Stage Like a Pro

by Mel Golden
January 19, 2018

How Home Staging Can Make THE Difference


Your home is your sanctuary. It’s where you feel the most at ease. It’s lived in and comfortable. Stepping over your kids’ Legos and toys and cleaning up the dishes from breakfast isn’t exactly ideal, but you smile knowing that it’s reflective of a happy home.

When it comes time to selling your home, you may think that it’s perfect just as it is. However, did you know that staging or decorating your home can not only give you a competitive advantage in the market, but add 10-15 percent to the price you get for your home? That saying, first impressions are lasting impressions, reigns supreme when it comes to selling your home. The first 15 seconds is all it takes for a potential buyer to decide whether a home is the one.

Staging isn't something you need to hire a professional to do. You can easily do it yourself for just a small amount of money or even better, nothing at all.

1. Curb appeal. (Free plus a little $)

The outside of your home is just as important as the interior of your home. Professional photographers take photos of the exterior and that gets put online for all to see. Potential buyers make a decision on whether they even want to see your property based on the exterior photos.

Make sure your lawn is well-maintained and in order. Clean up toys, weeds, and any other debris. Make sure the grass is cut and if possible, invest in new mulch for your garden. Bright, colorful flowers complete a yard. Clean or power wash the outside of your home if you can. Clean the outside of the windows if you can as well.

Create an outdoor living space in your backyard using outdoor furniture. This is always weather permitting, however keeping up the exterior of your home no matter the season will greatly improve your chances of selling.

Using your homes exterior is a great advantage and will bump up the interest. Curb appeal is essential and is the first impression of your home, so make it count.

2. Pack up, pick up, clean up. (Free!)

Pack up your personal items and photos. I know this might be hard, but potential buyers don’t want to walk into someone’s home and feel like they are in someone else’s home. The less personal the home, the easier for prospects to envision themselves living there. Also, pack all but essential clothing. The less you have cluttering rooms, closets and storage space, the larger that space will appear. And space sells.

Remove bold accessories, rugs, plants and miscellaneous clutter from all rooms. Leave space for a buyer to imagine filling it with his/her own furniture. Don’t take away all the character of the room, but take away just enough so that it will allow a buyer to have some perspective.

Finally, clean, clean and then clean some more! When I say clean, I mean taking a toothbrush and a Q-tip and scrubbing where the toilet meets the tile, the baseboards, the faucets, the refrigerator, the windowsills, and even the top closet shelf. Polish your floors or vacuum your carpets before showings.

3. Patch it and repair it! ($)

This is where you may need to spend a little bit of money. Repair all cracks, holes, and dings with caulk and spackle. The buyer will only see neglect if these tasks are left undone. Has a relative or friend ever pointed out that all those scratches on your stairs are an eyesore? Go through your home with a friend and ask them to point out any problem areas. Be sure to pick a friend that will not spare your feelings, but will be totally honest and give real constructive criticism. They will notice things that you won't, simply because you see it every day and tend to overlook problems. And remember, if your friend notices a problem area, your buyers will too! Keep in mind that if there are any major improvements that need to be made, they should happen before you even think of listing your home.

4. Cover it up! ($)

Again, a little financial investment here goes a long way. You may think that the bold purple paint in your dining room really brings your space together and compliments the bold yellow paint in the living room, but buyers may not agree.

Your “just right” may be “not quite perfect” for buyers. This could damage the way your home shows. Bold colors, while easy to remedy, can sometimes scare prospective buyers and results in them being able to see nothing else but the color on your walls instead of the wonderful features of the home.

Cover up the walls with neutral paint. Neutral does NOT just mean beige. Paint the walls in an earth tone shade. Greys, light sage greens and soft powdery blues are great examples of colors that resonate well with prospective buyers. If you’re not sold on an actual color, pick simple white paint. White offsets everything and makes it easy for buyers to visualize the space with their furniture.

5. Light it up! (Free!)

Open the curtains and turn on all the lights (at least while you are showing the house). Light makes a space seem bigger, less claustrophobic, warm and welcoming. It lets the space breathe! Having some lightly scented lit candles also adds to the ambiance. Having less furniture and clutter also makes a room feel lighter. Remember the light feeling when painting or adding accessories as well.

6. Arrange it. (Free!)

After making all these minor (yet impactful) changes, it’s time to put your furniture back and stage the home in an appealing and functional way. Don’t just drop pieces into the same place they once were. Look at the room and consider what the most logical layout would be. You want to make it easy for buyers to move around the rooms so don’t place furniture in spaces where it may obstruct the flow. Keep it open and easy to navigate. Consider looking at it from a photographer’s perspective. If you have a great backyard with access from your main living area, arrange your furniture to face the doors to the backyard or deck/patio. Give the impression of an “indoor/outdoor” living space.

Place some nice books on the tables in your home along with some fresh flowers throughout the space. Before showings, open the windows or doors to let fresh air in (weather permitting, of course!), add a pleasant lightly scented candle or two, and place nicely folded fluffy towels in the bathrooms. Little details go a very long way.


See, that wasn’t so bad was it? All it takes is a little time, energy, effort and vision to stage your home beautifully. Invest in these steps and your home will show better and entice buyers, which in turn means an offer that you can’t refuse.  

For more information and tips, on our webpage, head to our Sellers tab and click on “How to Prepare For Listing.”


Mel received his MBA in Finance from Southeastern University in Washington, DC. He resides in Montgomery County, is married, and is a father of two beautiful girls aged 15 and 9. Mel has built and renovated 8 homes as an owner/builder in Montgomery County which gave him the knowledge, expertise and the connections that benefit his clients in every step during real estate transactions. With over 18 years of experience in Real Estate, Mel has established himself as a thorough, honest, hardworking and empathic agent. He is dedicated to his clients and will work tirelessly to find his clients the home of their dreams. He is an Accredited Staging Professional and is licensed to work in DC, MD & VA. Mel has consistently been recognized for his top performance by RE/MAX International and has won numerous sales awards since 1999.
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