I've never met anyone who said, "I don't care what it costs to stage my home. Let's spend a ton of cash!"

It's just common sense to practice economy when we stage our homes. 

We all want to recover the investment we made when we purchased the home we're now selling, and maybe move on to something even better.

At the same time, we can't work with such a tight budget that the quality of the home staging suffers. 

The solution is to spend money where it matters, where it will make a difference in the perceived value of the house. That's the sure route to a quick and profitable home sale.

Important rooms

Realtors know which rooms and what features buyers put on their must-have list. So...tip one: listen to the advice your Realtor gives you on where to cut corners and where you need to spend some money.

Most real estate pros agree that the important rooms are kitchens and baths. Next in importance is the primary bedroom. Some homes have deficiencies that can't be remedied, like a less than ideal neighborhood, a small garage, or high taxes or HOA costs. If that's the case with your home, then these three important rooms can be what tips the scales and convinces buyers to overlook those problems you can't fix.

If you need to improve the value of the kitchen, bath, and primary bedroom, decide what jobs you can do yourself and what you need to hire pros to do. Minor plumbing jobs like replacing a faucet, fixing a running toilet, or unclogging a garbage disposal, can be  DIY projects, but major plumbing upgrades will require a plumber. Some buyers will insist on documentation that electrical work and plumbing work was performed by a licensed plumber or electrician.


If you are the kind of homeowner who adheres to a daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly list of home maintenance chores, you can probably pass on a deep cleaning of your home when it's time to sell. But the rest of us probably have an oven to clean and some closet shelves to scrub. To make sure that your house looks good and smells good, it needs to be clean down to its bones. This may take a bit of time, but it's worth the effort. If you don't have the time or energy for this kind of work, consider hiring a cleaning service for a one-time deep clean in preparation for photographing and listing.  

Make sure rooms smell clean. Ceiling fans move air and prevent mustiness. They look good and help reduce heating and cooling costs. Unless you're an experienced DIYer, get the help of a professional, especially if you don't have safety equipment, the right tools, or you have a vaulted ceiling, which will be up to 13 feet higher than a standard ceiling. 

I'm a big fan of air purifiers. This is the one we've been using at our house. I like it because it's not big, honking ugly, and yet effective at keeping indoor air clean (not a paid endorsement). I also like to scent the air inside with essential oils, and I blogged about the scent diffuser I use (also, unsolicited endorsement). I cooked salmon for dinner earlier this evening and you would never know it now.

Buyers will judge a home's cleanliness by how clean the  
kitchen and bathrooms are. Photo: Better Homes and Gardens


There are plenty of ways you can throw money on your landscape. All but the horribly neglected landscapes require more than a simple sprucing up when it's time to sell. Many buyers don't want a fussy landscape because they see it as additional labor and expense once they move in.     

When shrubs and trees are well-maintained, they contribute up to 14%, value to your property. If trees on your property need serious pruning, hire a good tree service company that's trained in sane, safe horticultural practices. They usually offer full services like tree removal, stump grinding, pruning, fertilizing, trimming, and mulching. You don't need to splurge on all services. You can choose only what your home needs to be more marketable. 

Overgrown shrubs can be replaced with newer, smaller
ones to make a home look younger. Photo: Helen Norman, BHG


Buyers love a move-in-ready home. With budgets stretched thin by their down payment, moving costs, and perhaps expenses necessary to get their own home market-ready, most buyers hope they don't have to spring for new appliances when they move. 

Buyers often request to see invoices for energy costs. Now's a good time to get your heating and cooling system checked to be sure it is as efficient as it could be. Here is a guide to help you decide if it's time for repairs on your water heater. LED lights and programmable thermostats are energy savers that are worth the splurge. 

Gussying up your interior spaces with cute pillows and artfully displayed dishware without tending to infrastructure like roofing, electrical systems, HVAC, and plumbing is like putting lipstick on a pig. You won't fool a home inspector, so rather than disappoint prospective buyers or have to offer concessions, get ready before you list. There will be fewer glitches on the way to the closing table!      


Don't waste your money on projects that don't matter to the majority of buyers. 

I've previously blogged about my favorite, time-tested tips and secrets to make your home staging dollars go further.  

The list of renovations that don't return your investment includes adding a sunroom, converting a bedroom to a media room, adding an inground pool, changing a garage to make it living space, and removing closets for any reason. 

Of course, I always recommend thriftiness when you stage your home for sale. My eBooks on DIY home staging tell you all the most cost-effective ways to make your home desirable to buyers. Even if you are a professional stager or real estate agent, you are bound to learn from my books new ways to make smart choices about how to spend your staging budget, no matter how small it is. 

Top Photo: Studio McGee