Real Estate

Secrets to Home Staging: 8 Mistakes That Turn Off Potential Buyers

published Oct 29, 2014
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(Image credit: Kim Lucian)

Home staging is a tricky thing. It’s not just about making a good impression. It’s about helping people visualize themselves happily living in what is currently your own home. Do it well and you facilitate the sale of your property. Do it poorly, and you alienate potential buyers, and fail to sell when you really need or want to. Here are eight errors and pitfalls to avoid in the process…

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  1. Forgo Cleaning: Your own dirt and dust is one thing. But nothing is more unwelcoming than other people’s messes. Before you open your doors, make sure the dust bunnies, cobwebs, and soap scum are wiped clean and clear.
  2. Forget to De-Clutter: Don’t allow potential buyers to become distracted by looking at all your fridge magnets, your bubble pen collection, or your huge stack of unpaid bills. You want your home to appear as bright, calm, big, and light as possible. Edit your belongings down to the essentials, and nothing more — including books, knick knacks, accessories and even furniture.
  3. Over Personalize: Remove your grandmother’s photo from the bedside table, take down the crucifix, and hide that nude portrait you had commissioned of your partner. Don’t give anyone the opportunity to raise an eyebrow at your taste, or disagree with your politics or religion. You want them to identify with your home, and not give them any reminder that this is your residence vs. their potential new home.
  4. Paint Everything Beige: It’s fine to keep things neutral — not everyone will love your orange bathroom after all. That doesn’t mean everything must be brown and blah. Choose to paint in a shade that’s not overwhelming and specific, but still complements the decor.
  5. Push Everything To the Walls: Shoving all your furniture away from the middle of the room is both a decorating and a staging faux pas. While you think the move makes a room look bigger, it actually just makes everything look odd. Float furniture instead, or choose layouts that emphasize the function and natural flow of the rooms.
  6. Overlook Minor Flaws & Repairs: If you have a hole to patch, or a rusty faucet — both of which are easy to take care of — just do it before you start showing your home. The goal is to clear any mental barriers to seeing and wanting your home – you don’t want people to be making to-do lists in their mind while they are touring the home. It’s exhausting.
  7. Ignore Sense of Smell: Smoke and pet odors are really hard to hide — much more so than a loose floorboard. Take care to air out the house, and do your best to banish the most offensive. Don’t however try to cover up weird aromas with even weirder cloying and heavy fragrances that aren’t of this earth.
  8. Overstuff the Closets: It may be a knee jerk reaction to throw all your belongings into your storage spaces, but don’t forget: buyers look in there too! They are interested in how much clothing and gear. Don’t make closets look smaller than they are by cramming them with too much stuff.