Staging your home, while it involves effort and depersonalizing your space, can raise your selling price anywhere from 5-20%. In addition, it dramatically reduces the amount of time your home spends on the market. Your goal is to make your home appeal to the widest possible audience so you can get the best price in the least amount of time. Think back to when you were buying your home and what attracted you to it initially.

When your home is shown, do your best not to be there and turn the TV off. Turn all the lights on and play some soft music without words (think classical or jazz). Studies show that buyers spend an average of 5 minutes in a home when sellers are present and 20 minutes when they are not . Give them the privacy to discuss your home’s pros and cons without you present. If you must be there, resist the urge to follow them around and tell them how old your water heater is. Just take a walk or let them know where you will be stationed should they have any questions. Of course, don’t tell them why you are moving or how much you will accept.

Here are some general tips that apply to the entire home:

  • Everything must be clean. Many sellers choose to pay professionals to deep clean and then take about 20 minutes/day to keep it looking great.
  • Declutter and organize all spaces. If you don’t LOVE an item or use it often, donate it or throw it away. Often taking a photo of a special item will suffice in lieu of storing the item in your home. You don’t want to pay to move items you don’t truly need or want.
  • Make sure everything is in good working order in your home. If not, fix it your self or ask your Realtor to recommend a handyman.
  • Smell your home. Consider plug-in air fresheners in light seasonal scents, fresh flowers or potted plants and open windows to air out spaces occasionally.
  • Arrange to have your pets stay with someone else when your home is shown. Pets are notorious for making your home smell funky and often buyers are allergic.
  • Everything must be bright . Make sure all your lights are turned on for showings and consider adding floor lamps or hiding can lights behind plants for a dramatic effect. Open curtains and make sure every room looks sunny and inviting.
  • Painting is a wonderful and inexpensive way to freshen up your home and make it appeal to more buyers. Sure, you love your pink bedroom, but more buyers would rather see neutral beige or muted sage green.
  • Make sure all windows are spotless on the inside and outside.
  • Depersonalize the space by taking down kids’ artwork, schedules, family photos, and most knick-knacks. It’s nothing personal, but buyers want to envision themselves living there and personal items remind them that they don’t live there.
  • Remove about 1/3 of your furniture. It sounds extreme, but makes your place look huge. Consider it pre-packing for your new home.
  • Have your Realtor place small cards strategically to highlight extraordinary home features that may otherwise go unnoticed.


What a cute house! What gorgeous landscaping! Can we make an appointment to see that home? Curb appeal is what draws buyers in initially. When e-mailed the details on your home, the exterior photo is the first thing buyers see. Make that first impression count! Go to the curb in front of your house with a notepad and pen and write down any problem areas you spot. Make a to-do list for your home’s exterior

  • As seasonally appropriate, mow the lawn often, shovel snow, or rake leaves.
  • Sweep the porch and walkways
  • Hide garbage and recycling cans
  • Scrub the front door, railings and steps and then paint as needed.
  • Clean or replace the mailbox, door handle, and knocker.
  • Buy a new, inviting welcome mat.
  • Give away or store most lawn ornaments.
  • Stage your porch or patio with comfy seating etc.
  • Plant plenty of flowers in the ground or in containers.
  • Trim bushes and trees.
  • Call the village public works and ask them for free mulch for your flowerbeds.
  • Make sure the door and the shutters match and are clean.
  • Check your lawn and flowerbeds for weeds each day.
  • Make sure that buyers can get to your door safely and easily in all seasons, (it is especially important to clear snow immediately).
  • Make sure your key opens your door easily so Realtors showing your home are not frustrated.
  • Make sure all your outside lights work and are on.


  • Make sure it is open and free of clutter.
  • Clear away all spider webs.
  • Take out half of the clothes from the coat closet and organize it.


  • Arrange the room in a conversational way.
  • Use slipcovers to neutralize or update old furniture.
  • If you have a mantle, clear it of everything except candles, a vase of flowers etc.
  • If you have a fireplace, make it the room’s focal point.
  • Baskets make great hiding places for paperback books or last-minute stashes.
  • Consider removing book dust jackets and organizing them by color and/or height.
  • Replace throw pillows if needed.


  • Remove 50% of your clothes and pack them away or donate them.
  • Limit furniture to essentials.
  • Invest in new luxurious and calming bedding (remember, you can keep them).
  • Get everything off the closet floor and make sure your closet is well lit.
  • Hide all laundry.


  • Clear off all counters of dishes and appliances. Keep only what is absolutely necessary and attractive on a small portion of your counter (such as a toaster).
  • Replace, reface, stain, or paint cabinets as needed.
  • Update cabinet hardware.
  • Changing out faucets and light fixtures is an inexpensive way to update your kitchen.
  • If you have an eat-in kitchen, stage a small table and chairs with placemats, dishes and flowers.
  • Put out a large bowl of polished apples or oranges.
  • Clean out the refrigerator.
  • Empty all garbage cans daily.


  • Replace outdated fixtures with brushed nickel or other non-brass fixtures.
  • Add high-quality plush towels in a relaxing color that matches or white.
  • Re-caulk everything that needs it.
  • Clear off all personal products from counters and open shelves. Add a basket of spa soaps and lotions that match. Make it look like a luxury spa or hotel.
  • Put aromatherapy candles around the tub.
  • Keep toilet lids down.