Staging a home on a budget isn’t as hard as you may think. As a real estate agent, you can advise sellers on how to instantly boost the appeal of their home using tricks of the trade that cost little or no money and bring a huge return on investment. 

  • The key to staging a home on a budget is manual labor with a detail-oriented focus.

Staging a home on a budget isn’t as hard as you may think. As a real estate agent, you can advise sellers on how to instantly boost the appeal of their home using tricks of the trade that cost little or no money and bring a huge return on investment.

Small changes add up to create buyer-friendly rooms that can sell a home fast for a premium price. Below, you’ll find five ways to stage a home on the cheap.

1. Curb appeal entices the buyer to see more

Iriana Shiyan /

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. The tone set by a property for drive-by visitors will dictate buyers’ emotional reaction. They will either love it or hate it based on their first impression. So, neat and tidy is the recipe here.

Manicure the lawn, trim the bushes and weed all flower beds. If the mulch is faded, add a layer of new mulch to freshen it up. These simple changes will add loads of curb appeal.

Once the yard is in order, hang a seasonal wreath or welcome sign on the front door, and use flower pots to add color to the walkway and porch.

These additions are perfect because container gardening allows you to take advantage of seasonal colors, and best of all, if you kill a plant, you can easily replace it.

Further enhancements that are inexpensive include power-washing the home and replacing worn house numbers.

If the front door looks like it’s seen better days, ask the homeowners to freshen it up with a new coat of paint. You can often find attractive colors deeply discounted on the “oops” shelf at your local paint store.

2. Use the 90-day rule to maximize space

Most buyers cannot see past clutter. It is so important that sellers understand that the temporary removal of unnecessary and personal items is imperative if they want to sell their home quickly at a desirable price.

When I declutter a home for staging purposes, we go through room by room and remove anything the sellers will not need for the next 90 days. I try and make it exciting by treating the event as a packing party for their move to their future home.

I ask them to use the 90-day rule for closets, cupboards and any area they are already using for storage. Most are amazed at how much space they have after the home is decluttered.

Have a plan for storing packed items until the home sells. If possible, I ask them to temporarily house their belongings in a self-storage facility until a ratified contract is in place.

If they have a slew of full containers after decluttering, stack them in the garage or basement, it will minimize space.

3. Stage rooms with a purpose

A dining room should not feature a dining room table — and a desk. Make sure each room has a single purpose. Multi-purpose rooms confuse buyers.

Use current furniture to stage the home, and be creative. Just because a chair has sat in the corner of the great room for 10 years does not mean it has to stay in that corner. Breathe new life into spaces through rearranging with purpose.

Because this is another touchy area for sellers, you may want to ask a third party to help you out. Hiring a professional stager can be cost-effective, and it allows the stager to be the bad guy when a client is too emotionally attached.

This avenue will enable you to maintain a good relationship with your client, and the third party can usually convince your client to try new ideas. Most times the clients love the results, but if they hate it, you can always move the furniture back. Sometimes, you have to choose your battles.

4. Pay attention to details

Detail each room, and sprinkle seasonal decor and color throughout. Go beyond ordinary house cleaning, and shine door knobs, cabinet handles and fixtures.

If you have wood cabinets, use a refresher like “Old English” on them to make them look new. Clean all of the baseboards, trim and corners in each room.

If you have broken or worn electric and light switch plates, replace them with contractor grade plates. They cost very little and make a great first impression.

In the bathroom, replace old shower curtains with new ones. If you have a white tub, consider using a darker color such as navy to make the bathroom “pop.”

Be sure and replace any broken toilet seats and paper holders. As a finishing touch, roll fluffy white towels up and place them around the room. This little trick gives buyers the feeling of welcome and home.

5. Light it up

A 'tuxedo' kitchen

artazum /

Clean all of the windows and window treatments. Remove treatments if they block too much light. Use lamps to highlight darker areas. Experts suggests at least one lamp or light for every 100 square feet.

Replace globes and light bulbs in light fixtures so that they all glow evenly, and use Edison-style bulbs in fixtures when appropriate. If your budget allows, replace outdated light fixtures with inexpensive current fixtures.

Most of the work needed when staging a home on a budget is in manual labor with a detail-oriented focus. This costs sweat equity but will leave your bank account intact.

Missy Yost is a Realtor with Weichert Realtors Coastal Properties in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Follow The Yost Group on Facebook or Twitter

Email Missy Yost

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