How to Stage a House 101: You Can Totally Mess Up Your Sale in a Hot Real Estate Market

Finally!!  The real estate market is showing signs of improvement in this busy fall market!   Behind the spring season, fall is the best time of year to list your house because the buyers are active again after a long summer vacation from house hunting.  This makes for a seriously sweet combination for you, my dear seller.  But, you can’t afford to get too big for your britches.  You still need to think strategically because it is much rarer to have several buyers bidding up the price of your house and you getting to pick and choose among all of those worthy offers.   Let’s avoid heartbreak and stress and make sure we aren’t taking the market and your buyers for granted.

You can’t afford to be cocky

This is less a mistake than a mindset that can cause you to make several errors in judgement and potentially sabotage your sale.  Your job is to sell one house and one house only and until you have done that, you cannot afford to make the following assumptions:

  • Buyer’s would die to have a house like yours
  • You can list your house for a higher price because you bought at the height of the market
  • Because the neighbor’s house got multiple offers, yours will too.
  • Because you are the only house listed in your neighborhood, you don’t really need to prep or stage it.

Buyers are still the same beast they were a year ago.  They are committed to finding a house that fits their needs and shows beautifully.  It is still a beauty contest out there so you must put in some work before you list.  The time and money you invest will truly be worth it.

Listen to your Realtor on price

I can’t tell you how many of my clients have actually told their Realtor what price to list their house at and then totally regretted it.  If you take your time hiring the right Realtor, then you should absolutely let them take the lead on price.  Don’t hire them for their expertise and then ignore them.  That is so uncool!  Remember, if your asking price is below what you think it should be and is even slightly under the comps, your house is going to be extremely attractive to buyers and increases your chance for a bidding war.   There is an actual method to the pricing madness so breathe deep and just go with it!

Give your buyers space

Get out of the house for showings and open houses!  When we bought our house, the seller, who was lovely, walked us through the house both times we came over to look at it.  It was extremely uncomfortable because we didn’t want to discuss how we would place our furniture in “her” rooms; explore closets and cupboards; and we couldn’t be really candid about what we were thinking along the way.  It still felt like it was her house and we were just guests.  So the mental leap to consider it ours was staggering!

Be a student of the game

One comfort you may find in the real estate transaction is that you are ultimately in the driver’s seat of your sale and you don’t have to accept a low offer if you don’t want to.  See what you can negotiate!  It is remarkable what can be accomplished when both sides are willing to find common ground.  Also, if your house looks amazing, the online listing is awesome and the asking price is set correctly, you may end up with other offers that you can leverage to bump up the price of a lower offer.  This can totally be a chess game.  A great Realtor gets that and can help you make the right next move.

Related Posts:

How To Stage A House 101:  6 Habits of Highly Successful Sellers

How To Stage A House 101: 3 Real Estate Photography Tips That Sell

How To Stage A House 101: 3 Big Staging Myths


  1. Lori,
    great recommendation about listening to your realtor when pricing your home – I could not agree more! When we sold our house, we in fact did have to breath deeply when our realtor recommended an asking price…..very deep. But we trusted her! When we got our first offer, my immediate impulse was………darn it, we should have asked for more. However this offer came on DAY 6 of listing our home; we sold in record time. We also were staged and the Mrs. was miltant with keeping the home looking its best, even with several young kids – you never know when the agent may call for a showing.

    Great website and blog!

    • Lori Fischer says:


      thank you so much for telling us about your story! you bring up a HUGE point about price. you really have to look at price from two perspectives. the first is to try to get your desired price which is what most sellers focus on. the other is the price that will get it sold–even though it makes you queasy–so that you reduce your costs to keep the house on the market (mortgage, insurance, utilities, maintenance, you reduce the amount of time you are stuck needing to be militant (love that image, btw!) about keeping your house immaculate or being told at any minute that you need to be out of the house for a showing. thanks for sharing!


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