Home Staging – Why You Can & Must Do It

by | BiggerPockets.com

When selling a home retail on the open market, everyone wants the same thing…. TOP DOLLAR!

If you want top dollar for your home whether you are a homeowner or an investor, you must stage the property. If your budget is tight and you are not able to hire a professional, I have good news… You don’t need to be left-brained, an interior designer, an architect, Martha Stewart, or Susie-homemaker.  Let’s keep it simple, ok?

Our family has staged almost every home we have flipped.  We consistently receive compliments from buyer’s agents on how well our properties show.  Oour average DOM has been about 17, and many times we are able to press the comps and sell for more $$/sq ft.  This is not an attempt to brag, yet to attest to the benefits of properly staging a home.

5 Home Staging Practices Anyone Can Do:

1.  First Impressions:

Start your staging outside.   Stand across the street (not in the street) and look at the “curb appeal” of your property.  Does anything stand out as an eye sore?  Can you see the best features of the house from the road? A potential buyer will already begin to judge your home by what they see when they pull up, so get this right first!  Remove all debris from entire yard, put up kids toys, hide trash cans, mow, trim, edge the sidewalk & driveway, trim bushes, wash the windows, blow debris off the roof, etc.

When buyer’s go inside a home, I believe they have mostly made up their mind concerning your home in the first 2 minutes.  Pretend you are a buyer, and walk through your front door.  What do you smell & see?  Give special attention to the first 3 rooms that a potential buyer would walk into.  These are usually the entry/foyer area, the family/living area, and the kitchen.

2.  Less Is More

If you don’t know what a room should look like when it is de-cluttered, go watch a soap opera or HGTV.   Pack the garage or a storage unit (not a Pod in your driveway) with everything you can that doesn’t make the home feel warm & open.  Take down pictures of the family at Christmas time and pack up the urn of your late dog’s ashes on the fireplace mantle.  Any item that would allow the potential buyer to peer into your personal life needs to be packed up.  Don’t ask why… People are just funny!

3.  Grab A Swatch

So far I haven’t suggested you spend a dime on staging.  The best bang-for-your-buck is interior paint and if you are not a good painter, please hire someone!  Not only does it look good, it gives that unique “new” smell.  When picking the right colors, don’t re-invent the wheel… Use the marketing swatch cards in the pretty brochures at the paint store.  They are tried, tested, and proven color combos.  Add an accent wall in the living area or dining area, whichever is the first you see walking in the front door.  Also, I suggest using flat paint.  Glossy paint looks cheap and reminds people of rental properties!

4.  Come To The Light

Light and Airy is the key.  Clean every window inside and out.  Remove dark curtains and dirty blinds.  Remove stained glass pieces, stickers, plants, or anything else that will block light.

Check every light fixture and replace dead bulbs.  Use warm-color incandescent bulbs if possible to create a warmer feel.

5.  Lend Your Imagination

Very few buyers can fully visualize the potential of your home.  Go ahead and help them out.  If you have wide open spaces in your floor plan, define them.  Use rugs, couches, chairs, art on walls, desks, to provide ideas as to how to use the space.  If you are using your living room as an office, I suggest redefining it as a living room and make an office in a bedroom, even if it doesn’t work for you.  Make sure that a potential buyer will be able to make sense of the flow of the home.  Weirdness usually results in no offers.  Yes, so get the pool table out of the dining room!

Go ahead and get top dollar.  You can do many things yourself to realize the power of staging!

Photo: Kendyl Young

About Author

Jason Grote

Jason Grote, co-founder of of IBuyAustinHouses.com, has been involved in real estate investing for 10 years. Through his experience, Jason has gained the expertise to sell a home fast and can also help people wanting to begin investing in Austin, Texas real estate.


  1. Brandon Turner

    Good info Jason. I think staging is so under-used, but can be so easy! One of my favorite tricks to stage on a small budget is to buy some tall indoor plants from Home Depot, usually for under ten bucks. Put them in the corner of a room with a lamp and instantly it looks awesome.

    Also, air mattresses with nice comforters and a good headboard are a cheap and easy way to stage a bedroom.

    Thanks Jason!

    • Jason Grote

      More great tips Brandon! We use tall plants also… They add such a fantastic dimension to a room. As I was writing the blog, I realized that you could write a novel on all of the effective ways to present your house to make it more attractive. Thanks!

  2. Staging a home is a wide-ranging task and a tricky one. Some people think that colouring the home bright or using good looking furniture can help in selling faster. But that’s not true. Mostly, people prefer having a look at a neutrally decorated home with smart minimalistic furniture in it.

    • Jason Grote

      Henrik, a full comprehensive staging is not something anyone can put together, but there are many things that can be done to “spruce” up a home with minimal effort and money. I agree with you about minimalistic furniture… every year we use less and less items to stage a house with the same results!

      80% of the time I would say neutral is best, but there are many areas in Austin where the buyer pool would prefer to see modern/eclectic/trendy interiors. Neutral colors and staging in these areas actually causes them to bring a lower price because it invokes less emotion in the buyer.

      Thanks for the comment!

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