Jon Knutson - Top REALTOR Phoenix AZ 85014 1515 Bethany Home Rd #142 Central Phoenix Real Estate Agent Mo-Su 09:00-17:00 (480) 338-1715 531210 33.52 -112.04
  • (480) 338-1715
List your property


Living room - showing ready, clean bright and decluttered.

10 Staging Secrets – Prepare Your House to be Sold

12 Feb 2016 4

“Staging is the ultimate secret sauce to selling homes”

There are two different methods of staging that exist when talking about preparing a property for sale. The first method is professional staging – Pay a fee to a professional staging designer to bring in furniture and décor to complete an updated look and design in your house.  This is more commonly used in new homes, or vacant homes.  It’s no wonder model homes always look so fantastic – each lamp, picture, and cushion are carefully selected to work together bringing a sense of harmony with the home.

However there’s another option – with a little know-how and a good base you can get some pretty good results yourself to aid in your home sale.   I’ve put together the top 10 ideas and concepts to help you sell your Phoenix home quickly for top dollar.

1. Declutter

The leaps and bounds hands down number one thing you can do to help your home to prepare for selling. A home is where we store most if not all our belongings. While every picture, candle, sculpture, or book may have a special place in your heart, it more than likely doesn’t have a place in the buyer’s heart. The main culprits for clutter are bookshelves, display cases and tables, although anywhere with a horizontal surface can be a violator.

Everyone has different taste in décor, so while you might find your doll collection impressive and beautiful it can be a big turnoff for potential buyers.  Put away anything that doesn’t need to be out.  Bathroom countertops shouldn’t have any cosmetics, toothbrushes, makeup, etc.  Keep out the soap, a hand towel, maybe a candle and that’s it – the rest of it should be put away in cabinets.  While getting it in the cabinet is 90% if the battle, you would be surprised how many people open up cabinets to view storage, so keep it organized!

Living room - showing ready, clean bright and decluttered.

Living room – showing ready, clean bright and decluttered.


2. Lighting

Lighting plays a huge part in our perception, often in our subconscious.  One of the first tricks any agent suggests when showing a house is to open the windows (unless there is something visually unpleasant out a particular window of course).  Opening the drapes or windows when you have showing is certainly an important piece in addition to turning on all the lights.  As a generally energy conscious society many folks tend to keep blinds closed and lights off to conserve.  However an abundance of light makes a space feel much bigger and more welcoming.

Needless to say, if you have any burned out light bulbs, they should be replaced.  While you are at it, you may want to consider all new bulbs together.  There are a ton of varieties of bulbs on the market.  If you always reach for the cheap bulbs thinking they are all the same, think again.  Inexpensive bulbs tend to have a much more amber light temperature.  It gives the space a more “polluted” light and an older feel.  The best bulbs to consider are ones that mimic daylight (in the 5000k to 6500k range on the Kelvin scale) to give it a nice bright true and natural color easy on the eyes.

3. Neutralize Paint

You painted the wall behind your doll collection bright pink, because why not?  As great as you might think it looks, buyers are most likely giving it their stink face.  Paint colors need to be as neutral as possible.  Buyers need to be able to envision themselves living in there.  There furniture is probably a very different style and might not go with your color palette.  Paint is a cheap cost with a very high effect.  Neutral grays and tans on the walls can go a long way.  Besides the aesthetic changes, painting can help get rid of any odors that may be lingering in the house that you may have no idea even exist. Remember, paint colors on swatches always look tame compared to putting them on the wall.  It might be a beautifully calming and seemingly harmless yellow on a 1 inch square, but on a 20 ft wall it looks more like a big loud school bus.

Exampled below, this example of a recently property I sold and advised on staging. Removed wallpaper and blue paint to a neutral paint color.  The only money spent was on paint, home depot light fixture and Ikea draperies.  Drastic improvement for very little cost. The previously unsaleable sold in 7 days.

Dining room with sweat equity changes to neutralize design.

Dining room with sweat equity changes to neutralize design.


4. Wall Art and Pictures

The goal here is to have some, but not too much.  Not every wall in a room needs to have something on it.  In fact 1 or 2 walls is typically best.  The largest piece should be on the largest wall.  If you don’t have any large art, you can group several smaller pictures together to create a main focal point.

On the contrary, if you just never put anything on the walls to begin with, let’s get a few pieces up that make sense. Having no art seems too sterile.  Art does not have to be expensive and personal.  Some great abstract neutral pieces can be picked up at somewhere like HomeGoods or Target.  Landscapes or abstract canvas pieces work well in a pinch.

Removing pictures of the family is a difficult task for many, but something you should do.  Some homes literally have hundreds of photos  of the family around the property.  Buyers need to envision themselves living in the home.  When they see the photos of another family, they feel more as if they are intruding than picturing themselves in the home.  It may feel un-homey to you with these pictures largely taken down, but remember this is temporary and it will help sell your home.

Spruced up Master bedroom feels much more inviting and updated with very little cost.

Spruced up Master bedroom feels much more inviting and updated with very little cost.


5. Musical Furniture

Considering swapping around some furniture.  Remember, this is temporary and the nicer the home shows, the less time you have to live with it even if it doesn’t seem practical to you.  Make sitting areas inviting and open to the entry of the space, not with the back turned to it. Center dining tables under the light fixtures. As a general rule of thumb, keep your largest piece on the largest wall.

Don’t be afraid to “float” seating areas.  Its most folk’s first instinct to push a sofa up against a wall, but floating it in a room can make the space feel more functional.  Don’t push beds into the corner of a room unless you have to. (bunk beds and day beds get a free pass here)  Keep an entrance on both sides of the bed, even if it’s a single. Angled beds usually don’t work well either, they take up a lot of space and can make the room appear smaller. Furniture should not block the entrance of a room, make sure when you walk into each and every room you have plenty of space and don’t feel restricted.

Staged living room in Arcadia area, AZ

Staged dining room in Arcadia area, AZ


6. The rule of three

Ok, so maybe you’ve never heard of a “triptic. You stand there with 4 candles/pictures/plants and try to place them in a spot that looks nice, but it just doesn’t seem natural, something doesn’t look right.  The trick is to always use groups of 3.  The idea behind groups of three is they are more appealing, memorable and effective than other numbers of objects.  Use this in furniture grouping, image groupings and décor groupings.

Staged Bedroom in Arcadia area, AZ

Staged Bedroom in Arcadia area, AZ


7. Greenery

Nothing brings in a more natural and vibrant addition to a room than a plant or two. No matter what color scheme and design style, a green plant will always work.  Plants need not be real, and can be picked up fairly cheaply.  You’ll be amazed at what the greenery does to an otherwise neutral living space. It makes the space feel vibrant and alive, something we are naturally attracted to.

8. Clean

It shouldn’t even need to be said, but here it is.  Clean, clean, clean! This is Phoenix and things get dusty.  Understandably, not everyone keeps their home in tip top shape all year round.  However, when preparing to sell your abode, cleanliness plays a huge factor.  Scrub and clean every surface in your kitchen and bathroom as if you were going to eat off it.  There is no bigger turnoff than hairballs in the bathroom corner, or crusted food in the kitchen.  Get in the shower and scrub that soap scum away!

Don’t forget to look up, fans are often missed, but something buyers are going to see.  If the carpets have not been cleaned in a few years, a fresh cleaning can really help with odors and give it that new look. Homes with four legged friends should pay special attention to remove hair and odors that come along with pets.

Clean Master Bedroom AZ

Clean Master Bedroom AZ


9. Curb appeal

We’ve all heard about curb appeal – does your home have it?  Most of us don’t stare at the outside of our home all day like we do the inside, so it’s time to evaluate how you look from the street.  The curb appeal is part of the first impression when buyers arrive at your home.  The biggest thing to portray is that the house is maintained. A yard is a good indicator of how well a homeowner keeps up the property.  Overgrown with weeds, broken walls, a falling over mailbox? You can bet buyers are already wondering what other items have been neglected.

Make sure your potential buyers feel comfortable by eliminating all weeds, trimming trees and plants.  If plants are too overgrown, removing them all together is a better option.  A plain but clean rock yard it a better option than a landscaped but overgrown yard. Freshly planted foliage will go a long way in giving your home a nice updated look.  The common rock yard in Arizona eventually loses rock or gets mixed in with the soil.  A fresh layer of rock is relatively cheap and can clean up a yard dramatically.  Do away with personal signs and flags while your property is listed. Consider adding some potted plants and a nice front door mat to the entry to give it an inviting feel.

If you want to give it that extra special upgrade, many are surprised to hear that the highest ROI of any house project is replacing the front door.  Why?  Simple, it’s all about the first impression; a new upgraded front door separates your home from the surrounding neighbors and adds the feel of a high end upgrade. Speaking of first impressions…

10. Create the first impression

Last on the list but most certainly not least.  Creating the first impression is all about creating an experience for the buyer.  Studies have shown that buyers typically know within the first 15 seconds if the home is going to be a good option for them.  15 seconds is barely enough time to walk through the front door, if you don’t wow from the get-go, it will be a big no-no!

There is no golden rule here; all Phoenix homes are laid out differently.  Use the ideas in this article to make sure your entry knocks it out of the park.  Keep it pristinely clean, open and bright.  The entrance should draw you in and make you want you to see what’s around the corner. Think of the 4 senses that occur in those first 15 seconds of entering someone property:

Sound – Fix squeaking doors, creaking floors, rattling A/C or noisy fans.

Sight – Ensure the entry is clean, bright, welcoming

Smell  – Eliminate all odors – Considering asking an honest friend or family member, we all become conditioned to the odors in our own house.  Vanilla is widely used as inviting and pleasant scent to most.

Touch – Fix finicky locks, tighten loose doorknobs, clean, clean clean!

Good luck on the successful staging of your property, your efforts will be rewarded!

Looking for a certified Stager? Head to the Real Estate Staging Association to locate a Phoenix Staging Professional.


Leave a comment