In an age when home staging is such a prevalent real estate tool, it is amazing how many real estate listings out there which are clearly not in any way ready for potential buyers to walk through. We work with a lot of realtors and know just how tight their marketing budgets are when it comes to their listings. It only makes sense to maximize these dollars by showcasing pictures of modern, bright, uncluttered spaces which will attract buyers in droves. This seems logical to me and I know of many realtors who will refuse to list a property unless the sellers work with a professional stager and follow their recommendations.
In the spirit of being helpful, we have compiled a list of the top ten things NOT to do when listing a property for sale.
Defer Basic Maintenance
Opting to let the new home owners take care of basic maintenance is a highly risky move. At best, a seller may attract a property flipper who is comfortable taking on these tasks and who puts in a low offer or at worst, buyers will be turned off by all the work which needs to be done just to make the house liveable. Either way, its a bad first impression and is often a key reason why a property lingers, sad and unloved, on the market.
Leave up Wallpaper & Borders
Even though wallpaper IS making a comeback, its not wise to leave it up when you go to sell your house. Why? Because wallpaper and borders are often very personal decor choices and a seller seriously narrows down their buyer pool if they opt to wait for someone who will love it just like they do. Murals and specialized painting applications also fall into this category for the same reasons. We can’t stress enough the importance of neutralizing these decor choices with some great modern paint hues which have broad appeal. If only 1 person in 50 likes wallpaper, guesstimate how long it will take to sell the house? If on the other hand a property appeals to 23 out of 25 people, think about how much FASTER it will sell and for how much more money …
Block the front of the House with Bushes & Trees
Yes, and if you’re wondering, I saw THREE local MLS listings today where it was impossible to see the front of the house because of overgrown bushes and trees. Curb appeal is a vital component of getting any house ready for sale as buyers driving by properties at all times of the day need to actually SEE the front of the home.
Pack a Room Full of Wall to Wall Furniture
In order to create strong visual appeal, rooms need a balance of scale appropriate furniture and open areas in which buyers can navigate around or through the room. Rooms which have every wall jammed with furniture and ‘stuff’ make spaces appear a lot smaller than what they, adding visual clutter and turning off buyer’s who are looking for large, bright and airy spaces. It can also end up looking like a seller hosts parties for 20 or more instead modeling a modern, functional living space. A living room for example, should be staged with a sofa & loveseat (or two accent chairs), coffee/end table set, rug to anchor the space and a set of table lamps. That’s it. No bookshelves, curio cabinets, pianos, chests etc unless the room is huge and its possible to define multiple functional areas with plenty of navigation room in between.
A functional and appealing living room
Put up EVERY Piece of Artwork You Own
We like to get a room down to having art or a framed mirror only on one main wall. This visually pulls the eye to one main area (usually a focal wall or focal point) without making the eye jump crazily around a room. Not only does this cut down on another area of clutter but it makes rooms feel larger.
Block Architectural Focal Points in a Room
Architectural focal points are normally features such as a fireplace or windows in a rooms. These are key selling points to a house and they need to be enhanced and showcased instead of blocked with furniture. Many times we have seen real estate listings where these types of focal points are completely blocked and eclipsed by furnishings within a space. As people are not buying a seller’s furniture, but are buying the architectural elements in a house, it makes sense to highlight these focal points instead of obscuring them. This is where a professional stager can really help; editing out furnishings and arranging them so that the eye is naturally drawn to the right focal areas.
Its Important Not to Block a Room's Focal Points
Showcase a Kitchen or Bathroom Which Features 1970′s or 80′s Decor Styles
We have written blog articles about smart, modern upgrades for kitchens however the bottom line is, kitchens and bathrooms are key decision making areas. Dated cabinets with dated hardware aren’t going to impress buyers. Stained, scarred or discoloured countertops are another detraction for most people touring a house. Paint, new hardware and new countertops are smart and budget friendly upgrades which instantly updates these types of spaces. 72% of buyers who are not impressed by a home’s kitchen or bathrooms will keep shopping and will pay MORE money for a home which features these upgraded rooms.
Bright, updated Kitchens Make Buyers Fall in Love!
Don’t Clutter Rooms up with ‘Stuff’
Heard the saying ‘clutter eats equity’? Couldn’t be more true. Well loved homes feature layers of things which we keep around us to make us feel more comfortable. From extra furnishings to collections showcasing our favourite things, rooms easily become clogged and can appear overwhelming for potential buyers. Peeling back those layers to reveal the true size, shape and function of rooms in a home not only showcases their innate charm but also makes them appear bigger and brighter which in turn increases a home’s intrinsic value. We tell clients all the time that a home up for sale needs to model a lifestyle upgrade because that’s what people buy. They cannot visualize what a room looks like if its filled with clutter, so they will keep shopping until they see a home which models a lifestyle they want to have.
Have Your Pets Meet Visitors at the Door
Pets are wonderful and an intrinsic part of many families however when it comes to selling the family home, just like everyone else has to leave for showings, so too should the family pets. This works fine for dogs and can be worked out for cats but what about other animals? Well, as difficult as it is, when a home owner decides to sell the home, alternative living arrangements for fish/turtles/bunnies etc is one of the best things the seller can do. Not only does help alleviate pet odors, messes and extra equipment but it also alleviates some of the stress associated with getting ready for showings. Buyers will appreciate not having to ‘look beyond’ pet odors or having to tour homes where there pets which make them uncomfortable. Bottom line, a seller wants to make buyers as comfortable as possible in the home so putting pets into the preparation plan when it comes to selling is a very smart move.
Sell a Home Which is Unfurnished
As mentioned above, buyers are looking for a home which models the lifestyle they want to have after they purchase a property. It is an emotional choice which is made after they fall in love with a house, already visualizing how their life will be once they have purchased it. Homes without furnishings lack warmth and appeal; they often appear cold and sterile which turns off buyers. Additionally, a lack of furnishings means rooms have no defined function which decreases the value of the home and when only 10% of buyers can visualize a space with their items in it, sellers are therefore losing 90% of their buyer pool who just move onto the next house.
We hope this helps in terms of what not to do when listing a property for sale. When the average buyer is 28 and the average seller is over 50, there is a significant gap in decor styles and the expectations buyers have today. This young, design savvy buyer pool know what they want and will pay more money for a home which showcases the upgrades and lifestyles they are searching for. Sellers who tap into this need, taking care to invest in key upgrades and staging ensure maximum appeal and a swift, profitable sale of their home.