Top 15 Home Staging Rules According to Studies

Home staging is preparing a home to show in its most attractive light to the broadest number of potential buyers to sell it more quickly and for top dollar.  Home staging focuses on creating a valuable marketing commodity so that it appeals to the general home buyer who is trying to visualize themselves in the home, as opposed to interior decorating where it prioritizes the personal tastes, personality and preferences of the home owner.

Studies show that the majority of home buyers make a decision about whether or not they want to buy a house less than 15 seconds after they walk in the door. Others may decide without ever getting out of their car, just basing on the exterior appearance of the house. First impressions are very important & critical, and can often mean the difference between a sale and another walk-away. That’s why home staging should be considered by every homeowner even before listing their home.

Duke University has conducted a study recently and here’s what Andrea Angott, Ph.D. said, “As far as we know, staging principles haven’t yet received empirical testing. Rather, they most likely evolved over years of experience and practice, and very experienced practitioners develop an intuition about staging. But, it is probably the case that some staging “rules” are more effective than others than others [sic] in terms of changing buyer perception and behavior.”

Dr. Angott noted that “some rules likely give you more “bank for your buck” in terms of cost effectiveness. This is what we are trying to determine. As psychologists, we are also interested in the psychology behind effective staging principles, on both emotional and cognitive levels.”

Whether you’re personally preparing your home to sell it or having it professionally staged, here are the Top 15 staging rules with the most important ranked at the top of the list:

  1. Removal of personal items from bathrooms.
  2. Using rooms for their intended purpose.
  3. Removing evidence of pets.
  4. Turning on every light in the home during showings.
  5. Vacant homes should be furnished.
  6. Removal of garbage cans.
  7. Removal of personal photographs.
  8. Removal attention-grabbing or personal art or accessories.
  9. Neutral paint colors on all walls.
  10. Removal of appliances from kitchen counters.
  11. Never placing the back of furniture facing any room entrance.
  12. “Tell a story” with staging (breakfast tray with mugs on bed).
  13. Sheer or no coverings on all windows.
  14. Use of scented candles, plug-in air fresheners or potpourri.
  15. Chocolate chips baking in oven during showings.

To add, extremely clean, decluttered house with good curb appeal is also a must.

Dr. Angott reported that a few respondents felt the study was “too black-and-white” because “staging is an art that can’t be captured in a handful of rules.” Pertaining to the study, Dr. Angott said, “While we recognize the artistry of staging, scientific testing invariable requires simplification, and we feel that our findings will be useful despite this necessary simplification.”

Renowned real estate photographer Larry Lohrman said that from a real estate photographers perspective, “very few home sellers are good at getting their home in shape for a shoot. It takes a pushy listing agent to be on site while you shoot and help remove garbage cans, pet dishes and the like. If your client, the listing agent is not on site helping with this activity, you need to be pushy with the home owner to make the home looks good. Of course there are limits to what you can do.”

To sum it all up, the focus of home staging is to make your home inviting, comfortable and visually appealing. Highlight your home’s strengths, downplay its weaknesses & create points that speak to buyers emotionally about a lifestyle they can aspire to. A small investment for a much bigger reward of selling your home fast and for more money.


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