living room staged for open house

Home Staging Dos And Don’ts

You only get one chance to make a first impression. The same goes for a home you’re trying to sell. In fact, a Coldwell Banker survey found that staged homes sell twice as fast.

“Emotion sells houses,” says Chris Pearson of Echo Ranch, a full-service home staging and interior design company in Los Angeles. “The first feelings a prospective buyer feels when they walk in will usually determine what they will continue to feel about the home.”

Andrea Geller, a broker associate at Hot Property – The Chaz Walters Group at Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate in Chicago, agrees. “The goal of the first impression is to make sure that there are as few objections as possible to overcome,” she says.

Here’s a list of simple dos and don’ts that will help prepare your home for the ever-changing and challenging real estate market.


  • Make sure the home exterior looks cared for, no matter the season. In the summer, basic landscaping, such as mowing the lawn or removing weeds, does the trick. As it gets colder, leaves should be raked and snow should be shoveled.
  • Create a flow, so potential buyers can easily walk from room to room. “[The space] needs to flow and not block paths of travel. And of course, avoid clutter. Everything needs a purpose,” says Pearson. Unnecessary objects shouldn’t obstruct paths around the house. If an object does not serve a purpose, remove it.
  • Eliminate any lingering smells in the home. “Most people have a strong sense of smell,” explains Geller. “If there is a negative odor that hits the prospective buyer hard when they walk in, they never seem to get over it.” However, avoid trying to mask odors with strong perfumed smells. Heavily fragranced candles, potpourri and room diffusers can be just as offensive.


  • Stay at home when the time comes to show your property. Potential buyers have a hard time connecting with a space if the family is home. They need to imagine how they would live in the space and can’t focus on that if you’re watching TV or doing laundry.
  • Store excess clutter that has been removed from your home in a garage, crawl space or attic. Potential buyers will come across this during the showing and it will indicate there isn’t enough space to live comfortably. Instead, store clutter off-site. Depending on the amount removed from your home, you may need to consider renting a storage locker.
  • Get rid of all the character. When de-cluttering your home, don’t “over-stage and create an atmosphere that doesn’t fit the personality of the home,” says Geller. Over-staging a home makes it look cold and impersonal. A well-staged home will have a tasteful selection of personal objects placed throughout the space. “The purchaser may ultimately connect to the property in some way that screams ‘this is home,’” says Geller. “That feeling may very well be created as a result of the seller’s belongings.”

Moving to a new home? GEICO can help you secure the best insurance coverage so your castle is well protected. Visit for more.

By Alexandra Ward

GEICO can help protect your home.

    Leave a comment

  1. marilou T. says,

    i cant stop reading all your pointers. very informative .I love it and took notes as I read. Thanks again.

  2. Diane says,

    I’m just starting the process of clearing out all the “stuff” that has been cluttering up my house and it feels good. I’m taking advantage of online giveaway sites. I get the good feeling of donating items that weren’t serving me anymore, and someone else who needs them gets to use them! A lot of other items I’m getting rid of are going to nonprofit organizations that either give them away to low-income families or sell them at a low cost.

  3. Tessa says,

    A well-kept home? You know what it got me?? Someone defecated in my toilet and it was so bad the district manager had to come out and they sent plumbers, cleaners, etc. and finally had to repaint the powder room!! That’s what a clean home gets you! You really have to take your chances. Also, be sure to take all small things that are valuable to you that someone could easily put in a pocket or purse – some people just like the power of stealing things, even if they want it or not. When you hear the words, “You have a beautiful home,” cross that agent off your list because it didn’t sell. Hope you have better luck than I’ve had!

  4. Andrea Geller says,

    Thanks to those of you who appreciated my thoughts on home staging. There are some additional good suggestions in the comments. Professional home staging is a financial option for some but for other sellers, it makes more sense to save the money to use towards their new purchase. WIth a good experienced agent with the right eye and input, they can usually advise the seller and work with what is in the home.

  5. Esther Medina says,

    Don,t forget the inside of your cupboards, keep it will organized, pantry almost empty of food, so potential buyers, can actually see them selves filling it up with their own grocery?

  6. Rosemary Danielewicz says,

    Curb appeal is a big thing, I see homes with blinds half up and down , windows not clean, not an attractive sight, not appealing. Clean up the laundry room as well. You want the visitors to feel welcomed.

  7. jessica brown says,

    If you invest in a big flat screen TV, let it stay with the house, some people actually think they are getting a bargain.

  8. Paula Davitt says,

    All of this is helpful but often a homeowner can not see their home through the eyes of the buyer. Consider a professional stager. It’s well worth the money as you may spend time and money on the wrong process.

  9. o.g. Schultze says,

    Do not leave any family photos around. The buyer doesnt care for that and there is no need to expose your privacy in such way. Some fresh cut flowers or a young plant can also bring life to a room. If silver or brass objects are to be found, have them well polished, as by attracting the attention they also brighten corners. Hide from sight toothbrushes, toiletries in bathrooms as well as cleaning products in the kitchen. The place must look neat and
    not overdone with bric à brac.

Looking to save? Bundle your auto & property. Start Quote Get A Free Auto + Property Quote