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Trulia Blog

6 Staging Techniques That Buyers Hate

staged dining room table
Don’t pile on the potpourri. Instead, deep-clean, declutter, and leave a few touches of personality in place.

Staging your home is one of the few factors you have some control over during the home-selling process, and, luckily, it can play a major part in how easily your home will sell. We’re not talking about major renovations here — just deep cleaning, decluttering, and maybe a fresh coat of paint. The point of staging is to remove anything that will distract a buyer from all the great things your home has to offer.

But when you’re trying to impress, it’s easy to go overboard if you’re not careful. Here are a few of the biggest pitfalls sellers fall into when staging their homes.

1. Don’t be dull

Are you selling a hotel room? No? Then don’t make your home look like a hotel. The purpose of staging is not to make your home perfect and bland. You want the buyer to feel that your home looks this nice all the time, so it should feel as if real people live there. It’s OK to let your decor keep some of its personality. A few spots of bright color photograph well and will stand out in listing photos. Even simple touches add personality, such as a red throw pillow or a turquoise fruit bowl.

2. Selling with smell

You definitely don’t want your home to smell like last night’s beef stroganoff when a potential buyer arrives. But many sellers overcompensate with potpourri and air fresheners. Beware of overwhelming a serious buyer with strong scents. If you’re feeling ambitious, bake cookies or bread before a showing to give the house a homey smell, or just light a candle for a few hours. Whatever you do, keep strong, perfumy smells to a minimum.

3. The sound of music

Leaving mood music playing during a showing is likely to backfire. You won’t be able to guess the buyer’s musical tastes, and you risk making them feel as if you’re manipulating them.

4. The elephant graveyard

Sometimes it’s necessary to move out before the house sells. In this case, keep the house well-furnished or completely empty — not somewhere in between. Too many sellers take their best furniture and possessions with them to their new home, leaving only the most run-down furniture behind. In a sparsely furnished house, it’s even more important that the pieces left behind are tasteful and add to the ambiance of the home.

5. Wasting money on the wrong renovations

Many sellers undertake huge projects right before they sell. Perhaps the bathroom is outdated and you’ve always wanted to fix it up. But it’s hard to guess which renovations will provide the greatest return on your investment. Small touches such as new cabinet hardware or new light fixtures might go a long way toward making the home feel up to date without doing a major renovation costing tens of thousands of dollars. A savvy agent can help you figure out how much updating is needed so your home will sell easily in the current market.

6. Remove clutter, don’t just move it around

It’s impossible to overemphasize the value of decluttering. It makes the listing photos more attractive, which translates to more showings, and it makes the house feel open and airy. And it rarely works to try to hide the clutter. A serious buyer will want to look under the hood, kick the tires a little. That means they’ll explore the basement, open up your closets, and even look under your sink.

Toss what you don’t need, move some of your treasures to your new home, or even rent a storage unit. It might seem like a lot of work, but it will make it easier to move out once you get the offer you’ve been waiting for.