7 Tips to Stage Your Owner Occupied Home

Even though our house has been on the market for 60 days and has had a lot of interest – 30 viewings and counting – it hasn’t gotten a single offer. The main reason is that many people can’t visualize themselves in an owner occupied home so you must provide enough of a canvas for them to paint their own story. Either that or you need to luck out and find people with similar interests and decor taste, which statistically speaking is a harder find.

Although I can’t claim that staging it will really sell it while we live in the structure – and while we have to step outside with our sick puppy who gets carsick – these seven actions helped us get a couple of very serious maybes:

1. Bare the walls.

For the pictures and first 22 showings we had all of our pictures and artwork up. What we didn’t realize was that some of it could be seen as offensive or not suitable for children. Once we took as much as we could from the walls people started to spend more time discerning the features of the layout than studying our lives. We left up generic art, pictures of places and not people, and we got a lot more ohhs and ahhs than before. It helps the realtor to sell the place too.

2. Let light in.

Open all the drapes, blinds and windows. Open all the doors and curtains, including the shower. Since you still live in the house people will skip rooms that are closed thinking you may need privacy or are keeping valuables safe. By letting the light in people will feel welcomed and the rooms will look bigger. Plus they won’t have to handle blinds or curtains which can always end up exasperating visitors and turning them off from the property.

3. Clear the counter tops.

Grab plastic containers and put everything on your counter tops temporarily in them. Because the tubs are easy and fast to move you will be able to clear the kitchen and bathroom spaces in a jiffy. Also, the stuff will be prepacked and ready to move as well. Keep an empty container to drop in the mail or store the decoration you may have in the bathrooms and kitchen. The less they see of you and your routines the better.

4. Store medications and valuables out of sight.

Granted, my PS4 and TV can’t be easily taken off the walls and stored but the rest of my valuables (computers and tablets) were locked for security reasons. Avoid people raiding your cabinets or cupboards without your consent by leaving these empty and storing medical supplies in other areas. Many people will opt to pass judgement on you, the owner, based on what you leave visible. Don’t risk it and keep things as neutral and healthy looking as possible.

5. Clean every surface.

Although people understand the short notice and schedule constraints they will always be turned off by an unkempt house. This is why clearing the surfaces is not enough; a little dust can peeve even the most unclean and untidy prospect. Even visitors that live in clutter will be outraged that you aren’t catering to them by making the house pristine. Clean often and dust well. Don’t forget to mow the lawn, eliminate the weeds, pressure wash the driveway and siding, and paint the trims. A nicely kept exterior works wonders too.

6. Leave things in sight that will generate appeal.

Have a nice vase with flowers to put on your kitchen table? Do you have boardgames or kids items in good condition that are trending? Own the latest video games? Leave some of these items well placed in the living areas of the house so the location evokes an emotional response from the viewing party. They will be more likely to remember a property that has things that they like and treasure. Mind your audience and don’t leave anything in sight with foul language or that gives the vibe of a particular religion. Nothing makes people pass more than encountering things that make them uncomfortable while touring the property.

7. Highlight the best features of the layout by using compact and neutral furniture. 

Make a small space seem huge by providing some perspective. We have a big kitchen nook that can fit a table for 6 but it makes the space looks small. By removing a few chairs and leaving the glass countertop bare the room gives the illusion of being bigger! Remove any book or movie cases and furniture that you don’t use (or can live without) and move it to a storage facility or garage. Take out any rugs and make the floor ad bare as possible. By not having many layers on the floor or furniture near walls, the viewer has to engage their imagination. That’s why usually people are surprised after buying the house that their things don’t fit. Provide some guidance in terms of proportion and you will ensure they won’t be disappointed.


I hope these tips help you sell your house. There are markets where you won’t need to jump through so many hoops but these simple steps can secure a better and faster outcome. Good luck!

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