How To Keep Occupied Homes Show Ready, While On The Market

As a home stager, I am always interested in the new homes that come on the market and time permitting, I like to go to the open houses, at least the ones close to my own neighborhood. 

tips selling homes

What’s the first impression home buyers are getting?

When I see a FOR SALE sign, I automatically assume that the realtors have worked with home sellers to prepare the homes for the market and perhaps even have sought the assistance of  home stager. We all know by now that the first impression is everything. But to my surprise, frequently I come across occupied homes that are NOT prepared to greet and welcome the buyers. This lack of preparedness still shocks me, because for most people, homes are the biggest investment of the sellers and everything should be done to meet the sales goals. A show ready and staged home is not just for vacant homes.

When my realtor clients call and ask for our assistance to prepare their homeowner occupied listings, they know that not only we help to stage the homes, but also we create  strategies and easy to follow “To Do” list based on the homeowner’s life style and circumstances. These kind of guidelines help the home owners to keep their homes show-ready at all times.

An unprepared home not only will welcome home buyers, but it will stop them. Staged homes sells.

Believe it or not, these photos are from a $1.5 million home in Queen Ann neighborhood. An unmade bed and toys in the living room kept this beautiful home on the market over six months. Other homes in this neighborhood were selling much much faster.

There are some simple steps that all home sellers can take to ensure the best first impression for the buyers:


  • Mobilize your army.If you have kids in your family, everyone should be involved. Share with your children why it is important to keep their spaces clean and how they can help you to meet your sales goals. Once the kids are informed, they will not only participate in keeping the homes show-ready they will enjoy it. You’ll be surprised how often we hear back from our clients that their kids felt proud and empowered.  
  • Keep all of your bathroom personal items in a caddy in one of your bathroom cabinets. Home buyers don’t want to know what brand of shampoo you use. 
  • Use your fluffiest towels as your staged towels and don’t use them. This way, they always stay neat and clean.
  •  After using your own personal towels, instead of handing them, place them in dryer and turn it on for 15 minutes and just leave them there until your next shower. Seattle home stager's tips on selling homes
  • Make all the beds and fluff the pillows. Saggy pillows and half made beds are not welcoming.
  • Pack as much as your clothes as possible and keep the remaining ones neat and organized.
  • When you take your coats or shoes off, put them in their right places right away. 
  • Invest in some felt hangers. A mixture of plastic and wire hangers are not attractive. You can purchase a set of 50 felt hangers from Costco for $10. 
  • Keep the closet floor clear of everything. Yes, everything.
  • Keep a coat closet as a coat closet and don’t store anything else there.
  • No plastic dry cleaning bags in the closets. Dry cleaning bags are not good for your clothes anyway. 
  • Before showings, open all the blinds and turn on all the accent lights. Use up-lighters if you have a dark corner. Homes that are light and bright appear larger and more inviting. If you have ceiling fans, turn them all on low.
  • Use decorative baskets and containers in your kitchen and bathroom cabinets.
  • Have some soft music playing. If you have a media room, leave a movie playing with the sound turned down low.
Staged and SOLD Kirkland Home

Our strategies helped the home sellers of this Kirkland home to keep their home show-ready despite having a set of TWO YEAR old twin set.

  • Scents are important to creating emotion. The smell of a clean house, is the best. Vanilla scent is the second best option and everyone finds this scent soothing and comforting. Stay away from cooking seafood or anything with strong scent. Stay away from those artificial air fresheners smell artificial. Keep in mind,  that lots of people, like myself, suffer from allergies and asthma and can’t tolerate strong scents.
  • Vacuum everyday. 
  • Dirty dishes should be in the dishwasher. This is obvious, but you’ll be surprised how often I come across a sink with dirty dishes and dirty counters.
  • Dirty clothes should be neatly placed in a hamper or put them in the washing machine. It is a good idea to wash your clothes more often, while your home is on the market.
  • While you may love your pets, many people are afraid of them and they often get in the way. Taking your pet with you during the showing is the best idea. Some dogs are crate-trained and sit quietly in their crate. However, there’s nothing more annoying than listening to a dog bark the entire time you’re viewing a home. Before I forget, licks for your dog, Rex, will convert into offers. I promise. 
  • Don’t be there when the agent and buyers arrive. It’s awkward and makes the buyers uncomfortable. Buyers want to be able to peek into closets and kitchen cabinets freely without you being there.
  • A silver lining: following all of these steps at the beginning is going to be hard if this has not been your style. But what a wonderful habits to take with you to your new homes.

Remember, that buyers decide in the first 60 seconds to buy a house. 

Are you getting ready to sell your home? We can assist you to prepare your home for the market and help you to reach your sales goals. To schedule for an appointment, please contact us at or 206-334-0266.

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