7 home staging mistakes only rookies make

Buyers will see right through a feeble attempt

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New real estate agents typically enter the field with high energy, eager to sell their first few properties, but that enthusiasm is rarely backed with the experience necessary to expedite or improve the effectiveness of the process.

For the most part, home sales are decided by the intrinsic value and appeal of the home, along with the selling price, but you shouldn’t underestimate the impact that home staging (the act of cleaning and altering the home for presentation) can have on the speed and final price of the sale.

Unfortunately, many new real estate agents make critical mistakes in the home staging process that limit their chances of selling a home or increase the time it takes to sell it.

Biggest staging mistakes to avoid

Here are some of the most common mistakes made by new real estate agents:

1. Not starting with a strategy

There are some basic “best practices” that will work for just about any home, in any situation. However, that doesn’t mean you should go into a home staging process without a strategy in place.

“Winging it” isn’t going to work; before you even move a piece of furniture, you should have a clear idea of what the property’s like, how easily it could be sold and who it’s going to best appeal to.

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2. Including too much furniture

It’s a good idea to include furniture, at least in some of the main areas of the house, like sofas in the living room, a table in the dining room and beds in the bedrooms.

However, including too much furniture can make the home seem cluttered and make it look smaller.

3. Including too much space

Photo by Breather on Unsplash

Some new real estate agents, specifically trying to avoid the above pain point, reduce the amount of furniture in the home or press it against the walls to show off as much empty space as possible.

This can be advantageous; showing off more minimal space gives the appearance of more interior room and makes the house seem more valuable.

However, if done excessively, it can make the home seem empty or impersonal, defeating the purpose.

4. Leaving the space too personal

Sometimes, a few personal touches — like tasteful decorations or color choices — can make a home come alive with personality. However, including too many personal items can make the space feel alienating to a prospective buyer.

For example, if custom signage marks the existence of a home business on the property — even if looks beautiful — it could skew buyers’ initial perceptions of the property, and deter them from considering it. The same goes with evidence of pets in the home.

5. Neglecting important improvements

No home is perfect. There are always going to be cracks, tears, dents and minor fixes that need to be made.

However, if you neglect important improvements, like fixing major structural damage or correcting an aesthetic eyesore, you could immediately compromise your chances of making a good first impression with initial tourers.

Obviously, not all improvements are worth it, but quick, inexpensive fixes almost always merit the investment.

6. Filling tables and counters with objects

Photo by Vadim Sherbakov on Unsplash

Sporadic decorations, like vases and flowers, can spruce up an otherwise uninteresting room and prevent tables and counters from seeming empty.

However, if you overload these pieces of furniture, you could make the home seem unnecessarily cluttered. Keep the number of these pieces limited, and don’t make them the centerpiece of the showing.

7. Going too ‘textbook’

Strangely enough, it’s also possible to go too “textbook” with your staging strategy.

Chances are, the buyers touring your home are going to be touring dozens of other homes; if they notice the same patterns and layouts, over and over, they’re going to be less interested in the properties that display them.

You need to try to make your property seem unique, or it won’t be memorable.

Unfortunately, there’s no surefire strategy you can use to stage a home perfectly — especially considering every home and buyer will be different.

Part of the territory of being a new real estate agent is coming to terms with the fact that you’re going to make mistakes, and only through experience will you develop the skills and insights necessary to maximize your home selling potential.

Keep experimenting with different approaches, and take note of what does and doesn’t work until you feel confident trusting your own instincts.

Larry Alton is the CEO of Alton Enterprises in Olympia, Washington. Follow him on Twitter, or connect with him on LinkedIn.