As a real estate agent, you are not expected to be a professional interior designer, landscaper, or architect. However, if you understand the basics of staging a home, you can make your listings more appealing to potential home buyers and sell it more quickly—often for more money.

Conduct Some Research
You should look at the comparables in your area to see what your seller’s home is up against. Additionally, tour model homes in new local neighborhoods. Often staged by professionals, these properties can give you an idea of what to change in your seller’s property. If you feel at a total loss, reach out to a more tenured agent or your broker for advice, or even consider working with a staging specialist in your area.

Talk to the Owners About the Benefits of Staging a Home
Homeowners can be resistant to staging for a number of reasons. On the one hand, they may be reluctant to spend money on a property they are trying to unload. On the other, they may not want to live in a stark, model home for weeks or even months. Or they may even see your requests to clean, declutter and fix problem areas as insulting.

At the same time, you do need to offer your honest opinion. Your goal is to get the property off the market as soon as possible, so don’t hold back. However, when you suggest changes, approach homeowners carefully. Be tactful and never criticize their taste, decorating sense, and other decisions. Also, offer reasons for making any changes, for example, by comparing their property to others on the market.

Create Some Curb Appeal
If the outside of the house looks rough, people are less likely to want to go inside. So make sure the exterior looks beautiful from the street—and that the color, decor, and style appeals to the general public’s standards, not specifically to the seller’s. For example, paint that is too bold, mismatched or worn can turn people off, so the owner may need to go with a more neutral palette.

A major overhaul is hardly necessary, and often a fresh coat of paint or stain—relatively inexpensive improvements—can do wonders for improving curb appeal.

Make the Inside Ultra-Inviting
Although curb appeal may be what gets people into the house, that moment when clients first enter a home is what will keep them interested. If they don’t like what they see in those first few seconds, it can be very hard to overcome those negative feelings as they view the rest of the property.

While those feelings are often based on emotion, rather than logic, they are a challenge nonetheless, so talk to your clients about the importance of keeping the property company-ready, meaning that it is always clean and smelling fresh.

Rid Spaces of Clutter and Personal Belongings
This one is often hard on sellers because you are asking them to put away the things they love. That said, buyers want to be able to imagine living in the house. Strongly urge your clients to store unnecessary and unused items in another location—not the attic, garage or basement, because potential buyers need to see those areas, too. Items sellers should stow away include:

  • All but a few personal pictures
  • Small appliances they don’t use regularly
  • Excessive figurines, decorative pieces and keepsakes
  • Toiletries from bathroom vanities and bedroom dressers
  • Out-of-season clothing, outerwear and shoes from closets
  • Holiday decorations and other rarely used items that may be taking up storage space

Each time you ask your real estate clients to do something regarding staging a home, remind them that the goal is to sell the property more quickly and for more money. That can take the sting out of what they may perceive as criticism from you about their home.