Staging To SELL

When you list with a real estate specialist, you're paying someone for a lot of legwork, marketing, negotiating, and trouble-shooting.  You're paying them to guide you to the finish line.  You're also paying for expert counsel and advice.  You'd be wise to follow it.

Some of the best assistance a realtor provides is in helping you prepare and stage your home.  Realtors see countless homes and will know how to feature yours best for photography, open houses, and private showings. 

Staging takes many forms, from simple decluttering and decorating an occupied home, to installing furniture into a vacant one.  In either case, the goal is to create an image of a lifestyle that exists in that space.  The idea is to convey "easy, fun, and hassle-free."  You want prospective buyers to walk in and immediately believe "Life is better here."

The first element to staging is the psychological shift sellers need to make.  You must begin detaching from the property, thinking of it as a "house" and no longer your "home."  This means removing ALL personal items such as family photos, vacation souvenirs, momentos, sports and religious decor, Johnny's handprint plate from kindergarten, and anything else that identifies you as an individual.  Think about the objects you might see in a new construction model home.  The decor is tasteful and attractive, but generic if not a bit sparse.

The second major approach to staging is to maximize by minimizing.   And by minimize, I mean cut the clutter by more than half!   If a buyer walks in and questions, "Does anyone actually live here?" you know you're doing it right.   This is difficult for many people.   Boxing up and storing your worldly posessions is both exhausting and inconvenient, but, without question, it guarantees a quicker, higher-priced sale.

One final thought is about cleanliness.  When selling a home -- especially a higher-priced fine home -- buyers expect it to be IMMACULATE.  You must clean, paint, and repair like you've never done before (or hire someone to do the job).

With this in mind, below is the staging guide I share with my clients as we prepare to list their home:

General Interior Staging

> Turn all lights ON
> Turn all ceiling fans OFF
> Replace light bulbs so all rooms have same light temperature
> Clean windows
> Remove all rugs (except large area rugs) to create continuous floor lines
> Wash / dust all surfaces
> Vacuum carpet then rake vacuum lines
> Remove cobwebs
> Open all windows, blinds, curtains to maximize light
> Assuming noise is not an issue and weather-permitting, open windows for fresh air
> Remove all baby items, plastic toys, and babyproofing items
> Remove all evidence of pets (dishes, cages, etc.)
> Replace personal family photos with landscape or generic stock photography
> Remove all political, religious, and sport team items
> Remove all exercise equipment
> Remove all electronic devices (or hide power cords), turn OFF if present


> Make beds using all shams, dust ruffles, pillows, making sure lines are straight
> Remove all “name” wall art, teenage pinups, Fatheads, etc.
> Remove all clutter from nightstands and dressers including clocks

Walk-In Closets

> Remove hamper
> Remove half of the items to make closet look spacious
> Hang clothing in same direction, on matching hangers (Ikea wood hangers)
> Fold / stack items nicely
> Hang “best” clothing closest to door
> Line shoes perfectly (remove excess shoes that don't fit nicely)


> Remove ALL personal toiletry items (soap, toothbrushes, shampoos, etc.)
> Caulk any cracks in shower and / or around vanity
> Remove all bath rugs
> Hang fresh (preferably unusued) towels, straight
> Consider tying a ribbon horizontally around each towel
> Crimp toilet paper edge into triangle fold and lay flat on roll
> Put all toilets lids DOWN


> Remove ALL (ALL!) items from countertop (paper towel, knife block, books, etc.)
> Leave on counter one or two decorative items such as a plate or flowers
> Remove all magnets / papers / photos from refrigerator
> Clean and oil stainless steel refrigerators to a high shine
> Remove all garbage cans
> Remove dish towel from stove handle
> Do not set kitchen table, remove all chair covers, booster or high chairs, placemats
> Set dining table with formal place settings including best stemware and linen

Living / Family Rooms

> Declutter fireplace mantle, leaving no more than five items (no family photos)
> Display one decorative coffee table book (or neatly-stacked two or three)
> Place one decorative neutral-colored throw blanket on chaise or side chair
> Clean and repaint inside of fireplace, as necessary
> Remove magazines, books, remote controls, etc. from end tables

Exterior Staging

> Close garage doors
> Remove cars (park several houses down, not across the street or next door)
> Trim landscaping, remove unused planters, hoses, garbage cans, etc.
> Remove dead plants, kids toys, moveable basketball nets, soccer goals, etc.
> Clean up pet droppings
> Place large decorative planters next to front door with colorful plant
> Open patio umbrella, set table as weather permits
> Hide worn or faded patio furniture
> Clean cobwebs from awnings, front door area
> Turn on water features, fountains, pool filters
> Remove pool vacuums, hoses, maintenance supplies
> Turn ON landscape lighting, making sure all bulbs work and are free of cobwebs

If you're in the metro Detroit area and thinking of selling your home, call me at 248 320 1943 for a free, no-obligation curb appeal evaluation and market analysis of your home.


Century 21 Town & Country
41860 Six Mile Road
Northville, MI  48168

Cell:  248 320 1943
Office: 248 349 5600
Fax:  248 305 1905

No. 501404222