Selling A Home In A Retirement Community: What You Need To Know

When you moved into your “55+ community,” you might have intended to stay for the long haul. But plans change — and if you’re now looking to sell your property in a retirement community, you probably want to save money on the deal.

Real estate agents typically take 5% – 6% of the sale price, which could mean as much as $15,000 in commissions on the sale of a $250,000 house. Listing your home as “for sale by owner” could help you cut down on costs because you won’t have to pay the buyer’s agent. But there are some extra steps you’ll need to take when selling in an active-adult community. Here’s what you need to know.

Research Your Community’s Guidelines On Selling

Most communities that cater to older homeowners are deed restricted, which means there are clauses that limit how you can use your property. Check with your homeowners association for details. Your community might have rules surrounding who can buy your property, such as:

> Home buyers must meet age restrictions, and children might not be allowed as permanent residents.

> Buyers might also have to answer questions about their health and finances.

> Some communities don’t allow “For Sale” signs in the yard.

> Open houses could be allowed, but usually without signage.

> Prospective buyers might need to park in designated areas when touring the property.

> Pets may or may not be allowed.

Age is usually the most important restriction. That’s because at least 80% of owned units in a 55+ community must be occupied by at least one homeowner who’s 55 or older, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Determine What Similar Homes Are Selling For

Coming up with a listing price is something of an art form: You want to make enough from the sale to pay off your mortgage balance and pocket the profits, but you also want to set the price low enough to attract enough buyers or set up your listing for a bidding war.

Generally, you’ll attract more buyers to an age-restricted community if you live in an area with a large population of seniors. In 2018, more than half the 65+ population was concentrated among California, Florida, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan and North Carolina.

But you don’t have to live in one of these states to net a good selling price. Start by researching recent sales of comparable homes in your community. The homes should have the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms and a similar square footage.

Calculate the average cost per square foot. For example, if a home measures 1,500 square feet and sold for $250,000, then it cost $167 per square foot. You can also use free online resources to determine your home’s value or scour local tax records for recent sales data. Use all of this information to guide your listing price.

You also stand to get top dollar if you list your home when more people are hunting for properties. In most areas of the U.S., the best time to sell is during the first two weeks of May. Listings go for about 6% more at this time of year, and homes sell 18.5 days faster than any other month.

Prepare And List Your Home

Once you set a price for your home, it’s time to prepare your home for potential buyers and put it on the market. To make your home more attractive to buyers, take some time to:

> Clean and declutter the interior and exterior.

> Replace light bulbs and add lamps to improve lighting.

> Make small cosmetic repairs.

> Paint the interior walls with warm, neutral colors.

> Hire a professional to take photos of the home.

Next, write a property summary and create a property flyer. It should highlight the features of your retirement community and help buyers imagine what it would be like to live there. You can hand these out to your open house guests or use them while marketing (more on that below). The flyer should include these details:

> Property address

> Asking price

> Monthly fee for the retirement community

> Large, colorful photos

> A brief description of the home

> The cost of annual or monthly property taxes

> Your name, phone number and email address

> Recent upgrades and special features

> Square footage and number of beds/baths

> Neighborhood amenities

Market Your Home

When marketing your home to prospective buyers, you’ll need to go where your buyers are — while following your community’s rules. Here are some ideas:

> Post signs in the yard: If your community allows it, stick a “For Sale” sign in your front yard with your contact information. Consider purchasing a phone number solely for this purpose and creating a unique email address to handle incoming messages from buyers.

> Post on community bulletin boards: Where do the seniors in your area usually gather? For example, bulletin boards at gyms, golf courses and churches could draw attention to your buyer demographic, or you can advertise in your local newspaper.

> Use snail mail for flyers: Mail out your property flyer to your friends and neighbors, who might know of someone looking to buy property in your community.

> Respond by phone: When you start hearing back from potential buyers, follow up via phone call to answer questions and provide more information. This is a personal touch that seniors might appreciate.

> Create A Website: Seniors might prefer to check out videos of available properties before scheduling an appointment to view them. Attract them by creating a website for your listing and including photos of your home and a video for virtual walkthroughs. The website should include all the information from your property flyer.

> Don’t forget your other online options: While some seniors avoid the internet, others are active on social media. Create a Facebook page for your listing and invite others to share it via their social media channels.

You might need to schedule private listings or host a few open houses before you receive offers. From there, you can negotiate the selling price, sign a purchase and sale agreement, and speed toward closing day.

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Keeping Your Staged Home Maintained And Clean

Once you’ve decluttered, depersonalized and arranged your furniture, you’re ready to start showing your home. But how do you maintain a staged home and keep it in show-ready condition for buyers while also living in it?

When it comes to maintaining a staged home, it helps to be proactive. Creating your own checklists and schedules and delegating chores to members of the family who are willing to help is a great way to get started.

Messy homes give buyers the impression that the owners don’t care about the house and don’t take good care of it. Some minor daily maintenance will go a long way to keeping dirt from piling up and small behaviors like returning items to drawers will help you prevent clutter.

Do staged homes sell better?

There are no guarantees when selling a home, but you should always aim to put your home’s best foot forward. Staged homes eliminate clutter and personal items in order to let potential buyers imagine themselves living in the space.

According to Forbes, “a staged home will sell for 17% more on average than a non-staged home, and 95% of staged homes sell in 11 days or less. That is statistically 87% faster than non-staged homes.” If you want the best shot at selling your house quickly and for top dollar, you should stage the home and keep it clean in between viewings.

Can you live in a staged home?

You can absolutely live in a home once it is staged, but be prepared for a potentially stressful situation. When you first stage your home, you’ll be doing a deep clean and purge of excess and personalized items. This is great if you plan to have a big open house or a full weekend of showings, but after the initial burst, showings usually come in one at a time, and often at the last minute.

You will need to keep your home as clean as possible and clean up as you go. Also, plan to develop a quick cleaning routine so that you’re able to get your home ready for last-minute showings. It might help to establish a staging area – like the attic or garage – to put a couple of big boxes to hold things you want to remove from your house. Just remember, potential buyers could open any closet door or check out the garage or attic, too.

It is equally as important to be realistic with your real estate agent about your availability for showings. A lot of real estate agents use apps to allow buyer’s agents and sellers to coordinate showing requests. Many agents will pressure you to accept any requested showing. However, if you have a strict work schedule, kids on a tight bedtime routine, or any other specific needs, you need to be clear in advance so they can mark those times as unavailable on the schedule. And if something comes up, you don’t have to accept a time, no matter what your agent says.

Cleaning Checklist

Here are some tips and tricks to help you keep your staged home maintained to sell once your home is decluttered and ready to present to potential buyers. Remember – hopefully you won’t have to do this for long.

  1. Plan Your Week

Many areas of your home don’t need to be cleaned daily, so try designating those areas to specific days of the week. Maybe you clean the hardwood floors on Monday, the tile on Tuesday, baseboards on Wednesday and glass surfaces on Thursday.

This is a great system for keeping your home at a certain base level of clean, but also be prepared to do some spot cleaning right before showings.

  1. Stay On Top of Landscaping

The front of your home is the first thing that potential buyers will notice. No matter what season it is, make sure that you have stunning curb appeal and buyers can easily access the front door. Keep the grass mowed and the sidewalk clear of leaves. Keep fresh flowers on your porch and don’t forget to water them. Sweep of the porch and shake off the doormat as needed.

  1. Keep the Entryway Clear of Clutter

Place mail, shoes and jackets in the proper place every time someone enters the home. Get out of the habit of tossing items on the table or ground and leaving them there to build clutter. You never know when you might need to quickly evacuate for a showing, so having this space clean and clear will make that process much easier.

  1. Clear and Wipe Down Surfaces

Every night before bed, take 10 minutes and remove items that don’t belong on your countertops, tabletops and vanities. This keeps the home looking cleaner and when you wake up in the morning there’s nothing to put away. Also take the time to wipe off countertops and the kitchen or dining table so there aren’t crumbs. Crumbs won’t make or break the sale of your house, but you want potential buyers to see a clean slate and not think the house is a mess.

  1. Keep the Floors Clean

Doing some light sweeping and vacuuming on a daily basis is extremely valuable. If you live a busy and active lifestyle it may be a good idea to invest in a robotic vacuum to take care of some of the mess while you’re at work. That way if a buyer calls and wants to see your home that evening, it won’t be a mad dash to get home and clean. Regardless, try to sweep up after any messes immediately to make getting ready for showings easier.

  1. Cover Up Lingering Odors

Avoid cooking smelly food in your home while it’s on the market and dine out for those foods instead. Run your garbage disposal with a little white vinegar or half a lemon to help kill odors. Always take the kitchen trash out with you when you leave for a showing.

If you have pets, don’t forget to manage their needs as well. Make sure you empty litter boxes regularly, scoop the poop in the yard and regularly bathe your furry friends. You can also add aromas that buyers find pleasing but don’t overdo it. Strong air fresheners can bother people’s allergies and make it seem like you are covering up a problem.

  1. Clean Dishes and Remove Garbage

Never leave dishes out when potential buyers are coming. Empty the sink and the drying rack. It’s actually best to put your drying rack away under the sink as they often look kind of gross and take up a lot of counter space. You want your kitchen to look clean and spacious and a drying rack can make it feel cramped and dirty.

You might also want to consider using paper plates while showings are going on if doing dishes becomes a problem for you. Always take out the trash before a showing and get in the habit of dumping any small trash cans, such as in the bathroom, into your larger kitchen trash can regularly. You don’t want your buyers focusing on your used tissues instead of on your beautiful bathrooms.

  1. Pick Up Your Clothes

Keep the laundry constantly moving throughout your home. Wash clothes as soon as you have enough for a load. Clothes should either be stored in a hamper or in your closet or drawers. Don’t leave clothes on the floor left or lying around because it shows buyers that there isn’t enough storage room in the home. Expect that buyers will look in your laundry room, so clean up the bottles or supplies that you have on the shelf and don’t leave dirty or clean clothes laying around.

  1. Make Beds Daily

You can instantly make the bedroom look put together when you make the bed. Make the beds neatly and place pillows each morning, so you don’t have to worry about it if there is a last-minute showing. If your kids have a lot of stuffed animals, arrange them neatly on the bed or place them in a basket in their bedroom.

  1. Keep Bathroom Clean

Make sure to wipe down the shower and surfaces daily so you keep mildew away. Pull shower curtains closed, but be prepared that buyers will likely peek inside. Be sure to use a toilet brush to clean your toilets regularly and put down the seats. Hang or stack towels. Many agents recommend picking up any bathmats so that potential buyers don’t get them dirty with their shoes and so that they can see the floors better.

  1. Store Personal Items

Store personal items out of sight whether it’s shampoo, jewelry or medication. You don’t want to distract the buyer or risk anything going missing from your home. Try to clear off the counters in your bathrooms of all toiletries as well as any dresser tops or vanities that might have a lot of small items on them. Consolidate and minimize for a streamlined, buyable looking home.

  1. Prepare the Living Areas

One of the most important rooms to many buyers is the family room. Take the time to lovingly arrange any blankets or pillows on your sofa. Put remote controls in a basket or drawer and clear off the coffee table. Make this space feel homey and inviting – but not like you just walked into the other room to get a snack – to make potential buyers feel at home.

These crucial tasks could make or break the sale of your home, so have the whole family pitch in to do their part. Consider making a game out of cleaning or have a reward system. Remind them this situation is not permanent, but it could be good practice for when you move into your new home.

Remember that you’re in competition with many other homes for sale and buyers need to be able to visualize themselves in your home despite your occupancy. Focus on these tips to keep your home in good condition and show-ready.


10 Low-Cost Ideas To Help You Sell Your Home

For many homeowners, the inability to afford an expensive remodel or update interferes with listing their home confidently, or even at all. But it’s not always the major renovations which catch buyers’ attention – the finer details can be equally important. Consider this list of affordable tips to sell your home before hanging up your for-sale sign.

1.    Improve Your Curb Appeal

They don’t call it “curb appeal” for nothing. Simply improving the functionality and look of your home’s exterior and landscaping can serve as a great first impression for potential home buyers.

Make sure your gutters are up to snuff by checking for loose parts or clogs. You also want to be sure there are no broken or missing flashing materials, which help prevent leaks behind your gutters. Check that your garage door is in working condition and that none of your home’s window shutters are crooked or dangling. Lastly, mowing the grass and trimming up your hedges are other easy ways to spruce up your yard.

Estimated Costs

Completely replacing your home’s gutters can be expensive, so you’ll want to replace parts if possible. A 10-foot gutter starts at around $6, with downspouts starting closer to $8.

Garage doors can cost as much as $1,000 on the high end, but you can get a decorative garage door hardware kit for as little as $19. And if you or a loved one are particularly handy, much of the mechanics behind fixing a garage door can quickly be DIY’d.

2.    Make That Front Door (And Doorbell) Stand Out

When it comes to life and open houses, we all know that first impressions matter. Although many of us don’t always enter our homes through the front door, prospective buyers will.

“While the REALTOR® is fiddling with the lockbox, trying to get the door open, the buyer is standing there looking around,” says stager and interior designer Deborah Goode of A Goode Start Decorating and Home Staging in Annapolis, Maryland.

So be sure to update your home’s front door and walkway by fixing any cracks or peeling with spackle and a fresh coat of paint. You should also double check that your front door’s locks and doorbell are all in working order so that your home seems move-in ready.

Estimated Costs

Exterior paints typically start at $30 per gallon and doorbells are $10 and up.

3.    Evaluate Every Entrance

As important as your front door is, it’s not the only one that will get the once-over.

“Doors offer a huge bang for the buck visually,” says Chris Neumann, director of operations for Pyramid Builders in Annapolis. Neumann suggests that homeowners consider updating their interior doors, or at the least, replace their door hinges and knobs. “And replace any junky bi-folds with double-swing or heavier solid-core doors,” he adds.

Estimated Costs

Bronze door hinges can cost $3; solid-core, unfinished pine interior doors start at $99.

4.    Look Down

As buyers walk in and remove their shoes or wipe their feet, their eyes will be drawn to your home’s flooring. While blemishes such as stained carpets, raggedy rugs and scratched floors could be enough to put off a potential buyer, they’re easy fixes that you can tackle before an open house.

Estimated Costs

Carpet steamers can be rented starting at just $60, and while the price of area rugs varies greatly, your local hardware or furniture store will most likely carry them starting at around $100.

5.    Select The Right Scent

If you’ve ever wandered around the candle aisle at the grocery store, then you know how compelling or comforting different scents can be. Be sure to eliminate any nose agitators and avoid the dreaded question: “What is that smell?”

If you have any pets, make sure that their necessities are clean – for cats this means clean litter boxes. For any small caged animals, such as hamsters or guinea pigs, this means clean cages. And if you’re living in your home during the selling process, make sure that your pets are bathed before any showings – just to ensure that potential buyers won’t mistakenly associate your home with a wet dog smell or any other unsavory odor.

You should also clean out your refrigerator – people may be nosy! – and banish the kids’ stinky sports equipment to the basement or garage.

Once you’ve gotten rid of any potential for house stink, choose a scent to you love to use throughout your home. Whether you use a candle, room spray or plug-in, just be sure not to go overboard combining different scents or by using too much fragrance.

Estimated Cost

Scented candles can cost $10; plug-in odor eliminators start at $17.

6.   Quick-Clean And Spot Treat

Walls are an excellent canvas, but they also clearly display age, dirt, indifference, even foundation issues. Fix any scuff marks, nail holes and paint cracks. “Remove all peeling wallpaper and repaint in neutrals to maximize the natural light,” says interior designer Jana Abel, president of J. Abel Interiors in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Estimated Cost

Spackling paste starts at $18; interior paint costs $28 a gallon and up.

7.    Have A Place For Everything

When it comes to showings or open houses, potential buyers are there to look at your home and imagine what it’d be like living there – which can be hard with clutter reminding them of the current homeowners. “I always advise my clients to take out at least a third of what they have in closets,” Goode says. Make sure anything that’s not on display — shoes, coats, papers, pots, pans — is tucked away and neatly organized.

Estimated Cost

Attractive bins and baskets cost $20 and up; basic shelving systems start at $200.

8.    Check Your Drawers

The same way you wouldn’t want to get caught with an ill-working doorbell or garage door, you don’t want a potential buyer opening a cabinet or drawer and having it stick or get jammed. So, if you have a lopsided utensil drawer that you’ve learned to live with, just know that it’s something your buyers might not be able to.

Although new cabinetry can be pricey, simply fix any bent drawer tracks and slides, or replace dangling pulls and tighten screws and handles.

Estimated Costs

Basic rail-drawer-track kits start at $3; decorative cabinet knobs start at $4 each.

9.    Make Your Appliances Shine

While it may seem like a no-brainer to clean your home before welcoming people over, the kitchen is a space which oftentimes gets overlooked. Remember to scrub down your refrigerator, microwave, oven, stovetop, sink, and any other appliance included in the sale of your home. Buyers will want shiny new appliances, not evidence of last week’s tuna casserole.

Estimated Cost

Most cleaning products start at $4; elbow grease is free.

10. Finish With Some Finishes

Bathroom gut jobs can be pricey, but replacing finishing elements such as faucets, showerheads, towel racks and toilet paper holders can significantly brighten a room. “If you have polished chrome faucets or shower valves, you can pick up any chrome accessories and they will match, unlike satin nickel or oil-rubbed bronze,” says Abel. New shower curtains, hand towels and bathmats will also help the room look updated and clean, she adds.

Estimated Cost

Showerheads can cost $40 and up; bath towels start at $10; faucets are $70 and up.


How Can I Sell My House Fast?

This day and age, most home buying business occurs online. So, make a good and lasting impression by posting high-quality photos of a clean and depersonalized home.

Also be sure to take photos during the daytime, when lighting is the brightest and most natural, and consider borrowing a friend’s DSLR camera or even hiring a photographer for those sharp and professional looking photos. Check out our article on real estate photography for more tips on how to stand out in the online market.

Should I Stage My House?

While home staging is usually advantageous for selling your home, it’s not always a necessity. Check out our article on home staging to see what works for you.


Home Staging Tips: The 5 Most Important Rooms In Your House

The key to selling a property is making sure potential buyers are able to envision themselves living in the home. This principle makes sense, but as a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) seller, you’re probably wondering how you can ensure buyers connect with your property.

According to a 2019 survey conducted by the National Association of REALTORS®, 83% of buyer’s agents believe that staging a home makes it easier for a buyer to imagine owning it. But, if you’re not an interior designer, you may not know where to begin. That’s why we’ve come up with home staging tips to help you through the process.

As important as home staging is, we know the costs can add up. Therefore, we’ve organized our home staging tips around the most important rooms in your house. This way, you can figure out how to make the most of your marketing budget.

What Are The Most Important Rooms In Your House To Stage?

Staging a home can lead FSBO sellers to receive higher offers, but the process isn’t cheap. If your home is vacant, consider staging your entire house. However, if it’s not, you may want to focus your efforts.

The NAR’s report provided insight into the home staging process from two perspectives: listing agents and buyer’s agents. When surveying listing agents, the report found that sellers most commonly stage the living room (93%), kitchen (84%), primary bedroom (78%) and the dining room (72%).

Although those rooms are most commonly staged, they’re not necessarily the most important rooms in your house to stage. According to buyer’s agents, it’s more important to stage the primary bedroom (83%) than the kitchen (62%).

Here are the five rooms buyer’s agents believe are most important for buyers to see staged:

1. Living room

2. Primary bedroom

3. Kitchen

4. Dining room

5. Outdoor space

If you only have the funds to stage two rooms, you may want to go with the living room and primary bedroom, as they are most likely to sway potential buyers. However, as you choose what to stage, you should consider your needs as well.

How To Identify A Room That Needs To Be Staged

Before you begin the staging process, clean and declutter your home from top to bottom. Once you’ve finished, take a tour through your home to determine which rooms need additional attention. As you do so, try to examine each room objectively. Look out for rooms that:

– Feel shabby

– Appear dated

– Possess a bold interior design

– Have bulky furniture

– Are filled with knickknacks, souvenirs and family photos

These rooms will need sprucing. Since the purpose of staging is to enable buyers to visualize themselves living in your home, the goal is to neutralize and depersonalize your rooms.

General Home Staging Tips

There are some home staging tips that should be applied to every room in your house. These tips will help you neutralize and depersonalize your home so that buyers can picture the space as theirs.


– Clutter from surfaces, including mail and trinkets.

– All personal items, including family photos and mementos.

– Items that don’t fit neatly in your storage spaces.

– Anything that you will not be needing before you move.


– Oversized furniture with slimmer pieces that open up the space.

– Bright colored walls with neutral hues, like beige, white and light grey.

– Busy designs with clean lines

– Hefty window treatments with airier options that let natural light in.

“Less is more,” says Matthew Digati, professional real estate photographer and founder of “Think about the basics that you need to fill a room and work to make sure they look presentable and clean. Allow enough open space for the possible buyer to imagine their own belongings.”

Staging A Living Room

There’s a reason that the living room is the most commonly staged room: It’s where everyone tends to congregate. Buyers will be looking to ensure that it’s a space where they’ll want to both relax and entertain.

Your staging efforts should work to open up the space and let in more natural light. Yet, they should also get buyers’ eyes to travel around the room. To do so, you should incorporate some minor props that insert pops of color to an otherwise neutral colored room.

“Depersonalize, but leave some degree of personality and life,” says Michael Shapot, associate real estate broker and head of the Shapot Team at Compass. “Fresh flowers and live plants are good. Books are great props, and quality art pieces providing pops of color create interest.”

Staging with the right props can make your living room feel lived in without the clutter of real life. It can also help you manipulate how the buyer views the space.

“A property should have the warmth of a home,” Shapot adds. “Furthermore, strategic placement of items can draw attention away from the less desirable features of a property.”

Staging A Primary Bedroom

The primary bedroom may not be staged as often, but staging it makes a difference for buyers. Remember, whomever purchases your house will be spending about a third of their day in the room, so it’s important that you make it seem inviting.

When staging the primary, focus on furnishing the room with a luxurious yet cozy vibe. Think soft bedding, fluffy pillows and warm blankets. You want any buyer who enters to have to resist the urge to jump into bed and make themselves at home.

“In primary bedrooms, the most important things to look for are the personal items of the people living there. Make sure to unplug or hide all wires and chargers,” says Digati. “Don’t underestimate how much a properly made bed can help either. Unwrinkled sheets and properly fluffed pillows will have a possible buyer thinking about how comfortable the room feels.”

It’s crucial to create the right atmosphere. However, it’s perhaps even more necessary to ensure that the bedroom – as well as every other room – appears crisp and clean.

“Open the windows for fresh air, even in cold weather,” says Dianne Rechel, REALTOR® with Realty Executives. “Clean your curtains, wash the window blinds and keep them open. Make sure to dust off all surfaces. Empty the dresser tops. Remove half the stuff from your closets. Dirty laundry goes in a closed hamper.”

Staging A Kitchen

As the heart of the home, the kitchen will be scrutinized regardless of whether your potential buyers are avid chefs. You want them to walk away thinking that the kitchen was spotless, spacious and well-organized. Therefore, you must begin with a good scrubbing.

“Go over the kitchen as if you were a health inspector,” says Nora Crosthwaite, REALTOR® and founder of Stagerie, an online staging consultation company. “Clean the oven, range (new drip pans) and the seal of the dishwasher door. Remove all magnets, notes, pictures, etc. from the front and sides of the refrigerator. Stow the trash can in the pantry.”

To make your kitchen feel roomier, Crosthwaite recommends: “Keep all flat surfaces (countertops, appliance tops and furniture) cleared off as much as possible. Kitchen counters should have very little on them to show that there is plenty of available workspace.”

Although you may typically leave some of your appliances on your countertops, you should be sure to remove them before shooting listing photos or showing the house. It may seem strange, but appliances can make your countertops appear cluttered.

Staging A Dining Room

Whether your home has a formal dining room or a casual dining nook, the size of your furniture will make a considerable difference in how buyers view the space. Therefore, if you choose to stage your dining room, you must make sure that the fit of your dining table and chairs is just right.

“Don’t overload the dining room table. Attempt instead to highlight the space itself,” says Digati. “Don’t attempt to squeeze eight chairs at a table that only fits six. It will make the possible buyer feel like the room is cramped. Instead, leave enough room so everything feels open and easy to move around.”

You certainly don’t want the dining room furniture to be so large that it makes the room feel tiny, but you also don’t want it to be too small for the space. If you choose a dining table that’s too small, the dining room will look empty. So, pay attention to dimensions, and add a rug to give the room a bit more personality.

Staging Outdoor Space

Your outdoor space may not technically be a room in your house but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it some attention before you start showing your property. Since it’s the first thing buyers see, the curb appeal of your home will play a significant role in their overall impression of your property.

“Stand at the street and take a hard look at your house,” says Rechel. “Does it look like something you might see in a magazine? Now is the time to paint, power-wash, re-attach that gutter, fix the broken windows, mow, clean up leaves.”

The front of your house should appear neat and inviting, so trim and prune as necessary. To further enhance your curb appeal, consider planting flowers. In the backyard, you should use your staging to highlight how the space can be used.

“If weather permits, set up an outdoor patio set to showcase your yard,” Rechel adds. “Outdoor firepits are trendy these days and easy to create.”

Staging Your Home Maximizes Its Potential

Staging brings out the best in your property and entices buyers to picture themselves living in your home. Whether you choose to hire a stager or do the work yourself, the cost can add up fairly quickly, which is why you may not want to stage your entire house.

That being said, staging is almost always worth it. Homes that are staged typically receive higher offers and sell faster than homes that aren’t. As Shapot explains, “We are selling aspirational living. And buyers are willing to pay a premium for that.”

Once you’ve staged your home, you’ll be ready to market it. For tips on how to enhance your marketing efforts, check out our guide for how to sell a FSBO house.


How Much Does It Cost to Stage Your Home?

If you’ve ever felt an enticing pull from a glamorous store window or from photographs online, you know more than ever how good design can impact your spending. Home stagers operate using this very concept.

But with a wide range of costs and benefits, it can be difficult to figure out if home staging is right for you. So, let’s break down the costs of home staging, how it works, and give you some tips on how to make the most of your money.

What Is Home Staging?

There are many different views of what home staging is – some may view stagers as laissez-faire workers who merely light a candle or plop down a vase of flowers before calling it a day, while others associate home staging with intensive, top-to-bottom home renovations.

In reality, both scenarios can be true – the quality and intensity of a home staging varies depending on the stager and of course, your home.

Generally speaking, however, home staging is a marketing strategy that combines interior design and psychology to generate more money for you, the home seller.

There’s even a growing industry for home staging awards which acknowledge the best in the redesign business – think of it as the Golden Globes for modeled homes.

So, how did home staging rise to the forefront of the real estate world? Well, because it works.

But don’t just take it from me.

The Benefits of Home Staging

Just like everything else, home staging has its fair share of skeptics – after all, can some new chairs or a fresh coat of paint really make that much of a difference? The short answer: yes.

Unstaged homes may appeal to contractors looking to buy fixer-uppers for their own profit, whereas staged homes make it easier for first-time home buyers to really visualize living their lives in your home.

But what do the numbers say?

According to a 2019 report from the National Association of REALTORS®, “Eighty-three percent of buyer’s agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize a property as their future home.”

Additionally, the NAR also found that on average, for every $100 spent by the seller, the potential for return could be as high as $400.

With the opportunity to reap these rewards in mind, let’s make sure your home staging tactics are on the right track.

The Dos and Don’ts of Home Staging

Do: Remove Personal Belongings

In a Q-and-A with the Chicago Tribune, Dr. Andrea Angott – who has a Ph.D. in psychology and has been studying the behaviors behind home staging’s success – discusses the most important steps to take when staging.

She found that one of the most important things to do when staging your home is remove all personal effects from your bathroom. This includes toothbrushes, razors, soaps and beauty products.

In the Q-and-A, Angott theorizes that this is of great importance due to the fact that “… people don’t want to feel that the house they’re buying is lived-in … they don’t want to imagine that other people are inhabiting the place they want to buy.”

This reasoning is also why stagers will tell you to depersonalize your home and make it as “neutral” as possible – this means no family photographs, collectibles or antique-esque furniture.

Don’t: Remodel

This tip might sound misleading – after all, isn’t home staging a form of remodeling? But what we mean is this: don’t go wild with new renovations.

Home staging should fix purely cosmetic blemishes because chances of receiving a full return on your remodel are low. Additionally, no matter how “to die for” you might find your new remodel, you could be cutting out a whole market of potential buyers who don’t share your same tastes.

Typically, it’s safer, and less stressful, to simply stick with easy fixes.

Do: Understand Your Target Market

When it comes to real estate you want to make selling your home as seamless as possible, which means understanding your target market.

Is your neighborhood fit for families? Is your home a great space for new couples? If you can figure out what pool of potential buyers would be most likely to purchase your home, you can then stage with their tastes in mind.

Don’t: Sell An Empty Home

A general rule of thumb in real estate is to try and avoid selling an empty house – something which is reserved for a “last resort” situation. This is because unstaged houses generally spend more time on the market and wind up selling for less.

With vacant homes, buyers typically have a harder time visualizing their lifestyle and though it may seem counterintuitive, empty rooms actually seem smaller than furnished ones. It will also be easier for buyers to fixate on minor flaws, seeing as they’ll be a main focal point in your empty room.

To combat this, you can still fix up your home in small ways – skip ahead to the section on “soft staging” for more ideas, or consider sprucing up your landscaping for increased curb appeal.

Whatever efforts you choose to make, they’ll be well worth it in the end.

So, How Much Does Home Staging Cost?

If you’ve been looking for a black-and-white answer about how much hiring a home stager will cost, chances are you haven’t found one. That’s because staging costs vary greatly depending on your home and your situation.

But if you’re looking for an estimate, feel free to try out Home Advisor’s True Cost Guide or simply keep reading to learn more.

Vacant Vs. Owner-Occupied Homes

To properly discuss the potential cost of a home staging, we must first talk about the seller’s living situation: are they occupying the home for sale or living elsewhere?

Both situations present different costs but usually owner-occupied homes give a stager more to work with. In owner-occupied homes, the stager will be able to utilize the furniture and decor the seller already has for the final staged designs. A vacant home, however, calls for a stager to rent or buy new pieces to furnish your home.

This doesn’t guarantee, however, that having furniture on hand will save you tons of money. Yes, vacant homes require rented or purchased pieces, but owner-occupied staging still calls for the cost of labor, and depending on how many items you have, you may also be looking at storage costs down the road.

This is why it’s also important to know what kind of home you have before staging.

Assess Your House

Let’s say you have a multilevel home – obviously your stager will need to make trips up and down stairs to properly stage the key rooms in your home. If their redesign calls for bulky furniture, they may even have to hire movers to get things where they need to be.

A ranch-style home won’t have the same costs in labor as a home with three stories, which is why finding an exact price for staging online can be so difficult.

So, it’s up to you, the seller, to weigh the costs your unique home may have and figure out what staging options are right for you.

How Can I Save Money on Home Staging?

No matter your home style, chances are you want to save money. And believe it or not, there are many ways to make your dollar work harder when it comes to home staging.

Make the Most of Consultations

Although home staging consultations generally still cost you money, the per-hour rate of a consultation will be significantly less than a general labor fee per hour. So, take advantage of this time to be as productive as possible.

Typically, consultations last just 2 hours during which time home stagers will assess your furniture and decor to decide what pieces can be used or what should be stored. By setting aside decorative pieces and furniture ahead of time, you can save your stager the labor and time of sifting through your home for those eye-catching pieces.

Stage Key Areas

Obviously staging fewer rooms will save you money, but be sure to spruce up the most important areas of your home. This includes the kitchen, dining room, master bedroom and living area.

You should also keep the entryway where potential buyers will first enter as nice as possible – you want them to have a positive first impression of your home.

Closing Costs

This tip really depends on your home stager and your individual situation, but it can’t hurt to ask your stager if you can pay them using money from the sale.

Including staging in your closing costs can save you money in the moment, but if you’ll need the money from your sale to go elsewhere, this may not be for you.

It’s all about assessing what works best for you.

Soft Staging

Finally, there’s the tactic of soft staging.

Soft staging is decorating and accessorizing your home to add small touches without fully furnishing the space. This can range from fruit bowls to artwork to area rugs.

Soft staging is generally discouraged by real estate professionals and stagers alike since the more effort you put into staging, the more return on the investment you’ll get. However, it is a cost-effective solution for sellers looking for a frugal fix and is always better than selling a vacant home.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, you want your home on the market for as short a period as possible – to save money from the monthly upkeep and to ease the stress of selling.

Staging your home, regardless of whether you pull out all the stops or use the soft staging technique, can decrease your time on the market and put more money in your pocket.

If you want to take a more hands-on approach to home staging, check out our article on affordable DIY Home Staging Projects.


By-Owner Sellers Share The Secrets To FSBO Success

If you’ve decided to sell your home without an agent, or “for sale by owner,” you’ll have a few big tasks to take care of ahead of you.

Selling without an agent isn’t for everyone, but there are plenty of people who have sold their own homes and lived to tell about it. Learn their success stories to avoid big mistakes.

How To Sell Your Home For Sale By Owner

If you’ve never sold a home before, you might have difficulty getting started. You’ll want to create a listing so agents and other potential buyers can get an inside look at your home.

How To Find A Buyer

Marketing your home goes beyond the listing. You can showcase your home through social media and word of mouth. Consider taking out social media ads and promoting your listing online. Ask your friends to share it as well.

FSBO seller Peter Fiore found buyers through word of mouth and social media. He sold his home in a little more than a month for even more than his asking price. Fiore says he saved at least $75,000 selling on his own.

Also consider your target audience. For instance, if your home is downtown or has easy access to shops and restaurants, you may want to target people who want to live near that scene, typically single people or couples. If you live outside the big city, your home might be best suited for families looking to avoid city life.

Thomas Nyle was selling his Greenwich Village studio and decided to use the fact that the unit didn’t include a parking spot to his advantage by narrowing his audience to buyers who didn’t own cars and wouldn’t be looking for parking amenities. He sold the studio to a schoolteacher who takes public transportation (or bikes or skates) around town.

Many buyers want to see their future in your home. To achieve that, showcase your home’s best attributes and how customizable it is to everyone’s wants and needs. Versatility is important for potential buyers, so don’t be afraid to remove something you really love in an effort to show off how easy it is to make changes.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

While a clean home isn’t a requirement, a dirty home can be a major turn-off to potential buyers. Without the help of an agent, you’ll need to appeal to more people than you think.

First impressions matter, which means you’ll need to focus on staging and presenting your home. Have professional cleaners come in to get your home ready for visitors. How would you want your home to look if your favorite celebrity stopped by? Use that as a guide on how to prepare and stage your home.

While clutter isn’t dirt, it should be given the same level of attention. Cluttered corners and countertops can seem like you don’t have enough space in your home, which might be a big turn-off to potential buyers. Before you have professional photos taken, go through your things and donate unused items and throw out broken things. If you have large pieces, you can call a junk removal company or put it out for bulk day.

It’s also important to be honest with your buyers. If there’s a foundation or roof problem, get it fixed before you sell the home. Many potential buyers won’t bite even if you reduce the asking price. Most issues come up at the inspection, so you might as well beat them to it by preparing for the best offer based on the condition of your home.

Remember, It’s Just Business

Your home is very personal to you, but that doesn’t mean everyone feels the same attachment to it. At the end of the day, selling your home is a business transaction – it’s not personal.

Risa Martinez of Milwaukee learned this valuable lesson as a by-owner seller. You can clean your home to within an inch of its life, you can point out its many attributes, but sometimes it just won’t immediately click with buyers. “They are not rejecting you,” Martinez says. “They just don’t necessarily like what you’re offering them. There’s a perfect buyer out there, they just have to find you.”

Instead, focus on getting the most buck for your bang. Handle necessary repairs, make viable improvements and deep clean. It may help to have an outsider come in and point out potential updates. Sometimes, when we’ve lived in a space for so long, we miss those opportunities.

Also remember that not everyone will love your space as much as you do. Be mindful that some prospective buyers don’t feel love at first sight. Be open to finding the right buyer for your home, not necessarily just any buyer. If you’re firm in your price and believe your home has what it takes, don’t expect a sale right away. Instead, wait for the right buyer.

Remember to be aware of fair housing policies. You can’t discriminate against a potential buyer based on race, sex, religion, family status or other factors.

The Bottom Line

When you sell your home by yourself, the success of the sale depends on you. Finding the right buyer at the right price at the right time is multilayered. Prepare your home long before you list it. And when the time comes to show it off, don’t be afraid to step back and get it in tip-top shape for potential buyers.

If you’re ready to sell your home by yourself, get the tools you need first. Even though you don’t have a real estate agent, that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the best resources. Before you sell, learn everything you can about expectations and the home-selling process.


Your Start-To-Finish Checklist For Selling A Home

If you’ve already bought your first home, you might think you have the real estate business all figured out. Home buying is such a complicated – and often frustrating – learning process, that just successfully navigating it is something to be proud of.

But as anyone on their second or third home can tell you, selling is a different beast.

Selling your home comes with a different set of challenges, and significantly less freedom than you had as a buyer. As a seller, you can’t just walk away and move on to the next home on your list – you’re stuck trying to sell the property you have, with all its quirks and flaws.

Thankfully for you, we’ve put together a foolproof guide to walk you through each step of selling. Here’s what you need to know.

Deciding To Sell Your Home

Before you hang the “for sale” sign, consider why you want to sell your house in the first place. Are you selling because the neighborhood doesn’t fit your lifestyle anymore? Are you ready to downsize to a smaller home or upgrade to something more spacious?

Knowing the exact reasons for selling will aid you when searching for your next house. Take a few days to visit open houses for other homes to see what you like and what you don’t like. Look at listings online and talk to a lender about your mortgage options.

You should also run some numbers to see how much of a down payment you can afford, with and without selling your home first. Most people need equity from their current home to finance the next one.

Crunch the numbers and examine your budget to see what kind of mortgage payment you can realistically afford.

Price Your Home

Once you decide to sell your house, it’s time to figure out the right price. Use this calculator for an estimate of your home’s selling price.

You should also look around your immediate neighborhood to see what similar homes are selling for right now. Walk around and jot down which homes are for sale and at what asking price. Follow up a week later to see if they’ve sold and what the final price was. Depending on your area, the home may sell below or above the asking price.

The seasons can also affect housing pricing. Selling a house in the spring or summer is usually easier than selling in the fall, when kids are back in school, or in the winter as the holidays are approaching. That’s why it’s helpful to look at home prices right around when you’re trying to sell. If you’re planning to wait a few months, you’ll need to examine the prices at that time.

Prepare And Repair Your Home

You have to prepare your house before listing it. Do a rundown on what needs to be fixed, particularly taking into account anything that an inspector might notice. This can include functional repairs like loose tiles in the bathroom or plumbing problems, as well as aesthetic issues like a bedroom with a clown mural or an unkempt backyard. Invite friends over to give an honest critique of your home and what they’d change if they were buying.

Replace any burned-out light bulbs, hire cleaners for a deep clean and declutter your home. The latter step will also make things easier when it comes time to move.

Next, it’s time to stage your home. This can involve moving around furniture and decor for a broader appeal, opening curtains to emphasize natural sunlight and minimizing personal items so buyers can envision themselves in the home. Look at pictures of other homes on the market – especially similar homes in your neighborhood – for ideas on how to stage your interior.

How To Market Your Home

Marketing your home as a solo seller is key. You should spread the word first on social media, posting on your own page and in any neighborhood groups. Make the post public so your friends and family can share it with others.

If you’re not a good photographer, hire one with real estate experience to take professional pictures. Some people also hire a videographer to create a video tour of their home, but this is optional.

Show Your Home

Showing your home without a real estate agent can be tricky, because you have to be available whenever a potential buyer wants to swing by. If you decide to go this route, pick some weekend dates to host an open house and advertise it with local agents, neighborhood groups and social media.

Add an addendum to your “for sale” sign so the time and date of the open house is visible when people drive by. You should also practice for the open house by showing your home to friends and family members. Encourage them to ask questions about the house to help you prepare.

You should also have a way for potential buyers to leave anonymous feedback on the house. While some people might point out things you can’t easily change, others may offer more practical advice.

Negotiate An Offer

Before listing your home, decide how much you need to sell the house for. Having a minimum acceptable price is key in order to not lose money on the deal. Selling a house also comes with its own fees, usually 1– 3% of the final sale price. Make sure to factor those in.

Once you receive an offer, it’s time to negotiate. You should be reasonable and willing to lower the price, but start in $5,000 increments.

When a buyer presents an offer, you should ask to see their prequalification documents from their mortgage lender. This proves that they qualify for the amount offered.

Closing Process

Anyone selling a home by themselves will need to hire a real estate attorney and title agency for the closing. This should be done well before the closing date so the contracts and correct forms can be obtained and filled out. You should also coordinate with the buyers and their real estate agent to find a mutually acceptable date and determine the final closing costs.


10+ Winter Plants That Survive And Thrive In The Cold

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean your home exterior needs to be, too. Create a warm and inviting look by using winter plants among your other holiday decorations. A quick trip to the nursery will save you staging time and effort, especially if you plan on selling your own home. First impressions mean a lot, so whether you’re looking to sell, renovate or just give your property a quick facelift, winter plants and flowers are a smart way to go.


Use the list below to jump to the topic that interests you the most:


How To Protect Plants In Winter

winter plant care tips

As a rule, it’s crucial that you research the needs of the individual plants and flowers you pick beforehand. The fact of the matter is that not all plants can survive a harsh winter. Depending on the climate you live in and the specific plant type, it’s care requirements will change – use tools like Missouri Botanical Garden’s Plant Finder for care specifics. 

It’s also important to note the classification of your plant. According to, plants can be classified as annual, biennial, or perennial. Annuals live for one growing season, biennials live for two growing seasons, and perennials live for two years. This has a large effect on the care they’ll need. Below you’ll see some basic tactics used to protect plants from chilly weather.

  • Take some indoors: Certain plants are just not built to survive winter and must be taken in for shelter. Some varieties require that their bulbs be dug up and removed for winter.
  • Insulate perennials: Some plants will simply require a couple of inches of mulch to protect their root systems 
  • Adequate watering: Water trees and shrubs generously (about two times as much) before the first frost when the ground freezes over. This ensures they have enough water to get them through the winter, and the frozen ice layer acts as insulation. If you don’t experience a seasonal freeze, plants will require considerably less water once the weather is colder.


10 Colorful Plants That Survive Winter 

Even though most plants and flowers do best in the warmer months, there are many that survive and thrive in freezing temperatures. The best way to tell if a plant can handle winter is by its “hardiness zone” rating, which is based on an area’s climate in its relation to supporting plant growth.

Different zones can support different types of plants depending on if they’re built for colder or warmer climates. If their zone falls within the hardiness zone where you live, you should be good to go as long as you treat the plant with proper care.

Looking for some cold weather garden and front yard inspiration? We’ve got you covered with the visual below. It explores 10 different colorful plants and flowers, their hardiness ratings, when they bloom as well as what makes them special. 

See a condensed visual here and more detail in the copy below:

button to Download winter plant guide


1. Snowdrop (Galanthus Nivalis)

photo of snowdrop flowers in the snow

With a name like “Snowdrop,” it’s no wonder these plants are a great winter garden option. They are able to survive in zones as low as 3, or -40°F (-40°C). Depending on where you live, you can expect to see blooms as early as February. It’s important to note that these plants are poisonous to humans, dogs and cats, so plant with care if you have little ones or critters around.

  • Hardiness Zone: 3 – 7
  • Maintenance: Low
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Blooms in: Mid-winter
  • Great for: Walking paths 


2. Helleborus (Helleborus Orientalis)

photo of a helleborus

Helleborus flowers are no strangers to some frost and snow – they typically bloom in late winter and are about 1 foot tall. The petals come in a variety of colors from white to pink to purple, contrasted against vibrant yellow stamen. These flowers are not only hardy to inclement weather, they are also pollution- and deer-resistant.

  • Hardiness Zone: 4 – 8
  • Maintenance: Low
  • Sun: Part shade to full shade
  • Blooms in: Late winter/early spring
  • Great for: Ground cover


3. Camellia (Camellia Japonica)

photo of camellias

These colorful beauties bloom on branches that grow to about 7 – 12 feet tall, perfect for hedges. Depending on your region, you can count on blooms anywhere from December to March. They require a little more attention than some other varieties as they are susceptible to some fungal diseases and pests like aphids, mites and mealybugs.

  • Hardiness Zone: 7 – 9
  • Maintenance: Medium
  • Sun: Part Shade
  • Blooms in: Winter
  • Great for: Hedges


4. Mountain Fire (Pieris Japonica)

photo of mountain fire

Mountain Fire feels very festive with green and red leaves. when it blooms in late winter/early spring, it produces white flower buds. These deer-resistant plants do best in rich, slightly acidic soil. When mature, they can reach heights up to 12 feet but earlier on they are usually 4 – 8 feet. Also called “Japanese pieris,” they are especially fitting in a predominantly Japanese garden. 

  • Hardiness Zone: 5 – 8
  • Maintenance: High
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Blooms in: Late winter/early spring
  • Great for: Borders and fences


5. Winterberry (Ilex Verticillata)

photo of winterberries

A classic winter plant, the vibrant winterberry is a no-brainer for your cold-climate garden collection. These resilient plants survive well in wet, eroded or clay soil. They grow somewhat slowly and usually fall in the range of 3 – 12 feet tall. As a bonus, these trees attract birds and will surely provide a beautiful bird-watching spot when the weather gets warmer.

  • Hardiness Zone: 3 – 9
  • Maintenance: Low
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Blooms in: Fall/winter
  • Great for: Rainy climates


6. Witch Hazel (Hamamelis Virginiana)

photo of witch hazel

Witch hazel is hailed as a skincare solution and medicinal powerhouse, but these plants also make a great winter garden addition. Give your space a vibrant pop as these plants bloom in late fall into early winter. Due to their deer-resistance and tall height, 15 – 20 feet, they make great garden borders. When the weather warms up, witch hazel also attracts birds.

  • Hardiness Zone: 3 – 8
  • Maintenance: Low
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Blooms in: Fall/winter
  • Great for: Medicinal uses


7. Winter Jasmine (Jasminum Nudiflorum)

photo of winter jasmine

These yellow stunners are native to Northern China and can survive temperatures as low as -10°F (-23.3°C). Throughout the cold months, winter jasmine boasts pretty green vines and in mid- to late-winter, their pretty blooms appear. Their malleable 10 – 15-foot vines are great for sloping ground and to train on wall trellises.

  • Hardiness Zone: 6 – 10
  • Maintenance: Low
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Blooms in: Mid-winter/early spring
  • Great for: Wall trellises


8. Sester Dwarf (Picea Pungens ‘Glauca Globosa’)

photo of a sester dwarf

Sester dwarfs are extremely similar to the massive evergreen trees you’d expect to find in the Rocky Mountains, only these are only about 3 – 5 feet tall. Their height combined with their thick, sturdy spread of needles make them great for hedges. Also, this spruce variety is deer-, rabbit- and drought-resistant. Try dressing these shrubs up with lights for a festive touch.

  • Hardiness Zone: 2 – 7
  • Maintenance: Low
  • Sun: Full sun
  • Blooms in: Non-flowering
  • Great for: Shrubs


9. Pansy (Viola × Wittrockiana)

photo of a pansy in the snow

Pansies come in a great variety of colors ranging from blue, purple, pink and red to yellow, coral and white. These deer-resistant blooms can survive in temperatures as low as -10°F (-23.3°C). When the cold weather melts away, they are great for attracting butterflies to your garden. Their smaller size (no taller than 8 inches) makes them ideal for container gardening, bedding and window boxes. 

  • Hardiness Zone: 6 – 10
  • Maintenance: Medium
  • Sun: Full to partial sun
  • Blooms in: Fall
  • Great for: Containers 


10. Algerian Iris (Iris Unguicularis)

photo of an Algerian iris

Algerian Iris are also known as “Winter Iris” and can survive in temperatures as low as 0°F (-17.8°C). The stunning blooms come in a deep purple and are drought-, deer- and rabbit-resistant. They grow to be about 2 feet tall, which makes them ideal for pathways and flowerbed borders. This is another variety that does well in loamy, chalky, or clay-rich soil.

  • Hardiness Zone: 7–9
  • Maintenance: Low
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Blooms in: Late fall–spring
  • Great for: Bed borders


Winter Plants Perfect For Curb Appeal And Staging

Just because you’re spending more time inside doesn’t mean you should neglect the exterior of your space, especially if you are trying to sell your home. The holidays are a special time of year for most buyers. Help them envision themselves in your home by including elegant and seasonal winter touches. 

Not only is winter curb appeal a great way to tie your home’s interior and exterior together, it’s also a great way to increase offers on your home. First impressions mean a lot, so remember that your front exterior is the first thing potential buyers will see.

10 Additional Winter Plants 

Below is a list of plants that are perfect for winter staging:

    • Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
    • Japanese Yew (Taxus cuspidata)
    • Catmint (Nepeta)
    • Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)
    • Kaffir lily (Schizostylis coccinea)
    • American Mountain Ash (Sorbus americana)
    • Coneflower (Echinacea)
    • Siberian Cypress (Microbiota decussata)
    • Sunset Kale (Brassica oleracea)
    • Honeywort (Cerinthe)

Pro Tip: If you don’t have the resources to fully landscape, focus on your front door and porch area. Add potted plants and portable topiaries to increase your curb appeal on a budget.


How to Style Colorful Winter Flowers and Plants

When staging your exterior, it’s important to keep general staging tactics in mind:

      • Mass-appeal: Make sure your space appeals to a wide range of buyers.
      • Show off: Highlight the best features of your property.
      • Color choices: Neutral colors are preferred by most buyers, but don’t forget to add in pops of color and pattern in the decor.
      • Cohesiveness: The whole property should have a unified look that goes along with the architecture of your home and the area you live in.

With these basic staging ideas in mind, here are some tips for styling winter plants and flowers on the exterior of your home:

    1. Frame your entrance: This can be done by using topiaries, garlands or even lights.
    2. Accessorize your door: After giving your door a fresh coat of paint, adorn it with an elegant and seasonal wreath. 
    3. Complement existing decor: Try adding potted plants or window boxes to the setting.
    4. Replace delicate flora: Remove plants that can’t withstand the cold and replace with hardier ones.
    5. Landscaping upkeep: It’s crucial that you tend to your landscaping as well as plowing the pathways to your house. 
    6. Consider snow cover: Some plants will look great year-round and will be especially pretty with snow cover. Keep this in mind when landscaping. The hardy plants you pick must be taller than your average snowfall so they aren’t buried.

Pro Tip: In your online listing, include pictures of your property’s exterior from all different seasons. This makes it easier for buyers to envision their life there year-round.


Tie It All Together: Seasonal Botanical Prints

Photo of two winter plant botanical prints on the wall, namely a spruce print and a winterberry print

A great way to tie your exterior into your interior and give your home a fresh feel is by including touches of plants and flowers indoors. Aside from adding evergreen garland and colorful holiday plants, another fun nod to the outdoors is using a fun and seasonal print. Use this simple and elegant prints below to spruce up your interior this winter.

button to Download botanical prints

It’s easy to shake off the winter blues and increase buyer interest with simple touches of greenery and seasonal flowers. Many people don’t see winter as the ideal time to sell. Turn that idea on its head by leaning on the nostalgia and love that surrounds the holiday season. 

There are many buyers still searching for homes in the colder months, so take advantage of the decreased competition and make your place stand out. You will have great success in selling your home if you are able to create a lively atmosphere that helps buyers imagine hosting their family for years to come.



The Anatomy Of An Inviting Space, According To Science

“There’s no place like home.” It’s more than just a sweet sentiment. Feeling comfort, security and warmth affects peoples’ mindsets, moods and actions. You may not always be able to point out the exact reason something is comforting or welcoming, but you can definitely recognize how it makes you feel. We explain what makes a space welcoming and comforting, and how you can apply it to your own space so that guests, potential home buyers and customers can feel at ease in your domain.

How you make people feel is crucial to their overall experience. The tried-and-true Maya Angelou saying goes, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This is exactly what the overall goal is for those who want to improve their hospitality: You want people who come to your space to feel welcomed, comfortable and secure.

The U.S. hotel industry alone broke $80 million in profits in 2018. All of the various lucrative subcategories of the hospitality industry are essentially selling the same thing – an experience. To this end, 74% of Americans prioritize experiences over things. So whether you’re hosting guests, selling your home or trying to market a product or service, keep the experience at the core of your decisions.

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The Principles Of A Welcoming Space


Before diving into the different types of spaces and how to make them welcoming, it’s important to understand the elements that make a space feel this way. According to International Association for Applied Psychology, at the core of an inviting, comfortable space is well-being. One recent trend that supports this is the rise of biophilic design based on the idea that “humankind has an innate biological connection with nature.”

To put the concept into use, living spaces are designed with forms, patterns, senses and layouts that evoke well-being and a connection with nature. Another thing that makes people feel at ease are factors that subconsciously access comforting memories and experiences. This is similar to the way weighted blankets calm people down: it evokes sensory feelings and memories of being embraced

Here’s how you can evoke well-being and comfort in your space:


Spaces should be airy and light so that the features of the room are visible. Psychology Today explains that dark and shadowy rooms make people feel uneasy because they can’t see everything going on in the space. To mimic lighting found in nature, diffuse bright light with shades and window dressings.


Your space should have a natural flow whether it’s an open floor plan or not. This includes removing clutter. WebMD tells us that clutter can make a space feel closed off and is bad for your mental and physical health.


When choosing colors, consider the experience or feeling you are trying to evoke. In a piece that appeared in IRMBR Journal, it’s explained that warmer colors evoke feelings of excitement and being welcomed, while cooler colors evoke feelings of relaxation


Textures can bring about feelings and create different emotional responses just as visual senses can. Softer textures are said to be more comforting due to our mammalian roots and instincts, as explained in a study from the Journal of Consumer Research. Using soft textures in your home can evoke feelings of protection and warmth.


Scientific American explains that the effect that scents have is dependent upon experiences associated with that scent. For example, if the scent of apple pie makes you feel comforted and nostalgic, you probably had an experience in your past where the scent of apple pie became associated with good memories.
There are common scents you can use in your space that a lot of people have similar reactions to – like how the scent of pine trees reminds most people of the holidays, nature hikes or camping. Aromatherapy has also been shown to improve sleep and quality of life as well as reduce anxiety (Mayo Clinic).


There have been numerous studies that show music can have a great effect on mood and emotion. Music can help you relieve stress (UNR), help with productivity (Study International) and make people feel more comfortable and at ease in your space. Calm classical music and jazz are a great way to boost moods and focus. Even ambient noise reduces fear and anxiety (International Journal of Research in Marketing).


How To Create An Inviting Home

image of a living room that points out different features

Are you expecting guests this holiday season or have friends and family that like to drop in unannounced? Use these easy tips below to help make hosting a breeze:

  • Light: Let There Be Light – Help guests feel welcome and relaxed by letting your natural light shine, try opening your blinds or using translucent window coverings that still let light in. Use warm bulbs in your indoor fixtures and add whimsical string lights to illuminate and create dazzling outdoor spaces.
  • Layout: Clean Often – Not only is this helpful if someone drops by unannounced, but it also makes your life easier by not allowing cleaning tasks to pile up.
    Color: Show Your Style – While warm colors are the most welcoming, you should still include splashes of color and patterns that represent your style. Use warm colors specifically in areas that you want guests to feel cozy, like on the couch in front of the fireplace or in their guest bedroom.
  • Texture: Seating – Make sure there is enough seating for guests that are free of clutter. Set out some throw pillows and blankets to make seating feel extra cozy.
    • Extra Linens – Keep extra clean blankets and bedding on hand, so you aren’t rushing to finish the laundry before guests arrive.
  • Scent: Aromatherapy – Have candles and scented oil diffusers on hand to give your home a pleasant and welcoming scent.
    • Freeze Food – Keep frozen appetizers and desserts ready to go. They can be popped in the oven for any last-minute arrivals.
    • Cook Or Bake – If you have advanced notice that you’ll have visitors, try to have something simple on hand to offer them.
  • Sound: Play To Your Audience – Music is a must when having people over to your house. Make sure it’s low enough that people can still talk and hear each other. When picking a playlist, think about your guests’ preferences – when in doubt, ask them for song requests.
  • Bonus Tip: Their Favorites – While it’s customary for the guest to bring a little gift for the host, it’s also a nice touch for the host to keep their guest in mind too! Which drinks or snacks do they prefer? Surprise your guests with these personalized touches.


Staging: How To Make A House A Home


If you’re staging your home with buyers in mind, you will have to make some tweaks to ensure that it’s appealing to the wide variety of potential buyers that may come through your property. You’ll want to make sure that you’re showing off the best features of your home, the things that got people interested in your listing in the first place.

It’s important to remember to depersonalize your home so that buyers feel encouraged to imagine themselves in the space, rather than feeling like a visitor. There are a variety of small do-it-yourself projects and upcycling hacks that make staging your home easier.

Light: Show Off Your Natural Light

Frame your windows and glass features with complimentary window treatments, but keep them visible so potential buyers can see the full potential. If your space is lacking in natural light, add lighting fixtures that mimic natural light or have a warmer tone in the bulb rather than cold.

Layout: Clean, Not Sterile

In order to work with what you have and accentuate your layout, make sure to clear out any clutter. Remove furniture pieces that disrupt the flow, especially if you’re limited on space or have a quirky floor plan. To ensure flow, make sure there is at least two to four feet of space in walking paths.

You’ll want to create a feeling of togetherness, like the home is built for entertainment – even if it isn’t. Do this by “setting the scene,” create definite spaces with purpose throughout your home with furniture and a light assortment of staging “props.” These props could be table settings on your dining table, a neat stack of books in a reading nook or a fresh bouquet of flowers on the counter.

Make your space feel clean and clutter-free but comfortable and easy to live in. It will make buyers feel welcome and help them see themselves hosting guests of their own there.

Color: Warm Neutrals

The colors you choose to highlight should be light, neutral and warm. You want your space to be as move-in ready as possible and if potential buyers don’t have to paint, that’s one more todo to check off of their list. Including pops of color in your house is encouraged as it can make your home feel more lively.

Use those pops of color strategically to draw attention to your home’s best features. For example, if you have a stunning fireplace and mantel, hang a colorful print on it to catch the buyer’s eye. When choosing your accent color and patterns, keep a consistent theme to avoid clashing colors and designs.

Texture: Comfy And Polished

Again, make sure that the textures you choose are appealing to a wide variety of buyers. One additional key point is to make seating and beds look and feel comfortable. This can be done with a healthy abundance of pillows and blankets. Don’t overload the space, try to include a maximum of three on each seating area and around five on beds, depending of course on their size.

Scent: Pleasant, Not Overpowering

It’s pleasant for buyers if you not only engage them visually but also through scent as well. Ensure that whichever scent you choose to feature isn’t too overpowering as many people have sensitivities to strong perfumes. The safest scent to go with is the subtly pleasant scent of a freshly cleaned home. To choose a scent, think about your location and the time of year too, i.e. a pumpkin spice candle doesn’t make much sense in the middle of May.

Pro tip: Try baking something fresh in the oven before buyers arrive so your home smells delicious and you have something to offer them and make them feel welcomed.

Sound: Cheerful, Laid-Back Music

It’s a good idea to have light music playing in the background. This is a perfect way to evoke positive emotions and cover the lull of street traffic. Make sure the music you play isn’t loud or too quick. You don’t want buyers feeling rushed by fast tempos. Choose the music based on the type of mood you’re trying to evoke and the person you’re selling to. A young bachelor or bachelorette will surely be drawn to different music than a mature couple looking for peace and quiet.

Which brings up another important point, don’t play music if one of the home’s best features is its environmental location. You don’t want to cover up the sound of the babbling stream outside or the birds chirping. Alternatively, you could have music playing at the entrance of the home but ensure that you can show off your home’s peace and solitude in other rooms of the house.


Hosting Guests: Home Is Where You Make It


In recent years, many people have turned their additional property or space into lucrative bed and breakfast ventures. If you’ve decided to turn hosting guests into a career or side hustle, you know how important positive reviews are. In order to build up your customer base and earn those five-star reviews, it’s crucial to give your guests a great experience. Below are a couple of additional tips to create a five-star visit:

  • Light – If guests are arriving late, make sure they can easily find your place. Solar-powered pathway lights and motion sensor lights are a great way to guide guests without wasting electricity.
  • Layout – Above all else make sure your place is clean, clutter-free and accessible to guests with disabilities who have expressed their accessibility requirements.
  • Color – Guests feel most welcome in homes that feature warm colors. However, if this doesn’t mesh with your personal style make a compromise by including warm colors in the guest bedroom or their bedding to create a cozier vibe.
  • Texture – Make sure you have enough blankets and pillows available, especially when temperatures drop.
  • Scent – Your space should smell clean and pleasant, make sure that any scents aren’t too overpowering. To make guests feel like they’ve truly arrived at their destination, place a scent diffuser with a popular essence from your area.
  • Sound – If possible, have soft music playing for your guest when they arrive. If you won’t be there, consider leaving a small speaker that they can use to play music and feel more at home or CDs of local musicians so they can experience something new. Just remember to include your quiet hours on your house rules to keep your neighbors happy.
  • Bonus Tip: Welcome – Many hosts leave “welcome baskets” for their guests, these little gestures aren’t necessary but can be a great way to ensure your guests have a positive experience. Something as simple as a small treat like a chocolate bar, city maps or other helpful suggestions make guests feel welcome.

In addition to welcoming guests, you’ll also want to ensure that house guidelines are laid out clearly to ensure a safe and pleasant stay for both the host and the guest. Click the button below to download or save our free printables below:



How To Make Any Space Feel Like Home

The principles of comfort and feeling welcomed don’t just apply to homes, they also apply to a variety of public and commercial spaces. While your brand and style will play a big role in the style of your store, there are ways to make the different principles of comfort work in your favor to create a better guest experience.

Click the button below to save a visual guide to making customers feel welcome.


download business tips

Creating an inviting environment is a crucial part of a visitor’s, guest’s or buyer’s experience. And when the time comes to sell your home, you can save a lot of money by using the tips above to stage your own home. Remember that not everyone has the same design taste as you so try to depersonalize and meet somewhere in the middle of neutral and your personal style. Even though neutral design is the most universal, make sure you’re still accentuating the quirks and features that make your home unique and desirable.


10 Must-Dos The Day You Show Your House

The “for sale” sign is up. You’ve completed the big projects and the little tweaks, and you’re hopeful that your efforts will pay off with a quick and profitable offer. Now comes the critical part of selling your home: introducing it to potential buyers with a showing or open house. First impressions are everything – a good one can result in more exposure for your sale or an offer at or above asking price. But a bad one can directly translate into lowball offers or, worse, no offers at all. Before opening the door to potential buyers, follow these tips to make sure your home is ready to wow.

1. Detach From The Stuff

Home experts agree the first and most important step to a successful showing is to emotionally separate from the house and the objects within it.

Letting go of your emotional connections to the items inside your home will make you more objective about any necessary changes and more open to real estate agent and buyer feedback. It also helps you stage the home in a way that allows potential buyers to picture themselves living in it.

On the day of your showing, double-check foyer tables, fireplace mantels and refrigerator doors, which are popular display spots for loads of personal items, like children’s artwork, photos and trophies.

2. Make Sure The Home Is Spotless

Cleanliness seems like such an obvious tip, but the lack of it is often one of the biggest complaints agents hear from buyers. Hopefully, you’ve done the big scrub leading up to your open house. This includes getting your carpets steamed, mopping your floors, wiping down windows and scouring your appliances. On the day of your showing, wipe down and inspect every item and surface you use so you don’t overlook small details like crumbs on the table from breakfast, toothpaste remnants in the sink or half full trash cans. Do a quick walk-through of your home, making sure to stop in rooms you don’t frequent to catch any rogue dust bunnies as well.<

Imagine what you’d want to see when you visit a home or hotel: straightened bedspreads and tucked in sheets, wiped down surfaces and fresh, clean towels neatly hung on the rack.

3. Make Sure It Smells Clean

Besides a home’s visual appeal, nothing triggers more comments from potential buyers than the way a house smells. Diffuse cooking, pet and musty odors by airing out your home with open windows or air purifiers before the showing, and avoid cooking anything in your kitchen the night before and the day of your showing.

Comforting smells like freshly baked cookies or brewing coffee can be appealing to most potential buyers. Travis Gray, real estate agent at Coldwell Banker, recommendsfresh, clean smells or playing up the particular season. “I always recommend fresh flowers, and cider on the stove is a nice touch in the colder months,” he says.

Beware of spray scents, candles or other artificially scented products. Some scents could trigger allergies or migraines, creating a negative experience for sensitive buyers. Avoid too strong of a scent as well. That could lead people to believe you’re using it to mask an odor or hide something else.

Don’t forget that pet food, toys, litter boxes and blankets may also have distinct smells, so stow these items or take them out of the house during showings.

4. Remove Distracting Or Obstructive Items

Artists, architects and designers are well versed in the simple trick of drawing the eye to something appealing, whether it’s a bold color, unique feature or gorgeous view. Eliminate items such as knickknacks, toys, small appliances and bath products that distract the eye, block a view or, worse, make spaces look smaller.

Though many rugs add warmth and color, consider rolling them up if they break up a room or if they obscure attractive selling points like stunning hardwood floors or beautiful tile work.

Have bins or baskets on hand to quickly clear off countertops, floors, tables and desks. “It’s a lot easier to put away one or two small bins than it is to have to find a spot for 15 different toiletry items,” says Annie Pinsker-Brown, owner of Stage to Sell in Los Angeles.

5. Improve Traffic Flow

When your home is arranged to perfectly fit your lifestyle, it can be hard to realize that it may not make the most sense to outsiders. For example, the coat rack by the kitchen door may be practical for your family, but it can look like poor storage to a potential buyer. You may be used to walking around the oversized ottoman, but others may trip over it or see it as an obstruction.

To prevent this from happening, look at each room and consider whether it seems like an obstacle course or if anything seems out of place. Better yet, have someone else walk through the home and point out anything that impedes the natural flow of traffic or doesn’t make good use of the space. Then, rearrange or remove those items completely to improve the flow.

Be careful with removing too many items though. Too little furniture can be just as bad as too much. One or two items sitting in an otherwise vacant and large family room might prompt buyers to worry they’ll never be able to furnish the whole space. If needed, repurpose pieces from spare rooms to comfortably fill out an area.

6. Create The “Goldilocks Effect”

Create an atmosphere that’s “just right” by adjusting your home’s temperature to a comfortable setting and opening the curtains and blinds to let natural light pour in. Kick the comfort up a notch by lettingin the pleasant ambient sounds of birds chirping outside or by playing quiet, calming music in the background.

7. Provide And Obtain More Info

Lay out flyers with basic information about the home, a list of unique features and an attractive listing photo or two. You can use this document to add a personal touch to the sale, like providing a few sentences about what you love most about the home. Make sure your name, contact information and online listing address are somewhere on the flyer as well, so people know how to find more information or get in touch with you.

If you don’t have their contact information already, invite guests to leave their name and contact information on a sign-in sheet so you can follow up with them after the open house.

Place these items by the door so guests can fill out their information and take a flyer while they enter or leave the home. Or, if you’re providing refreshments or swag, place the documents near the goodies where they won’t be missed.

8. Protect Your Valuables

Whether it’s an invitation-only showing or a large opening for the masses, it’s important to safeguard valuables, personal information and other sensitive items. Thieves like to walk away with inconspicuous items they can fit in their pockets, so store small valuables like money, jewelry and prescription medications in a safe or hide them in a hard-to-reach spot. And don’t forget to protect financial statements and documents, recommends Pinsker-Brown. Put all documents in a locked file cabinet or desk drawer and make sure you shred and remove any documents you throw away. Don’t forget about your electronic info either. “Shut off and password protect your computers,” recommends Pinsker-Brown. If your computer is a laptop, lock it up or keep it in your possession during the showing.

9. Be Polite And Helpful, But Not Pushy

If you don’t have a real estate agent to run the open house or showing, it will be your responsibility to welcome your visitors, direct them where to go and field any questions they may have. Greet your guests with a smile, provide a brief explanation of what makes your home special, tell them where specific rooms are located and let them know you’ll be around to answer any questions they may have. Then allow them to tour the home on their own. You don’t want potential buyers to feel pressured or uncomfortable touring your home while they discuss what they like and don’t like about the home. Give them their space and remember that they’ll come to you if they have any questions. Be ready to answer any questions they may have, and if you don’t have the answer, let them know you’ll look into it and get back to them with an answer as soon as possible.

Make sure you thank them for stopping by, let them know you’re looking forward to hearing from them and say goodbye. The day after your open house, follow up with each visitor separately by sending a nice email thanking them for coming and providing a link to your online listing.

10. Make It Easy To Find Your Home

You can’t have a successful open house if no one can find your home. On the day of your showing, place an “Open House” sign in your front yard and tie balloons in an eye-catching color to the sign to get their attention. You should also place a few signs at several intersections. Make sure they include your address in a large font and feature arrows that can help them navigate the neighborhood. Not only will signs help people find the open house, but they may also draw in other potential buyers who just happen to be passing through the neighborhood.

Showing potential buyers your home is an important part of the selling process, but there are several other steps you’ll need to take to get the sale. For additional help, check out the rest of We provide guidance every step of the way so you can successfully sell your home on your terms.