Staging a home to sell

“All the world’s a stage . . . “

– William Shakespeare

First, a little background

The first home that I staged was my own, in 2005. After remodeling, planning, designing, dee-cluttering, and preparing my house to look like a model-home, I received multiple offers and sold it in three days! A close friend suggested I get into home staging as a career. This was a huge compliment, and I loved the idea. But, my kids were young and it wasn’t the right time to go back to work. I didn’t know it at the time, but I would eventually turn this hobby of mine into a career.


Fast forward ten years. In January 2015, I combined my passion for staging with my real estate business. And made it my mission to sell homes that were 1. beautifully staged, 2. that buyers loved, and 3. that sold fast (within 30 days) and for top dollar! 

In 2016, I made it official and got my certification in Home Staging and ReDesign. In 2017, I took it one step further and became a certified Pricing Strategy Advisor.

14510 Starbuck Springs Way, Jacksonville, FL
I have focused on the two changeable things that matter most when selling a home—Appearance and Price. The result of this focus: my staged homes have sold, on average, within 15 days to buyers who loved them because they were clean, beautiful, move-in-ready, and priced right.

I’m enthusiastic about what I do because I love what I do. Blending my education, experience, knowledge, hobbies, and interests into one creative problem-solving business gives me an amazing feeling. And, I’m especially proud to be a Staging Consultant with Better Homes and Gardens Lifestyles Realty.

What is Staging? 


It’s about being different—better. Staging is preparing a product (your house) so that it is market-ready, attracts the most buyers, resulting in the best sale price possible. It’s the art of first impressions, flow, furniture arrangement, and curb appeal. Staging requires we laser-focus on the house by…

  • Cleaning
  • Dee-cluttering
  • Updating and repairing
  • Arranging furniture
  • Adding accessories, art, light
  • Using professional photography
  • Being prepared for a sale
  • Showcasing best features 
  • Merchandising and marketing like any other product

Benefits of Staging

  • A staged home presents and shows better than competing homes for sale (your competition also includes newly constructed homes which offer staged models)
  • Attract more buyers with better-looking professional photos in print and web media
  • Increases the number of showings and offers
  • Spend less time on the market
  • Avoid markdowns 
  • Sell faster, which means a higher sale price
  • Makes moving easier (you’re already organized and packed)
  • Reduces stress throughout the home sale process

Pre-listing payoff

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There’s something I like to call Pre-Listing Payoff. Everything you do before you list your home for sale will result in a positive return on the money, time, and energy spent. But remember, the opposite is just as true! Everything you don’t do before listing can result in a negative return. So…working hard to camouflage the negative, accent the positive, and make your house picture-perfect so that it kindles emotion and compels buyers to envision themselves living in it, will pay off. And, being prepared before marketing and selling your house, will definitely help you mentally, emotionally, and financially. The following checklists will give you, room by room, affordable steps to turn your property into a marketable and desirable product. 

Staging Q & A

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Does staging include cleaning?

Yes and no. A clean home is expected prior to staging. No staging efforts can cover up a soiled home. Buyers can spot dirt from a mile away! 

How can I live normally in my home when it’s staged to sell?

It’s easier than you think to live in a staged home. It’s better organized and allows you to be ready at a moment’s notice for a showing! 

What if I can’t afford the staging or staging consultation?

I’m very creative and will provide options that fit your budget. While staging and/or a pre-sale consultation may seem costly, the financial result of a well-prepared, staged and sold home is well worth it. 

Why should I paint my house if the buyers may change it anyway?

Move-in-ready is the key. Painting is one of the least expensive updates to do. A fresh, neutral pallet is what buyers want. And buyers’ calculations of paint jobs will be reflected in a lowered offer.  

Does staging a house really make any difference?

Several studies have shown that staged homes sell faster and command higher prices than un-staged homes. So yes, from my personal experience, staging matters and it works. The reality is: most buyers expect a model-like home that’s updated, beautifully staged and move-in-ready. Thank you, HGTV! 

Homes are selling well in my neighborhood. Why bother staging?

Staging doesn’t always involve a lot of work. Even little things like new cabinet hardware will add to how a buyer perceives a home’s value. Being different and better from the other listings in your neighborhood can attract more buyers, a quicker offer, and a higher price than your competition.  

Will staging efforts even be noticeable in photos?

Definitely. Photos are one of the main reasons to stage, since photos are a buyer’s first preview. You need to attract buyers first, then get them through your front door. A cleanly staged home that matches its online presence will confirm to the buyer that, Yes, this might be the one.  According to National Association of Realtors, 81% of buyers said staged homes helped them visualize the property as their future home.

After the consultation, can I do the staging work myself?

Absolutely! My consultation is comprehensive enough so any “do-it-yourself” person should be able to follow. I am also available to answer any questions that may arise after I leave the property. 

TIP: Staged homes sell in half the time as unstaged homes, and their purchase price can increase 1 – 10%, according to NAR (Nat’l Assoc of Realtors).

Vacant or Occupied?

Will your house be vacant during the selling process?

Empty houses can sometimes cause a buyer to experience the “Eh” syndrome. Eliciting a lackluster buyer reaction: “Eh, this house is okay, but…” 

By partial or accessory staging, we can still wow buyers and show them particularly great things about the “empty” house they would otherwise miss. Tapping into a buyers’ dreams, and directing their vision towards the features and benefits of their future home is our ultimate goal. 

Or, will you be living in your home during the selling process?

Occupied (lived-in) houses give buyers a better vision of their future home, and the way they would live in the space. Telling the right story, showing the purpose of each room, making the best first impression, and guiding the buyer through their tour with the right flow, focal points, and information is the ultimate goal of staging. 

TIP: Take a field trip and visit a model home. Note how rooms are staged and merchandised. When clearing, preparing, and staging your property, ask yourself: “Would this be in a model home?”

Home Staging & Enhancement Checklist

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When selling, it’s important to look at your home from a different perspective…the buyer’s perspective. This Home Enhancement Checklist provides you with insight and direction on how to get the most money and quickest sale for your home by making minor changes and repairs.

Tidy up. When a home appears cluttered, buyers can’t “see” the home or its potential. By storing items you don’t need or use, your home will feel more inviting to potential buyers. Less is more!

Clean up. A clean home gives the impression that it has been well cared for. Strive to make your home visually and aromatically appealing. Remember: paint in the can is worth $20, but it’s worth $1000 on the wall!

Patch up. Minor repairs often become major stumbling blocks for potential buyers. Take away those distractions by fixing minor issues before they become major.

Finishing touches. Remove whatever you wouldn’t see in a model home. Strive for balance and good flow (open and clutter-free pathways throughout the house). The little “extras” make a home feel special. Remember, your home is in competition. Make it stand out!  

TIP: The 3-box method (1-Donate, 2-Storage 3- Trash) will help with the dee-cluttering process.

Staging Your Occupied House

Help and advice: I’ll guide you along the way to stage and prepare your house for sale. Decluttering, paring down, cleaning, and simplifying all rooms is key. Box up and store anything smaller than a basketball

photo of white and brown cardboard box toy figure

De-personalize the house. Remove photos, collectibles, small artwork/wall art, etc. Reduce unnecessary window treatments, valances, etc. to simplify and add light. 

Curb appeal: Our first chance to make a great first impression. Clean and green! We’ll want to make sure the yard, landscape, house, trim, fencing, gutters, etc., are in tip-top shape. 

Furniture, accessories, or other useful things: Formal dining sets, artwork, plants, or spare bedroom furniture are useful staging items. We’ll probably be able to shop your house and re-use items in different rooms. You might need to utilize your garage or a storage unit to keep items, including furniture.  

Offering buyers a move-in-ready home is a good thing! We want to be sure every square inch is clean, fresh, and new. Painting, patching, polishing, and refreshing the house back to “like-new” condition is key (from top/ceiling to bottom/floors). 

Let’s Get Specific

First impressions are everything and will set the tone for the way the buyer will view the rest of the house. Within fifteen seconds the buyer will develop an attitude toward your house, either positive or negative. The exterior of your home tells the beginning of your home’s story. 

Before: plain and dated red door
After: new shutters, fresh mulch, and current color and address numbers on front door

The entrance is where you want to create a bright and welcoming introduction. So that buyers will want to view the rest of the house—and continue reading.  

The living room is central to the buyer’s first impression. Starting with a good conversation area and focal point, we want to create warmth, simplicity, and comfort. 

The kitchen is usually essential to entertaining and family gathering. It’s extremely important that it appear spacious, clean, light and bright.  We want buyers to picture themselves cooking and entertaining in this space. We can accomplish this through color, cleanliness, and tasteful accessories.

The dining room tends to be the most crowded room in the house. The focal point should always be the centerpiece. Chandeliers can date the age of the home and are easy to install. The only pieces of furniture in this room should be the table and chairs, breakfront (if there’s room) and corner plants, if needed.

The family/great room should be treated like the living room but in a less formal manner. This is the place where the family “hangs out”  for quality time and your buyers should be able to imagine this and picture themselves relaxing here. Simplify and minimize. 

The master bed and bath should have the look and feel of a private retreat and sanctuary. It should feel calm and comfortable. The bath should have a spa-like feel that invites you to stay and relax. Removing key pieces and updating linens and accessories can accomplish these goals. 

In all bedrooms and bathrooms, declutter and minimize. Pack up small items. Clean out closets. Update as needed (no old wallpaper or light fixtures). Beds and baths should be welcoming, clean, and simple with minimal bedding, towels, and art. 

The backyard/deck should be the happy ending to your home’s story: clean, open, sunny, well-manicured. Showcasing a lifestyle of outdoor entertainment, enjoyment, and relaxation.

Top 10 Reasons To Stage

1. You will sell 78% faster, according to the Real Estate Staging Association national stats. That means 30 days on the market vs 100 days.

2. You will get 6 to 10% more money. That means if your home is worth $300,000, you stand to gain (or not lose on markdowns) $18,000 to $30,000.

3. Agents are much more likely to show a home that they know is staged.

4. 95% of home buyers look online to decide which homes to tour. Great photos attract more buyers to your home.

5. A quick sale is important. Your home will lose at least 1% a month while on the market, according to Zillow.

6. The first markdown can be 3% to 5%. For a $300,000 home, that is $9,000 to $15,000.

7. Home staging services for an occupied home cost an average of ¼% to a max of ½% of home value for an occupied home. So, spend about $750 for that $300,000 home to save $9,000 to $15,000 on the first markdown.

8. A vacant home must add carrying costs to the 1% a month it can lose when it doesn’t sell quickly: mortgage, lawn care, HOA dues, electric, water, insurance, etc… 

9. The cost of home staging services for a vacant home can vary, but 1% of home value is a good average for a 3 month leasing term, depending on the number of rooms furnished… About $1000 a month for the $300,000 house. So, spend $1000 a month to save an estimated $3000 a month carrying costs plus $9,000 to $15,000 in markdowns.

10. You will have less stress and the satisfaction of knowing that you have done all that is needed to maximize your home’s potential. If you were selling your car, you would have it detailed, wouldn’t you? 

My Staged & Sold Examples

$225,000 listing had 3 showings and 2 full-price offers within 10 days.

$382,000 listing had 2 showings and sold in 5 days to the first person who saw it.

$330,000 previously “Expired” listing (with another agent), was on the market for 3 months with no acceptable offers. I staged it (adding updated flooring, counters, and appliances) and got multiple offers the first weekend on the market.

$372,000 listing sold to the first person I showed it to, and on first day on market!

$267,000 listing sold within 10 days after multiple offers. (It had also been professionally cleaned and painted inside and out.)

$270,000 listing had 3 showings and 3 offers and sold in 72 hours. 

Marketing & Merchandising


A picture is worth a thousand words.

Once your home is prepared, staged and ready for its debut, a professional photo shoot will be scheduled. Staging and professional photography go hand-in-hand. One without the other would be like doing half the work and expecting to accomplish all of your goals. If necessary, I will be happy to meet the photographer for your appointment to assure the best possible photos are taken. 

But only a few hundred words can be used to paint that picture. 

The summary of text, information, and descriptive phrasing that is entered into the MLS (multiple listing service) is limited to a specific word count. It’s important to maximize the power of the words used. As part of my staging service, I offer a summary of staging words and phrasing so the most compelling and colorful story about the product (your house) can be told to prospective buyers. 

Perfectly priced pretty pennies sell better!

Appearance and Price are the two changeable things that matter most when selling a home. Each affects buyer-desire. Staging makes the penny shiny. Proper pricing seals the deal. And, properties that are staged and priced right usually receive their maximum value.

Keep in mind: an early offer (sale) typically results in a higher offer (sale price). 

Before the photographer arrives

PETS must be crated in a room that will not be accessed by the photographer or removed from the home during the photo shoot. Hide all pet toys, bowls, crates, etc. 

CURB APPEAL Close garage door, remove trash cans from view, move cars from driveway. Cut, edge, trim bushes, freshen mulch and flowers. Prepare yard the day before the shoot. 

KITCHEN Clear off counters. Hide non-essential appliances such as toasters, can openers, mixers, etc. Remove magnets and papers from the refrigerator.

DE-PERSONALIZE Remove family photos, personal items, or anything that you do not want in public photos. Holiday items should be put away. 

REMOVE CLUTTER from every room. Remove clutter from counters, floors, and over doors (hooks, bags, hats, etc.). Children’s large play toys should be stored in the garage. 

(Photographers are not responsible for moving clutter or picking up and will photograph your home as is.)

MAKE BEDS and close all closet doors. 

BATHROOMS Remove toiletries from showers and tubs if they will be seen in the photographs. Clean shower curtains. Fold towels over towel bars or hide from view. Close the toilet seat covers/lids.

FANS & LIGHTING Turn fans off and turn lights on.

OPEN BLINDS and CURTAINS  Open all the blinds. Let in the light! If you are not there for the photo shoot, my photographer or I will do this for you. 

photo of person taking picture using a camera

Photo by Maximiliano Cesar on

THE PHOTOGRAPHER has a specific plan and format for taking photos. If it is necessary to be present, please go to an area of the house that the photographer is not in. 

Say cheese!

Home Staging Do-It-Yourself Tips for $100 or Less

  • Potted Plants – small or large – are one of the easiest and least expensive ways to create visual appeal.
  • Home Fragrance options: Febreze sprays, scented candles, plug-in type fragrances in delicate scents can work wonders. Caution: Don’t over-do it. 
  • Steam Cleaning – Rather than using a professional service, you can rent the machine for one day and rejuvenate carpets and drapes. 
  • Baskets and Decorative Containers can help organize scattered items and eliminate clutter. IKEA has great ideas for this and really low prices. 
  • Light Bulbs and Dimmer Switches – Brighten dark areas and rooms or soften harsh light with dimmers and newer soft light bulbs.
  • Paint over unusual colors or update stark white walls with a contemporary neutral tone.
  • Fresh Flowers/Herbs/Plants – Inexpensive arrangements in vases you already own look beautiful and will smell naturally fresh. 
  • Throw Pillows will instantly update an old sofa or chair or make a plain bed look luxurious.
  • Cleaning Service can be costly, but hiring one for a day or a few hours is affordable – and it’s worth it to make a kitchen or bathroom sparkle! (I can make recommendations if you need them.)
  • Snacks! A bowl of polished apples, a bunch of grapes, or a plate of fresh cookies makes your home look warm and inviting. 

“Open locks, whoever knocks!”

– William Shakespeare

That’s it for now!


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