When it comes time to place your home on the market, one of the most important things you can do is stage it properly. Before potential buyers will even consider paying for an official home inspection or making an offer, they'll want to do a little home inspection of their own. This inspection is less about checking for structural issues and more about feeling the vibes of the home. This is about trying to picture themselves living there.

It is up to the sellers to make their home look appealing to the greatest possible number of potential buyers. Staging is an art, and there are many steps to doing it well. 

Removing clutter 

Clutter is a huge turnoff to buyers and can make rooms appear dirty and small. According to Bankrate, it can also be a huge distraction. You don't want buyers to become more interested in examining your things rather than your space. Clutter can come in the form of too many tchotchkes on the shelves, too much furniture in a room, too many toys and too much overall junk taking up space. 

HGTV said removing as much as half of a home's furniture could be beneficial and could make a house feel substantially larger. Grouping furniture properly can also make a room feel more spacious. Chairs and couches should be situated into what HGTV referred to as "conversational groups." In addition, sellers should not push furniture against walls - it is a myth that doing so makes a room larger.

Realtor Jennifer Radice told Bankrate that sellers generally want to remove about 90 percent of the items in their home for proper staging.

It's amazing just how much difference a fresh coat of paint can make, whether sellers are repainting their entire homes or just touching up a few rooms. Realtor Jessica Page told Bankrate that sellers receive a big return on their investments when they paint the insides of their homes, especially considering painting is relatively cheap. 

In general, sellers will want to paint the walls in their homes neutral colors. Not only will neutral colors brighten up a space, but they also have greater mass appeal. Bold colors are a risk because they appeal to more specific tastes.

To make a room look bigger, HGTV suggested painting it the same color as the room beside it. Doing so will make it look like one large space. 

U.S. News & World Report suggested painting kitchen cabinets white, cream or brown (whatever best matches the kitchen) if they are not in great shape. 


The home needs to be cleaned extensively. Staging experts say a dirty or smelly home will be an instant turn off to potential buyers. Radice told Bankrate to even consider baking cookies or boiling cinnamon sticks on the stove to create a homey, delicious scent wafting through the house. If a seller has a pet that requires a litter box, the litter box must be removed. 

As a seller cleans every nook and cranny of your home, he may even find structural issues to address before a potential buyer conducts a home inspection.

Improving curb appeal 

The outside of a home is the first thing potential buyers see. It doesn't matter how great the inside looks if the outside repels people from wanting to come inside. Thus, giving a home curb appeal is extremely important. 

Home staging expert Lori Matzke told U.S. News & World Report, "I've seen houses that look really frumpy on the outside and great on the inside, but you can't get [potential buyers] in the door."

To increase curb appeal, sellers should have clean, crisp landscaping. Lawns should look healthy and trimmed and should be clear of any clutter like dead branches. Mailboxes should be replaced if needed and house numbers should be given a fresh coat of paint. 

Bankrate said some homes may even need pressure cleaning, but to spend less money, mulch is a cheap way to make the outside of a home look neat. It only costs about $3 per bag. 

Nothing personal 

One of the most difficult parts of staging for sellers can be removing personalized items from their homes before it goes on the market. Nevertheless, it is extremely important to set emotions aside and do it. 

Page explained in Bankrate that it is difficult for buyers to picture themselves living in a home if it is adorned with pictures of the current owner's family. In addition, buyers become distracted from the task at hand by examining the photos instead of the home. 

U.S. News & World Report explained that many buyers have trouble separating the decor in the home from the space, itself, even though the decor will be leaving along with the seller. As a result, it is important to remove any decor that is too specific to a seller's taste. Wall colors are not all that should remain neutral; so, too, should things like furniture and room decor. 

Realtor.com said removing the personalization from a home is extremely difficult for sellers. For a quick sale, however, it is important to emotionally prepare for the need to do so.

Staging a home is merely the first step in the process of selling a home. Sellers should keep in mind that once buyers decide to make an offer, they will also want to do a full-fledged home inspection to make sure everything is in working order. Sellers who keep their homes in as best shape possible will no doubt receive higher offers.