Staging Mistakes

Staging Mistakes To Avoid So You Can Sell Your Home Faster

When Sellers ask us here at Solutions for advice, it’s usually because they’ve read the latest magazines or watched HGTV and the many shows targeting fixer uppers or DIY projects, but just don’t know where to begin when it comes to listing their own home.

stage-furnitureThe first thing to remember is that they’ll no longer be living there so Sellers need to step back from the personal and strive to create a neutral palette that will allow Buyers to picture themselves in the home instead – you can’t do that with orange shag carpet in the living room or shocking pink walls in the bathrooms.

Staging is marketing. Try to avoid all the same color in each room – listing photos won’t pop and Buyers looking online will pass your house by. Instead, excite with contrasts – a pop of red on a beige couch or a splash of yellow in an otherwise white bedroom. Designing to live is very different than staging to sell.

Staging is about creating the look that will appeal to the most number of active Buyers and brokers in the price point that you’re selling, both online and in person. Get Buyers excited enough online to set the appointment and be thrilled in person to buy it.

Below are some things to keep in mind as you set the stage for your Buyers:

Seller staging choices

Sellers need to be involved in the staging process — it builds their trust and creates a sense of teamwork.

Adding a professional stager to this team will help streamline the process. Agents know what Buyers are looking for as well as what the competition looks like. Remember — Staging is marketing.

Keep Things Clean

Need inexpensive ways to prepare your home for the market? Clean, clean, clean. Scrub everything. Rent a carpet shampooer if necessary. The small investment and resulting sweet smell is worth every penny.

Too little furniture

Decluttering and reducing furniture is key to good staging — however, make sure you don’t remove so much that the home feels empty or cold.

Balance maximizing a sense of space with creating living rooms and master bedrooms that are inviting and warm environments.

Try to stick with three large pieces at most per room to keep the house feeling big and open.

Minimal or modern decor

It’s easy for novice stagers to go super modern without warming touches or be too minimal with furniture. 

Capture a blend of styles with a clean warm contemporary look and add accessories and pillows that soften the room. Rounded tables also break up rectilinear spaces and provide flow.

Bad paint choices or jobs

Old chipped paint sends a message that the home is not well looked after. Intense colors will turn many buyers off.

Choose neutral color pallets like linen-whites or greys, contrasted with decorator white trim and neutrals that are warm and welcoming.

Flat color palette

Many Buyers will subconsciously avoid homes where color schemes of walls, carpets and furniture match each other too closely.

Buyers won’t know why they don’t like the home, but they won’t. Think contrasts.

Themes or over personalized

Less is usually more in home staging. Keep decor simple, and definitely dismantle theme rooms.

Don’t over-personalize your decor. If you know your house is going on the market in the next few years, be mindful of design choices when you remodel, or you could decrease your pool of buyers. For example, don’t choose a countertop with grape details or cat paw prints.

Old or stained wall-to-wall carpeting

Carpets retain smells, and old carpets turn people off. For wall-to-wall carpeted rooms, get a professional cleaner in or test a small area to check the floors beneath. If the flooring is beautiful, then clean it up, and add an area rug.

No carpets or area rugs

On the other hand, many Sellers with young children remove their prized carpets to protect them from getting damaged in the early years. But that presents a problem when selling a home.

Furniture placed on wood or stone floors without an area rug appear to just float as though someone left and forgot to finish off the room.

Avoid letting living spaces look cold and college like.

Too much fabulous art and collectibles

Art in a home is great. However, if there’s too much art, Buyers will experience the home like a museum or a junk shop.

Select and place art and family photos with the intention of drawing the Buyer’s eye around the room in a harmonious manner. Years of art on walls will pull focus away from the home and lower offers.

The 3-foot-5-foot rule

Keep surfaces in the 3-foot to 5-foot range, such as on coffee tables, credenzas and dining table, clear of clutter. Some stagers love to bring tall vases and place them everywhere, but don’t let them.

Although it can add flare, unconsciously, too much visual interruption from where you enter a living space to the windows (which is where Buyers’ eyes go first) will make the room feel small and cluttered.

Let Buyers’ eyes flow easily in a diagonal across the room, interruption-free.

Too many toys and books

Many clients have children, and in small spaces, toys and books overtake apartments quickly. Parents get nervous about removing their toddler’s toys from the home for fear it will upset their children.

Have parents declutter the room slowly, and children won’t miss their toys. Make it a game of choosing the best for now, and they’ll pick their special toys then let the rest go, which will deliver a higher sale price.

Don’t Misuse Spaces

Bedrooms should be bedrooms, not closets or catchall rooms. Patios should be staged as relaxing outdoor spaces, not left empty or as toy storage.

Stuffing clutter into closets

Don’t stuff your closets full of laundry, toys, odds, and ends right before a showing. Potential Buyers will definitely want to know how much storage space your home has, so no closet will be safe for concealing messes. If you’re in a pinch, a last-ditch effort to hide a mess is under a bed.

Lack of curb appeal

First impressions count. Whether it’s the front foyer or the driveway that needs a little updating, spend the money. A bad first impression is hard to recover from.

If you do nothing else to prepare your house for the market, tend to your yard. Rake the leaves. Clean up flower gardens. Trim shrubs. Power wash your driveway. Sweep your sidewalks and porches. You don’t want to lose any showings because drive-by shoppers can’t get past the mess at the curb.

The same goes for backyard landscaping. Make sure things are alive, fresh and dead plants are removed.

Even if you have overlooked needed home repairs for years, potential Buyers will see every one of them. Fix that cracked window pane. Replace the broken doorknob. Paint the fence. A little sweat equity goes a long way in real estate.

No plants

Plants bring a sense of life into a home. Don’t forget to add new flowers and a few strategically placed plants in living spaces. Small orchids make a great eye-catcher in bathrooms.

Succulents can also offer a nice dining table centerpiece requiring little care during the showing process.

Putting a few freshly potted plants on the front porch can make a big impact – it reminds Buyers that your house is cared for, so they won’t worry that you’re also ignoring what they can’t see.

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Charles McDonald
Charles McDonald
Charlottesville Solutions
2013 Woodbrook Court, Charlottesville VA 22901
REALTOR® - Licensed to sell Real Estate in Virginia
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