Just Don't: What Not To Do To Your Listing

A professionally staged home will look like one of our "after" photographs - plenty of light and space, good flow, a clear focal point - in order to appeal to a broad range of potential buyers. Right now, though, we're seeing some sellers make the mistake of overestimating the market and assuming that any property listed will sell. It might - but by skipping professional staging, these sellers are leaving tens of thousands of dollars on the table.

Below is a list of mistakes to avoid, all of which I have observed in listings in the last few weeks.

1. Forgetting the photos.

Buyers look at photos, first. Don't turn off potential buyers with clutter. A lived-in look, complete with toys, shoes, and rumpled bedding, sends the message that the seller isn't serious. Gallery walls, competing patterns, and an excess of floral prints will weed out even the most determined buyers.  

2. Neglecting the exterior.

A pair of sellers did a lovely job renovating the interior of a recent listing. However, after pulling up to the curb, most buyers would have exchanged a glance and driven right off again. Rusty railings, peeling shutters, patchy landscaping, and a dirty walkway will scare off your best buyers. I even saw a listing where the front lawn hadn't been mowed before the open house.

3. Removing all furnishings.

It's a common misperception that an empty listing looks larger. The truth is quite the opposite: homes without furniture look smaller. In addition, potential buyers will struggle to figure out how to use the space and what will fit. A well-staged listing helps buyers imagine themselves - and their furnishings - in the home.

Perhaps worse, even small flaws are highlighted in an empty listing. Imperfections are easier to see and focus on. Careful staging directs buyers' attention to the beautiful features and unique elements of your listing.

4. Packing them in.

A common mistake made by novices is to bring in too many pieces of furniture and décor. A recent listing I saw was filled with furniture sets off the showroom floor. The furniture looked nice, but the home suffered: doorways were narrowed or blocked, there was no clear flow from room to room, and the rooms lacked a focal point. Buyers have an easier time adding but struggle to subtract. An overstuffed home is likely to leave buyers uneasy or at best uninterested, and they usually won't be able to tell you why.

5. Staging like you live there.

Good staging means maximizing space, flow, and light while highlighting architectural features in order to appeal to a broad audience of potential buyers. It's not about the current owner's style, preferences, or personal taste. Bold colors, overwhelming prints, outdated family heirlooms, and clutter need to go. We always stage with less than the homeowner lives with. 

The market is changing. It's not the super-hot market of the summer. The homes we've staged have all sold quickly with multiple competing offers. An unstaged home will probably sell. But, don’t be surprised if you are lowballed by one or maybe two savvy, determined buyers. I'd rather see clients beaming after multiple offers and a record-breaking sales price. 

Call or email if you'd like me to look at an upcoming listing or talk to a seller who might be reluctant to stage. I'd love to help.