The cost to stage your home doesn't have to be astronomical with many effective, low budget options.

Home staging need not come with a daunting price tag when there are so many cost effective ways to stage your home. There is nothing more important than making a good first impression. Never is this more critical than when it comes to selling and staging a home. According to Tina Bright, a professional stager at Maxim Interiors in San Jose, in a world where the majority of buyers begin their property search on the Internet, staging is now “a crucial marketing technique” that is necessary to provide the best quality photos for buyers to view online.

It’s worth the effort. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a home that is staged will sell for an average of 17% higher than a home that hasn’t been staged. Not only will you profit financially from a higher final offer, your home will sell faster too. Data shows that 94% of staged homes across the U.S. were sold in 29 days or less. Compare that to an average of 145 days on the market for homes that had not undergone any home staging, and the difference is substantial. The number of days your home is on the market is paramount to getting the best possible price. The longer it remains, the more leverage goes into the hands of the buyer rather than the seller.

Cost Effective Ways to Stage Your Home

The importance of staging a home properly is one thing, but how much does all this cost? Hiring a professional stager can be expensive and not necessarily a financially viable option for many, but that is no reason to give up on the idea of staging your home before prospective buyers come to visit. Nearly one third of buyers are willing to overlook flaws in the property if good home staging is apparent. Although you may not be able to do a major renovation before it comes time to put your home on the market, there are several quicker, cost effective ways to stage your home to make sure it reaches its maximum selling potential.

Here are five cost effective ways to stage your home that create a polished look while still being friendly on your wallet:

#1: Put away those photos and personal belongings. 

That’s right. That picture perfect shot of your smiling family last Thanksgiving, or of you and your best friends during that once-in-a-lifetime trip may bring you happy memories every time you see it in your home. But it’s a turn-off for prospective buyers whether they are consciously aware of it or not.

“Having your home photographed and shown with your personal items on display can create the feeling of a hand-me-down home versus a pre-owned home,” says Bright. This isn’t the look you want to be going for. As a professional stager, Bright cites removing personal belongings as the single most important thing sellers should do if staging on a budget.

When looking for a home, a buyer needs to be able to envision themselves living in that space. If your home is chock full of your own mementos, it’s difficult for them to do this. You may love your Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings boxed sets on your bookcase, but what if your prospective buyer can’t stand fantasy novels? It may seem trivial, but removing all personal items from your space will allow a variety of different buyers with their own individual interests to imagine your home as their own.

#2: Eradicate clutter.

Don’t just minimize it. Eradicate it. A messy home conveys a disheveled, chaotic space when you really want to project somewhere relaxing and calm. If you’re selling, you are going to have to clean and pack your things away eventually anyway. It makes sense to start early when it can ultimately benefit your final sale.

Cleaning is essential to staging a home well. The elbow grease you put into it now will ultimately pay off in the long run. Remove as much ‘stuff’ as you can from common spaces. What may not be noticeable to you as clutter may appear to be to your prospective buyer, so it’s best to err on the side of caution. Clear off your countertops and clear room on your shelves. Consider leaving some shelves completely empty to create the feeling of space. Hanging a mirror in your living room is another helpful trick. Mirrors toss light and provide the illusion of space.

Put it away…but properly

But when putting things away, remember that in this case, the saying ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ does not apply. Potential buyers are going to want to see the storage space your home has to offer, so it’s imperative to make sure your closets are clean and that organization is a priority. Consider leaving just one outfit neatly hung on a hanger but that’s it. An overstuffed closet is a huge turn-off as it creates a sense of insufficient storage space in your home.

While it may sound like a daunting task, the good news is that cleaning and de-cluttering does not have to cost a fortune. Renting out a small storage unit is a worthwhile investment to store your things. Alternatively, ask a friend if you can store your stuff at their place during the home staging process for one of the most cost effective ways to stage your home.

#3: Make your walls and floors appear as neutral as possible.

You may love that fire engine red wall in your living room, but creating a neutralized space will allow a buyer imagine themselves living in your home. Consider painting your walls a neutral color before your first viewing or open house. Tan and beige are best-selling neutral colors. Whites and greys can make a room seem bigger, airy and inviting.

On the floor, consider putting away colorful rugs that can be distracting on the eye. Neutral tones will make your home’s appliances and fixtures pop, while at the same time allowing your buyer to picture their own furniture fitting into your space. Neutral colors are timeless and never go out of style. While you may have many different buyers viewing your home, a neutral color palette will be appealing to all regardless of personal taste.

Purchasing paint at a local hardware store is relatively inexpensive and will pay for itself when your home goes on the market. Some argue that of all the cost effective ways to stage your home, a fresh coat of paint will generate the most bang for your buck.

#4: Remember that the nose knows.

There’s nothing more off-putting than a bad smell. No matter how beautiful your home may be on the eye, an odor can make or break the viewing experience for the buyer. “Smell has a greater impact on purchasing than everything else combined,” according to Alan Hirsch, the neurological director of the Smell & Taste Treatment & Research Foundation in Chicago.

Smells have such a close tie to emotions. A good smell causes a person to instantly perceive a product as being good. So when it comes to a sense that’s so impactful on our feelings, it helps to go the extra mile when staging a home. And you don’t need to break the bank to do so.

Easy aroma fixers

Having a can of air freshener on hand and using it throughout your home ahead of any open house or viewing is a quick and inexpensive way to make a great first impression.

Another simple trick is putting a batch of cookies in the oven to bake just ahead of an open house. The smell of something baking when your potential buyers walk in is irresistible, and will create a definite feeling of being at ‘home.’ Not a baker? Not a problem. Pillsbury pre-made cookie dough is readily available at most major grocery stores.

If cookies aren’t your thing, try placing cinnamon sticks in a pot of water on the stovetop, and bringing it to a slow boil. (You won’t be alone). The Four Points hotel chain uses cinnamon scent at locations throughout the country.

Regardless of how you decide to freshen up your home, do not forget to remove anything that may cause any bad odors. Empty all trash bins and if you have a cat, make sure you get rid of all litter boxes. Appearances may be critical, but scent is equally so when staging a home.

#5: Don’t forget about curb appeal.

It’s critical to remember that curb appeal plays a huge role in the buying process. The outside of your home is the very first thing your buyers will see when they come for a viewing. It is just as if not more important to make sure it looks just as great as the interior.

Remove any clutter from the sidewalk, driveway or path to your front door. Make sure your lawn is clear and clean. Rake or sweep the sidewalk and driveway. You may also consider renting a pressure washer to clean walkways or the sidewalk. Mulch, a layer of material that goes on to a surface covered with soil, is available at most hardware stores. It’s one of the quickest and cost effective ways to stage your home that will mask any outdoor messes. Temporary mulch can take the form of bark chips and works to make exterior spaces more visually appealing, and is often biodegradable.

Another thing to remember when sprucing up the outside of your home is to make sure that the number of your property is clearly visible from the street. This is, after all, your prospective buyer’s possible new address.

Why Cost Effective Ways to Stage Your Home are Important

More than 81% of buyers feel that home staging makes it “easier to visualize the property as their future home.” When it comes time for your first open house, you will have only a few minutes to grab your buyer’s attention. With the home staging tips outlined in this post, you can focus on maximizing your selling potential, rather than maxing out your credit card.