How to Sell A House Naked (Home Staging)

This might be surprising coming from a professional home stager, but not every house should be fully and completely staged.  Especially for adult children who sell their parents homes or when a family must leave due to job transfer, selling an empty or “naked” home might be one viable option.  If you decide to sell a house without staging it, here are 9 things you should be sure to do.

I visited a home this weekend that is for sale, and it is completely empty.  (If this link is broken, that means the home is off the market, but keep reading.) This home has so much character in the architectural details, close proximity to neighborhood services, and amenities on the lot like a garage and rented carriage house.  The family recently did some major upgrades like refinishing the hardwood floors and replacing the roof.  They cleared everything out except the window treatments.  They made sure it was clean and move in ready.  Although there are some great changes that could be made by a future buyer, it’s not cost effective to remove wallpaper on three floors and replace a kitchen.  Quite frankly, there are so many wonderful remodel scenarios, my head is still spinning.  Although the family could command a higher price and sell immediately (in a neighborhood where same-day sales happen frequently), they are opting to save their mental energy and price it appropriately.

If you go this route:

Be sure it is deep cleaned.  There is a difference between walking into an old home that has “potential” and one that has “character.”  You want to be the house where people stand and dream about how they can easily make it their own, not where they feel they have to remodel just to get rid of the grime.

Remove every personal item, especially pictures.  Don’t leave that family portrait just because it always hung there while you were growing up, you think it makes the house look more lived in, or because it is covering a crack or stain in the wall.

Nothing says character like a curved wall!


Leave the lighting.  60% of your showings might be in the evenings and on weekends, so be sure to leave lighting in the room.  Buy floor lamps if you need them.  They are a cheap investment.

how to sell a house naked (home staging)


Make sure all the repair and maintenance items are cared for, and be sure the place is really clean.  Showers and bathroom caulk are often telltale spots that show how the home is being maintained.

All clean and clear.


Even if you think or know the market would like to see an updated kitchen or bath, if it’s not in your budget, don’t try to do the job halfway.  Just be sure the space is as open, bright, and clean as it could be, and price appropriately for the market and the required upgrades.

how to sell a house naked (home staging)
This kitchen is ready for an upgrade, but is also move-in ready.


Know your stuff.  Be ready to talk to realtors or potential buyers about important details like taxes, major systems like electric, roof, and HVAC, and the neighborhood.

how to sell a house naked (home staging)
I couldn’t get in to see the carriage house apartment. Be sure buyers can access all areas of the property during open houses. It just might seal the deal.


Clear out every space, especially basements and garages.  Don’t use your hot property as your storage locker.  You want people to be able to know that these spaces are safe, dry and cared for.  It gives the impression that the rest of the house is cared for, as well.

how to sell a house naked (home staging)
Clear basements, garages, and storage spaces completely.


Highlight fabulous positives to offset the negatives you may have to live with.  In this case, the rooms are big and have newly resurfaced floors, which offsets the fact that every room is wallpapered.  The wallpaper may not suit everyone, but it is neutral, clean and in generally good condition.

how to sell a house naked (home staging)
Fabulous floors!


Did I mention cleaning?  HomeGain’s surveys report that cleaning a home prior to sale is the best bang for your buck, with a return on investment of nearly 600%,  especially in an older home.  This property was 120+ years old, but all of the surfaces were sparkling.  Move-in ready is what you want.

how to sell a house naked (home staging)

Every home, every neighborhood and every sale is unique, even if you are in a modern development.  Apply the strategy that appeals to you, has the best ROI, and will bring you the best results.