They may love you, but they’re all liars. Your spouse, your mother, your best friend from college… Liars.
Sure, they have a good reason to lie, but they’re still lying. After all, they know you worked HARD and spent a ton of money staging your listing.
The last thing they want to do is crush your spirits by telling you just how hideous it looks…
You know who’s not lying? Your lead scrolling through Zillow in bed with a cup of tea.
“Ugh! What on earth was that Realtor THINKING?”
Don’t believe the liars. Instead, read our list of 12 deal-killing home staging mistakes even experienced Realtors make.
1. Not Taking Pictures of the Listing Pre-Staging
After the frenzy and stress of hiring a stager, coordinating with your owner, and lugging plants, pillows, and art, all over the house, it can be easy to forget why you’re doing this.
For most listings, you’re staging for the photos you’re going to post on Zillow.
However, once you stage, it becomes very difficult and expensive to correct or restage a room virtually. For example, let’s say you staged a room as a home office, and a buyer kept wondering what it would look like as a bedroom.
In order to stay flexible and become a hero to buyer’s agents, always have your photographer take pictures of the listing empty before you stage. If you don’t, your virtual stager will charge you an arm and a leg to digitally remove the furniture.
This way you can virtually stage the same room in multiple different styles, or for different uses. You could even try A/B testing the images on Facebook ads to see which one more buyers click on…
Here’s an example of how an empty room can be staged to look radically different from our friends over at Spotless Agency:
If they had to remove the furniture before staging, virtual staging would be far more expensive.
2.Outdated Lighting Fixtures
If there is one non-structural decor piece you spend money on this year, light fixtures should be it. After all, since light fixtures are so prominent in most spaces, a bad one can destroy the look of even the most well thought out room.
During the day, they hang almost at eye level, and at night, they illuminate the entire room. For many rooms, like dining rooms and kitchens, they can become a focal point. Pendants, sconces, and chandeliers are particularly egregious offenders.
Luckily, most ugly light fixtures can be swapped out in a few minutes. All it takes is a ladder, removing a few screws, and twisting some wires if you need them to be functional.
They’re also pretty affordable. If you’re serious about marketing your listings, buying a few high quality (used is fine) lighting fixtures to fit different themes can have a great ROI.
One modern pendant, one glass chandelier, and a farmhouse/industrial wireframe should work great for pretty much any decor.
Pro tip: search on craigslist or make friends with a local contractor. Light fixtures are rarely damaged, but many people sell them for a song when they change decor.
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3. Not Using Accent Walls
Considering how easy and affordable accent walls can be, it’s surprising how many stagers and Realtors shy away from them. A well thought out accent wall can add some depth and drama to even the most boring room.
If you want to try your hand at accent walls, think contrast. Dark greys, bright, energizing colors like Pantone’s Color of the Year Ultraviolet, or even removable wallpaper or graphics can go a long way to adding personality to your listing.
Need some accent wall inspiration? Check out the top ideas on Pinterest here.
4. Outdated Window Treatments
After paint and lighting fixtures, nothing can kill a room’s vibe faster than ugly, outdated window treatments. While those vertical blinds may have cost your homeowner a pretty penny back in the 90’s, today they just look sad and dated.
The good news is that like lighting fixtures, good looking window treatments are affordable, and you only need a few styles on hand to match any decor. In fact, a set of sheer white curtains, and a set of heavy dark, velour panels should match pretty much anything.
Patterns should probably be avoided though. There is no faster way to pick out a cheap window treatment than from a poorly designed pattern.
Pro tip: Forget West Elm or Pottery Barn. You can get almost identical looking drapes and curtain panels on Amazon for a fraction of the price. If you line the back with velcro, you can use one 108 inch panel to fit any size window.
Since not every listing is going to merit spending a fortune on home staging, most agents pick and choose which rooms to stage, and well, which rooms are going to look sad and empty. Garages, offices, patios, basements, and yards are the usual sad victims of a depleted staging budget.
If you want ALL your pictures to look great online, virtually staging spaces your budget doesn’t reach is essential.
Startup BoxBrownie.com let’s you order staging by room, and at only $32 per room witha 48 hour turnaround, there’s not excuse to leave any rooms empty and dull.
6. Using Too Many Bold or Statement Pillows
Like the gallery wall, having an an assortment of boldly colored or patterned pillows is very on trend. There’s only one problem… Well, okay, three problems.
- Nice pillows are $50 each and up.
- If they’re too bold they will become a focal point
- They’re very personal. Not everyone will respond to your taste
While you may be tempted to splash out on a dozen high end pillows for your home staging, this could be a mistake. After all, nice pillows are very expensive, and bold pillows might not work well with other bold pillows.
Since the idea here is to buy versatile decor, I would avoid boldly colored or patterned pillows. Instead, stick to complementary patterns and colors, or at most, buy a few bold pillows.
Pro tip: Love mid century modern but can’t justify West Elm or CB2? Target’s Project 62 has passable mid century looking pillows for less than $20.
If you’re looking for more home staging tips on a budget, check out this handy guide over on the Homelight Blog.
7. Empty Bed Frames or Cheap Linens
Even in some seven figure plus listings here in Manhattan, the word “bedroom” is often literal. It’s a room that can fit a bed and that’s about it.
Heck, even in a palatial 1,000 square foot master suite, a king sized bed will still take up space and there is no way to NOT have it as the focal point of the room.
That means cheap linens, pillows, or even worse, empty bed frames are a mortal sin against the gods of good taste.
Pro tip: Air mattresses are incredibly inexpensive these days so there is simply no excuse for an empty bed frame. While quality linens can be expensive, they might be a worthwhile investment.
8. Not knowing Your Audience
If you want to write a blockbuster movie, a grammy winning album, or killer marketing campaign, there is one rule above all others that determines success:
Know Your Audience!
This rule applies to staging your listings as well. As a rule, you should be staging with your audience in mind. Think about what kind of leads might be attracted to the home, the area, or the price point you’re working with.
For example, if your listing is in a conservative community with a ton of senior citizens, a more traditional staging will get a much better response than a slick, modern one.
Young hip area with lots of college students and young professionals? Minimal graphic art and mid century furniture is a must.
If you’re not sure about your audience, do some research on your farm area. Who lives there? What do they value?
9. “Gendered” Bedrooms or Playrooms
If you decide to stage smaller bedrooms as children’s rooms, you need to be careful about “gendering’ the rooms. Remember, the idea here is to create rooms that allow your buyers to dream about living in the home.
A lead with three young boys might have a hard time dreaming about putting them in rooms with pink walls and pom poms.
Instead, try and create inclusive children’s bedrooms that reflect the style of the rest of the home. If you’re staging a modern home, a minimal rocking horse, some stuffed animals and a bunkbed will work.
10. Not Having a Theme for Each Room
Be careful about staging “multi purpose” rooms. While you do want to be able to show buyers how versatile the space is, sticking to one theme will work much better.
After all, a home office with workout equipment and a hobby space doesn’t help someone who just wants an office imagine themselves in the space. Likewise if they may want to use that space as a gym or children’s bedroom.
If you truly want to help your buyers imagine themselves in the space, then you can stage rooms for one purpose, then have them virtually staged for another.
This way you can show a fully realized image of the room serving a single purpose.
11. Using Fake Plants
Okay, fake plants aren’t the end of the world, but whenever possible try to use live plants in your home staging.
Believe it or not, you’ll actually save some money in the process. Fake plants that look even halfway realistic are surprisingly expensive.
By growing live plants you get the added benefit of having lush, beautiful plants in your home or office when they’re not being used for staging.
12. Cheesy “Wall Art”
I like to call this one the Holiday Inn deal killer. You know those bland, hideous fake paintings that are nailed to the wall of that cheap hotel room you rented back in college? Everyone else has the same visceral reaction to them that you do. Yuck.
Instead, scour ebay, garage sales, Etsy, or Amazon for a nice set of prints or paintings that can fit multiple styles.
Remember to make sure to match whatever you buy to your other accessories as well. Check out Pinterest or Houzz for inspiration!
Need some more home staging mistakes to avoid? Check out this great write up over on the Virtuance Blog.
Over to You
Know some common home staging mistakes that you see Realtors making? Let us know in the comments.