4 Steps to Staging for an Open House

Give your home the "wow" factor it needs to impress potential buyers.

Step 2: Tackle Big-Picture Projects

When you made your list, you likely found some broad issues that apply to your entire home, like worn-out carpeting or chipped paint. Or perhaps your home seems cluttered and dated in general, a quality that will make it hard for buyers to envision your home as their own. These large problems can seem daunting to fix, but they're the ones that buyers will certainly notice during your open house. Here are some general fixes you should definitely consider making:


This is a no-brainer. If potential buyers walk into your open house and see dust on the coffee table and soap scum in your showers, say goodbye to your chances of making a sale. Cleaning your home from top to bottom is a cheap and (relatively) easy way to make your home show much better during your open house. Pay special attention to your kitchen and bathrooms -- those tend to get dirty the fastest.

De-cluttering and Depersonalizing

Personal items like family photos and knickknacks are distracting and need to be put away before your open house. Just think of it as getting a head start on your packing. Don't forget to clean out and organize closets and storage space. Buyers will look there too, and messy, overflowing closets give the impression that your home doesn't have enough storage space. Removing seasonal items -- like winter coats and holiday decorations if you're selling in the spring -- is a good place to start. You can also pack up and donate items you have in duplicate and clothes and toys your kids have grown out of.

Fixing What's Broken

Remember all the little home maintenance projects you've been putting off for years? Now's the time to do them. Make sure all broken windows, leaky faucets and nonfunctioning light switches are in working order before your open house.


A fresh coat of paint on your interior walls is by far one of the most cost-effective ways to make your home show well. When choosing a paint color, think neutral (warm beige or pale green), not bland (stark white). Whatever you do, don't just leave your bright magenta bedroom as-is. You may love it, but most buyers won't feel the same way.

Paint can also work wonders on outdated or cheap cabinetry. Just rolling on some paint can instantly update your kitchen and make it look more high-end.

Replacing Flooring
Flooring is an important update that sellers are often reluctant to make. Some sellers choose to offer a credit instead of replacing their flooring, but Chan says that's not an effective strategy.

"Giving buyers a credit is not going to have the same effect as doing it for them because they only know what they see, and they focus on the negative," Chan says.

Try cleaning your flooring first, but if it's worn or stained beyond repair, replace it. You don't have to go with top-of-the-line options here unless you're selling a high-end home. Any neutral-colored carpet or even peel-and stick linoleum tiles for a kitchen or bathroom will make a big difference.

Updating Light Fixtures Light fixtures are the jewelry of a home, Chan says. "They really make a big difference, and they're also one of the first things to date a property. You can pretty much tell when a house was built or when it was last renovated by the type of light fixtures that are in it," she says.

So what can you do about those circa-1986 brass chandeliers? You could buy some inexpensive, contemporary fixtures, or if you're really on a budget, you can simply revamp your old fixtures with a can of spray paint.

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