When it comes to selling a house, appearances are everything. That's why more and more homeowners hoping to impress buyers are investing in home staging. But between decluttering, styling, and making your house look its absolute best, this process can make you want to pull your hair out.
To make this undertaking a little easier, we asked sellers for their very best home-staging advice, and then compiled their greatest tips. If you're getting ready to put your house on the market, use these pointers to spruce things up in a jiffy—and help buyers fall in love with your home.
Keep your home tidy 24/7
"When showing a house, I've learned it’s so important to keep your home tidy with all your possessions stowed away for two reasons. First, you don’t always know who’s walking through your house, and the listing agent can’t be in every room to watch your valuables. I had a brand-new bottle of Chanel perfume in one of my bathrooms, and one day I came home after a showing and it was gone. Second, a tidy house looks better. You want potential buyers to come in and see a beautiful dream home, not your clutter. You never know when a potential buyer will want a last-minute tour, so put away your dishes as soon as you're done eating, pick up dirty clothes on the floor, and make your bed every morning." – Jennifer Davis, homeowner in St. Louis, MO
Invest in a few trendy items
"Before showing, you should update your house with a few new, stylish pieces to make it more on-trend. Look on Pinterest to see what's fashionable right now, or tour open homes to see how they’re staged. Then, re-create the look. Don’t worry, you can do this while being budget-friendly! When we were selling our house, we ended up investing in a few pieces—a new duvet cover, some curtains, and some wall hangings—to make our home look more like other houses that were on the market. All this stuff only cost us a couple of hundred dollars, but we got a lot of compliments on our style and, in the end, our house sold for more than we expected. Remember that spending a few hundred on décor could end up getting you thousands in the end." – Cassidy Carr, homeowner in Provo, UT
"The one room you really must stage to sell is the Living Room"
Make your home feel like their home
"The best home-staging wisdom I've heard is that potential buyers need to see themselves in your home. That’s why real estate agents tell you to clear out any personal pictures you have on the walls. You don’t want buyers to think of it as your house, because it’ll make it harder for them to picture themselves living there. For that same reason, try your best not to be home when your house is being toured. If buyers see you, they’ll remember that they're guests.
"And unless you feel very strongly about people taking their shoes off, remember that you're moving, so it doesn’t really matter if people are tracking in dirt. When buyers are told to take their shoes off in a home, they’re reminded that someone else lives here, and it makes it harder for them to see themselves living in that house. Plus, for some people it’s awkward to walk around in their socks, and you don’t want potential buyers to feel uncomfortable." – Anne Andrews, homeowner in San Juan Capistrano, CA
Spray a clean, simple scent
"You can absolutely kill a person's interest by showing them a house that smells like dirty teenagers and smelly dogs. Houses need to smell fresh and clean, but shouldn’t smell like chemicals. Invest in a really good home fragrance spray with a soft scent, like lavender or fresh linen." – Ashley Matthews, homeowner in New York, NY
Don't try to hide your clutter
"It's common to use the garage as a place to stash the boxes you've cleared out of your home for a showing. However, you still want the garage to look presentable. People want to see the entire house, so take this opportunity to clear it out. Buyers will also open closets. They’re not trying to be invasive—they just want to see how much space you have. Don't think you can cram everything behind those doors and it'll be invisible. People will look through everything, and when they do open closet doors, they probably won’t appreciate being met with an avalanche of stuff. In fact, it will probably make them think your house doesn’t have enough storage, and they’ll move onto the next." – Linda Roberts, homeowner in Mission Viejo, CA
Get your pets out of the house
"The best advice I got before selling my home was to make sure that both buyers and my pets feel comfortable. Meeting someone else’s animals can be stressful. Pets might be protective of their turf, so owners should consider taking them somewhere else during showings. If you’re having an open house, bring your pet to a friend’s house for the day. If someone is coming over for a tour, take that opportunity to walk your dog. However, if you must leave your pets at home, always make sure you leave instructions on how to handle them. Give your listing agent instructions on where to put dogs if they get rowdy (like a guest room), but don’t just assume you can just put your pets in the backyard, because buyers want to see the outdoor space too." – Leanne Logan, homeowner in Hershey, PA