4 Staging Tips That Don’t Cost Any Money

There isn’t enough that can be said about the term ‘Presentation is everything.’ The reality is, no matter how good something is if it doesn’t present well it will be grossly undervalued. If you’re selling your old bike on craigslist, losing out on an extra 10 bucks due to poor presentation may not be the biggest deal, but when you’re selling a house, poor presentation (staging) can result in losing out on tens of thousands of dollars. Who can afford to lose out on that kind of money?

This is why any knowledgeable real estate agent will push you to focus on staging so that your house presents well. In fact, there’s an entire staging industry where expert stagers doll up your house to ensure you get top dollar. However, between the stagers fee, furniture rentals, and touch-ups, it can cost more money than is in your marketing budget. This leads many to undertake frugal projects on their home to maximize their homes’ presentation value. 

Before frugal projects are executed, however,  the best path is to first execute staging strategies that don’t cost any money and then assess with your real estate agent what the next steps are in prepping your home for live showings.

1. Reassess Your Furniture 

We’re not suggesting taking money out of your pocket to buy or rent new furniture, that wouldn’t be free. Rather, we are referring to eliminating certain items and adjusting furniture layouts. To make our homes comfortable and livable, we often hang on to comfortable furniture that may not look nice and have more pieces than necessary. In staging, less is more, the first step is to assess which are your nicest pieces and storing the rest elsewhere. Next, you should arrange your furniture in a way that flows rather than what’s most comfortable or convenient.

Happy couple placing sofa in living room of new home.

2. Declutter

Clutter not only makes rooms look less appealing, but it’s also distracting. Selling your home is a great time to rid yourself of all the clutter you don’t need. As for the rest, find somewhere to stow it away so that it’s not visible. As mentioned before, less is more, you want to use a minimalist approach when staging your home and keep the look as clean and fresh as possible.

Desperate helpless woman sitting on sofa in messy living room. Young girl surrounded by many stack of clothes. Disorder and mess at home.

3. Remove All Personal Items

For a buyer to consider a home, they have to visualize themselves in it. Family portraits and items on the fridge or corkboard all make it very difficult to achieve that endeavor. This doesn’t mean leave your walls bare, tasteful art is ok. However, any item that traces directly to you (mainly family photos) should be taken down and stowed out of sight so that prospective buyers can fully visualize themselves there and fall in love with your house.

Happy Family photo on white bookshelf at home.

4. Remove Extra Storage

There’s a little hoarder inside all of us. As we accumulate more items we implore creative storage solutions. These include hanging shoe racks on your closet door, plastic storage bins, and a whole host of other solutions. If prospective buyers see these eyesores, it will subconsciously tell them that the house doesn’t have sufficient storage to meet their needs. Eliminate all storage solutions that aren’t built into the fabric of the house.

How To Keep Your House Sparkling Clean While Showing It

So, you did a deep clean of your entire house before the first buyer came to see it. You scrubbed and swept and even got on your hands and knees to wipe behind things that no one will ever see. Now comes the hard part: keeping it that way.

Anyone who has ever sold their house will tell you there is a big difference between “clean” and “show-ready clean.” A show-ready home is supposed to sparkle. And if you are looking to sell, your home might have to sparkle for several weeks or even months.

Don’t worry, here are a few simple ways to ensure your house is always show-ready without driving yourself too crazy.

Pare Down What You Don’t Need

It will be much easier to clean your house when it’s not full of a bunch of junk you don’t want anyway. If you haven’t used something in the past year, what are the chances you will use it next year? If you can’t stand to part with it, find a place to store it where buyers can’t see it.

Pro tip: Since you’re about to move soon anyway, try to get as much packing done as you can. Buyers will appreciate seeing a closet full of boxes more than a room full of clutter.

Clean Smarter, Not Harder

The easiest way to keep a house clean is to create a routine and stick to it. Split the week up into chunks and do small cleans every few days and a big clean just before the weekend. You can focus on 1 room for a few days or spend 5 minutes cleaning each room every day.

If you are struggling to keep the whole house sparkling, focus your energy on the kitchen and bathroom. These are the most important rooms to keep clean because buyers will consider any mess to be unhygienic. Remember, buyers are already anxious about being in a stranger’s house, and the whole point is to make them feel at home.

Pro tip: Make sure all the visible garbage cans have lids. Hiding your trash is one of the easiest ways to make your place look and smell cleaner.

Close-up of hair clogging a sink drain.

Designate “Dirty Rooms” & “Clean Rooms”

The more space you need to clean, the longer it will take. So, don’t use a room unless you have to. Then, all it will take to make these “clean rooms” sparkle is a light dusting, sweeping, and maybe a quick wipe with a rag.

If you have more than one bathroom, designate one to be a “dirty room” that everyone uses. If you have kids, make them keep their toys in their room. Also, try to pack certain toys like Legos away for a while if you can. If you have pets, keep their dirty paws out of as many rooms as possible.

Pro Tip: Place bins or bags at the entrance of every “dirty room.” This way, if a buyer wants to see the place on short notice, you can gather up all the clutter in that room and store it away instantly.

Messy room with toys spread around everywhere.

Make Cleaning Fun

If Marry Poppins was able to make those English kids clean their room with a spoonful of sugar, why can’t you do the same? Go ahead, blast your happy music, and turn your cleaning routine into a dance routine. Keeping your house clean is only a chore if you make it that way.

You can trick a competitive partner into cleaning by making it seem like a game. See how quick you can clean a room, then challenge them to beat that record. Or start the first annual “cleaning Olympics,” with special prizes for the winners.

father with daughter holding vacuum cleaner while mother sitting at sofa at home

Pro Tip: You might not need to give your kids much of an incentive to help out. Often times you can get your kids to clean up after themselves just by making them feel needed and appreciated for their efforts.

Stay Somewhere Else

When all else fails, and you need a break, you can always pack your bags and stay somewhere else. You can take a real vacation and get some much-needed relaxation, or you can book a night at a local hotel where you don’t have to clean up after yourself for a little while.

In the end, you’re probably not going to have your house as clean as you expect, but the longer you can get the buyer to focus on the space and not your mess, the quicker you can make the sale.