Top 15 Property Staging Mistakes to Avoid

Are property mistakes costing you thousands? Picture this: You’ve spent weeks prepping your home for sale, but potential buyers are walking away without a second glance. What gives? The truth is, even the smallest staging missteps can turn your dream sale into a prolonged nightmare. But don’t worry – you’re about to become a property staging pro!


Did you know that well-staged homes sell a whopping 73% faster than their cluttered counterparts? That’s right – the way you present your property can make or break your sale. Whether you’re a first-time seller, or a seasoned property flipper, avoiding common staging pitfalls is crucial.

In this guide, we’re diving into the top 15 property staging mistakes that could be sabotaging your sale. From curb appeal blunders to lighting faux pas, I’ll show you how to transform your home into an irresistible haven that buyers can’t help but fall in love with. Ready to unlock the secrets of staging success and potentially add thousands to your sale price? Let’s jump in and turn those property mistakes into property triumphs!

Why Home Staging Will Improve The Sale of Your Home


Property staging is a crucial element in the home selling process that often spells the difference between a quick, profitable sale and a property that lingers on the market. By avoiding the most common property mistakes, you’re not just tidying up – you’re strategically marketing your biggest asset.

Effective staging allows potential buyers to emotionally connect with your home, helping them envision their future life within its walls. It highlights your property’s best features, downplays any shortcomings, and creates a move-in ready appearance that today’s buyers crave. With staged homes selling up to 88% faster and for up to 20% more than non-staged ones, according to the National Association of Realtors, the importance of staging cannot be overstated.

By sidestepping these pitfalls, you’re setting the stage for a successful sale, potentially adding thousands to your final selling price and significantly reducing your property’s time on the market. Remember, in the competitive world of real estate, first impressions are everything – and staging is your secret weapon to make that first impression count.

Related: 15 Best Tips to Stage Your Home to Sell Faster

Top 15 Property Staging Mistakes to Avoid

1. Neglecting Curb Appeal


First impressions are everything when it comes to property staging and real estate. Your home’s exterior is the handshake that greets potential buyers. Barbara Corcoran, real estate mogul, says: “Curb appeal is worth 7% of a home’s value. It’s the easiest thing to fix, yet it’s the most common mistake sellers make.” Quick fixes:

  • Mow the lawn, trim bushes, and add fresh mulch to flower bedsPlant colorful flowers in pots by the front doorPaint the front door a welcoming color (blue can add $1,514 to your home’s value!)Update old house numbers and mailboxPressure wash the driveway, walkways, and exterior walls
Pro Tip: Consider hiring a professional landscaper for a one-time cleanup. It’s an investment that can pay off big time. Supporting Stat: Homes with high curb appeal tend to sell for 7% more than similar houses with an uninviting exterior, according to a 2019 study by the University of Alabama and the University of Texas at Arlington.

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2. Overpersonalizing Spaces

Mark Scott

Your home should be a blank canvas where buyers can paint their future. Personal items can distract and make it harder for potential buyers to envision themselves living there. Peter Lorimer, real estate expert, advises: “The goal is to neutralize the space. You want buyers to feel like they’re walking into their potential home, not your current one.” Tips for depersonalizing:

  • Pack up family photos, replacing them with generic artworkRemove religious items, political posters, and controversial artHide personal care items in bathroomsClear refrigerator doors of magnets and kids’ artworkStore away unique collections or hobby items
Pro Tip: Rent a small storage unit to keep your personal items safe and out of sight during the selling process. Supporting Stat: According to the National Association of Realtors, 83% of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home.

Related: 7 Things Real Estate Agents Hate Spending Money On

3. Ignoring Clutter


Clutter isn’t just unsightly; it makes spaces appear smaller and less valuable. It’s time to embrace minimalism, at least temporarily. Marie Kondo, organizing consultant, famously said: “The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.” Decluttering strategies:

  • Use the “three-box method”: keep, donate, tossTackle one room at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmedRemove excess furniture to make rooms appear largerOrganize closets and cabinets – buyers will look inside!Use under-bed storage containers for out-of-season clothes
Pro Tip: Rent a portable storage container. It can be kept on your property for easy access or stored at a facility. Supporting Stat: 93% of agents recommend decluttering before listing a home, and 68% of sellers’ agents said decluttering had a major positive impact on the sale, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Also: The Rule Of Three For Decorating Your Home

4. Poor Lighting


Poor lighting is another property staging. Choices Light can make or break a space. Dark, gloomy rooms feel small and uninviting, while well-lit spaces appear larger and more appealing. Joanna Gaines, interior designer, emphasizes: “Lighting is everything. It creates atmosphere, drama, and intrigue in a room.” Lighting tips:

  • Open all curtains and blinds during showingsReplace old light bulbs with brighter, energy-efficient LEDsAdd table or floor lamps to dark cornersInstall dimmer switches for adjustable ambianceConsider adding skylights or solar tubes to dark rooms
Pro Tip: Use mirrors strategically to reflect light and make spaces feel larger. Supporting Stat: A study by the National Association of Home Builders found that 90% of buyers consider good interior lighting “essential” or “desirable.”

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5. Mismatched or Outdated Furniture


Your furniture should complement your home, not detract from it. Outdated or mismatched pieces can make a space feel disjointed and less valuable. Meridith Baer, professional home stager, advises: “The right furniture layout and style can make a space feel larger, more luxurious, and more attractive to potential buyers.” Budget-friendly furniture updates:

  • Use slipcovers to give old sofas a fresh lookRent modern furniture for the duration of your selling periodMix and match existing pieces for a more coordinated appearanceAdd new throw pillows or an area rug to tie different styles togetherRemove any overly large or bulky furniture pieces
Pro Tip: If your budget allows, consider hiring a professional stager for key rooms like the living room and master bedroom. Supporting Stat: The National Association of Realtors reports that staged homes sell 88% faster and for 20% more than non-staged homes.

Also: Best Throw Pillow Combinations For The Bedroom

6. Overlooking Minor Repairs

Roger Davies

Not taking care of Minor repairs is another property staging mistake. Small issues can signal neglect to potential buyers, leading them to wonder about bigger problems lurking beneath the surface. Mike Holmes, professional contractor and TV host, states: “It’s the little things that can make or break a sale. A well-maintained home tells buyers you’ve taken care of the big things too.” Common repairs to tackle:

  • Fix leaky faucets and running toiletsPatch and paint over nail holes and scuffsTighten loose handles and knobsRe-caulk around bathtubs and sinksOil squeaky doors and fix sticky windows
Pro Tip: Hire a handyman for a day to knock out all these small repairs at once. It’s often more cost-effective than doing it yourself. Supporting Stat: According to a Zillow report, homes with descriptions mentioning “new” or “updated” features sold up to 2.5% faster than expected.

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7. Bad Odors

Leclair Decor

Unpleasant smells can be an instant turn-off for buyers, even if they can’t pinpoint the source. Frederick Ecklund, real estate broker and TV personality, advises: “A home should smell as good as it looks. Neutral, clean scents can make a space feel fresh and inviting.” Odor-eliminating strategies:

  • Deep clean carpets and upholsteryUse baking soda to absorb odors in fridges and trash cansSimmer cinnamon sticks and orange peels on the stove for a natural air freshenerAvoid cooking strong-smelling foods before showingsConsider using an air purifier in problem areas
Pro Tip: Place dryer sheets in closets and drawers for a subtle, clean scent. Supporting Stat: A study by Eric Spangenberg at Washington State University found that simple scents like lemon, vanilla, or pine can positively impact a buyer’s perception of a space.

Also: 15 Best Simple Ways to Hang Art Without Nails

8. Inappropriate Color Schemes

Chango & Co.

While bold colors might suit your taste, they can be polarizing for buyers. Neutral colors provide a blank canvas for potential owners. Joanna Gaines says: “Paint is the easiest way to transform a space. Choosing the right color can make a room feel larger, brighter, and more inviting.” Color tips:

  • Paint walls in soft, neutral tones like beige, gray, or light blueAdd pops of color with accessories like throw pillows or artworkIf you have bold-colored rooms, consider repainting them before listingUse white towels and shower curtains in bathrooms for a clean lookEnsure trim and ceilings are a crisp white to brighten the space
Pro Tip: If you’re unsure about colors, consult a color expert or your real estate agent for advice on current trends. Supporting Stat: Zillow’s 2018 Paint Color Analysis found that homes with light blue bathrooms sold for $2,786 more than expected.

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9. Improper Room Definition


Each space in your home should have a clear purpose to help buyers envision how they would use it. Barbara Corcoran advises: “Every square foot of your home should be clearly defined and have a purpose. Buyers need to see how to maximize the home’s potential.” Room definition strategies:

  • Stage the spare room as either an office OR a guest room, not bothTurn an awkward nook into a reading corner with a comfy chair and lampIf you have a formal dining room you never use, stage it properly with a table and chairsConvert underutilized spaces into desirable features like a home gym or craft room
Pro Tip: If you have an unusual space, provide a “suggestion board” with ideas for its use. Supporting Stat: The National Association of Realtors reports that 42% of buyers’ agents said staging a home increased the dollar value offered between 1% and 10%.

Also: How To Decorate a Bathroom on a Budget

10. Neglecting the Kitchen

Pearson Design Group

The kitchen is often considered the heart of the home and can make or break a sale. Joanna Gaines emphasizes: “The kitchen is the most important room to stage. It’s where families spend most of their time and can be the deciding factor for many buyers.” Quick kitchen updates:

  • Clear countertops of small appliances and knick-knacksUpdate old cabinet hardware with modern pulls and knobsAdd a new backsplash using peel-and-stick tiles for a budget-friendly optionStage the countertop with a pretty bowl of fruit or a cookbook on a standEnsure all appliances are clean and in good working order
Pro Tip: If your budget allows, painting old cabinets can give your kitchen a fresh, updated look for a fraction of the cost of new ones. Supporting Stat: A minor kitchen remodel has an average return on investment of 77.6%, according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2020 Cost vs. Value Report.

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11. Bathroom Blunders


Bathrooms should feel clean, spacious, and spa-like to appeal to buyers. Meredith Baer notes: “A well-staged bathroom can make buyers feel like they’re in a luxury hotel. It’s all about creating an atmosphere of cleanliness and relaxation.” Bathroom staging tips:

  • Remove all personal care items from countertops and showersHang fluffy white towels on towel barsAdd a small plant or orchid for a touch of lifeUse a decorative tray to corral hand soap and lotionEnsure grout and caulk are clean and in good condition
Pro Tip: A new shower curtain and bath mat can instantly update the look of a bathroom for minimal cost. Supporting Stat: According to a National Association of Home Builders survey, 78% of buyers consider an upscale bathroom “essential” or “desirable.”

Also: Best Wall and Ceiling Color Combinations For Your Entire Home

12. Forgetting About Flow

Nikolas Koenig

The way people move through your home is crucial. A good flow makes spaces feel larger and more functional. Sarah Fishburne, Director of Trend and Design at The Home Depot, says: “Good flow is about creating a natural path through the home. It should feel intuitive and effortless.” Improving flow:

  • Arrange furniture to create clear pathways through each roomRemove excess furniture that makes rooms feel crampedUse area rugs to define conversation areas in large spacesEnsure doors can open fully without hitting furnitureConsider removing doors (except for bathrooms) to create an open feel
Pro Tip: Walk through your home as if you were a buyer, noting any areas where you have to sidestep or feel cramped. Supporting Stat: A study by the National Association of Realtors found that 42% of buyers are willing to pay more for a home with an open floor plan.

Also: How to Decorate Shelves the Easy Way for a Stylish Home

13. Overlooking Small Details


It’s often the little things that make a big impact and show that a home has been well-cared for. Nate Berkus, stylist, advises: “Details matter. They’re what set your home apart from every other one on the market.” Small details that matter:

  • Use adhesive hooks to hang artwork without damaging wallsPlace fresh flowers or a small potted plant in key areasSet the dining table with attractive placemats and a centerpiecePut out a welcome mat by the front doorEnsure all light switches and outlet covers match and are clean
Pro Tip: Create a checklist of small details to review before each showing. Supporting Stat: A study by HomeLight found that 94% of top agents believe that great curb appeal (which includes attention to small details) can increase a home’s value by 7% or more.

Also: How to Decorate a Kids Playroom on a Budge

14. Poor Window Treatments

Lucas Allen

Windows are a key feature in any home, affecting light, privacy, and overall ambiance. Stylist Nate Berkus states: “Window treatments should frame the view, not dominate it. They should enhance the room, not overwhelm it.” Window treatment tips:

  • Remove heavy drapes that block natural lightInstall simple, neutral-colored blinds or shadesMake sure all window treatments match within each roomEnsure all blinds and shades are in good working orderConsider leaving high windows untreated to maximize light
Pro Tip: If you can’t afford new window treatments, simply removing old, heavy ones can dramatically improve a room’s appearance. Supporting Stat: A survey by HomeLight found that 79% of top real estate agents say the right window treatments can help sell a home faster.

Also: How To Create A Cozy Reading Nook On A Budget

15. Ignoring the Outdoors


Outdoor spaces can be a major selling point, effectively adding square footage to your home. Joanna Gaines emphasizes: “The outdoors should be an extension of your indoor living space. It’s an opportunity to show buyers the lifestyle they could have.” Outdoor staging ideas:

  • Clean and arrange patio furniture to create an inviting seating areaAdd colorful cushions or an outdoor rug to define the spaceHang string lights for a cozy ambiancePlace potted plants around the patio or deckEnsure the lawn is well-maintained and any gardens are tidy
Pro Tip: If you don’t have outdoor furniture, consider renting some for the duration of your selling period. Supporting Stat: According to the National Association of Realtors, 97% of agents say that curb appeal is important to a buyer, with 53% saying it’s very important.

Remember, addressing these property mistakes isn’t just about aesthetics—it’s about helping potential buyers envision their future in your space. By tackling these common staging pitfalls, you’re setting the stage for a faster sale at a better price. Happy staging!

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By implementing these 15 property staging mistakes, you’re well on your way to creating a home that will captivate potential buyers and stand out in a competitive market.

Remember, staging isn’t just about making your home look pretty – it’s a strategic approach to showcasing your property’s best features and helping buyers envision their future there. From boosting curb appeal to creating a welcoming atmosphere indoors, every detail matters in the art of home staging.

By avoiding these common pitfalls, you’re not just increasing your chances of a quicker sale; you’re potentially adding thousands to your final selling price. The time and effort you invest in staging now can pay off significantly when the offers start rolling in.

Now, go forth and stage your way to a fantastic sale!

Property Staging Mistakes-FAQs

How much does professional staging cost?

Professional staging costs can vary widely depending on your location, the size of your home, and the extent of staging required. On average, you can expect to pay between $2,000 and $5,000 for a 2,000 square foot home. However, many stagers offer consultation services for a few hundred dollars, which can be a great starting point if you’re on a budget.

Can I stage my home myself?

Absolutely! While professional stagers bring expertise and often have access to a variety of furniture and decor, many homeowners successfully stage their own homes. The key is to follow the principles we’ve outlined, declutter thoroughly, and try to view your home through a buyer’s eyes. If you’re unsure, consider a consultation with a professional stager for personalized advice.

Which rooms are most important to stage?

Focus on the main living areas first: the living room, kitchen, and master bedroom. These are the spaces that tend to make the biggest impression on buyers. If you have limited resources, prioritize these areas. Don’t forget the entryway, as it sets the tone for the entire home tour.

How long does staging typically take?

The time required for staging can vary greatly depending on the current condition of your home and the extent of staging needed. A basic staging job might take 1-3 days, while more extensive staging could take a week or more. If you’re doing it yourself, allow extra time for decluttering and organizing before you begin the actual staging process.

Should I stage a vacant home?

Yes, staging a vacant home is highly recommended. Empty rooms often appear smaller than they actually are, and buyers may have trouble envisioning how to use the space. Even minimal staging with key furniture pieces can make a big difference in how buyers perceive the home.

Is virtual staging a good alternative to physical staging?

Virtual staging can be a cost-effective alternative, especially for vacant homes. It allows potential buyers to see how rooms could look when furnished. However, be sure to clearly label virtually staged photos as such to avoid any confusion during in-person viewings.

How do I stage my home if I’m still living in it?

Focus on decluttering, depersonalizing, and keeping the home as tidy as possible. Store excess furniture and personal items to make rooms appear larger. Consider renting a storage unit if needed. Be prepared to maintain a “show-ready” state, which might mean adjusting your daily routines a bit.

What’s the return on investment for home staging?

According to the National Association of Realtors, for every $100 invested in staging, the potential return is $400. Staged homes also tend to sell faster, which can save you money on carrying costs.

Should I paint my walls neutral colors for staging?

In most cases, yes. Neutral colors appeal to a broader range of buyers and make spaces feel larger and brighter. However, don’t be afraid to use small pops of color in accessories to add visual interest.

How do I stage outdoor spaces effectively?

Treat outdoor spaces as extensions of your indoor living areas. Clean thoroughly, ensure landscaping is tidy, and create inviting seating areas. Simple touches like outdoor cushions, potted plants, and string lights can make a big impact.

Remember, every home is unique, and what works best for staging can vary. Don’t hesitate to consult with your real estate agent or a professional stager for personalized advice tailored to your specific property and market conditions.

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