How to stage your home to sell without breaking the bank

A living room after "staging." Home stagers help sellers do everything from declutter to rearrange furniture to highlight the home's assets.
A living room after "staging." Home stagers help sellers do everything from declutter to rearrange furniture to highlight the home's assets. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tracey Jones

TORONTO — When it comes to getting top dollar for your home, sometimes staging it can make all the difference.

Here are some questions and answers that might help you through the process.

What is home staging?

Jennifer Walker, owner of Toronto-based Pearl Street Home Staging, defines it as “the process of determining and then highlighting a home’s best features to ensure it appeals to as wide an audience as possible. The goal is to make the home stand out in both pictures and in viewings so buyers walk away wanting to live there.”

How much does home staging cost?

Home staging can range in price. According to Walker, factors that influence the cost are:

  • the square footage of the home
  • whether it’s a vacant property and will require rental of furniture and accessories, or
  • if it’s an occupied home and the stager will be working with existing furniture and accessories

READ MORE: Tips for selling your home

“The consultation is the first step. This is when the stager walks through the home with the agent and/or home owner,” she explained. “At this time the stager will compile notes and then write up a report with their recommendations.

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“This starts at $200 and depends on the house size. For the actual staging prices vary widely because every home is unique in size and condition. For example, an occupied condo that requires no furniture rental or accessories would average $1,000 and a 1,200 square foot home with two bedrooms that requires rentals and accessories would average $3,500.”

Can you stage your own home?

“Staging your own home is often overwhelming and difficult because it’s hard for anyone to be objective about their own space,” Walker cautioned.

However, she recognizes that hiring a professional may not be in everyone’s budget. If your home is small, tidy, well-maintained and relatively new, there are definitely simple and cost-effective things you can do to get your home in the best possible shape for buyers.

What’s the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to staging?

“If you want to make a big impact on a small budget the most important thing you can do is paint.”

“Fresh paint conveys a clean, updated, well-cared for home,” Walker explained. “Choose a colour that is neutral and paint the entire main floor in that colour.

“Many sellers make the mistake of thinking that their favourite colours are going to be any potential buyer’s favourites as well. Make it easy for people to walk into your home and picture themselves living there. A neutral colour palette can go a long way in helping a buyer visualize their belongings in the space.”

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She also offered this advice: If you aren’t sure what neutral colour works with your decor, invest in a consultation with a home stager. A stager can provide you with specific paint colours and will have access to trade discounts.

More cheap and easy ways to stage your home

Here are Walker’s six tips:

  1. Pack up family photos, knickknacks and any other items that you don’t need to have on display. This helps get a jump on packing, too.
  2. Do a deep clean of every room. Make sure appliances gleam, bathrooms are sparkling and there is no dust anywhere.
  3. Clean off kitchen counters so only what you really need is visible. Or better yet, put everything away and under the counter.
  4. Remember that buyers will be opening closets and cupboards, so empty 50 per cent of their contents. Pack up any off-season clothing, as well as any items you won’t need before you move. Storage is a huge selling point so when someone opens your closet, you want them to see how much space is available.
  5. Steam clean carpets. If you have carpeting, then making sure it’s clean and stain-free is key. Rent a steamer and do it yourself to save some money. Clean hardwood floors and tiles so they shine.
  6. Do a sniff test. If you can smell pets, cooking odours, etc. even after a major cleaning consider investing in an air purifier.

READ MORE: Reno advice: best bang for your buck, easy fixes and what to avoid

For more information and advice on home staging, check out the infographic from Moshells below:

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