Need to perk up the look of a new listing but don’t have a budget for staging? Here are five affordable ways to update and upgrade the space.

This article was last updated May 5, 2022.

Some 82 percent of real estate agents profiled by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said that staging changed the way their buyers view listings while over half said it reduced their listing’s days on market and increased sale price.

Home staging can be one of the most valuable parts of your marketing budget, offering an excellent return on investment and enhancing profitability.

While many luxury real estate agents swear by staging for every property they represent, many agents pick and choose which homes to stage, or only stage certain rooms within their listings. Sometimes this choice is driven by the sellers, who may not want to invest in staging for their home or who may be offended by the idea that their home is not already picture-perfect as is.

To overcome this objection, it’s important to remind your seller that the design choices that make a home lovely to live in aren’t always the same as the features that sell it in the first place.

In many cases, staging is designed to showcase the home itself, with artwork and furnishings chosen not for their own appearance, but for their scale and enhancement of the space.

How to compile a staging inventory

For those homeowners who don’t want to hire a staging expert to get their home market-ready, you can include some minor staging services in your home preparation and marketing process. According to Alex Lilly of DOORA Designs in Ventura, California, improving the look of your listing may not always require a home stager.

Lilly said that staging really can make all the difference when it comes to the way buyers perceive your listing and what they are willing to offer. In addition, it helps to prevent the home from sitting on the market through price drop after price drop.

The good news? Making a positive impact doesn’t always require full home-staging services.

“Some easy ways to make your listing stand out are painting the home a neutral color, decluttering and purchasing green foliage to add to the home,” said Lilly. In addition, she suggests “sprucing up the curb appeal by getting a few plants, a front door wreath and doormat to give a great first impression.”

Five staging items agents should own

You don’t need a warehouse filled with staging elements to make a big difference in the way your listing looks. Focus on items that are lightweight, easy to install and remove, and pack a decorative punch when added to an underwhelming room.

Consider investing in the following items for a quick and easy DIY space enhancement:

1. Accessories

These can include everything from tchotchkes to remake the look of a bookshelf to new throw pillows and blankets either added to the sofa or tucked into a beautiful basket.

2. Coffee table

If you need to create a more cohesive living space, put an elegant coffee table front and center. It anchors the room and helps define the traffic flow.

3. Art

You can easily store art in a variety of sizes to enhance various spaces in your new listing. Choose canvas — not glass — for easy storage and transportation, and lean toward neutral colors in nonrepresentational styles.

4. Tables

A variety of occasional tables can come in handy nestled beside a chair to create an impromptu reading nook or as an additional bedside table when needed.

5. Headboard

If the guest room is made up of a simple mattress and frame, it can be given a more finished look with an upholstered headboard. They’re inexpensive, easy to carry and easy to tuck behind the pillows to pull the room together.

Avoid large heavy items like couches or beds that are difficult to store or move. In addition, avoid items that are likely to be worn out quickly or that require a multitude of different size options, like rugs or curtains.

Antoinette Fargo is the co-founder and creative director of DOORA Collective + DOORA Design in Ventura, California.  

listing agent
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