Setting the Stage: Preparing Your Home to Sell

By Jeremy DeLay, Tulsa Home + Design Realty

Typically, when you purchase and move into a new home, you want to make it your own, and add color, pictures, and furniture that are unique to you and your family. When it’s time to sell, however, you want to be able to market your home to as many potential buyers as possible, many of whom will have significantly different tastes and aesthetics from your own. That is where professional home staging comes in. The job of a professional home stager, according to, is to “minimize a home’s faults and maximize a home’s best features to help the seller maximize the price and selling time.” Home staging is distinct from interior design and home styling in that the goal is to completely de-personalize your home in an effort to appeal to as many potential buyers as possible. Staging creates spaces throughout your home that people from numerous backgrounds will be drawn to. In this article, we’ll look at the benefits of home staging, both the objective and subjective, and we’ll consider a few best practices for staging your home and preparing it for listing.

One of the main goals of staging is to help prospective buyers picture themselves actually living in the home. According to the National Association of Realtors 2021 Profile of Home Staging, 82% of buyer’s agents said home staging makes it easier for prospective buyers to visualize the property as a future home. That’s a huge number of potential homebuyers who believe that staging makes a difference in their purchasing decision. Not only that, but “twenty-three percent of buyer’s agents said that staging a home increased the dollar value offered between one and five percent, compared to other similar homes on the market that are not staged.” Five percent on a $300,000 home is a $15,000 increase in the dollar value offered! Additionally, there’s value in staging in the form of the amount of time the home is actually on the market. According to The Consumer Guide to Real Estate Staging, citing a 2013 study done by the Real Estate Staging Association, homes that were professionally staged spent an average of 72% less time on the market. The study found that homes, not staged, would sit on the market, on average, for 143 days. Those same homes, once staged, sold, on average in 40 days.

Besides the financial benefit potentially gained through staging and the chances of decreasing the amount of time your home is on the market, there are also more subjective reasons you may consider hiring a professional home stager before listing your home for sale. A phenomenon that’s happened in the world of real estate over the last 10 to 20 years has been the rise of numerous television shows on networks like TLC and HGTV about home owning and remodeling. This has had a definite effect on people’s expectations when buying a home, and a properly staged home can help address and meet these often-heightened expectations. Again, according to the National Association of Realtors, 68% of respondents said that buyers were disappointed by how homes looked in real life compared to homes they saw on TV shows. Staging not only helps people envision themselves and their families in the space, but it also helps to bring your home more in line with what people have come to expect as a result of what they see on TV.

The first and most important step in staging your home or preparing for a professional stager to come in is to clean, clean, and clean again. While this may seem incredibly obvious, a quick scroll through suggests otherwise. If one of the main goals of home staging is to help someone visualize themselves living in the space, nothing will drive them away faster than a dirty home. Spend a little extra to have your floors professionally cleaned. Wash your windows, inside and out, and be sure that all surfaces are spotless. Additionally, and an important part of a good cleaning, is to eliminate any bad or allergy-irritating odors. Again, you’re shooting for universal appeal, so keep in mind that not everyone can tolerate strong scents. Be sure to go for fresh and neutral, and of course avoid anything that may cause allergies to flare up. You want to make prospective buyers feel comfortable in the space, and a deep clean is a great way to do that. This article from offers a fantastic deep dive into how to clean in preparation for moving.

Perhaps a close second in order of importance of staging best practices is to de-clutter. When you’re staging your home, you want to make it appear as big and spacious as possible, not only in the main living areas, but in personal spaces as well. Potential home buyers will be going through each room and opening closets, cabinets, and drawers. Again, they want to be able to see themselves in the space, and it’s harder to picture yourself in a space that’s filled with someone else’s belongings. Go through each room and remove all non-essentials. If you have kids, consider storing some of their toys until after the move. Go through your closets and pack away everyone’s clothes that aren’t in season. Store kitchen appliances you don’t absolutely need on a daily basis, and find a clean, non-cluttered spot off the countertop for the ones you do. Are there pieces of furniture that you use, but that make the room feel more closed off or crowded? Consider storing those as well. Your realtor and a professional stager should be able to give you a lot of direction here, but these are just a few things you can do that will make your home ready to be staged.

Lastly, and it’s been mentioned throughout, you’ll want to start the process of de-personalizing. Do you have pictures throughout your home standing on every available surface? Consider boxing those up until you’re settling into your new home. Do you have any type of collectible or nick-nack on display? My mom had a huge collection of “Precious Moments” figurines on display all over our house when I was growing up. While those were very special to her, they were a very specific collectible that may have had no significance to a potential buyer. Give prospective buyers a clean slate to look at as they tour your home, and remember that clutter, even pictures of your beautiful family or sentimental collectibles, can make a room feel smaller.

From the potential to earn more for your home to seeing it sell faster than it may otherwise, a properly staged listing can definitely pay off. Working with a realtor and professional stager can give you the insight you need to have your house in the best shape possible when your listing goes live.

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*At Tulsa Home + Design we work with clients at every step of their home-buying and owning journey to help them find and create spaces to live and grow. Call us today.

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