Real Estate Tips

Avoid These Home Staging Mistakes and Sell Your Listings Faster

The Benefits Of Home Staging and What to Steer Clear Of

Home staging is a method of decorating a property that is designed to showcase its best assets to speed up the selling process, impress buyers, and increase the selling price. Not all people choose to stage their house, especially the owners of homes that are priced lower, and many who do, make a lot of home staging mistakes.

Is it Better to Sell a Home Empty or Staged?

You don’t necessarily need to stage your home but you should. Why opt out when it can increase the selling price and shorten the market time? It can be one of the most profitable steps one could take when selling a property. Here is why you should stage your house:

1. Emotional Impact

Like a job interview, a good first impression is important in selling a house. For potential buyers, facts like how big the house is, where it is located and other facilities and amenities are important, but what makes them excited is picturing themselves in the house. A bare house is cold and hard to imagine as a home. Staging the house, on the other hand, creates an emotional impact in the hearts and minds of customers, increasing the chances of making a sale for a bigger price.

Home Staging
Photo by p_kennedy123

2. Offering Price

Staging can encourage home buyers by reducing the number of issues that need to be fixed. Before staging you may need to make some improvements. These changes may be overlooked if the house isn’t staged, potentially affecting the offering price.

3. Better Marketing

An empty home does not tell much of a story for promotional purposes. Staging the house helps those you are marketing to visualize themselves in it. This might make them want to come and visit the house in person. It is true that buyers’ taste in home décor might be different than yours, but staging will help them to get an idea of how it would feel to live there.

What Should You Avoid When Staging a Home?

Assuming you agree with the benefits of staging, let’s proceed to what you want to avoid. Staging the house may seem like a simple task but there are a lot of home staging mistakes sellers and rookie agents make that work against selling the house. Let’s see what they are:

1. Not Preparing the House Before Staging

One might imagine staging the house is good enough to make it look desirable and hide the potential problems the house might have. This is a grave home staging mistake. There are always going to be cracks, tears, dents, and minor fixes that should be fixed. Stagers do wonders but they cannot hide the problems like damaged paint. Before staging, go through the house and spot any problems with the paint, floor, etc. a staged house with bad paint is not a great sight to see. Neglecting this could immediately compromise your chances of making a great first impression with home buyers.

Before Staging

2. Lack of a Strategy

There are a few best practices for staging that work well with most properties. But staging without a clear plan and strategy won’t work. Sit down and think about it: Who would buy the house? What is the property like, and what can be done? How easily can it be sold? Who is going to be most interested in buying it?

When staging your home, you should always have your target audience in mind; the person who is most likely to but the house. Have a look around the neighborhood and pay attention to those who have moved in recently Share your findings with your stager. If senior citizens dominate a neighborhood staging the house for a family of four might not be the best option.

Stagers are professionals who understand marketing and demographics and they need to be informed about the target audience. If you are paying them to do flawless work, let them have all the information they need. They may not ask you themselves.

3. Not Using Virtual Tours

Staging is very important, and once you stage the house you create a path to more marketing options. You could ask professional help to create virtual tours. Virtual tours are 3D simulation of properties using cutting-edge technology where users can navigate around the house on their phones and computers just like the sample below. Give it a shot yourself:

virtual tours were once quite expensive but now you could have them for an affordable price and 24hour turnaround. Book one now!

4. Using Too Much Furniture

It is a common home staging mistake to stuff the house with too much furniture thinking the more is the better. This might give the false assumption that the rooms are cramped and not spacious enough. The buyer will have a hard time imagining how they will fit their own furniture. Use furniture in moderation.

Living Area
Photo by Mike Bird

On the other hand, using large furniture like big sofas especially in dark colors can eat up a lot of space. Trying using smaller furniture in light colors to show the space available around the house. Make sure one piece of furniture does not dominate the room. 

Also, leave surfaces clear and avoid clutter. These are the spaces home buyers would like to see and putting all those objects and decorations will not allow that. Fight the temptation to put that vase on the counter. Keep the clutter away.

5. Leaving Too Much Space

Moderation again. Some agents may end up leaving the house with too much empty space. In other cases, they push the furniture to the walls to show how spacious the house is. Although if done right this can be advantageous, if overdone it looks bare and uninviting.

Home staging mistakes - orange sofa
Photo by Martin Péchy

Also, leaving some rooms empty is a bad idea. You don’t have to set up all the rooms with expensive furniture but don’t leave them empty. Go with simple and minimalist pieces for the rooms so that the buyer can get an idea of the overall look of the home.

6. Keeping it Too Personal

When you are living in a house you decorate it to your own taste. There will be a lot of personal touches around the house, but that is not going to appeal to all home buyers. Furthermore, your personal belongings may alienate home buyers and prevent them from imagining themselves in the space. It’s necessary for buyers to focus on your home’s best features, not on your family photos. Take those photos down and replace them with some images of nature or a mirror. 

Wall Images
Photo by Luis Martinez

Given the influence the seller can have it may be better to take the stager to the house without the seller. They can plan the staging the right way without any influence. Your job is to make the seller accept the changes for the sake of marketing goals.
For best results make sure you keep the seller and the stager apart. They don’t need to talk to each other or discuss staging. Letting the seller interfere in the process is a huge home staging mistake.

7. Filling the Closets

Home buyers would like to see the space a house provides and one of the most important places in this regard are the closets. As a result, filling the closets with clothes is not a wise move as it makes the buyer think there is not enough space or it will stop them from assessing the space closets provide.

Photo by ivankmit

Cupboards and closets will be opened by the homer buyers for sure. So having the point above in mind, have a plan to stage the inside of these as well. You want to leave the best impression possible. Buyers will check every nook and cranny.

8. Doing it Yourself

DIY projects are so satisfying and rewarding but not for home staging. Leave this one alone. This includes the seller. Let the stagers do their job and turn the property into something home buyers want. Stagers know what to do based on the various market segment requirements. Unless trained as stager best leave it to them.

9. Bare Beds or Cheap Covers

It does not matter how big the house and its bedrooms are. Beds will take up a large amount of space and will be the focal point of the bedroom. When something gets that much attention, you have to put some thought into it when staging. Leaving the bed frame empty or using cheap covers and linens muddies the good image the buyers has had in their mind. Keep the bed in top shape with beautiful high-quality coverings.

Home staging mistakes
Photo by Alexander Zvir

If you are trying to keep the expenses low, use air mattresses as they are quite inexpensive but don’t cut back on linens.

10. Smells and Odors

When people live in a place they get used to all the smells present in the house. You might realize this when you enter somebody else’s house. They are harmless to the residents of the property but home buyers may not approve of the weird smell lingering in the place from your pets. Make sure to get rid of any smell that shouldn’t be there.

Some people try to get rid of the odor by using strong air fresheners. The strong scent of the air fresher will probably not appeal to the home buyer. Your best bet is heavy cleaning and the use of baking soda. There is no working around the problem here. Get rid of the odor.

11. Not Including Visual Content

To de-personalize the home some sellers end up prepping the house in plain colors. This may not look terrible but it won’t make your house special either. Try to include some visual contrast in colors, you can go with the 60-30-10 rule. 60% for the main shade, 30% for the secondary one, and 10% for the eye-catching remaining sections. The first two can be relatively natural while the other one is a little wild. Be careful not to paint the house in many colors too.

Living area
Photo by Vecislavas Popa

Second, dark paint colors may work in certain rooms, but do not overdo it. Dark colors may make a room feel small. Neutral, light colors are the best option when selling your home.

Also, leaving the walls unpainted because you think the home buyers would like to paint the wall according to their own taste, is a home staging mistake. 

12. Saving Money on Home Stagers

For best results, your home stager needs to have the knowledge and the talent to utilize creative design talents to help produce quicker sales. 

Do not go cheap on home stagers. You don’t have to pick the most expensive stager on the market. Choose someone who knows his way around the house and the job. This will result in a bigger profit than what you hope to save by hiring a cheap stager.

13. Old Window Treatment

Curtains and blinds play an important role in the overall look of the place. Keeping the old outdated blinds might save you some money but will ruin the new feeling and sensation of the house even if you love them so much.

Double Bed
Photo by Curtis Adams

Changing the curtains won’t cost you much but will be rewarding. Go with a simple white look and you will be fine as it matches any theme and decoration. Avoid using patterns as they appeal differently to different people and tastes.

14. Not Taking Pictures Before Staging

When you stage the house, you might end up changing the functions of some rooms. For example, a bedroom changes to a home office. However, the homebuyer might want to see what it looked like as a bedroom. If you have not taken pre-staging photos, then you are for some expensive digital modeling. 

Open Floor Plan
Photo by Curtis Adams

To avoid such predicaments, always ask your photographer to take some photos of the house before the staging starts. This allows you to virtually stage the house in different ways. 

15. Rushing the Stager

You hire the stager to the perfect job hoping to get the best outcome. You might be running tight on time or the seller might ask you to speed things up. But the stager needs time to plan and think it through when implementing changes.

Rushing the stager will only result in a poorly done staging that may meet your deadlines but will not fulfill what you had in mind in terms of quality and outcome. So it is advisable to plan the whole process in advance and set aside enough time for staging in order to avoid rush-jobs.

16. Using Fake Plants or Objects

Why would you go for fake plants when you could buy the real ones? Fake plants are not cheap and even the best ones are often not completely realistic. They fail at conveying a sense of authenticity and may make the house feel staged.

Staging the house with fake objects like wine and dinner settings are a real turn off for the same reason. 

17. Forgetting About the Exterior Areas and The Entryway

First impressions matter and might stay with the homebuyer for the whole visiting session. Trim the bushes and plant flowers so that the first impression is a beautiful one. Failing at this will have a negative impact on the homebuyer’s decision even if you have mastered the inside perfectly.

Photo by Brett Sayles

The entryway also falls in the same category as it is one of the first places the home buyer will see. If it does not have a welcoming feeling and is dim and dark, it will wipe the smile off the homebuyer’s face. That’s not a great start.


Staging has a direct impact on how soon the house will sell or if it will sell at all. Many agents make a lot of home staging mistakes. Long and short of it, the staging needs to be done professionally without the presence of the home seller. Keep things in moderation and avoid overdoing or not doing enough. Have a plan ahead and you are good to go. 


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