A staged home is a sold home. That’s what I always say.

Now, I may be a little biased since I am in the business: My company, Florida Stage Hands, currently has 15 homes staged across South Florida.

But I’m not the only one who sees the value in staging a property. The National Association of Realtors estimates that for every $100 invested in staging, the potential return is $400.

Why does staging make a difference? Well, most buyers can’t visualize what an empty space could or should be, and “virtual staging” can often leave buyers disoriented when they actually come to see a property.

I like to think of staging as “Show time!” It provides an opportunity to show a property to its best advantage, highlighting positives and minimizing negatives. It can also entice a buyer by giving them a taste of what it might be like to live in a particular home. We have four different designers, with styles from traditional to very contemporary, who are expert at creating a vision of what life in a property for sale could be like.

They must be doing something right because the average listing time for one of our staged homes is just 47 days — and it’s not unusual for a home buyer to purchase all the furniture and accessories in one of our projects!

Now, it’s not every buyer that can shop like that. And not every seller can afford to hire a professional staging company. But every seller can do a few things around a property to speed the sale and boost the sale price. Here are some of my go-to staging tips. 

Curb Appeal

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Whether the property you’re staging is a condo or a single-family home, a few potted plants will add a pop of color by the door and say “welcome.” Speaking of that door, when’s the last time you took a good look at yours? If the finish is beat, consider painting it or sanding and re-staining. Is the hardware worn out, rusty, or dated? Swap it out for something new. Same thing goes for your mailbox: If it’s dented, damaged, or looks worn out, consider a replacement.

Entryway

Curb appeal doesn’t stop at the curb — or even at the front door. You want to impress a prospective buyer the moment they enter your home. Whether or not you have an actual foyer, make the entryway a focal point. A console table topped with a vase of fresh flowers will delight both the eye and the nose (I like lilies, both for their glamour and fragrance). An arrangement of colorful glassware in different shapes and sizes is also great on a console or shelf. Got a cramped entryway? Expand the space with a tall, framed mirror propped against the wall.

Living Room

Declutter, declutter, declutter! And that goes for the whole house. A fresh coat of paint will get you the most bang for your buck. Then add a few pieces of unique art. Thrift stores and discount department stores can be good sources. We love Home Goods!

Dining Room

If your dining table is wood, polish it up. For glass or chrome, just keep it spotless. Add table settings and a colorful centerpiece to showcase your home as a place to entertain. 

Kitchen

Everybody knows kitchens and bathrooms can make or break a sale. If a kitchen remodel is not in the cards (or budget!), change out dated cabinet knobs and pulls. Paint the walls, backsplash, or ceiling with a natural color that will complement the cabinets. Decluttering is again key: Limit countertops to just one or two nice-looking appliances. 

Bathrooms

Think: boutique-hotel bathroom. Think: spa. First, hide all your personal lotions and potions. Nobody wants to see that. Paint the walls a color that enhances the bathroom tile, and put out towels that match the color scheme. If the caulk around the tub or shower is dirty or damaged, consider recaulking. Swap out dated vanity hardware. Got a large bathroom with plenty of counter space? Splurge on some candles and potpourri. 

Master Bedroom

Paint the entire room, with maybe a pop of color to just one wall. Spring for a new comforter set for the bed. Clean out that closet, and make it look like a true walk-in (if it is one). Donate or consign any clothes or accessories you haven’t used in the last year. Consign your things, and they might even help cover some of your staging expenses! 

The Grounds

Keep your yard as neat and tidy as the house now is. If you’re too busy to stay on top of things yourself, hire someone to help out while your property is on the market. If you have the budget, add some special color to the landscaping. 

If you’re not handy in all the skills we’ve covered (landscaping, painting, etc.), ask the broker listing your home to recommend help. Remember, your home is probably one of the largest investments you’ll make in your lifetime. As you prefer to sell that valuable asset, make sure you’ve got the right professionals working to maximize your return. 

Robert Geary MacKilligan is the owner of the home-staging company Florida Stage Hands (floridastagehands.com) and Designs of Wilton Manors. He is also Executive Vice President of Galleria International Realty (galleriarealtors.com).

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