Preparing vs Staging Your Home for Sale

By Carole Morgan, StageRight Home Staging

Often times it is said that a home is staged and ready for the real estate market as it exists at that time, but is it?  There is a huge difference between preparing a home for the current real estate market and staging a home to maximize useable and perceived square footage. 

All homes must have the following done prior to having their home enter the real estate market:

  1. Thoroughly cleaned inside and out:  This includes, windows, carpets, walls baseboards, tubs, sinks, mirrors, power washing decks, sidewalks and the exterior of the house.  This is not staging, this is prep.
  2. Minor repairs should be completed:  torn screens, marred or chipped paint, lighting that does not operate, broken sidewalk cement, door latches, locks and knobs. This is not staging, this is prep.
  3. Landscaping: fresh mulch, trimmed bushes (if you can’t see it you can’t sell it), edged sidewalks and drives and exterior of the house.
  4. Decluttering:  nothing on the floor, closets and cupboards ½ full, toys put away as well as pet accessories.  All linear surfaces should be free of any items including clocks but not lamps.

So, then what is staging?  Staging is more than bringing furniture into a space.  It is bringing the correct furniture, in the style and period of the space and to appeal to the core customer as well as well strategized placement:  

  1. Correct placement of furniture to create sight lines to allow the viewer to “see” the useable square footage of the space and to see how they might live in the space.
  2. Creating interest in specific areas of the home to keep the viewer in a space longer.  Buyers typically spend eight seconds viewing a space.  When creating interest, they stay longer. If they stay longer, the property typically makes the short list.
  3. Creating useable square footage where there was none is a huge benefit to the actual and perceived value of a home.  A professional stager can help you with that.

A stager will know how to market a property visually, they will use placement and interest to market the home. Remember the eye looks for a place to rest, the brain tells it what to do next. 

Staging is not just for vacant homes.  Every listing can benefit from some level of home staging to improve the chances of not only a quick sale but increasing the sales potential with a maximum return on investment.

There is a difference between staging a vacant property and one that is occupied. In an occupied home, stagers typically use the furniture and decor that’s already there and, in some cases, providing a consultation is all that is needed.  That said, whether the home is occupied or vacant, a professional stager will recommend highlighting the home’s best features and provide direction with solutions to help the property show well. This includes cosmetic changes, furniture placement, and preparing for the buyer who is most likely going to purchase this property.

Another benefit of staging is creating beautiful, magazine quality photographs.  Remember, your first showing is on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).  According to the National Association of REALTORS®, staged homes are 83% easier to visualize and 44% of real estate agents said staging adds value.  The rooms that should be staged are the living and or great room, eating areas and primary bedrooms. 

It is important to know that a stager should be carrying liability insurance that is specific for the staging industry. Their movers should be licensed and insured and their employees/assistant stagers should also be certified and insured. 

Finally, the seller is moving on to another phase in their life. Staging helps them see the benefit of properly preparing their home for the real estate market as it exists when they sell.  The staging industry used to cast a wide net, now they cast the perfect lure.  Although it is currently a seller’s market, homes that are properly prepared and staged are getting more money than they would without the proper preparation and staging. Yes, in this market your house will sell, the question is for how much.  Most sellers prepare other items for sale, why would they not with their largest personal investment?

You can find a list of home stagers and REALTOR® members at  Our website also includes resources for buyers/sellers, membership information, community resources and much more!  For more information about this article or BCAAR, please visit our website, email us at or call 269.962.5193. 

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