For prospective buyers, visualisation is key in determining if a house feels like home.

Ever scrolled through a listing and been bemused by photos including outdated furniture, empty rooms or wild wall colors? It’s the house and property that are for sale, but the existing décor – or lack thereof – inside the home can shape potential buyers’ perception and even affect its perceived value.

When a buyer walks in, they usually know within 15 seconds if they like a house or not. That’s why staging is so important – it’s what keeps buyers inside the home wanting to see more.

Put simply, staging is the act of rearranging a home’s objects and curating an aesthetic to appeal to the most buyers possible. Sellers can stage a home themselves, bounce ideas off of their real estate agent or hire a professional home stager for larger undertakings.

Staging creates space

Staging a home is often easiest when it’s already vacant, but that situation is rare. Most sellers are juggling their typical busy schedules while their house is on the market.

Oftentimes, just clearing out clutter makes a huge difference on the spaciousness of a home. The owners don’t realise it’s cluttered because they live there and see the space every day. Before evaluating the style of the home, buyers will notice if it feels messy or dirty.

I urge sellers to take all of their personal photos down. I’ve had buyers come into a home and feel like they’re disturbing the people who live there because they just see their family everywhere. It’s hard for them to picture living in someone else’s house

Smaller spaces can use some extra TLC in creating the appearance of roominess. Especially now, consumers are seeking out multipurpose spaces that can function as a home office.

And contrary to its clean appearance, a vacant home is not conducive for buyers to gauge the size of rooms or envision them filled with their own furniture.

When a bedroom is empty, for example, people often doubt if they can fit a king size bed. But if they saw a tidy, staged bedroom, they would understand how well a space fits furniture. Staging a vacant house not only makes it look livable and inviting, it also makes the rooms look larger.

Staging enhances online optics

Today, many prospective buyers are starting their real estate journeys online, meaning that first impressions are formed from a quick scroll through a photo gallery.

A staged house makes for beautiful photos, and those beautiful photos attract more buyers online – ultimately increasing the traffic of showings.

The quality of photography matters, of course – with the best photos being high-resolution and large in size – but the content displayed within the photos and color schemes matters as well.

In a listing’s gallery, the order of photos often follows the natural flow of the house, meaning spaces closer to the front door are seen sooner than the upstairs or basement levels. Because of this, Soltis believes more attention should be placed on staging main spaces like the entryway, living room and kitchen, and bedrooms can be kept simple.

Staging speaks to emotion

A house is a space of creative expression, customization and comfort. But when it’s on the market with tours coming through, it’s time to put the personalization aside and focus on what creates the most desirable template for prospective buyers.

When selling a house, we’re really selling a product and a lifestyle. So, you have to think about it like it’s not your home anymore – it’s a product for sale. Because of that, we’re going to have to rearrange the furniture for what consumers would like best, and repaint to a neutral color in order to appeal to buyers looking online.

In addition to improving the overall appearance, staging is intended to enhance the emotional component of a property. An inviting living room could be a promising place to gather with loved ones, a freshly mowed backyard could be room for children or pets to play, and a set dining table could be the perfect place for holiday entertaining.