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How to stage your home for sale

Staging can be a great way to generate more interest when selling your home.

That’s because displaying your property in a staged way helps buyers to imagine themselves living there.

Not only that, but staging can mean your home appeals to more buyers – potentially generating a higher sale price.

And because many sellers don’t stage their properties, you can gain a major advantage over the competition if you take steps to stage yours.

What is home staging?

Home staging is presenting your property in a way that will appeal to most buyers.

Staging isn’t just about decorating your home; it’s about showing off your property’s best features and creating a feeling for buyers when they see it online or walk through the door for a viewing.

Is it better to stage a house or sell it empty?

Selling an empty home can help some buyers to better visualise their own belongings in the property when they view it.

For other buyers, the sight of empty spaces can have the opposite effect – making it extremely difficult for them to see themselves living in the property.

The main issue with selling an empty home, however, often comes at the listing stage – with pictures of empty rooms looking far less appealing in adverts online or in an estate agent’s window.

Empty rooms also make it harder for buyers to process scale.

For example, an empty bedroom may leave a buyer unsure if their king size bed will fit in the room.

But a staged bedroom with a dressed king size bed inside will help the buyer to visualise how their own bed could look.

So, taking everything into account, staging your home is generally considered a better way to sell.

Does home staging add value?

Home staging can add value because it helps to create more interest in your property from buyers.

Not only that, but staging can also help to sell your home more quickly – meaning it spends less time on the market and you’re able to make your next move sooner.

The benefits of staging your home

Dressing your house for sale comes with many potential benefits:

1. Staging creates emotion and helps buyers to see themselves living there

Home buying is an emotion process – and it’s often emotion that is the driving force for a buyer making an offer.

By staging your home, you can create that emotional response in buyers who view your home – meaning they see and feel themselves living in the property.

2. Staging highlights the best things about your home

By staging your home, you’ll be highlighting the best things about it and detracting from any weaknesses it has.

Very few homes are perfect, yet many buyers can be put off by even minor cosmetic work.

If a buyer’s focus is on an emotional level, however, they’re far less likely to be impacted by minor cosmetic defects.

3. Staging can help to secure more viewings

One of the biggest benefits of staging your home is how it appears on online listings.

With many properties appearing in portal search results, stopping a buyer from scrolling is key.

A staged home, with beautiful furniture and professional photos is far more likely to immediately capture a buyer’s attention compared with photos of empty rooms.

4. Staged homes can help buyers to understand scale

Viewing an empty property, or one that’s full of the seller’s clutter, can make it harder for a buyer to see how their own belongings would work in the space.

By staging your home how you think buyers would use it, you’ll be allowing them to see themselves living there as soon as they walk in.

Empty rooms always look smaller than those with furniture, too, so staging your property can make it appear bigger.

5. Staging helps your property to stand out from the competition

In a busy market where buyers have lots of choice, home staging can make a real difference – because the majority of sellers don’t do it.

A property whose listing photos are crammed with clutter or simply show empty rooms will rarely compare with a staged home – even if the space and condition is exactly the same.

Top tips for staging your property

1. Tidy the garden

Even if it's the middle of winter, making your outdoor space appeal to buyers is key.

Make sure the front of your property is clean and tidy and looks welcoming, so buyers form a positive opinion of your home from the minute they arrive.

And once they have seen how great the inside of your property is, don't spoil the smiles by showing them an overgrown, unusable garden space.

Trim back hedges and bushes and make sure the lawn is looking its best.

If your garden is lacking an entertaining space, considering laying a patio or putting decking down – both of which can be done fairly cheaply but will make a huge difference.

2. Give each room a purpose

The way we use our homes has changed dramatically over the years.

More and more people work from their properties, meaning many spare bedrooms have been turned into home offices.

And with space under more pressure than ever before, the sight of clothes hanging in a conservatory or dining room has become more and more common.

When staging your home, it’s important that each room has a clear purpose – and this needs to be clear to buyers viewing online and in person.

If your property is advertised as a four-bedroom home, ensure that buyers are seeing four bedrooms when they view it – rather than three bedrooms and a home office.

And rather than leaving what became your home office empty, add a bed and other furnishings so buyers can really see the space in a ‘live’ and lived-in environment.

3. Declutter and depersonalise – but not too much

While clutter in your home generally will impede a buyer's ability to see it as their own, removing everything considered to be ‘clutter’ could actually make your property feel cold and unwelcoming.

The general rule of thumb is to neutralise a property as much as possible when staging it for viewings.

So, that means removing all family pictures and toning down any decoration that could be considered garish to buyers.

But if your home is a family property, why not show it off as such?

That could mean leaving a few well-placed and happy family photos in key spots around the house to show how happy your property made you.

However, adequate storage is always high on a buyer’s wish list so ensure any toys or children’s clothes that don't fit in cupboards or wardrobes are removed before a viewing.

4. Revive old furniture with additions

While home staging can mean bringing in hired furniture to really give your home a professional look, it’s possible to revive what you have without this expense.

Show off your sofa or seating by adding new cushions or throws and add a rug to hard flooring to add texture and make your property feel warmer.

In the bedroom, the addition of cushions and throws can have a dramatic effect – creating a welcoming and cosy sanctuary that’s sure to appeal to buyers.

5. Use light to your advantage

Homes flooded with light not only look bigger and more appealing on listing photos, but they also create an immediate feeling of space on viewings.

Even if your property isn’t blessed with huge amounts of natural light, you can still stage it to get the best from what it does have.

Use mirrors opposite windows to reflect light, making rooms feel larger.

Ensure your windows are sparkling clean and move any large furniture that blocks light coming in through the panes, while drawing back curtains and lifting blinds.

And use soft, corner lighting to remove dark spots when taking listing photos.

6. Dress your dining table

Showcase your home as an entertaining space by setting your dining table.

By laying out cutlery, glassware and crockery and adding a candle to the middle of your table, you’ll allow buyers to imagine snug family dinners or laughter-filled parties with friends.

7. Clear your worktop space

If your kitchen worktop is packed with appliances, utensils and washing up equipment make sure you remove as much as you can as part of the home staging process.

Not only will this help show off your worktop space, but it can also make your kitchen feel bigger.

Don’t remove everything, though – your kitchen will look overly-staged if there’s no kettle or toaster.

8. Neutralise your paint scheme

Marked walls or tired paint is all part of a ‘lived-in’ home.

But the staging process should always include some minor decoration in rooms that need it.

Choose soft, light-reflecting colours that show off your home’s space.

But don’t be afraid to go bold with feature walls and make a real statement to buyers.

9. Hide distracting items

Technology is part of all our lives.

But it can be distracting and pull buyer attention away from a room’s other features.

So, other than your living room TV, remove all other televisions, computer monitors and games consoles from rooms when you’re staging your property.

This will help to ensure buyers’ eyes are drawn towards the things you want them to see.

10. Cleanliness is crucial

A home that looks and feels unclean will feel unloved the moment a buyer walks through the door.

Before your home goes on the market and before any photographs are taken for online listings, give it a deep clean.

That means everywhere: Carpets, rugs, curtains, inside cupboards and definitely inside your oven.

Then, before each viewing, give everywhere a quick vacuum, dust and wipe down to ensure everything looks pristine.

What should you not do when staging a house?

Some of the biggest mistakes made when staging properties include:

  • Listing the property before it’s ready
  • Not taking professional photos
  • Failing to make simple repairs or improvements
  • Doing too much renovation work and spending too much money
  • Not understanding who your buyers are
  • Failing to show off storage space
  • ‘Over dressing’ so a property feels like a show home rather than a ‘home

Should you rent home staging furniture or buy new?

If you’ve moved out of your property and don’t want to sell it empty, renting furniture to stage your home can be a great option.

Renting staging furniture can also be a good move if your own things are tired or don’t show off your space in the best way.

However, rental furniture needs to be returned once you’ve sold your home, so buying furniture you can take with you to your new property is often a better investment.

Should you use a professional home stager?

Hiring a professional home stager can help to relieve the stress of dressing your home for sale.

A professional may also be able to include hire furniture within their package and should understand what buyers want to see from a property like yours.

However, professional home staging can be expensive and there’s no guarantee you’ll get back what you spend through a higher sale price.

There are many steps you can take yourself to stage your home, as we’ve outlined in this piece – and this may save you money in the long-run.

How much does professional staging cost?

Professional home staging generally costs between 0.5% and 1% of your property’s value.

But this can vary depending on the size of your home, the work required to stage it and the experience of the staging company or individual.

Professional home staging should include:

  • Furniture rental for an agreed period
  • Supply and removal of furniture at the start and end of the period
  • Accessories for an agreed period, including soft furnishings, kitchen accessories, artwork, rugs, and interior plants

As well as the overall cost for professional staging, you may also have to pay between £100 and £300 for an initial consultation.

Further reading…

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