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4 Common Staging Mistakes

I see a lot of homes weekly, both online and in-person. Many times, these homes are already listed for sale, and the world is viewing the pictures.

Every home on the market can be stunning. If you avoid these pitfalls, you’ll be attracting prospective buyers to a showing instead of scaring them away.

1. Ignoring the Exterior

Unless you’re selling a luxury condominium, the first picture on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) of a home for sale is generally the front of the home. This is the first picture prospective buyers will see; use it to encourage these buyers to keep scrolling through the rest of the home and ultimately schedule a showing.

Unfortunately, many sellers focus on staging the interior of the home and forget the exterior. Some of the most common mistakes include:

  • No color on the front porch, in the beds, or around the front door. The initial picture just shows a house, with nothing to help it stand out.
  • Too much color on the front porch, in the beds, or around the front door. Some plants are fine; include too many plans, and the buyer may be turned off without even realizing why.
  • Faded front doors or shutters. Any maintenance items that aren’t completed, even if they are just cosmetic, imply that the homeowners haven’t taken incredible care of the home.

Basic patio furniture on the front and back porches and decks. Dress these up with bright, new outdoor cushions.

2. Not Pre-Packing Enough

When prospective buyers are checking out homes on Zillow, the smallest items will stop their scroll and distract them. You want buyers to fall in love without even realizing they are falling in love, and that requires you to remove a few key items from your home.

While the full list of items that should be pre-packed is longer than I can include, these are my particular pet peeves:

  • In the kitchen: Refrigerator magnets and papers, dish towels on the oven handle, and any food with a brand name (think cereals or the like). These items stop my scrolling in its tracks.
  • In bathrooms: Shampoos, toothpastes or toothbrushes. Buyers don’t want to be reminded that someone lives in the home when they’re considering buying it.
  • In the dining room: Any china cabinets with specific themes (think Disney, superheroes, etc.) should be emptied out. You can then add finishing touches recommended by your stager.

3. Leaving Your Home Sterile

On the flip side, it is definitely possible to pre-pack too much, and leave your home with no personality. When you’re taking down personal photos or items that may not speak to all buyers, in some cases, you’ll want to replace those items with something new.

Buyers feel the difference when you’ve left just a couch in the living room, or a table and chairs in the dining area because you had nothing else to leave.

Not convinced that you can pre-pack too much? You’ll want to read this previous blog post.

4. Not Enough or Too Much Color

My final pet peeve may sound a little bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears. How much color is just right?

The quick answer: it depends on your home.

The more detailed answer: Keep the color off the walls. Add it back in through pops of color in the finishing décor. If you love reds, greens, wallpapers, and more, you’ll want to edit those colors as you’re preparing your home for sale.

Painting alone can raise the price of your home. Most buyers will overestimate the amount of money they’ll spend on any repairs or cosmetic changes, and they’ll automatically deduct that estimate from their offer to you.

When you paint over the colors you loved, you may feel that your home is no longer your home. That’s true. The goal, however, is to find the next buyer to love your home, and that means it’s time for you to move your colors out.

Want some more details about how to choose the right colors? I love this summary from Amy Wax.

The Finishing Touches

As you prepare a home or listing for sale, keep these “staging no-nos” at the forefront. And if you need specific advice for your home… please keep us in mind. We’re ready to help.

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