Real Estate Marketing

How to Stage a House on a Budget to Sell FAST

Expertise: Real Estate Investing Basics, Real Estate News & Commentary, Personal Development, Flipping Houses, Landlording & Rental Properties, Personal Finance
103 Articles Written

As a real estate agent, I go through a ton of houses. Seeing so many houses, what I realize is that people have zero imagination. You have to build a picture for them. Some say a picture is worth a thousand words. The picture you build for your buyers can be worth thousands of dollars.

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My local market is red-hot right now. I am seeing many flips coming back on the market that look amazing. Most are sold vacant and go within a week for full asking price or more. Like I said, my market is red-hot — so red-hot that staging isn’t necessary. When I see a staged house, it stays in my mind. But if your market isn’t the same, you need to do something that makes your flip stand out.

Last fall I saw one house that astounded me. It was a fix and flip that I thought was way overpriced — they were asking $103,000 more than they paid for it 6 months previous. They painted the kitchen cabinets and all the walls, took an oversized living room and walled it off to turn it into an extra bedroom. New appliances, new bathroom vanity/sink/mirror. They built out the basement bathroom from a 1/2 bath to a 3/4 bath. The rest of the basement was a rather oddly shaped area. You couldn’t really call it anything.

The flipper had done an amazing job of staging, making the most of the 1,300 sq ft. They had a contract in just under a week for $1,000 less than asking price.

Staging your flip probably won’t bring in a significantly higher price than if you left everything bare, but it can help you sell your home faster. Showing the buyer how much room is left over when they put their queen bed in the master bedroom is helpful.

Related: Home Staging 101 For House Flippers

The key to how to stage a house is to show potential buyers how the home could look with their furniture in it. You want to use neutral tones, so the furniture doesn’t overwhelm them. A few pictures or paintings on the walls can help make the house look polished.

How to Stage a House on a Budget to Sell FAST


To make the kitchen looked lived-in, grab a few nice-looking cookbooks. A small toaster, container of utensils and a bowl of fake fruit (or real for an open house or if you live close) can really round out the kitchen. But be careful — you don’t want the counters to look cluttered, especially if it is a small kitchen or has little counter space.

Does your kitchen have anything unusual? Make sure you highlight those extras!


Dining Room

The dining room should have a table, set with plates, silverware, glasses and cloth napkins secured with a napkin ring. If you don’t have extras lying about, these items can be found at thrift stores for next to nothing.

Living Room

The living room should be a comfy space that people want to hang out in. Show it off by using a nice, neutral colored couch. Throw some decorative pillows in for a splash of color. Lamps can brighten up a dark space, and a mirror hung on the wall can make a small space look enormous.

A large flat-screen TV is another trick I like to incorporate. Most people are looking for something more — more house, more space, a better neighborhood. Show them this house is a better than theirs, and make them want to own it.

Master Bedroom

The master bedroom should have a bed, bedside table and dresser. One of the best staging tips I ever heard was from one of those staging TV shows. The hostess said you can use a blow up mattress or two to simulate bed and box springs. Make sure it stays inflated! Make the bed like normal, and no one will know. Much easier to store when not in use.

Again, be careful not to overstage. Don’t make the rooms look tiny by using a huge bed or table. Don’t make the bedside table look cluttered by too much stuff.


Additional Bedrooms

Most people buying a house have children or want them someday. Show a bedroom as a gender-neutral baby’s room with a crib, a few toys and child-friendly pictures. Another bedroom could be made up for an older child or as an office with a desk and monitor.

Related: Home Staging – Why You Can & Must Do It

Laundry Room

People lose their minds for front loader washing machines. Matching washer/dryers give a great finish to a room that most people overlook.

Make the house something people aspire to own. They don’t get the same feeling from an empty house as they do in a house with furniture. Show them that this house will be a move up for them. A staged home sells faster than an empty one. Buyers have no imagination and need to be shown how they can use the house they are looking at, especially those weird spaces that older homes seem to have.

What are some of your favorite ways to stage a home?

Be sure to let me know with a comment!

Mindy Jensen has been buying and selling homes for more than 20 years. She buys houses, moves in, makes them beautiful, sells them, and starts the process all over again. She is a licensed real est...
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    Kevin Ramirez Nieto Wholesaler from Raleigh, NC
    Replied about 5 years ago
    @mindyjensen Ahhh you always write posts of great value here on BP! I learn something great in every single one of your posts. As a Realtor in the Raleigh, NC area I understand the value of PROPER staging. Anything that makes your property stand out from the rest is a HUGE plus, I will be sure to share these tips with my seller clients. P.S I wrote a short post about the subject title “13 steps to stage your home as if it was going on a date” that I am sure other people who agree with you and see the value on proper staging will enjoy! I will leave the link since the posts go hand in hand!
    Terrence Arth Investor from Scottsdale, Arizona
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Hi Mindy, ok, I admit it, I am “one of those”. Years ago, as a corporate vagabond, we moved 9 or 10 times. Thank the Lord for my wife. I would like a house based on oh maybe a big garage or it had a cool ceiling fan. She would say “so where does the dining room furniture go?” Or “how would we configure the family room furniture and where would the tv go”? Me? Well, I kind liked the wall color, know what I mean? I am soooo not creative. Since then I’ve focused on visualization, I like lightly staged, clean, good traffic flow units with minimal furniture to get the best response. It gives me the impression that 960 sq ft condo is a monster or the 1400′ house could hold everything a family owns with plenty of room to spare. And I hope it make buyers & renters feel that way too!
    Geoff Van Dusen Property Manager from Sioux Falls, South Dakota
    Replied about 5 years ago
    I have contracted with a local rent-to-own, to come in and stage the house for me, they can leave their sign for advertising. I have then worked deals that everything in the house stays. Rent-to-own gets the advertising, small fee, and the furniture sold, the new owner gets to move in with all new furniture. If the new owner doesn’t want the furniture, rent-to-own takes it back, still gets the advertising, and a small fee.
    Nnena O. Investor from Boston, Massachusetts
    Replied almost 5 years ago
    Geoff, I love this idea. This solves the problem of not paying lots of $$ to hire a professional stager, nor the space to store DIY staging props. It also potentially solves a problem for the buyer–if they want to keep the furniture. Win-win-win!
    Jonathan Makovsky Investor from Fairfield-New Haven-Hartford County, Connecticut
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Great content Mindy. Thanks.
    Colin Smith Realtor from Colorado Springs, CO
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Great tips! Thanks!!!
    Carol Martin
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Hi admin, Thanks for sharing this excellent post with us.Keep doing good work. A perfect with unique content it is the true quality post with the proper information.I really found this article easy to understand and helpful. Thanks & Regards Carol Martin
    Replied almost 5 years ago
    Thanks for sharing this excellent Blog with us.Keep doing good work. Wow, Kitchen is perfect, look and Furniture are good. Dining and Living room is a Dream! Master Bedroom is so awesome. I like your collection of house!!
    Laura Ludwig
    Replied over 3 years ago
    What an awesome post. I love how the living room was arranged and designed.
    Laura Ludwig
    Replied over 3 years ago
    What an awesome post. I love how the living room was arranged and designed.
    Juan Carlos Ibarra from Barcelona
    Replied about 2 years ago
    Great, very clever. Some big stores show us that is not necessary a big pocket to transform a room. Even could be funny, Thanks.