As If Your Mother In Law Is Coming To Stay~Staging Advice From Realtor

Real Estate Agent with Cherimie Crane & Associates

Many say it is just putting lipstick on a pig; however, I have actually put lipstick on a pig and it most certainly does make a difference. Not only does it get a giggle out of all involved but the pig stands out from the crowd and as my grandma always says, a little color never killed anyone. For the record, it didn't kill my pet pig either.  

Not everyone can afford a professional stager. Staging is crucial and makes such a tremendous difference in selling a home. When possible, hire a professional. When pennies are being pinched, rely on the experience of an experienced Realtor if for no other reason than an experienced Realtor DOES know tips and tricks that will make your home shine.

I am NOT a professional stager; however, I have spent countless hours, days, months and years going in and out of homes. I know what makes a difference in the eyes of a buyer and what sends them straight for another front door! As most Realtors, I may not be a professional designer, but I am a pro at stretching a dime!

The below tips are from years of taking what we have and making it work! Again, if you can afford a professional stager, DO IT. If not, ask your Realtor how they can help you with the following shades of color!


1.     Mr. or Mrs. Seller, meet Mr. Clean! – It doesn’t take a professional to clean a house and clean it well. It takes good music, determination and a little hard work. I really like using Mr. Clean white pads for baseboards! But avoid walls, as this can remove paint in some situations!!


2.     Walk through each room and imagine yourself as a Bed & Breakfast owner- If you have children, you may already feel like a B&B owner, but this is different. From floor to ceiling you want each room to offer comfort, peace and space for guests. If you think your home already looks fabulous, call your best friend, she will be honest, then call me.


       Kitchen- clean the countertops, free them of anything not used daily. Remove kitchen wash rags (never show your home with kitchen rags hanging from oven, fridge, faucet, etc... Please). Each morning wipe down all countertops, fridge, range and microwave, use handi wipes or a spritzer of apple cider vinegar and water. Trust me, it works and takes much less time than the panic of realizing you have a showing and you kitchen is not prepared.







Entryway- This matters, and it may just matter most! Free the entryway from clutter, sneakers, and dogs (friendly or not). If you have a table or stand, remove clutter and leave fresh flowers or a nice floral (think small NOT oak tree) arrangement. If you have a giant chalkboard that expresses your disappointment in your husbands failure to run his errands, maybe write, Welcome to My Home instead.


Family Room- Think sitting area, also think about vacuuming all the cookie crumbs, pizza crust and Fido’sfur OFF of all furniture at least weekly during the marketing term. If you have 4000 pillows, remove 3992 of them. Think clean, smooth lines. If the pillows are dingy, either clean the covers or go to Bed Bath and Beyond and pay $9.99 for new covers. Pillows are an easy way to make the color palette throughout a home flow. Choose one color that will appear in everyroom, it adds to the flow and gives consistency.  The coffee table should be clean, clear of anything other than a tasteful (ask your mom, if you aren’t sure!!!) book and 1-2 remotes. That is IT. If you have 4000 cords from various electronic time wasters, remove or hide 3999 of them. There are easy ways to bundle them in an organized manner (Bed Bath and Beyond and most any store have small devices for this priced below $5). Make sure it is well lit during showings, not candle séance lit, but lamp/light fixture! Resist the urge to Fabreeze yourself into frenzy, if your home is clean. Fake flower aroma is unnecessary.


Dining Room/Eating Area- It has been my experience that a full table setting (12 plates, forks, glasses that you never let anyone use) is unnecessary. Instead an appropriate (call me) centerpiece and a clean surface is all that is needed. This depends on the room. It if is Formal Dining room, then setting placemats, napkins and a pop of color (again call me) is preferred. If it is an eat in kitchen, a clean surface and nice centerpiece will do the job!





Master Bedrooms- Think of every nice hotel you have ever visited (if Motel 6 comes to mind, call me). Clean crisp lines with fresh linens. Corner to Corner make sure anything that is NOT used daily is put away or packed in storage. It is necessary, no matter how painful. It is necessary. The baseboards should shine throughout the entire home, but especially bedrooms/baths. Nightstands should be clear with the exception of a lamp, 1-2 tasteful (call your mom) books/magazines, clock or small flower arrangement. You want the room to feel inviting to everyone, not just women and not just men. The bed is very important. Linens MUST match and pillow cases must be crisp and clean. Pillows and pillow cases don’t cost much, but dingy or stained linens will cost you a sale! If you don’t have time to make your bed each day, you don’t have time to sell your home. Hate me or not, it is true. Leave your bedroom as if your mother in law is coming to stay! Dressers and other bedroom furniture should be clean and completely free of clutter. If you have 4000 framed photos, remove 4000 of them. Sorry.


Guest Bedrooms- More of the same bedroom advice, crisp linens, matching linens, warm inviting and very CLEAN. This can be fun, prepare each bedroom for guests (that you really like) thinking of every possible comfort. Remove anything doesn’t make sense! If you have a treadmill in your guest room, STORE it. If you have your bike in your guestroom, find another place for it. If you have any strange appliance, structure, or cage (yes I said cage) remove it.


Bathrooms- White is your friend. White towels, white throw rugs, white shower curtain. Of course there are exceptions, if your bathroom is painted a stark color; a tan or gray may be preferred. Baseboards must shine, floors must be clean cabinets must be wiped down and cleared out!!! Yes, people open cabinets. Clean, clean, clean, if you don’t know how, don’t call your mother, she failed you, call me. Counter tops should be free of ALL personal items. Do NOT show your home with deodorant, toothpaste, hair cream and or other odd manicuring products strewn about. Do not do it. And please, always close the toilet seat. I know you live there, but it should look as though you don’t.


3.     Closets, patios, screen porches and other additional spaces- Clean is King. It is worth the cost of a storage unit. I know that is a pain, I have done it myself and yes it is a pain. It is also the difference in selling your home or crying in your grits. Any outdoor living space should allow for actual living. Screen porches should be inviting, offer a sitting area, and have a plant or two, LIVE plants. Closets must be organized, crazy-obsessive-person organized, not the door is closed I don’t care organized. I have a long list of tips on how to do that (just please don’t look in my closet). 

These basic principles also work for second homes, vacation homes, even rentals. There is no excuse NOT to have your property prepared for the scrutiny of buyers. Your property will continue to be overlooked as long as it isn’t looking its best!

If you need new bedding, buy it. If you need new drapes, buy them. I can assure you, an investment of $1000 will gain a return of being able to move forward and sell your property at a higher rate than if you simply place a sign and a prayer.

As I said, I am not a professional stager. I am a top selling Realtor and I have been for quite some time. I know what it takes to sell a home. I know what it takes to prepare a home for one of the most challenging markets in history. If you can’t afford a professional stager, make sure your Realtor knows the basics!


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Whether you are buying or selling Real Estate in Beaufort South Carolina, We know Beaufort. Our little coastal town has something for everyone.





Re-Blogged 8 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Barbara Martino-Sliva, Top Producer 08/23/2012 11:11 PM
  2. Kim Peasley-Parker 08/24/2012 11:50 AM
  3. Norma Toering Broker for Palos Verdes and Beach Cities 08/24/2012 12:59 PM
  4. Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl 08/24/2012 10:50 PM
  5. June Piper-Brandon 08/24/2012 11:02 PM
  6. Ritu Desai 08/24/2012 11:45 PM
  7. Curt Hess 08/25/2012 03:55 AM
  8. Sharon Sapp 08/26/2012 04:18 AM
ActiveRain Community
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Jim Gilbert

Great information!

The less stuff there is in the house the larger it looks.  The less visually complicated a room is the larger it feels.

You were too nice about the kitchen counter tops. Making them 100 % absolutely empty makes the kitchen look as large as it possibly could.  Unfortunately this makes using the kitchen a real chore, since you have to get more things out and put them away all the time.  I have had the personal experience of clearing the counters and having buyers say, "Look how big the kitchen is!" while the owners (my wife and I) choked down laughter!



Aug 24, 2012 11:07 PM #30
Gloria Valvasori, Accredited Senior Agent
REAL Experience | REAL Commitment | REAL Results!
When necessary I always have a a consultation with a professional stager and the buyer. I sometimes will pay for the consultation and in most cases, its just a matter of de-cluttering, and moving furniture around to make the home more attractive, make the rooms look larger, and to really help show off the home to its best advantage. Staging does work... and I'm a fan!
Aug 24, 2012 11:22 PM #31
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Cherimie, you are quickly becoming one of my Active Rain favorites!  I love this post, from the lipstick on a pig analogy to the wonderful advice throughout.  And you are so right.  Professional staging is the best, but by now most of us know enough to turn a house into a shameless flirt.


Aug 24, 2012 11:25 PM #32
Chris and Dick Dovorany
Homes for Sale in Naples, Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida - Naples, FL
Broker/Associate at Premiere Plus Realty

All of us have walked into terror with customers in tow.  It always amazes me that a seller thinks living in a pig stye is just fine when inviting others into your home.  Weather it's for a showing, a guest or whatever. 

Aug 24, 2012 11:42 PM #33
Brian Schulman
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552

Cherimie, very well written - funny but to the point!  I like your tip about Mr. Clean white pads.  I also note that the hardwood floors you show are devoid of cluttering throw rugs.

Aug 24, 2012 11:54 PM #34
Scott Hayes
(512) 786-8300 - Austin, TX
Realty Austin, Broker Associate

Great post. Well thought out. Nicely written. But can you go back to the part where you actually put lipstick on a pig

Aug 25, 2012 12:53 AM #35
Gary Frimann
Eagle Ridge Realty / Signature Homes & Estates - Gilroy, CA
REALTOR and Broker

Great post, and I wish evey seller would read it.  Your title was awesome.

Aug 25, 2012 01:16 AM #36
Sharon Kowitz
Fonville Morisey-CRS-SRES-ABR-GRI-E-Pro-CREN Cary, NC - Cary, NC
Cary, NC Relocation Specialist ~ Buying or Selling

I agree whole heartily that a staged, clean...clean smelling home is the home that will sell first if priced right and located in a great area. Thanks for sharing...great tips! 

Aug 25, 2012 01:35 AM #37
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Wondrful tips, Cherimie!  I'm glad you admitted to actually putting lipstick on a pig.  Now that I have that mental image in my head, can you tell me whether it was willing:-)

Aug 25, 2012 01:41 AM #38
Mike Yeo
3:16 team REALTY - Frisco, TX
Love your analogy of putting liptstick on a pig. It does make difference and make the pig stand out. Great advise.
Aug 25, 2012 02:33 AM #39
Nan Jester
Exit Real Estate Gallery Jacksonville Beach, FL - Jacksonville Beach, FL
Realtor, Exit Real Estate Gallery

I think staging is really critical to any listing.  Too bad you can't get every seller to follow this advice.

Aug 25, 2012 02:51 AM #40
Erica Ramus
Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA - Pottsville, PA
MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate

It doesn't cost money to be clean. I showed a house Thursday night that was filthy. What a turn off.

Aug 25, 2012 03:11 AM #41
Laura Filip
RE/MAX UTOPIA , Serving all of Texoma - Whitesboro, TX
What can we do for you today?

CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN AND CLEAN LETS SAY THAT ONE MORE TIME CLEAN, If your property smells bad drive up is not good you lose the battle of getting the buyer in the door and if it is not clean they wonder what else you are not keeping up with.

Aug 25, 2012 03:12 AM #42
Robert L. Brown - Grand Rapids, MI
Grand Rapids Real Estate Bellabay Realty, West Mic

Excellent tips and great pics you have there. But yes a clean house very important in today's mkt.

Aug 25, 2012 05:38 AM #43
Andrew Mendez
Century 21 Americana - Covina, CA - Covina, CA
Century 21 Americana

wow, what a write up!! Fantastic! Thank you!

Aug 25, 2012 10:36 AM #44
Andrea Swiedler
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - New Milford, CT
Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT

This is a great post, thank you to Pat for sending me over! You are so right, clean, free of clutter, with lipstick on.

Aug 25, 2012 10:04 PM #45
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Hey, Cherimie!  I included this post in Last Week's Favorites.  Have a great week!

Aug 25, 2012 10:04 PM #46
Valerie Zinger
House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada - Ottawa, ON
Home Organizer
Cherimie. You are so right about not using the white scrub pads on walls. They either take the paint off or the polish the paint so it shones.
Aug 25, 2012 10:23 PM #47
Sharon Sapp
Century 21 Gold - Reading, PA
For Old Fashioned Service with Today's Results!

Great ideas - and very well written. Hope you don't mind, but I re-blogged it. I this this is a great post!

Aug 26, 2012 04:19 AM #48
Sandy Acevedo
951-290-8588 - Chino Hills, CA
RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale

Hi Cherimie, a great post that really tells it like it is. This is so important for sellers to know.    

Aug 27, 2012 04:52 AM #49
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