Before You List, Must-do Showing Tips

Staging pro Sharon Brown with Homescapes by Design in Roseville, Minn., offers her clients a checklist before they list their home for sale. The point of the checklist is to make sure the home is show-ready before the for-sale sign goes up and the first potential buyer walks through the door, and even before photos are snapped for the MLS.

The following are the changes Brown most recommends to her clients in getting a home ready to list:

1. De-cluttering and removal of all personal pictures and items. Have the buyer to see the space as something they could own. Too many personal items crowded in a space makes that a challenge for buyers and clutter can detract from the features of a home.

2. New neutral, good quality rugs.

3. Re-painting several rooms into neutral colors, if needed.

4. Replacing and updating lighting fixtures.

5. Make any small repairs (or big ones if needed).

6. Purchase of matching appliances in the kitchen for a cohesive, finished look.

7. Update major furniture (furniture can be rented for the duration of the sale).

8. Move furniture to show the rooms to their best advantage, including moving very large furniture out of rooms to give them a more spacious feel

9. Incorporate decorative details that help give the home an inviting, finished feel. See the before and after photos below.

Before: Over-cluttered family room, with outdated furniture

Photo Credit: Florida High Performance Green House,

After: Staged, de-cluttered room with more updated furniture.

Before: Overloaded kitchen counters and dated decor


Photo credit: Sharon Brown, Homescapes by Design

After: Completely clean counters (counterspace sells kitchens!).

Melissa Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, writing about home & design trends, technology, and sales and marketing. She manages the magazine's award-winning Styled, Staged & Sold blog.

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  1. Remember that neutral doesn’t always mean beige. Try gray. I’ve done that at several properties with much success.

  2. Thank You this will be helpful to pass along to sellers

  3. Sharon is simply one of the BEST stagers we have worked with. Clients love her and I have seen the checklists first hand that she gives to the clients. She is one in a million and we are very luck to be working with her!!!!!!!

  4. Maryann Guertin

    Nice ,good start for agents, with a client that needs to remove clutter, and redo the house for showings.

  5. Pearl says:
    It would be GREAT if sellers have the money to do big repairs……and buy matchy-matchy appliances…..and paint..etc.let alone BUY or RENT updated furniture.
    Most who are selling now in the MetroWest area of Boston cannot ,due to low funds; hence, the reason for selling their home in the first place.
    It is necessary, however, to explain to them the magic of soap, water, and cleaning fluids! Clutter is free to hide ( better still, discard); cat liitter boxes….free to clean……
    I believe our biggest job, after those things mentioned above, is to prepare your buyers….and if another agent is showing your listing, prepare them! Don’t be lazy.
    A litlle conversation goes a long way.

  6. Great and useful tips. Thank you for sharing!