If you’re in a tough housing market, staging your home could make all the difference toward getting a quick offer and sale. Here’s how to prep your home for appealing real estate listing and showings.

Unless you’re lucky enough to live in a city with high property demand, trying to sell your home in this economy can be pretty tough. If you’ve chosen to list your house right now, chances are pretty good you don’t want it to languish on the market for months.

The good news is there are steps you can take to make your house as attractive as possible to potential buyers.

Here’s how to stage your home so it sells fast.

Declutter and Depersonalize Your Home

Think about all the advertising you’re bombarded with all day, every day. After so many years of receiving branded messages, Grownups have expectations that anything promotional, including real estate listings, will look a certain way.

When people are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on something, they want to see the potential of what they’re buying. With that in mind, you can begin the staging process by cleaning out all the clutter in your home. Get a bunch of boxes and start by going through your home, room by room.

People aren’t interested in your overstuffed closets, overflowing curio cabinets, or overabundance of kitchen gadgets. They want to be able to see all the light and space available for their stuff. Unlock this potential by packing away your porcelain collections, books, and any other bric-a-brac that clutters up your home.

Depersonalize by taking down your wedding photos, knickknacks, and anything else that characterizes the home as yours. Think of your home like an IKEA showroom and break it down into its most essential parts. This process may seem overwhelming, but doing some of the organizing now can also help you when you move: It forces you to decide what you want to keep, donate, or throw out.

Stage Your Home on a Budget

When people think about staging their home, they believe they have to spend thousands to get an idealized Better Homes and Gardens look. Not so! The beauty is you can completely change the look of a room with a few basic steps.

Give your home a good cleaning

You’ve already gotten rid of all your extra stuff, so giving your space a good scrub will make everything look fresh and inviting. Scrape all the greasy gunk off your stove, wipe down your baseboards, and get into those hard-to-reach places with a stepladder and flashlight. If you’re short on time and have a few extra bucks, hire professional cleaners to handle this.

Give your walls a fresh coat of paint

Use soft gender-neutral colors that will set the stage for the rest of your space. You’ll be amazed at how crisp, clean, and updated your home can look with a $50 investment in some paint.

Update your house’s appearance without purchasing new items

There are a ton of ways you can modernize dated bathroom tile, fireplaces, kitchen appliances, and the like without spending thousands. With the right primer and paint, you can make tiles look sleek and polished. Fireplaces can be updated by wiping everything down with soap and water and applying a stone color enhancer to make the brickwork stand out. Just Google your chosen project, and you’ll find more options than you’ll ever need.

Arrange the furniture in your home to look comfortable and spacious

Remember, the idea is to create a modern-looking space where people can imagine living. You don’t need to replace all your furniture, but you can dress up any room with a few throw pillows, some decorative vases, and some reasonably priced prints. You don’t have to go overboard; just a few accents can bring a room together in a new way.

Just remember that you are accenting the room—not overpowering it with more stuff. If you’re worried about overstaging your house, have your real estate agent make some suggestions. The agent is there to help you sell your home and can likely offer some guidance on what to do.

Taking the time to clean and organize your home so it presents well will put you miles ahead of people who just throw a For Sale sign on their front lawn.

Lindsey Boycott

Lindsey Boycott is a Canadian-based personal finance writer and blogger at Cents, Sense & Sensibility. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Any third-party resources or websites referenced above are not under Society of Grownups control. Society of Grownups cannot guarantee and are not responsible for the accuracy of the resources, websites, or any products or services available through such resources or websites.

While Society of Grownups hopes the information is useful, it’s only intended to provide general education. It’s not legal, tax, or investment advice, and may not apply or be useful to your specific financial situation. If you need recommendations geared to your personal financial situation, schedule time with a financial planner.

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