3 Revelations I Had While Staging My Own Home For Sale

lessons learned

Sometimes a “lesson learned” comes with a high-stress price tag…but it’s often worth it. In the summer of 2016, my husband and I learned that a home we’d had our eye on for several months dropped the price. We decided to take a leap of faith, made an offer, and it was accepted!

“Next step: we have to have put our current home on the market. We need to get a sales contract within 14 days,” my real estate agent/husband told me.

Mmm-hmmm…Ok. Should be no problem for a Realtor husband and a home stager wife, right? No pressure at all! <insert exhausted, hysterical laughter here>

Well, I am happy to say that within 3 days of activating our listing we did, in fact, get a sales contract on our current home. But what I learned during this back-breaking, anxiety attack-inducing experience, I feel compelled to share with other home sellers and those who work with sellers on a regular basis. Take note…

Home Staging Lesson Learned #1: I will no longer use the phrase “de-clutter” when talking to my clients.

I don’t think I had realized how emotionally charged this word feels. Doing what I do, I am constantly reminded of the need to simplify my surroundings. I keep things extremely neat, tidy, and organized. I felt fairly confident I’d be able to get our home staged in no time flat.

After my third trip to Goodwill in a 12-hour period and becoming increasingly personally acquainted with the staff, I came to the conclusion that I was very, very wrong. Even though my home wasn’t “cluttered,” the truth is that there were still a lot of things in my house. There were things that we had outgrown, no longer used, no longer needed, or wanted, and it just didn’t make sense to pack and move them. To my mind, “de-clutter” implies that one is messy. Because I am not messy, I wrongly assumed that meant I didn’t have clutter. I learned from this humbling experience. I think a more accurate phrase home sellers should embrace is “less is more” or just “reduce and simplify.”

*On a related note, sellers should remember it is hard to be objective about your own stuff (even though I do this for other people all the time)! Once our photos came back, I still noticed several items that probably should have been removed or neutralized for a better presentation. Reducing “visual clutter” (stuff that’s not messy, but still a distraction for buyers) is why it’s good to get a professional stager to come in as an objective third party.

Home Staging Lesson Learned #2: Staging is an important part of emotionally disconnecting with your home.

I raised my little ones in this home. My husband and I experienced personal and professional milestones in this home. We needed more space for our growing family and business. And yet, it was breaking my heart a little to leave this place that held so many memories.

Enter home staging…my professional mind knew this needed to happen. My bookshelves were carefully organized — but they needed to be less full, less personalized, less distracting to potential buyers. The walls had gorgeous family photos (and murals!) —but they needed to come down so buyers could visualize their own family living there. My kids had adorable playsets and large toys — but they needed to be packed away so buyers could see how spacious the room was.

As I busily packed away treasured items and repainted spaces, it gradually became less personal and felt less like our home. I learned that staging helped us begin that all-important process of detachment. And we all began to grow more excited about moving to the new house.

Home Staging Lesson Learned #3: It is so worth it!

Staging your home — and living in a staged home — is without question a completely stressful experience. Your world is upside down while you move, reorganize, camouflage, rearrange, and neurotically clean every facet of what has always been your sanctuary.

Chasing after every crumb with a wet sponge…

Yelling at people for daring to sit on a couch with freshly fluffed pillows…

Painstakingly making the bed every single day with all the ridiculous throw pillows…

The good news, though, is that if you stage it right and if you price it right, the offers will come. Then you can start to relax again and look forward with excitement to a future in your brand new home!

Want More Lessons Learned? We Can Teach You!

You may already know that Three Bears Home Staging specializes in positive, empowering online home staging consultations. We love teaching home sellers how to maximize what they already have for a faster, more profitable sale! But did you also know that we can teach you how to stage your own home online?

Our online course walks homeowners through the step-by-step process of properly preparing and staging their own home for a faster, more profitable sale!

About Vannessa Rhoades
About Vannessa Rhoades

Vannessa Rhoades is the author of Just Right! Easy DIY Home Staging: Second Edition and founder of Three Bears Home Staging®. She is an HSR Certified Professional Home Stager™ and Certified Expert E-Designer™ and has staged and consulted on hundreds of properties in person throughout the Houston metro area and virtually across the country.


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