are there any negatives of the room?

Once you determine these items, you can begin placing furniture and decor.

All furniture should be grouped so there are no single pieces of furniture in any room. A few examples are a bed and end tables, not just a bed. Or a small reading area would need a chair and table, not just a chair.

In selecting furniture sizes, you want to determine the size of the room. If the room is very large and can accommodate any size of furniture, use whatever looks best. If you have a smaller room that will not fit normal sized furniture, you will need to select the smallest items to fill in. Use shorter, narrow and more shallow pieces to make the room appear larger.

If you don’t know how big the furniture should be, plan it out on one of the recommended websites, such as, or use pencil and paper.

The main take-away from this section is that every room is different,  and you will need to play around with the furniture to locate the best placement. The furniture and decor we’ve mentioned is just a guide line. As long as you give each room one purpose, highlight the benefits, minimize the flaws and watch for traffic patterns, you’ll do better than almost every other comparable home in your area.

Next steps

Selling your home can be exciting. Keep the excitement alive by doing it correctly and move on to your next journey in life much faster.

To ensure you get the absolute maximum profit and the shortest time on the market, we have constructed a Master Course that anyone can use. It’s detailed enough so that you learn exactly what you need to do, but simple enough that  anyone can put it into action. It uses the Four Pillars of Home Staging we have created  so you’ll recognize the format.

You only get one chance at the first open house. Let yours be profitable.

Check out our Master Course now >

Use the buyers five senses against them

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The humans subconscious mind is a very complicated and awesome thing. Our primary objective is to make such a strong, positive impact so the sellers subconscious mind falls in love. The subconscious mind is more affected by its’ senses rather than words. So to control it, we have to present the home to the senses from the moment they step onto the property. If you do this correctly, you have control of their thinking. So the question is, how do you present a home to all five senses? Thankfully, they are easily pleased. Just a few things and boom, the buyer is enjoying your home, and the best part, they don’t even know why, they just do.

To complete our primary objective, the first step is to know what primal things can make a buyer subconsciously pleased and eager to buy.

The five senses

In order to properly sell a home, you need to appeal to the buyers five senses. It sounds complicated, but at the heart of it, it’s really simple.

1. Sight

Staged Home Interior

This is the largest of the five when it comes to selling. The brain is constantly processing all aspects of the home. The main factors of selling to vision are de-cluttering, de-personalizing, drawing eyes to the biggest selling points (fireplace) and away from the flaws (small bedroom). The buyers eyes will be in overdrive, overloading their senses. Your job is to calm them down by drawing their eyes to the selling point of each room. If you’re thinking of a room you have that doesn’t have a selling point, it’s easy to create one. More to come on this in the future, or get the full run down on home staging with our Home Staging Master Course.

2. Smell

This has the largest impact subconsciously. If you walk in to a home that looks great but smells musty or like animal urine, the buyer simply can’t lock on to what they like about it. Even if they don’t notice it. They will walk away knowing something wasn’t right, they just don’t know what it was. We’ve got a super secret tip that covers both smell and taste in the last section.

3. Touch

Buyers will walk through a home and touch. It’s just going to happen. Counter tops, stair railings, furniture, etc. Making sure these shine (sense of sight) and feel clean (sense of touch) are important. If your stairway looks nice but the handrail is sticky from your kids sucker, it’s going to make a lasting impression, the kind you don’t want to make.

4. Hearing

Buyers like to know the home is sound proof. This means you don’t want an open house when there is construction close by or your neighbor is having an obnoxiously loud party. If you have a neighbor that likes to be loud, politely remind them that you have an open house coming up and see if you can ensure it doesn’t happen while you’re showing the house.

Creaks in the floor or stairs also subconsciously make buyers think there might be something wrong with it or simply remind them of the age of the home (which turns off some buyers). Make sure you repair any creaks your house makes before listing for sale.

Complete silence when selling also creates an alone feeling, and less like a home. Play some classical music very quietly and let their subconscious know your house is high class. This also subconsciously allows them to be “surprised” when the house costs much less than they think it should. You want them to think your asking price is a crazy good deal.

5. Taste

Cookies - Just one of our super simple tricks

Cookies – Just one of our super simple tricks

This may seem a little odd, but we’re going to give you one of our master tricks (we’ve got tons of them) that will blow your mind. To the subconscious mind, home feels like grandmas house when you were a kid. Even if you never had this experience personally, this trick works with everyone. What says “this is a home you want” more than anything else? Cookies. Freshly baked, chocolate chip cookies.

A half hour before the open house, preheat the oven. Put in a batch of chocolate chip cookies and have them ready just before the open house. Put them on a fancy platter (borrow or buy if you don’t have one, this creates another bonus for sight) and serve them in the kitchen. The whole house will smell like freshly baked cookies. This will subtly remind everyone that they can easily feel your house as their home. We don’t suggest serving milk, to minimize the clutter, but you can offer chilled bottles of water if you like. Put them in the refrigerator and hand them out as you show the home. This will also show them your refrigerator works like a dream (another subconscious seller trick).

What next?

Want more tricks to sell your home 500% faster than your neighbor? Subscribe to our newsletter and get tips and tricks delivered right to your email inbox. Are you planning on selling in the next couple months? You need all of our home staging information to get started immediately. Our Home Staging Master Course packs everything we know into a video course that you can cover in just a few hours. It’s even available for digital download if you want it in five minutes. Get it now, Home Staging Master Course.

Or, if you do have time to burn and would rather learn it over time, sign up for our newsletter below.

1 Reason not to hire a home staging company

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Stage your own home

Hiring out can mean your profits go down.

Hiring out can mean your profits go down.

Why just one reason not to hire someone? Because it only takes one to convince you not to… money. To hire a local home staging company usually costs around $1.50 per sf. If you have a modest 1200 sf home, you’re looking at $1,800, just for the consultation. For a 2000 sf house it’s $3,000. You could have done a lot with that money. It’s a good thing this is hypothetical.

Are we going to tell you hiring someone won’t be thorough and save you from doing it yourself? No. It will absolutely work and you don’t have to worry about figuring out the tricks of the trade. If you have the money to blow or don’t have the time to do it yourself, we say do it. For the rest of us, when we’re trying to sell a home, another $1.50 sf charge on top of everything else just isn’t phesible.

What they won’t tell you

The $1.50 sf is just for them to come out and spend a few hours with you explaining what needs to be done. That’s it. They leave you with a laundry list of tasks to perform yourself, after the consultation. Not only are you spending money on them, but then additional time on your own.

This can be daunting if you don’t actually know the tricks and only have a list to follow. It’s easy to interpret the tasks different ways and each task can be executed in multiple manners.

Here’s what we propose instead

For the same time as the consultation will take to make the list, you can discover all the methods and tricks professional home stagers use. We cover all of the details in our Home Staging Master Course. Everything from the color to paint your walls to the way to arrange your furniture. It’s all in there.

Discover what many others have found. Getting it sold fast and for top dollar is the only way to do it. Get started with our Home Staging Master Course via digital download and start right now. (We also offer DVD format if you prefer.)