A publication of the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives

Fixer Upper
Home | Fixer Upper | How To Market Your House

How To Market Your House

Setting the best possible stage for a quick sale


by Les O’Dell, Contributing Writer

Staging is the process of making a home’s interior look its absolute best to entice prospective buyers. It used to be the stuff of television’s real estate programs or a trend in major metropolitan areas.

Today, staging is common and has become a valuable tool for those looking to get the most when selling their home.

A 2021 report from the National Association of Realtors indicated 82% of buyers’ agents said staging made it easier for their clients to see a property as a future home.

Both sellers’ and buyers’ agents indicated staging raised the perceived value of — and money offered for — a home. Perhaps more importantly, 31% of those surveyed said home staging greatly decreased the time a home was on the market.

“Staging is truly marketing,” explains Leigh Newport, owner and principal designer with Staged By Design in Sterling, Va. “It really is more of a marketing tool based in design principles than it is just making things pretty.”


Generally, home stagers bring in furniture and decorative items so that houses are not empty shells, but rather appear turnkey-ready for new owners.

“It is preparing a home for market in a way that allows buyers to see the home for all its potential and feel themselves in that space,” adds Shannon Nolte, a College Station, Texas, home stager.

For stager Charity Clark of West Frankfort, Ill., the craft is about helping buyers’ imaginations.

“It’s better that prospective buyers don’t come into an empty home. It’s just not as warm and it is harder for them to picture themselves living there,” Clark adds.

She recommends a home be staged before photographs of the home are posted on internet real estate sites and that the staging remain in place until the home is under contract. That way, prospective buyers see the same space both online and in person.

For properties where the owners still live in their homes, it’s about making it look not so lived in, Nolte says.

“When clients are still living there, we can’t bring in a bunch of decorative things, so we have to just work with what they have,” she explains, saying her role is to declutter and move furniture around to make the home more neutral and more open.”

“Buyers really don’t want to see your dolls or your beer stein collection,” she adds. “During our discussions, I tell them the person I am trying to impress is not in the room.”


As a home stager, Newport says she sees herself as part organizer, part designer, part visionary and part psychologist.

“The bottom line is a goal to create compelling visuals that make people connect to the space on an emotional level and feel that they have to have it,” she says.

The cost of staging depends upon geography as well as home size and value.

A consultation for a “lived-in” home is just a few hundred dollars, but a complete staging in a vacant property could be as much as $10,000. It is money well spent, Newton adds.

“Staging gets you interest and interest gets you offers,” she says.

Les O’Dell is a multimedia reporter for The Southern Illinoisan and a frequent contributor to Illinois Country Living.