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7 Home Staging Moves that Will Sabotage a Sale

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7 Home Staging Moves that Will Sabotage a Sale
4 min. read

Image: Breadmaker / Shutterstock.com

When you’re selling your home, it’s important to step into the shoes of your potential buyers. In this way, you can look at your house through fresh eyes and see what works. Staging your home is a great way to create a blank canvas for prospective buyers and, when done right, it can be the difference between a quick sale and sitting on the market for months. 

However, it’s all-too-easy to make mistakes along the way, some of which will instantly put a buyer off and sabotage your sale. Side-step such traps and be sure your house sells quickly by avoiding the following 7 mistakes.

Keeping it too personal

The key to successful staging is to give potential buyers enough to work with in order to envision their future life in your house. A common, but dangerous mistake when staging your home is to leave personal effects around the home.

From family photos to piles of laundry, buyers don’t want to see it. Personal touches unique to the previous owners are difficult to see past, and buyers often have a hard time envisioning their life when someone else’s is plastered about the room. Put any personal touches in storage, or if it’s a matter of decoration, try to make it a little more neutral — not everyone will be keen on the black walls of your teenager’s bedroom.

False expectations

Staging a home is a work of art that relies on realism. As such, buyers want to see real furniture, decorations, and other touches. However, many sellers will try to save a bit of cash and fake it, sometimes going to extraordinary lengths. A cardboard cut-out TV or a blow-up mattress in a fake bed stand out a mile away, and give your home an unbelievable, unapproachable feel that is sure to put buyers off. Go with the real-deal, even down to the fruit bowl, in order to let buyers see that this is a home that can be lived in, and not merely a backdrop for strange, unrealistic props.

Hiding behind locked doors

Another dangerous, but common, mistake is to leave doors closed when people come to view your home. Buyers should feel comfortable walking around what could be their new home, and nothing makes them more uncomfortable than a closed door. Is it a locked cabinet, or a private room, are there people in there hiding away?

Chances are, they don’t want to find out, and will miss out on portions of your home. Keep your doors open in order to create a welcoming atmosphere, and if you’re a subconscious door closer, do a final walkthrough just before a viewing.

Forgetting the small touches

As mentioned, a well-staged home acts to half paint a picture, laying the foundations and sparking the imagination of your potential buyers. Small touches are a great way to add layers of realism to the scene that help buyers imagine daily life in your home. Things like a fruit bowl, books on the coffee table, and fresh flowers on the dining table are nice touches that can also help your home stand out.

If you can lay your rooms out in such a way that it’s comfortable to sit back and converse with one another, this is another great tactic. Buyers will naturally sit down to chat and run ideas past one another, and if you can encourage this to be a natural process by the way you position your furniture, it can really sink in on a subconscious level.

Cluttering your space

Small touches are good, but like most things, they’re best in moderation. Over-doing it can look cluttered and make your space look smaller than it is. Remember, the more you add to your rooms, the less room there is for imagination to take hold.

A matter of perspective

Another favourite trick that many sellers use is to make their homes look as spacious as possible. This can be useful in smaller areas, but again, it’s how you do it that matters. Many make the mistake of buying undersized furniture, which may look good in some photos taken at clever angles, but looks ridiculous in real life. Many buyers will see through this trick, and it’ll be difficult for them to envision the true living space of the area in question. Avoid tiny tables, small stools, and small-scale sofas, and instead, aim to work with the space to ensure it looks as good as it is practical.

Missing the neutral/bold balance

Our final mistake that can sabotage your sale is not striking the neutral/bold balance. Homes that are totally neutral look quite bland and rarely stand out among the various other houses that are being viewed. On the other hand, overly bold and colorful homes can stand out for all the wrong reasons. Try to mix it up a bit, and use splashes of color against a mostly neutral backdrop to liven things up a bit and present buyers with options. And don’t be afraid to go with a different look in each room — try a yellow kitchen, or a red study to help differentiate your home from others on the market.

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