I read a good article about staging a house on a low budget in REALTOR magazine (April 2009 issue). Here’s a quick summary:
EXPAND THE CLOSET – Remove the clothes you rarely wear. Try to create some space so the closet doesn’t look cluttered
CREATE A BED – If you have a vacant bedroom, you can “create” a bed by putting some empty boxes together and covering it with nice bedding
CLOSE IT UP, EXCEPT SUNLIGHT – Close all the drains, sinks, toilets. Close closet doors. But leave the shades open for sunlight!
GO GREEN – If you have some “green” features already (like energy efficient appliances/mechanicals), then continue the theme throughout the house with strategically placed soy candles, homemade guest soaps, green cleaning products under the sink, etc.
ADD SOME LIFE – Put a large plant in the most visible corner. Silk trees are a good option. Even think about putting a spotlight behind the tree. Also, place fresh flowers in the kitchen for open houses, or if you know you have a couple showings coming up.
SET UP A CHAT ROOM – Position the living room furniture for conversation as well as entertainment.
ADD BATHROOM ELEGANCE – Get some decorative hand towels, tie a sheer ribbon around them, and place them on towel racks in all the bathrooms. Perhaps try doing it with your current towels if you think it looks good enough. For the towels that you use, buy new ones if they don’t look new/clean. Buy a nice soap dispenser to go next to the sink.
NIX THOSE PERSONAL PHOTOS – Put most of the personal pictures away. Try to get the buyer to focus on the house, not you!
REDO THE DOGHOUSE – Freshen & consolidate pet areas. Buy new food & water bowls. Choose one place for beds, litter boxes, etc – and try to put them in out-of-the-way places. And clean before all showings!
BRIGHTEN IT UP – Replace the lightbulbs in the home with higher wattage bulbs (remember to stay within the guidelines of your lamps, though!). You want your house to be “Light & Bright.”
FRAME A LOCAL SCENE – Put a few pictures up of local scenes. You don’t want buyers thinking about other cities or vacations…keep them focused on their mission of buying a home – hopefully your home!
GET THEM AT THE ENTRANCE – Pay attention to the details of the entrance. First impressions are important! Re-stain, paint and/or varnish trim & doors. Make sure the doors open and shut correctly, and knobs aren’t loose.