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How to Stage a Home for a Quick Sale: Home-Staging Tips for Homeowners, Realtors, and Investors

Staged homes spend an average of 90% less time on market than their unstaged counterparts.

[Updated: Feb 04, 2021 ] Apr 14, 2020 by Tara Mastroeni
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Many homeowners and investors alike can benefit from staging their properties before they put them on the market. Studies show that not only does home staging decrease time on market but it can also encourage potential buyers to offer a higher purchase price.

If you're getting ready to put your home up for sale, read on to learn how using staging techniques can help you come out ahead as well as what you can do to stage your home without busting your budget.

What is home staging?

If you're newer to the real estate industry, you may think of home staging as being akin to interior decorating. However while both activities involve thinking about the design of the home, they serve different purposes. While interior decorating is about showcasing your personal sense of style, staging uses design techniques to effectively market the home for resale.

In fact, the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) -- the trade association for professional real estate stagers -- defines home staging as "the act of preparing and showcasing residential or commercial properties for sale."

According to their Consumer's Guide to Real Estate Staging, the practice is about combining real estate knowledge with creative design principles (and sometimes even home renovations) to attract buyers and entice them to make an offer on a home.

Benefits of staging a home for sale

The benefits to staging a home for sale are clear. Staged homes tend to spend less time on the market. A recent study by RESA argues that staged homes spend 90% less time on the market than their unstaged counterparts. They looked at 1,081 homes for sale and found that staged homes sold in an average of 23 days, compared to completely unstaged homes, which sold in an average of 184 days on the market.

Staging a home may also encourage buyers to offer a higher sale price for the property. According to the 2019 Profile of Home Staging by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 39% of sellers' agents felt that staging increased the purchase price that buyers offered for the home.

Tips for staging a home effectively

There's no getting around the fact that staging a home for resale takes work. However, if you aren't sure where to start with the task, below is a list of tips you can use to help you get started on preparing your home to hit the market.

Hire a professional home stager

If you want something done right, often, the best course of action is to hire a professional to do the job. While according to RESA's Real Estate Staging Pricing Report, professional home staging can cost anywhere from $225 for the average written consultation all the way up to $8,500 for the full-service staging of vacant homes, there's a good chance you'll find that this service is well worth the investment.

After all, in addition to the benefits listed above, stagers know what buyers are looking for in a home. They can help you take the guesswork out of this process and help ensure that you're investing your money in the design choices that will have the most impact.

They also have established relationships with other industry professionals, like contractors, which can help make the staging process move along much more smoothly than if you were going it alone.

Pump up curb appeal

In real estate, "curb appeal" refers to the way your property looks when viewed from the street. In this case, the goal is to make the home appear as warm and inviting as possible because the view from the street often serves as a potential buyer's first impression of the property.

As for how to improve curb appeal, there are plenty of ways to make it happen. Your first priority should be to make sure that the yard and any plantings are well-maintained, meaning properly mowed and weeded. Beyond that, you can focus on creating an inviting entry into the home by giving your front door a fresh coat of paint and adding accessories like a welcome mat or decorative wreath.

Take care of any necessary repairs

Too often, homeowners lead busy lives and let small home repairs fall by the wayside as a result. However, these repairs -- like running toilets, dripping faucets, or sticky windows, for example -- should be taken care of before putting the home up for sale. Most of the time, they won't take a lot of energy to fix, but they will have a big impact on buyers' overall impression of the condition of the property.

Modernize your home

Whenever you're ready to sell, it's likely worth investing in making your home more modern. Homes that are viewed as modern in buyers' eyes are more likely to garner a higher price tag. In fact, new research from Zillow (NASDAQ: Z) (NASDAQ: ZG) found that homes showcasing a modern farmhouse aesthetic sold for about 10% more than expected while homes described by sellers as "fixer-uppers" sold for an average of nearly 28% less than expected.

How to stage a home on a budget

That said, staging doesn't always have to mean making top-dollar renovations or busting the budget on new furniture and decor pieces. In fact, there are plenty of ways to get your home ready to hit the market without spending much money at all.

Invest in low-cost upgrades

The truth is that upgrades don't have to cost a lot in order to leave a big impression on buyers. Updating paint colors, in particular, is a good example of this because paint is fairly affordable, but putting a new color on the walls can have a dramatic effect on how the room looks and feels overall.

In addition, you can consider other low-cost upgrades like replacing drawer pulls with more modern versions or updating throw pillows.

Focus on the kitchen and bathrooms

When you do spend money, you want to be sure it's going where it will have the greatest impact. To that end, the experts at the Real Estate Staging Association recommend putting your focus into updating kitchens and bathrooms. According to their consumer guide, buyers always pay "special attention" to those areas, so it's important to make sure they're in the best shape possible.

That said, you don't have to worry about budgeting for a total overhaul. Projects as simple as replacing an older vanity, repainting kitchen cabinets, or even regrouting tile can make these rooms feel refreshed.

Declutter and depersonalize where necessary

Once you're done making updates, it's time to consider which tasks you can do to stage your home that don't cost a dime. Two of those tasks are decluttering and depersonalizing. Put simply, when potential buyers come to view the home, your goal should be to make it as easy as possible for them to picture themselves living in the home. And sometimes displaying too many personal items can make that difficult.

With that in mind, take the opportunity to pack up any of these items that you aren't currently using, especially things like family photos, religious items, and decor pieces that would not be considered neutral.

Clean and organize

Lastly, before you start showing the home, take the time to organize your personal items and do a deep clean of the space. Once that's done, it's all about upkeep. Every time someone is scheduled to come see the home, you should tidy up. Make sure to wash any dishes in the sink, make every bed, and empty the trash cans.

The bottom line

By now, it should be clear that home staging can have big benefits. With that in mind, if you're getting ready to put your property on the market for resale, be sure to keep some of these tips in your back pocket. With any luck, you should be able to use them to help get your home ready to make a great impression on buyers.

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taramast has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Zillow Group (A shares) and Zillow Group (C shares). The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.