Psst! What’s Your ‘Secret’ Staging Tip?

What are your secret weapons in prepping a home prior to a showing and making it shine? Do you rub baby oil to make stainless steel shine? Or have you used kitty litter to try to remove oil stains on the driveway? As real estate and staging professionals, you’ve undoubtedly discovered several tricks of the trade in making a house shine and quick fixes to removing stains. Have you discovered a natural remedy for getting floors, faucets, windows, and mirrors to shine? What’s your trick for getting a more pleasing smell in your listing? What solutions have you found for removing stains?

Share your tricks of the trade in prepping a home for a showing! Your submissions will be considered for an upcoming article in REALTOR(R) Magazine. E-mail writer Melissa Dittmann Tracey,, and please include your staging tip as well as your contact information.

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. Paint the cement in the garage (sometimes basement) with 2-step epoxy paint like California Paint’s Tuf-On. Base color goes on, then flakes of pigment are added to the wet paint. The final product looks great-does away with most imbedded stains; it wears fabulously and elevates the space-buyers linger, really marveling at this!

  2. Will Baldwin

    I have specialized in New Construction Sales since I first began selling real estate. I work with several custom home builders and a large portion of my inventory has always been new construction spec homes. As the market became more challenging, and days on the market increased, the need for creativity in marketing these homes was crucial. I found that furniture placement was one of the biggest hurdles home buyers faced when looking at vacant homes. We started eliminating as many variables as we could. Whether we used a full service home staging company or in some cases simply placing faux cardboard furnishings in a home, it was amazing to see the drastic decrease in the amount of time it took to sell the home! I believe the main family/living area is the most crucial, followed by the master bedroom.
    After staging my first new construction home, the buyers would now walk in to the house and not be distracted with trying to mentally configure how they would place their furnishings. Buyers are instantly able to evaluate the home itself, its quality, amenities, value and its overall fit for what they are looking for in a home. My goal in every listing, whether new or resale, is to keep the home as depersonalized as possible. I try to create a warm inviting atmosphere that allows the buyers to see themselves living in that home. I give special efforts to make the home appear as maintenece free as possible, so a buyer feels like all they have to do is move in. I am also a firm believer in a listing being as clean as absolutely possible for every showing. Bathrooms and Kitchens should be as clean as a hospital operating room. A buyer can overlook a number of small issues if the home appears to clean and well cared for. Again, even cleaning goes back to depersonalizing the home in the mind of the buyer. Dirt and wear reminds the buyer that this is someone else’s home and makes it more difficult for them attach themselves or visualize themselves living there.

  3. Never leave home without a Magic Eraser. It will clean every problem spot inside and outside the home. I have removed stains and built up dirt from tubs, walls, old vinyl, etc. The best part is they are only about a buck apiece!

  4. Less is more! Always pre-pack. It makes rooms look lighter, brighter and bigger. Murphy’s oil soap on kitchen cabinets or other wood, strap the water heater, and paint any dark or heavily colored walls more of a neutral color. Curb appeal does make a difference. Make sure the entry is inviting from the outside. Little brightly colored flowers that are freshly planted. Clean up that front door and green up the grass.

  5. Also for the real “fixer uppers” we just hire a staging and cleaning service. The professional design eye does way more for staging than i could ever do.

  6. My secret is a thorough cleaning by my favorite cleaning professional. I don’t mean just a once over, I mean Q-tip clean.