A Guide to Staging a House Before You Sell

Staging a house can help it sell for more—and faster. Here's how to make yours look its best.

Staging a house helps buyers imagine themselves living in it.

If you want to sell your home faster, staging is a clever way to do it. Staging a house allows you to present it in its best light, encouraging prospective buyers to imagine themselves living there. It helps you shine in competitive markets, as homebuyers are becoming accustomed to seeing staged homes—in person, on home decorating shows, and in online listings.

What does staging a home mean?

Staging a home is the process of strategically arranging furnishings and decor to make a house look its best while selling. This may involve a refresh of your own belongings, or renting furnishings an decor temporarily. If you’re having trouble selling your home, staging can make a big difference.

Here’s how to stage a home.

1. Understand why you’re staging.

Staging is worth the time and effort when selling your home. A 2017 National Association of Realtors (NAR) survey found 49 percent of buyers’ agents believe staging affects most buyers’ view of a home. And 77 percent of buyers’ agents say staging makes it easier for people to visualize the property as theirs.

Staging can also increase the sales price. In that same NAR survey, 29 percent of sellers’ agents said the sales price for staged homes were between 1 and 5 percent higher than unstaged homes. Staged homes sell faster, too—39 percent of sellers’ agents reported that staging a home “greatly decreases” days on the market.

Understanding the benefits of staging a home can help you decide if it’s right for you, and how much to invest in doing it.

2. Get rid of clutter.

The most basic task when staging a home involves removing clutter and cleaning the house. Remove knick-knacks and personal items from all surfaces. And don’t just put them in closets; potential buyers usually look in them, and you want yours to appear roomy. Box up spare belongings and get them out of the house.

With all the clutter gone, do a deep cleaning. Make your kitchen and bathroom sparkle, and be sure to close the toilet lid before people come by. Air out the entire house by opening the windows, which is better than air fresheners or scented candles, which can trigger allergies. And make sure you wash everything your pets touch. No one is attracted to pet odor. Consider hiring a pro for the deep clean if it’s not your thing.

3. Aim for a light and bright look.

Buyers typically like to see bright rooms, so lighting is an essential part of staging a home. So open your blinds or pull your curtains back before a showing. Make sure your light fixtures look appealing. If your lampshades are dingy or your fixtures are dated, consider replacing them. Play with different types and temperatures of lighting as well. In addition to your overhead lighting, create an inviting atmosphere with lamps and wall sconces.

4. Stage important rooms first.

If you want to stage your entire house, that’s great. But if you don’t have the time or money to stage the whole thing, you can get the most bang for your buck by staging certain rooms. The NAR survey found the living room is the most crucial space to stage, with 55 percent of agents surveyed thinking it’s