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Staging a Home: Key to a Successful Sale?

January 19, 2022

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The living room of a well staged home with crisp white walls and just the right amount of furniture surrounding the glowing fireplace.

A prime example of a well-staged home.

The importance of staging a home cannot be overstated. That’s why staging is one of the most important things I do – or recommend my clients do. Think Pinterest-ready. For some, the idea of staging their home can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. Just take a tip from the owners of the home pictured in this blog post.

READ: Selling Luxury Real Estate in Santa Barbara

Before staging this luxury living room looks dark and cluttered.

Before staging, this living room looks cluttered and dark.

From creating curb appeal to cleaning and styling, here are 20 things you can do that will increase your chances of a successful sale:

  • Curb Appeal

    When it comes to the importance of staging a home, curb appeal tops the list of reasons why. You only have one chance to make a first impression with prospective buyers, so the power of curb appeal is something to take seriously. Many buyers will drive by a home first to decide if it’s worth a look. At the very least, make sure you power wash your home’s siding and walkways, plant fresh flowers and greenery, mow the lawn and wash your windows.

  • Create an inviting entryway

    You want to create a space that says, “Welcome Home.” Repaint or stain your porch floor to welcome buyers. Consider the front door. Does it need painting? At least add a new doormat and some blooming potted plants. If there’s room, include a piece of outside furniture. Keep your porch light on in case a buyer does a drive-by at night, and add solar lights to your front walkway.
  • Clean every inch

    Put your best foot forward with shiny floors, clean windows, scrubbed grout and sparking counters. Even closets and drawers need to be considered. Hire the pros to do the dirty work, especially if you have a large home. Whatever you do, don’t skimp on this step.
A bright and airy kitchen in a home for sale

Kitchen after staging.

A kitchen that does not look polished in a home for sale

Kitchen before staging.

  • Get rid of the clutter and update the space

    Getting rid of excess stuff can help your home sell faster, while updating a room can make or break a sale. It’s the little details that matter. Check out the before and after images of the kitchen above and you’ll see how doing both can actually make a huge difference. You want to create a space where buyers can see themselves living. Get off-site storage if you need to, but whatever you do, “move it or lose it.”
  • Create a balance

    You want your home to look super clean but also lived in. Use vases of cut flowers from your garden for that special touch, and keep a basket filled with local products on your kitchen counter. (We do have amazing local produce so why not show it off?) Even adding a simple bowl of fresh lemons gives your kitchen that lived-in look.
  • Don’t overlook your dining room table

    Go ahead and set the dining room table with your finest. Otherwise, the entire space will look empty and uninviting.
  • Do your floors need help?

    Take a look at your floors and give them a thorough cleaning. I’m talking area rugs, too. If you need to, have the floors refinished.
  • Arrange your furniture to highlight the space

    Do you need to rearrange your furniture? If you have too much stuff, take some items out and decorate in pairs, like the picture above, to create an inviting space.
  • Gender Neutral Bedrooms

    Think gender-neutral when it comes to bedrooms, especially your master. You’ll never be in the wrong if you have clean, crisp linens, tasteful art, and a cozy blanket at the foot of each bed; all in neutral colors.

READ: How to Declutter Your Home: Tips from a Luxury Realtor

  • Clean up the kid’s toys

    If you have children, try your best to keep their toys organized. It’s best to have everything neatly put away when staging a home for sale and potential buyers come through.
  • Make sure extra rooms are not dumping places

    Pay attention to each space. Even if you normally use an extra room or your garage for storage, don’t do it when staging a home for sale. You want to leave space for potential buyers to see themselves in your home and what they could do in every room.
  • Add a pedestal sink

    Buyers love pedestal sinks. I love them too, especially in a small bathroom because they make the space look larger.
  • Personal accents

    Even though you need to get rid of everything personal, a few accents here and there are a nice touch, especially in the bathroom. Think white fluffy robes, new lush towels, bars of fresh soap and be sure to empty the trash.
  • Pique curiosity

    Just by placing something at the top of the stairs (like a plant), or in corners and halls can keep potential buyers interested in seeing the whole house. A beautiful piece of artwork, a cozy window seat, fresh flowers, a chandelier are all good ways to pique curiosity.
  • Put awkward areas to good use

    You know that area under the stairs that usually sits empty? Get creative and find a way to make it useful. Maybe create a workstation, add some shelving, or use it for your home command center.
  • Get rid of pet odors

    Get your furniture steam cleaned and be vigilant about vacuuming and washing your pet’s bedding. Don’t leave your pet at home alone when you have potential buyers coming through.

READ: 6 Ways to Improve The Indoor Air Quality of Your Home

  • Showcase the Santa Barbara lifestyle

    When considering the importance of staging a home, there’s something we who live in Santa Barbara have in common: we all love our Santa Barbara indoor-outdoor lifestyle. So why not show it off? Open your windows, let the sunshine in, hang a hammock in your backyard. There’s so much to love about living here, so go ahead and show it off.
  • Stage your backyard, too

    Whatever features you have in your backyard, whether it’s a fountain or an outdoor kitchen, show it off. You want prospective buyers to see themselves enjoying the space.
  • Celebrate the season

    I said season, not holiday. You don’t want to put up lots of holiday decorations, but you do want to celebrate the season. In the spring and summer, make sure your garden is in beautiful shape and that your pool and fire pit are both clean. In the fall and winter, build a fire in the fireplace and have some hot apple cider simmering on your stove.
  • Go neutral

    When it comes to paint colors, go with rich mid-tone neutrals. Make sure everything looks pulled together, even your throw pillow.

Considering a move? I hope these tips help you understand the importance of staging a home, and help you get started when the time comes. If you list your home with me, I can put my professional stager to work making your home look Pinterest-ready. Just give me a call at (805) 886-9378 or email me at We can tour any of these homes for sale while we’re staging and selling your property.

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Client Reviews

“It was an emotional experience selling our mother’s home in Montecito that we all loved so much but Cristal made the process easier on our whole family by guiding us through the transaction every step of the way. She knows the market so well and everything she recommended was on point including the asking price, painting, and staging the home, which looked beautiful and helped the buyer envision her new home. We sold it the first day it hit the market with an offer above asking! Cristal did an incredible job communicating with us and the buyer to ensure that the transaction would run smoothly. We highly recommend using Cristal, she was a pleasure to work with! ”

- J & A

“Cristal is a pleasure to work with! Her knowledge of the local real estate market coupled with her amazing listening skills resulted in her showing us an array of homes that were all excellent choices. Her low-pressure patient attitude made us feel extremely comfortable with the whole process. I cannot recommend her highly enough.”

- M.F.

“Cristal Clarke is #1 in her field - and you don't become #1 by luck. Cristal works harder, and longer, and with more charm and patience than any real estate agent I have ever worked with in the past; her calendar has no weekend, her days have no clocks, her only concern is selling your property as soon as possible and for the best price on the market. Am I a fan? You bet!”

- P.B.

“We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

- T.C.

“Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”

- D.R.

“I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

- M.A.

“Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

- D.K.

“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

- Johan and Paula van den Berg

“Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

- John and Lacey Williams

“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

- Rob & Judi Kelch