If you want to sell a house quickly and for the best price, make sure your prospective buyers never stare at empty rooms and bare walls. The deserted warehouse look is definitely out!
Enter home staging—the practice of using furniture and home accessories to create vignettes that will help home buyers imagine what life would be like in that house. If the real estate you’re selling isn’t staged attractively, you’re losing out, since plenty of other houses on the market will be.
Yet as important as home staging is, there’s no need to break the bank buying expensive items to make a house look great. In fact, you shouldn’t put pricey items in a staged house, where they can get damaged from being moved around or could even disappear. Buy things that look good, but that you can get for cheap.
Granted, some of these items might not feel as luxe as the fabric at a high-end department store, but who cares? Buyers shouldn’t be touching them, anyway. You’re looking for new and crisp and inviting—not irreplaceable treasures.
One unexpected place to look for staging props: Walmart. A few dollars can go a long way here! Check out these bargains that home stagers and real estate agents often buy to kick up your home staging without shedding too much money in the process.
Fluffy white hand towels
Next to kitchens, “Bathrooms are the second most important room and selling feature in any home,” says Jimmy Zarate of eXp Realty in Houston, TX. Freshen up all of your bathrooms with a six-pack of premium soft white hand towels (walmart.com, $14.99).
“It’s the perfect accent,” Zarate says.
Chrissy O’Donnell, associate broker and real estate agent at Re/Max West End, in Northern Virginia, says, “I would place them in all bathrooms, accompanied by a clear dispenser filled with a warm-colored soap. If there is a master suite with a tub, I would fold them by the tub, adding a spalike feel.”
Bathrooms aren’t the only rooms that you can spruce up with fresh towels.
“Home gym or fitness room? I would roll these up and place them in basket and add some water bottles,” says O’Donnell.
Round accent mirror
“This is the perfect accent piece and would be perfect above an entryway or hallway table,” says O’Donnell. “Mirrors can open up a room and create more light, brightening things up! I sometimes mix and match different sizes of mirrors to fill up an empty wall, and this would be perfect to add to a collage.”
Can’t keep real plants alive? Go with faux, which have come a long way these days and look strikingly realistic.
“They could guide a buyer’s attention towards a certain area or piece and would be perfect for a living room or family room area,” O’Donnell says.
“I love using candles. They add warmth and character, and this motif adds some style!” says O’Donnell. “I would use these on a coffee table and place them on a tray.”
Don’t forget to make outdoor spaces look inviting, too.
“If the home had a screened-in porch, I might add these to a side table outside as well,” she says.
Chic art prints
If your walls are covered with personal mementos, photos, anything personal or even remotely controversial—or maybe just too much stuff—consider packing it all away for now.
“Any wise real estate agent or stager would tell you to take down any personal pictures or family photos, no matter how cute they are,” says Zarate. A great substitute would be the Designart ‘Skyline with Brooklyn Manhattan Bridges’ Art Print (walmart.com, $192). “It is the perfect size, while adding a sleek, modern feel.”
When the room looks almost perfect, but still missing something, don’t be afraid to add some color. These three-button pillows (walmart.com, $13.84) have enough style and pop to make a statement, without being fussy. Keep a selection of these on hand, and you can swap out accent colors and soften edges of furniture as easily as you can toss a pillow.
Sally Herigstad has been writing about personal finance since 1998 and is the author of “Help! I Can’t Pay My Bills.” She is also a licensed real estate broker in Washington, and a retired certified public accountant.