StagingTechniquesBuyersHate0327Staging will determine how easily you can sell your home, and luckily it’s one of the few factors you have some control over. We’re not talking about major renovations here–just deep-cleaning, decluttering, and maybe a fresh coat of paint. The point of staging is to remove anything that will distract a buyer from all the great things your home has to offer. But it’s easy to go overboard if you’re not careful.

Here are a few of the biggest pitfalls we’ve seen when sellers over-stage a home.

1. Don’t be dull

Are you selling a hotel room? No? Then don’t make your home look like a hotel. The purpose of staging is not to make your home perfect and bland. You want the buyer to feel that your home looks this nice all the time, so it should feel like real people live there. It’s okay to let your decor keep some of its personality. A few spots of bright color photograph well, and will stand out in listing photos. Even simple touches add personality, like a red throw pillow or a turquoise fruit bowl.

2. Selling with smell

Of course you don’t want your home to smell like last night’s beef stroganoff when a potential buyer arrives. But many sellers overcompensate with potpourri and air fresheners. Beware of overwhelming a serious buyer with strong scents. Some ambitious sellers have even gone so far as to bake cookies or bread before a showing, to give the house a homey smell. We’ll leave that up to you, but keep the competing smells to a minimum.

3. The sound of music

Leaving mood music playing during a showing is likely to backfire. You won’t be able to guess the buyer’s musical tastes, and you risk making them feel like you’re manipulating them.

4. The elephant graveyard

Sometimes it’s necessary to out before the house sells. But too many sellers take their best furniture and possessions with them to their new home, leaving only the most run-down furniture behind. In a sparsely furnished house, it’s even more important that the pieces left behind are tasteful and add to the ambiance of the home. The old sectional sofa you trash picked in college, sitting forlornly in an empty living room, will just make the house feel abandoned. The house should be well furnished or completely empty. Not somewhere in between.

5. Wasting money on the wrong renovations

Many sellers undertake huge projects right before they sell. Perhaps the bathroom is outdated, and you’ve always wanted to fix it up. But it’s hard to guess which renovations will provide the greatest return on your investment. Small touches like new cabinet hardware or new light fixtures might go a long way toward making the home feel up to date, without doing a major renovation costing tens of thousands of dollars. A savvy agent can help you figure out how much updating is needed so your home will sell easily in the current market.

6. Remove clutter, don’t just move it around

We can’t overemphasize the value of decluttering. It makes the listing photos more attractive, which translates to more showings, and it makes the house feel open and airy. But it rarely works to try to hide the clutter. A serious buyer will want to look under the hood, kick the tires a little. That means they’ll explore the basement, open up your closets, and even look under your sink. So it’s important to get rid of your extra belongings completely. Get rid of junk, move some of your treasures to your new home, or even rent a storage unit. It might seem like a lot of work, but it will make it easier to move out once you get the offer you’ve been waiting for.