Do’s and Don’ts of Staging Your Home For Sale

There’s a lot that goes into selling a home but one of the most important steps is staging. Statistically, homes that are professionally staged sell in a shorter amount of time and for more money/better terms than homes that aren’t staged. It’s a little extra up front work that can go a long way during the sale. Below are some Do’s and Don’ts while staging.


Curb Appeal: The market has changed and technically the online photos are the buyers first impression of your home. However, the curb appeal is the buyers first in person impression of the home. Not having the exterior in tip top shape puts you in a position as a seller where you now have to “win the buyer back” as they step foot into your home. With the right curb appeal they’re entering the home with the good feeling that you want. 

  • Trim shrubs
  • Touch up peeling paint
  • Make sure any outdoor lighting is working
  • Add a fresh coat of paint to the front door
  • Make sure your front door lock is working well so the agent doesn’t have any issues gaining access
  • Keep the lawn mowed and free of debris
  • Pressure wash the house

De-clutter and de-personalize: Don’t take offense to the fact that you need to de-clutter. This is something that “everyone” needs to do for the sale of their home. Living in a home and staging it for sale are two totally different things. Once you decide to sell your home, try to remove yourself from it being “your house”. The idea is to have a blank canvas for buyers to see themselves living there. 

  • Remove personal photos (ALL PERSONAL PHOTOS)
  • Remove any collectibles
  • Remove stacks of newspaper, magazines, bills, etc. 
  • Put furniture that’s not needed in storage. Make it feel as open as possible. 
  • Hide the trash can
  • Clear off kitchen and bathroom counters
  • Minimize items in closets(coat closets, linen closets, pantry, etc)
  • Remove signs of pets if you can
  • Don’t put all of this stuff in your garage

Painting: Painting is the least expensive way to get the most bang for your buck. You love the Redskins(Washington Football Team) but not everyone does. That burgundy and gold basement works for you because you live there. However, you’re better off going with a neutral greige that is going to appeal to the masses. Plus, you’re going to be removing pictures from walls and moving furniture around. Doing so will expose holes and marks on your walls. A fresh coat of neutral paint cleans that up. Don’t forget about the ceiling, trim and doors. The fresh coat of paint on the walls will make a seemingly white ceiling look dirty. Don’t stress on paint color. Your realtor and stager have colors that they work with all the time. 

Brighten: You may not like a lot of light in your home while you’re living there. However, we’re trying to create a light and airy feel while buyers visit your home. Let’s turn it into a showroom. Clean bright lights is a must. Don’t forget to replace burnt out light bulbs. 

Clean: Clean, clean, clean. It can’t be clean enough. If your friends and family are always telling you what a clean freak you are, you may be able to get away with cleaning it yourself. Otherwise, hire a cleaner to do the job. Better yet, have your realtor hire the cleaner for you. That way they know what type of job is expected out of them as they clean. I’m talking baseboards, blinds, windows, appliances(yes your refrigerator and oven), etc. Steam clean and stretch carpets if you’re not replacing them. Don’t forget to clean grout and replace caulk. 

Make repairs: If there are basic repairs that you know need to be done, please take care of them before listing your home. Some of these items may include:

  • Wood rot around windows and doorways
  • Loose door handles
  • Windows that don’t work
  • Lose or broken faucets
  • Faulty light switches

Work with a professional stager: The process of selling a home in the proper way can be daunting and often times overwhelming. Utilize your realtor and the team of professionals that they have at their disposal. That’s part of what you’re paying them for! You 100% should have access to a professional stager. This is what they specialize in. Let them do their job so you don’t have to. Then utilize your realtor to find painters, movers, handyman, etc. Utilize your realtor and their team and the process will be a lot smoother and less stressful for you. 

Don’ts: A simple answer to this would be do the opposite of all of the Do’s 

Let your emotions get involved: I know it’s easier said than done. Especially if you’ve lived there for a long time and have countless memories. However, try to remember that once you’ve made the decision to sell your home, it’s no longer yours. We’re trying to make the home appeal to the largest group of buyers possible. Don’t take offense to the suggestions that the stager or realtor gives you. It’s not a shot at your decorating style or preference. Even the stager stages homes for sale in a different way than they would for personal decorating. 

Don’t think the house will sell itself: The house does need to do the selling. However, you don’t show up to a job interview, a date or any other event where you’re trying to impress people in sweat pants do you? Listen, I love sweat pants. Comfortable as can be. But don’t put your house out to market in a pair of sweat pants.

Don’t leave your personal touch: Your family trip to the Grand Canyon was amazing. You’ll never forget your wedding. However, those are your memories. We’re trying to sell the home to people who you most likely have never met and never will meet. And what if they do recognize you in the pictures and there happens to be a past history that isn’t so pleasant? Do they want to buy “your” home? Believe it or not I have real life stories of this. 

  • Candid or any personal photos
  • Report cards
  • Kids drawings
  • Family portraits
  • Monogrammed towels
  • Any sign of pets

Don’t do it yourself: Leave it to the pros that do this everyday. You may have sold 5, 10 or even 20 homes. While that is great experience for a general homeowner that’s barely comparing to the experience level of a newly licensed agent. Trust the agent you hired who has done this many times over the 20 home sale experience that you have. That’s what you’re paying them for!

Don’t do major renovations: You won’t get 100% of your money back on major renovations. This is a specific conversation to have with your realtor for each scenario but in general it’s best to stick with new paint, new carpet and basic repairs. 

Don’t buy new furniture: You can have a home staged perfectly for an average of $3,000. Unless you’re planning on buying new furniture for your next home and it just happens to fit perfectly in your existing home(it won’t), let the stager do what they do. Trying to cut corners is going to bite you in the end. 

In general, a good overall thought to have during this process is to look at it as a deep Spring Cleaning and better yet a pre-move. It does seem like a lot of work and it is. However, we’re talking a difference of tens of thousands of dollars in the sale of your home. If I were to tell you that you could sell your home for 10, 20, 30 or even 100 thousand dollars more with the proper work put in up front, would you do it? Because that’s what the proper staging does for home sales in this market. 

If you have specific questions or would like to set up an in-person or Zoom meeting to discuss your scenario, please call or email me directly at 703-915-2244 / [email protected]. If you enjoyed this post and would like access to more of my articles/videos, visit the video/blog section of my website at: and follow me on social media @ JCurryGroup


Jason Curry
Licensed Realtor: VA & DC
J Curry Group at KW Metro Center
2101 Wilson Blvd #100
Arlington, VA 22201

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About the Author

Jason Curry, founding owner of the J Curry Group, based in Arlington, VA, has a long record of successfully guiding his clients through the home buying and selling process. He epitomizes integrity, energy, hard work, and creative service in every detail of your residential real estate transaction and he has represented sellers, buyers, and investors. Jason is annually a top producer in the area and is respected among clients and colleagues. Jason specializes in applying his expertise and market knowledge to residential properties that consistently exceed the personal and investment goals of his clients. He recognizes the importance of customer service in the real estate industry, and has developed systems and processes to ensure pleased and profitable clients. Grateful for an amazing group of neighborhood friends and contacts, Jason makes sure that new residents are welcomed in a way that has become customary in the Northern Virginia area. Jason is a lifelong resident of the DMV and is a proud alum of George Mason University where he earned his Bachelors degree.