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the sweet homesweet life blog

A seller recently asked me this question: "In this market, do I really need to pay to stage my home?"

My answer is Yes & No

Yes, you absolutely need to stage your home. Studies have indicated homes sell faster and for a higher price when they are staged. No, it doesn't always need to cost money. When I go in to evaluate and prepare a home for market I am often able to reconfigure and repurpose items in your home to stage it.

So why do you need to stage? The first reason is that staged homes results in better photos. Photos are your home's currency online, and the more appealing they are, the more views your listings will receive and therefore the more buyer traffic.

A new listing gets three times more views in its first week on the market than at any other time, so first impressions really matter. This is why we recommend launching your home fully staged, rather than waiting to “see how it goes” and investing in staging if the home doesn’t sell. You already missed the best window.

I see agents all the time throw listings on the market with a few iPhone photos of the property. When buyers see those they will pass right by because they are usually dark and the home hasn't been staged, decluttered, or even cleaned yet.

Here is one way to look at it: if you were headed to a job interview or a first date, you’d make sure your hair was brushed, breath was fresh, and your outfit was just right, wouldn’t you? The same reasoning applies here.

Secondly, staging allows buyers to understand how they would actually live in the home. The typical person shopping for a home isn’t a trained designer and won’t naturally envision how an empty space could function. You help them see the opportunity of the space and create an environment that makes them want to live there.

I feel like staging is really telling a story. You stage the scene and let the buyers' imagination take over. Here are some sample stories you might want to use.


Wow, this bathroom looks so warm and inviting. I really like wine! I could drink wine in here. I could give myself a relaxing spa bath in that tub. My husband could fill my bath with rose petals....he will probably even be more romantic in this house... LOL...OK, maybe I am taking the story a little far but you get the idea of making it feel warm, relaxing, and romantic. Make it something special that you don't get to do very often.
Bathrooms to me are the easiest to stage. Some pretty clean towels, a few pretty bath product bottles, or candles and some flowers and it truly is something special. Unlike my home with dreary old towels, toothpaste globs in the sink and un-flushed toilets my kids leave for me.


Yummy meatballs, I love Italian food I could make those here in this amazing chefs kitchen. I bet I will be a better cook and cook more if we move here.

There are unlimited options for staging kitchens. From pitchers of lemonade with glasses and fresh mint sprigs, bowls of fresh fruit, cookbooks, and place settings on the bar. Think about things you already have and love and they might fit right into your staging.

Notice the everyday things you need like the Keurig mixer, toaster, cutting board, dirty sponges, and brushes are hidden and out of the way. The key to staging is no clutter, fresh, clean, and inviting. A home that you could move right into and picture your things in.

Coffee Bar

Oh I like coffee. I love this coffee bar! Oooh, a french press, I have always wanted to have coffee made in a french press. I could drink coffee from my coffee bar made in a french press when I live here.
Sometimes in bedrooms I will set up a coffee bar if there is a cabinet area for it. I also will lay out a book with reading glasses or pen and journal. I am trying to make it look like this room can encompass more things than just sleeping. You can get a way in here and relax and enjoy things, like coffee and reading. It feels like you are in a hotel!
Side note: Am I actually ever going to make coffee in there? Heck no! It's messy, I use filtered water from the fridge not tap, and Splenda wrapper trash would be everywhere, and I usually need an ice cube to cool it a little, and the spoon has to go somewhere, and there is no dishwasher... Again, I am telling a story of what could be or what I wish it would be... ; )

Bar Area

This is so nice. I would love to entertain here. I could drink wine with my friends here. I could really envision entertaining here and get excited about putting in an offer to buy this house!

Game Area

Look honey, we can can have a game area. Isn't this nice they still have all the game pieces. This is so neat maybe we won't lose our game pieces. Maybe the kids might even get along and not throw a temper tantrum because they are sore losers. I really love white chairs. Maybe I could have white chairs when I move here. LOL! Daydream over I will never have white chairs with my kids!!
Ok, I think you get the picture of telling a story. I didn't say it was a true story!
Hard to Stage!

Kid's Rooms

Kids Rooms are the biggest challenge to stage. It can be very hard on the kids to adjust to moving. Cleaning up their room and having it ready for showings usually takes a lot of nagging and even some type of bribery or incentive program.
Here is my best advice to make this easier on them and yourself.
1. Get them excited about making their room staged by telling them all about the things you will be doing to their new room.
2. Explain that staging is just for a short time and none of this will stay this way.
3. Have them help you pack up most of the toys and clothes in their room. Tell them for each box they pack up there will be a surprise gift in it when they get to the new house.
4. Add something to each box - candy, gift cards, money, lip gloss, play doh, action figures, bath toys, books, craft supplies, new things for their new room etc. Want to be the best mom ever? Wrap them in gift wrap. It will feel like Christmas when they move in. They will be excited about the trinket gift and so happy to see the toys they probably weren't even playing with.
5. Once it is all packed up focus on dialing down the themed decor. The Spiderman Fathead has to go and all the trophies and dolls should be packed away for a ride to the new home.Those brightly colored walls may need to be painted neutral. TIP...Themed bedspreads are often solid colored on the bottom side. Just flip it over to the solid side to tone it down.

Keep it simple!

Simple is usually best. Sometimes clients want to go overboard with telling a story and that is where I have to help them simplify. Think about when you go to a nice hotel. I find myself taking a huge sigh of relief. There is no clutter, I don't have to make this bed, I don't need to change over the laundry or unload the dishwasher, nobody is depending on me for meals and snacks, I can throw my towels on the floor and someone other than me will actually pick them up wash them and return them. All this and I haven't even mentioned room service!! Vacation! Its a vacation from all the everyday things we have to do in life. Sign me up please!
Simple, clean and uncluttered! That is the main goal! Staging is not interior decorating and people often confuse the two. A hotel room with its minimal decor and usually neutral decor is more like staging with a clean slate. It lets the buyer imagine your things in there.

Show me the money

So you probably want to know…if I’m going to invest all this extra time or money in staging, what do I get? Statistics show professionally staged homes sold for an average of 10 percent over list price when matching up to comparable homes in the same area that weren't staged. Also the days on the market decreased by 18%. All in all, there’s a significant potential return for an investment in staging.

Is your home ready for that big first date with prospective buyers? If it isn't call me, I will make sure that it’s love at first sight!

Sweet Home ~ Sweet Life


Stacey Willis

Lifestyle Realtor





Stacey Willis | Westfield Indiana Realtor

Hi, I'm Stacey! Welcome the Sweet Home Sweet Life Blog. This is a place for me to share real estate and interior design advice, plus a little behind the scenes. Come say hi >

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