You’ve hired an agent, mapped out your timeline, and crossed your fingers. First three steps: Check. What’s arguably the most important next step? Staging your home. According to real estate agents, it’s a wise move — and we're here to tell you it can be a lot cheaper than you think. Plus, if you don’t stage your home, you’ll miss out on the 6-20 percent average bump in final sale price. At the end of the day, you don’t need any more expenses than necessary when you’re moving, so we’re here to answer all your questions on how to achieve affordable home staging and stay on a budget.
|Q: Is house staging worth it?
A: Ask any agent and they will say a resounding “yes.” Home staging is like dressing your house for success — it can help potential buyers envision the home as their own, encouraging them to put a competitive offer in on the house. It can even help your home sell more quickly, which could save you money in the long run, making the cost and effort even more worth it.
Why You Absolutely Should Stage Your Home
Let’s consider that final signature sealing the deal on selling your home. What got the new buyer to that point? Was it a vague promise that they could one day transform it into a home of their own? Or was it the tangible reality of that, seen before their very eyes, from the start?
Whether you’re just entering the process, preparing for an open house, or have had several viewings but (sad face) no interested buyers, we can’t stress enough the importance of good staging. If your real estate agent is worth their weight in salt (or maybe in for sale signs?), they’ve probably already told you this key fact.
It’s also worth saying that home staging could be considered an investment in selling your home. Talk to your agent about working the expenses of properly staging your home into the price of your listing. A well-staged home can increase the price of your listing, so you can justify some of the upgrades.
If they haven’t, consider a new agent. Seriously. It’s Real Estate 101.
Home Staging — What Should I Know?
Staging is all about how you present your home so that, from the moment a potential buyer walks in, they’re wowed by the cleanliness, property features, and by the possibilities firing in their imaginations of what the house could become.
Open spaces and neutrality are your friends. They provide an opportunity to envision what could be, instead of what your home is currently. Repainting with white and other traditional colors gives your home the feeling of a fresh canvas. You’ll also want to replace old or outdated fixtures and take care of any repairs. Best case scenario: The home should feel complete.
|Q: Is staging an empty house worth it?
A: Home staging is actually most important when the house is empty. Without any furniture for reference, it becomes difficult for prospective buyers to get a sense of how big a room is and what it can hold — whether they’re walking through it themselves or simply looking at unfurnished listing photos (boring). Staging can not only help your home stand out from the pack, but it can also help the buyers’ picture themselves living in the space.
How Do I Stage My Home on a Budget?
Affordable home staging is easy. Well, sort of. Staging a home on a budget will take some perseverance, craftiness, and a thrift mentality. Here are some of our best home staging ideas:
Step one is as budget-friendly as you can get — because it's free. Break out a good playlist and declutter your house one room at a time. Pack up the extra furniture and pieces that make a room feel crowded, plus any items you haven’t used in the past six months.
If you’re unsure of storage options for these nonessentials, consider storing them while your house is on the market in a portable storage container or a storage unit. If you elect to use, say, a PODS unit for temporary storage, consider the experience of a buyer from the moment they arrive at your house. While storage containers can stay in your driveway, agents recommend keeping them in a storage facility to make your property as spacious-feeling as possible.
A good rule of thumb is to furnish every room in your home for proper staging, no matter the size of the room. To save costs when home staging on a budget, you can borrow furniture from friends and family if you need to, or you could split up the furniture in other rooms to round out the less-furnished rooms. Even the small rooms often need an extra dimension to help a buyer see their potential. If you are living in your house, use as little furniture as you can, but don’t worry — you’ll get used to this minimalist style very quickly. Selling mode is a whole different game than living mode, but nothing you can’t handle.
Painting is an incredibly effective and relatively inexpensive way to give your home a little makeover — and a crucial part of affordable home staging. It will likely give you the biggest bang for your buck. As mentioned, light, neutral colors are great for staging. If you're really tight on cash, opt for touch-ups or pick which walls you need to repaint (look for walls with accents and special moldings that an accent color might highlight), and buy 1-2 quarts of paint to start.
Minimizing furniture and making sure walkways are clear are two key staging strategies. But how do you make a room feel bigger without adding on to your home? Long drapes help a room look bigger than it is, are easy to put up, and you can find a decent set for not much money. Windows not suited for it? Put something tall in the corners, like a thin standing lamp or an indoor tree to bring character and length to the room. Skinny mirrors also have a great effect here.
Speaking of mirrors, they are your best friend for affordable home staging. Not only do they create an optical illusion that makes any space feel larger, but they also reflect the natural light in your home, helping it feel even brighter and happier. Not to mention, a well-framed mirror is a gorgeous but neutral piece to hang on your wall, bringing in visual interest without having to source the perfect piece of art that will suit every prospective buyer’s tastes.
Affordable home staging pro tip: Give your home an instant facelift on the cheap with new outlet plate covers, vent covers, hardware, and lighting — nothing fancy, just clean and new. When it comes to fixtures and appliances, IKEA has a range of affordable options to choose from (as well as lots of wallet-friendly furniture for home staging).
When staging a house on a budget, plants are an affordable and high-impact way to make your house feel more like a home to any potential buyer who walks through the doors. Not only do they add a dose of natural color to the home, but they make the space feel lively, welcoming, bright, and airy (the plants love it, after all!). You can find a variety of green options for below $30 at places like Home Depot or IKEA, or you can check out The Sill or visit your local plant shop. If your home is really lacking in natural light, though, don’t stage your home with struggling houseplants — opt for some convincing fake potted plants instead.
Keep decor minimal — no bold touches. The more wall space you have, the better. If you find your house feels too barren, and you need some fresh decorations to strike the right balance, you can usually find great framed pictures and small items at Goodwill for next to nothing. Other thrift shops in your area may have interesting pieces, too. You’ll want to avoid pictures of yourself or your family, though, as these can interfere with the buyer's ability to imagine themselves and their own family in your home.
A few more easy fixes: Replace your old, loud shower curtain with a neutral, less-expensive yet still upscale version from Target. Grab couch slipcovers and discounted bedspread packages from Amazon, and save a few bucks while you’re at it if you’re a Prime Member. Just don’t decorate your entire house with clowns. That would be … weird.
|Q: How can I stage my home cheaply?
A: Though it sounds expensive to give your house a whole new makeover, affordable home staging does exist. When it comes to staging your home, less really is more, so one of the cheapest things you can do with the biggest impact is simply to declutter. Remove personal clutter and furniture that’s overcrowding the room and making it feel smaller, and you may be surprised at how much larger and more inviting the space looks.
Don’t Forget About Curb Appeal
Am I Ready to Stage My Home?
Yes, dear reader. Now that you know the basics of home staging and how to approach it in a budget-savvy way, you're ready to go. It’s entirely possible you’ll make even more off your home sale with your efforts to make it shine. When you've sold your house, don't forget to download our moving checklist to help you get started on your move. Good luck!
Sofia Rivera is a Brooklyn-based lifestyle editor and frequent contributor to the PODS Blog. Her work has appeared in Boston magazine, Apartment Therapy, and more. You can most often find her redecorating her apartment, trying out a new recipe, or trekking all over the city.