Staging: Mistakes Sellers Make & how to avoid them!

Staging may help determine how easily a home will sell, and luckily it’s one of the few factors that Sellers have control over. With a little guidance, you can get your home marketing and buyer ready. I’m not talking about major renovations—think deep-cleaning, un-cluttering, and maybe a fresh coat of paint. The point of preparing your home for marketing (staging) is to remove anything that will distract a buyer from all the great things your home has to offer. *Warning—in a competitive real estate market, it’s easy to go overboard. Here are a few of the biggest missteps I’ve seen Sellers make in preparing to list their homes:
1. DON’T BE DULL: are you selling a hotel room? No? Then a home shouldn’t look like a hotel! The purpose of staging is not to make the home boring and bland. The goal of staging is to get the potential buyer to feel that the home looks nice, comfortable and REAL, although incredibly neat. Listing agents typically prefer boring over cluttered and crazy, but a few spots of color photograph well and will stand out in listing pictures. Simple touches add subtle interest, like a colorful throw pillow or a bowl of fresh fruit—just don’t go too wild. Be careful when it comes to painting. Neutral colors or “soft colors” are always preferable, choose one color that will fit in all areas, most buyers want to select their own future color schemes for bedrooms and bathrooms, so give them a neutral canvas to start with and choose a color they can live with for awhile.
2. The SMELL of your home is important! Buyers bring all their senses to a showing, so when you’re listing your home, be aware of how the house smells as well as how it looks. No one wants a home to smell like last night’s spicy meal, but many Sellers overcompensate with potpourri and air fresheners. Beware of overwhelming a serious buyer with seriously strong scents. A home should smell fresh and clean, but not heavily perfumed. A seller’s best bet is to invest in a deep clean to remove lingering smells and avoid cooking anything too potent during the listing time period.
3. THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Ditch the tunes. Mood music backfires more often than not. You can’t guess the buyer’s musical tastes, and it can make some buyers feel like they’re being manipulated.
4. BEWARE of the ELEPHANT GRAVEYARD. Sometimes it’s necessary for you to move out before the house sells. If you have to take your best furniture and possessions with you to a new home, don’t leave behind the furniture you no longer want. In a sparsely furnished house, it’s even more important that the pieces left behind are tasteful or completely empty. The old sectional sofa sitting forlornly in an empty living room will just make the house feel abandoned. The house should be well furnished or completely empty, not somewhere in between.
5. DON’T WASTE MONEY ON THE “WRONG” RENOVATIONS. Many Sellers undertake huge projects right before they sell. Perhaps the bathroom is outdated, and they’ve always wanted to fix it up. But it’s hard for you to guess which renovations will provide the greatest return on investment. Small touches like new cabinet hardware or new light fixtures may go a long way toward making the home feel up to date, without doing a major renovation costing tens of thousands of dollars. Even desirable renovations of kitchens and baths NEVER return 100% of their cost when the house is sold. Sellers should depend on the savvy listing agent to help figure out how much updating is needed so the home will sell easily in the current market.
6. REMOVE CLUTTER, Don’t Just Move It Around. I say this to virtually every client, when it comes to selling a home, LESS IS MORE! An uncluttered home makes listing photos more attractive, which translates to more showings, and it makes the house feel open and airy. But it rarely works to try to hide the clutter. A serious buyer will explore the basement, open up your closets, and even look under your sink. So it’s important to get rid of or store extra belongings, furniture and clothing. It might seem like a lot of work, but it will make it easier to move out once you get an acceptable offer. A cluttered, messy house is often mentioned by buyers as a negative and alternatively, a clean, uncluttered house is cited as a reason for selecting one house over another.

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