Staging Mistakes to Avoid
As a real estate professional, you instinctively know which homes could benefit from home staging, or pre-listing preparation. It’s a fine line that you have to negotiate because your staging recommendation can financially benefit the client, but at what cost to them?
Today’s homebuyer is savvy, media savvy that is. They have watched hundreds if not thousands of hours of home decorating and staging shows with staging tips. They have read Apartment Therapy cover to cover. They know what a staged home looks like and expect that level of attention when viewing homes for sale. Rightly or wrongly, that is the current state of the market. As real estate agents, it is your job to get that message through to your home sellers. It is their choice whether to give the buyers what they want, or face the consequences if they don’t measure up to their competition.
The ideal agent will have a generic checklist for homeowners on how they can get their home ready to be listed. Since this is a sensitive subject with some home sellers, we emphasize generic. Develop your own checklist so it universally applies to any home for sale, include it in your listing presentation, and your seller won’t take offense. You are providing a helpful service which may result in a better selling price when selling your home.
Here are some mistakes to avoid we have come across that a less-than ideal agent can make when helping a homeowner prepare their home for sale.
Remember, you want the home to appeal to the widest number of buyers in the target audience, not just to other real estate pros.
Home Staging Mistakes to Avoid
1. Selecting the cheapest or most convenient staging company
Many agents don’t have a go-to home stager. In some markets, houses sell in any condition so staging isn’t needed or the homeowner doesn’t have the budget or interest in it.
So it is understandable that when a stager is needed and the homeowner wants one, agents scramble to find one that can get the job done in a hurry.
However, doing anything in a rush prevents complete vetting of the staging professional and one of the biggest mistakes. And agents and stagers can butt heads when it comes to design choices.
Finding a stager who shares your attitude and one whom you can suggest to your clients is good advice for agents. The real estate agent and the stager must have the same idea for who will buy the house and collaborate on design decisions.
It might be difficult to persuade sellers that staging is worthwhile for them rather than only for the agent’s benefit. Staging as a way to increase earnings for both the seller and the agency and should be treated like any other outsourced service. Do the due diligence and find a staging pro that understands and respects your professional opinion and produces a staging product that appeals to the target or potential buyer you’ve identified. Professional staging is an essential outsourced service just like a mortgage broker and a home inspector.
2. Not Staging Outdoor Spaces When Selling the Home
The balcony, patio and deck are important spaces in a property that speak to lifestyle. Showing how these spaces can be used not only helps sell the home, but also shows more usable square footage than just what’s inside.
People are entertaining more and more outdoors than indoors, whether because of a lifestyle choice or because of Covid-19. There’s more space and the homeowner doesn’t have to worry as much about spills and damage to interior surfaces.
Especially in cities and urban areas where outdoor space is as a premium, city dwellers overwhelmingly prefer homes with outdoor space, even if it is limited to a balcony. Show them how they can use the space (morning coffee?) and the property will stand above all others.
3. Letting the Homeowner “Help” Your Staging Company
Everyone wants to be a designer and implement their design ideas but not everyone has the talent or the eye for the task.
A homeowner envisions living in their home a certain way. That is a very hard vision to break. That is why having a fresh pair of eyes on a home’s spaces will enable those spaces to speak to the target buyer. As much as they would like to, homeowners have too much emotion invested in the way their home currently works for them. Sometimes it gets to be a tug-of-war with homeowners when they are asked to remove personal items, fake plants or family photos (none of which should be visible in listing photos when you sell the home.)
Some staging concerns won’t even allow their furniture to be used by the current homeowners so that solves a big problem. Homeowners have to be out of the house then.
In situations where the staging company is using the current home’s furnishings, things can get a bit sticky. Personal belongings, family memories, favorite recliners, all of these have their place in the lives of the current homeowners, but no place in a home for sale. In these types of situations, the homeowner will be an obstacle to an optimal staged home.
4. Improperly Made Beds
No one wants to see messy bedrooms, or even see a hint that someone sleeps in the beds. If your homeowner can’t bother to make the bed before a showing, you have your work cut out for you.
Clean, crisp linens on beds is what people expect to see in a home for sale. It should look like a beautiful hotel bed. What color are the linens on hotel beds? That’s the color linens that should be on the beds in staged homes. White says clean, unused, pristine. Sure, you can accent the bed with a colored throw or some crisp, striped throw pillows, but don’t overdo it.
People always ask about children’s bedrooms. That’s a staging chapter all by itself. Suffice it to say for this post that most children’s bedrooms are much too themed to be universally appealing. If a buyer can tell if it’s a boy’s or girl’s bedroom, it’s too colorful.
5. Not Defining Each Room
Every room in a home for sale needs a purpose. Rooms are bedrooms, living rooms, bathrooms, kitchens, dining rooms, play rooms or studies. Multi-purpose rooms are multi-confusing to buyers. Define the purpose of the space. Stage it to perform that function.
In most cases, more bedrooms means a higher sales price. Don’t sacrifice a bedroom to be a music room or photography studio because those room functions aren’t desired by everyone looking at the home. This may or may not apply to a home office depending on your area.
6. Not paying attention to lighting
Light indoor spaces are very important to your target audience. Not only is it uplifting emotionally, but it is more aesthetically pleasing. Make sure the floor lamps, table lamp s, and light fixtures have the maximum wattage bulbs installed so even on cloudy days the room looks bright.
Light paint colors, a light neutral tone works best, will also help brighten spaces. Avoid when staging dark walls even boldly colored accent walls. These suck light and can make a room look dreary. A fresh coat of off white paint can do wonders for a room
Speaking of light, this is a good time to discuss the window treatment in your staged rooms. Outdated windows treatment not only will block light, but it will make the home feels old and tired. Just remove the treatment. Nothing is better than something that detracts from the clean, fresh impression you are trying to portray when home selling.
7. Not recognizing the importance of web presence
It really doesn’t matter how well the space has been staged, if it doesn’t look good online, then there will be no interest and no showings. This goes for homes with virtual staging or virtual tours.
It is not enough to have these features in your listing, they must be visually appealing. When you are taking a 3D space and compressing it into a 2D image, rooms that look open and airy in person can become cluttered and confusing. It may take several attempts to get the right look and feel.
Remember when coaching your home owner, remind them that when it comes time to sell their home, it’s no longer their home. It is a product that needs to be marketed effectively to command the best price.