"I'm not fixing it up for the next guy!"

That's a common expression I've heard from people preparing to sell their home.

I don't consider home staging "fixing it up." Staging begins after you've done all the minor and major repairs your home needs.

Maybe staging a house sounds like lots of work and expense.

Maybe just the thought of selling and moving makes you tired.

Maybe no one is offering to help with the process.

Maybe the last time you tried to sell a home it was a nightmare.

Maybe you're worried about getting enough money to move to the home you really want. And maybe you aren't sure you can find that home!

Let's look at what you can do to smooth the process and take the sting out of getting your home looking great when it hits the market.

Step one: Plan ahead

The smartest home sellers are the ones who realized as soon as they moved in that one day they would sell. The average American stays 13 years in a home, even though people expect to stay much longer. The "forever home" is almost a myth.

As soon as you decide to sell, list what needs to be done. Have a schedule, Make a budget. Get estimates. Start educating yourself about things like market prices and decor trends. This is the step that will save you heartache and money because it minimizes impulse actions and uneducated decisions. You have time to shop around for that perfect drapery fabric at a great price or to locate the handyman you've always wished for.

Step two: Decide what stays

Choose your best quality pieces and mix them 
up with flea market finds.Stage  
to make the space look simple 
and fresh like this one from City Farmhouse. 
There's no sense cleaning what isn't staying for you to use to homestage, so before cleaning, pare down to what's important. This step will make cleaning, packing, and moving easier.

Judge every piece of furniture and decor accessory on its functionality and its ability to impress a buyer. Is that end table really necessary? Does it serve a useful purpose? Is it attractive?

And, most importantly, does it make the room look better?

Keep all the furnishings that you love and want in your next home, and that will contribute to successful home staging. Store temporarily the things that you love and want but that don't earn their keep as staging essentials.

Step three: Decide what to DIY

Carpeting has to be clean and free 
from any off-putting
aromas in order to please 

buyers. Photo: Mohawk
Doing work yourself is home staging's biggest money-saver, and I always encourage sellers to do whatever work they can if they need to keep expenses down.

It makes sense to pay for help if you have the kind of job that pays way more than what you will pay professionals to do work in your home, whether cleaning, carpentry, painting or any other trade.

Determine early in the selling process what jobs you will do yourself and what you will farm out. Some work, such as electrical,  requires training and licensing, and you'll need to hire pros for that.  

If you enjoy the satisfaction of doing your own prep work, rent a carpet shampooer if you don't own one, and refresh your carpets. If you can't sew but would like to, make your own no-sew window treatments. If it saves appreciable cash, paint your own furniture. If you want to have fun with a DIY project create your own artwork.

Remember that too many DIY projects can lessen the perceived value of your home. If you don't have the skills to do the job right, get someone qualified to do the work.

Step four: Recycle and repurpose

Runner-up to home staging's biggest money-saver is finding ways to reuse what you own and what you buy second-hand. 

Teach yourself to be a thrifty buyer. Being a re-purposer calls for imagination, so be open-minded and flexible. 

Can you style that old television armoire as a bar cart

Does the outdoor furniture your neighbor wants to throw away need just a coat of spray paint to make your patio staging come to life? 

Be humble.     

Wherever you shop, whether at garage sales, estate auctions, local discount stores, thrift shops, or online, look for bargains. Ask for discounts. Use coupons. Wait for sales. Stick to a realistic budget.

Step five: Spend where it matters

Find an exterior house cleaning 
service if your roof looks nasty. 
Dirt and mildew can be removed 
without damaging the shingles. 
Photo: Rose  City Pressure Washing   
Do repairs, then stage.

A house that needs repairs is appealing only to investors and flippers who hunt for a steal.

Spending some money to fix and stage your home will attract serious buyers who want move-in ready and are willing to pay for it.

Your home doesn't need to match all the state-of-the-art housing trends. But it has to be free from major repairs and obsolescence.

Hire a plumber to fix leaks, faucets, and toilets that don't work correctly. Pay an electrician to repair dangerous or horribly outdated electric systems and fixtures. Get an HVAC company to make sure your system is efficient. Repair the roof if it leaks or looks bad.

These are the infrastructures that matter. Assertive buyers will ask for a discount off your asking price for, say, a new roof. And their estimate of what a new roof costs will be higher than what you would spend for a new roof. That's just how negotiations work.

So, do repairs first. Then stage to impress buyers. For more tips to help you painlessly stage your own home to sell it fast for a price you like, download my eBook now.