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.

Lighting

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 Icovia.com, 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 >