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Expert Home Staging Tips to Avoid Deal Killing Criticisms

Bill Kurland February 15, 2024

If you think that home staging isn’t important, or if you’ve left it off your “to do” list entirely, you may want to rethink that position, and here’s why:

Staging your home to sell before you list gets you prepared to sell and gets you better photos for your listing, which will create more views for your listing online. In turn, you drum up more interest in your property, which can translate into multiple offers and a greater chance that you will get the price you want. Getting the price you want equals a faster closing and a faster closing means… Well, you fill in the blank of what it means to you.

Today, 90 percent of home buyers search for homes online before ever actually setting foot on a property. Just imagine if you listed your home for sale today and you uploaded and posted pictures of your home right now. What would your photos reflect? What might the feedback from prospective buyers sound like? What opinions would they have of your home’s condition, upkeep, cleanliness and space? Would your home move to the top of their “must see” list, or would they decide that you’re asking way too much for far too little?

Not staging your home to sell or at a minimum consulting with a professional home stager to get advice may cost you more in the end, but following these 5 expert home staging tips can help you avoid any deal-killing criticisms.

Staging Tip #1: Decluttering

They say a happy home is a messy home but no buyer wants to see your cluttered counter tops and kids’ toys everywhere. If you think you can get away with decluttering by simply shoving things in your closets, drawers and garage you could be vulnerable to a deal-killing criticism.

Here’s how to cut through the chaos and declutter your home:

Pare down your possessions by packing away items that are out of season or used infrequently. If you are listing during the summer put away your winter clothing and vice versa if you are listing during the winter. You should also pack any unnecessary kitchen items such as holiday dinnerware or flatware.

Use Off-Site Storage
If you have big, bulky furniture or personal items that are cluttering up your home, consider utilizing a self-storage space. Often you can find a provider that will offer you the first month free or at a discounted rate without a deposit.

Organize for Open Spaces
There are probably plenty of objects around the house that you want to part with. An effective way of decluttering and removing unwanted items is to organize them by where you plan to take them – whether that’s the document shredder, an electronics store for recycling or a charity for donation – can be highly effective.

Staging Tip #2: Depersonalizing

Make sure that you separate the concept of decorating from staging. Decorating is personalizing while staging is depersonalizing in order to help the buyer visualize your home as their home.

These tips for depersonalizing your home will help buyers fall in love with your home:

Depersonalization is all about neutralization. From a neutral color palate to storing away your personal collections such as posters and memorabilia, you want to make your home a blank canvas that any house hunter can paint him or herself into and discover where they will add their personality.

Room Overview
The most important rooms to focus on are your living room and bedrooms as they will be the most personalized areas in your home. The kitchen and bathrooms are more utilitarian and functional, but you should still make sure that you are removing personal items from countertops and cleaning out cabinetry.

Staging Tip #3: Odors and Aromas

Smell is the sense with the strongest connection to emotion, which means an unpleasant smell can send potential buyers running for the hills. Make sure that you cast out evil odors and incorporate pleasant aromas.

Odors to Eliminate
Home shoppers will be able to detect all of the unique smells in your home from the smell of the previous night’s dinner to your dog or cat. Some specific odors that you should be on the lookout to eliminate include:

  • Smoke
  • Strong Cooking Scents
  • Pet Odors
  • Body Odors

Aromas to Add
After cleaning and eliminating any unpleasant scents, you can rely on the following 5 smells that have almost universal appeal:

  1. Lime
  2. Grapefruit
  3. Bergamot
  4. Orange
  5. Peppermint

Baked goods can also be an inviting smell for homebuyers as long as you avoid overly complex scents. Stick to simple chocolate chip cookies, bread or cupcakes to entice house hunters.

Staging Tip #4: Cleaning

A deep cleaning that covers every area and item of your home is a crucial staging technique. You need to make sure that you are as systematic and thorough in cleaning your home as a potential buyer will be at inspecting it. Follow these tips to keep your home clean for staging:

  • Dust from ceiling to floor including ceiling fans and light fixtures, furniture, archways, overhangs, walls and baseboards.
  • Deep clean your carpets.
  • Clean your wood and tile flooring.
  • Make sure that you give your kitchen and bathrooms special attention and don’t skip over a single detail.

Most importantly you need to make sure that you continue to clean throughout the time your home is for sale. Don’t risk all of your hard work coming undone because you let your cleaning routine slip.

Staging Tip #5: Use a Professional

To avoid deal-killing criticisms when selling your home, get professional home staging advice or hire a professional home stager before you list.

Decluttering, despersonalizing, eliminating odors and cleaning are essential steps in properly staging your home. If your busy scheduling is keeping you from completing any of these essential elements then it may be time to call in a professional home stager.

Whether you utilize a home staging expert for their services or just for their advice, you can avoid making any crucial mistakes while focusing on communication with the buyers a beautifully staged home will attract.

Darlene Parris is Interior Redesigner, Organizer and Home Stager with Upstaged!, based in Los Angeles.

This article has been republished for additional educational purposes. This article is not affiliated with any links or products that appear on the same pages. Read more about our editorial policy.