Top 10 Things NOT to do When Listing Your Home For Sale

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 on the market and sells at a deep discount. Trust us if you don’t want to address the issues, neither does your prospective buyers.


Leave up Wallpaper & Borders

Even though wallpaper is a current design trend, when it comes to selling your home wallpaper can detract from the value of your home instead of adding to it. Why? Because wallpaper and borders are often very personal decor choices which don’t have broad appeal. 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 .

Addressing buyer objections will improve your home's overall saleability.
Addressing buyer objections will improve your home’s overall saleability.


Fail to Address Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is a key component to the successful presentation of a property. Ignoring it, regardless of the season, can lower the perceived value of the property and lengthen the time a house sits on the market. As the exterior of the home is often a buyer’s first impression, it makes sense that ensuring it looks well maintained, the yard is tidy and gardens or outdoor areas are defined will entice buyers to look inside and consider the property as their next 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. This adds visual clutter and can overwhelm buyers who are searching for bright, airy spaces they can visualize themselves living in.

A living room for example, should be staged with enough furniture to define it’s function and the right caliber of furnishings to showcase it’s lifestyle. 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.

Strathcona LR 2

Clutter the Walls with too much Art & Wall Decor

When it comes time to sell your home, we often tell our clients that by decluttering the walls they will add tremendous value to each room of their home. Too many things on the walls can distract buyers from the features which should be adding value to the room like the floor to ceiling windows or the fireplace or the beautiful wood floors. As our job is to market & sell each space, we know how effective it is to only showcase carefully chosen wall art or mirrors is balanced against the other features in the room.


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.

A professional stager will help arrange furniture properly to showcase a home's architectural focal points.
A professional stager will help arrange furniture properly to showcase a home’s architectural focal points.

Try to Sell a Home with Dated Finishes & Features

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.


Sell Clutter instead of the Home

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 is essential to showcasing the home’s architectural features and to making spaces appear larger and more appealing. It’s all about adding value and the WOW Factor.  We tell clients all the time that a home up for sale needs to model a lifestyle  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 features a lifestyle they aspire 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 Naked

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.

Vacant homes take 80% longer to sell than staged properties. They also sell for significantly less than list price. Add value & appeal with staging to maximize the sale of your home!
Vacant homes take 80% longer to sell than staged properties. They also sell for significantly less than list price. Add value & appeal with staging to maximize the sale of your home!

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.

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13 Comments Add yours

  1. Gloria Douglas says:

    This article is very well done and makes total sense when listing a home to have all your ducks in a row.

    Congratultions !!!



  2. angala Macy says:

    Terrific article! I just spoke with someone on the phone asking if they should move out all of their furniture before putting it on the market. They said a Realtor told them to do this. Thanks for backing up my statements to this person that you should NOT do this. I am printing this and sending it to them.


  3. Kay says:

    Good morning:
    I enjoyed your well written article which will be beneficial to each Realtor. I know with the economy being in a slump, each Realtor seems to having challenges with their clients in spending money for staging, etc.


  4. Lyle McNair says:

    I Agree with everything written here, except the title! There are only nine (9) items listed! There also needs to be a balance between “overfurnished” and “unfurnished”; both will leave a negative impression.


    1. You’re totally right Lyle – there is a very delicate balance between over furnished and under furnished! It’s difficult to strike that balance and that is why a professional stager who can achieve that look is most definitely worth every penny!


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