First impressions are everything–especially in real estate. When buyers tour a home it better looks its best, or buyers will quickly move on to the next. To help you out, we rounded up a list of 10 low-cost staging tips that have used price-conscious or zero-cost strategies to make your listing look great without breaking the bank.

Real estate agents often use physical or virtual staging to breathe new life into homes or to give the listing an edge on a competitive market. Furnishing the space helps potential buyers visualize their life within the walls. And, bonus points, staged properties sell on average 73% faster than non staged homes.

Downside? Staging isn’t cheap. Professionally staging a home will run you around $2,200/month. That’s quite the expense for a stale listing.

1. Clutter-Free

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The last thing you want when you’re showing a home is for personal items (ahem, toothbrushes) to distract your clients. You want potential buyers to envision their own belongings in the space, not fixate on the current owner’s hair filled hairbrush.

In occupied homes, it is crucial that sellers are on board with hiding clutter and personal belongings when it’s time for photography and showings.

 2. Furniture That Fits the Space

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It’s probably common sense that a 600 sq ft condo shouldn’t be furnished with the same living room furniture as a 2,500 sq ft family home. When working with a smaller space, consider the appropriate size of furniture for space. Oversized furniture makes rooms feel crowded and well-sized furniture creates the illusion of a larger space.

If your client already has a living room set, think about splitting up the sofa and loveseat into two separate rooms to maximize resources and space. Also, discuss rearranging furniture in order to create the best flow of the space.

3. Minimalistic Decor

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Less really is more when it comes to staging. You want to keep the focus on the bones of the house, not the superficial decorations. “Marie Kondo” the space to appeal to a larger group of potential buyers. You’ll receive more positive feedback from Millennials on your listing with a minimalist approach.

4. Knockoff Designer Furniture 

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We all know that the best in furniture design doesn’t come cheap, yet so many staged homes look like a million bucks. The trick is to buy a replica of the real thing.

Mid-Century Modern design is making a huge comeback recently, and for the property that needs a little something extra, there are a plethora of inexpensive alternatives to the $500 original Eames chair. Even better if your client already has their own replicas (or better yet originals!) to display.

5. Real House Plants

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There are many benefits to real plants versus fake ones. For starters, fake plants are actually more expensive than their living counterparts. You can buy real house plants at your local Home Depot for under $20. Also, live house plants won’t become dusty over time (not cute!).

Plants are perfect for vacant and non-vacant houses, they add life to any space. You can even give them to the buyer as a congratulatory gift once the deal is closed.

6. Neutral Rooms

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It’s difficult to envision how you are going to style the guest bedroom when it’s painted bubblegum pink with ‘Princess’ hanging over the bed. Moral of the story: Buyers want to be able to walk into a room and not have to worry about all of the things they will have to change later on.

Your clients might resist painting before listing, but it is best practice to prepare a neutral space.  White walls might seem dull, but they act as a metaphorical blank canvas for buyers to paint their life onto.

7. A Lived-In Feel

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There is a fine line between a house that feels over-staged (cue the giant bowl of 20 lemons in the dining room), and a well-curated home. Adding thoughtful accessories makes the house feel lived in and more attractive to buyers.

The key is to be authentic. Think of what you would actually use in the space, like beautiful utensils or local magazines (pictured above). It is a good idea to keep a stash of staging items handy for final touches–A stack of books or a lit candle goes a long way.

8. Natural Light

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Do not underestimate the power of ambient lighting. Place furniture around windows so sunlight can shine through and brighten up the room. Sunlight in a home can physiologically influence our happiness without us even knowing. If you have a killer view, be sure to show it off by positioning furniture so it is the focal point of the room.

If your client has dark window treatments, switch to a sheer white option or remove them altogether. Letting in daylight will immediately elevate the space.

9. Mirror, Mirror

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Mirrors create the illusion of a larger space, making even the smallest rooms feel open and inviting. Mirrors reflect the light in the room and intensify its design power. Plus, they are useful! Also, their achromous nature lends itself to any interior style, so no need to worry about clashing.

Oversized mirrors can be expensive but overstock stores like Homegoods have great options at serious discounts. Plus, they can be reused for future staging.

10. Al Fresco Approved

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Residential architects have ranked outdoor living spaces as the no. 1 “special function” room amongst consumers. Potential buyers see outdoor areas as an extension of living space and should be staged accordingly.

Investing in a small patio set for staging purposes if your client doesn’t own one might get the listing sold even faster. Extra points if you add a nice bouquet of fresh flowers.

BONUS TIP: A Photogenic Pet

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Photos with a furry friend can benefit both yourself and your client. For your client, it’s a thoughtful memento they can share on their Facebook and Instagram. For you, it’s another way to market the listing. PlanOmatic photographers are always happy to snap a shot of your pet upon request.

Staging a home can be hard work, and it can take some creativity to get results without breaking the bank. Investing time into your listing upfront will get you a bigger commission in the end. Let’s not forget that staged properties sell for 73% more money. With numbers like that, it would be a shame not to put in the effort. We hope you enjoyed our 10 low-cost staging tips–hopefully, you can implement at least a few for your listing.