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What Staging Practices Should We Avoid When Showing Our Home?

Friday, January 2, 2015   /   by Henry Hilgartner

What Staging Practices Should We Avoid When Showing Our Home?

Q. When preparing a home for showings, are there any staging practices we should avoid?

A. A mantra among real estate agents and home stagers is that sellers need to declutter and depersonalize their homes before putting them on the market. But overly enthusiastic sellers may take this advice too far, said Jarrod Guy Randolph, an associate real estate broker at Town Residential in Manhattan.

“One thing that people shouldn’t do is remove too many personal items,” he said. “Keep a few things to show that this is a home that’s actually lived in, and a home that buyers could make their own.”

For instance, he said, although leaving dozens of family photos on view could interfere with potential buyers’ envisioning themselves in the space, “You might leave one or two family photos,” to help bring the home to life.

Birgit Anich, a home stager in Norwalk, Conn., echoed that advice, noting that she once had a client in Greenwich, Conn., who had gone too far. “She decluttered and depersonalized, but did it to such perfection that when you walked into her house, it felt ice-cold,” she said.

As a result, the house languished on the market for one and a half years, Ms. Anich said, until she added an array of decorative accents to warm it up, such as art, books, rugs and tabletop pieces.

But she warned against assuming that buyers will appreciate your personal tastes and interests. Religious, political or erotic artwork and books should be removed from view. “There might be someone who takes offense,” she said, “but who was otherwise considering the house.”

Flowers can be a nice touch, Ms. Anich said, but don’t make the arrangements too fussy. Simpler is usually better. “Orchids always work well, because they’re beautiful and modern,” she said. “Tulips are great in the spring.”

If you can’t commit to replacing fresh flowers every time they begin to wilt, use silk flowers, she said.

Listing photos are very important in attracting buyers, Ms. Anich said, so it would also be a mistake to focus only on the showings; the home should be fully staged before it is photographed.

Ms. Anich and Mr. Randolph cautioned against introducing a scent into the home, even if you think it is pleasing. “I’d refrain from using any artificial air freshener, or plug-in scents,” Ms. Anich said.


Some sellers may have heard it’s a good idea to bake cookies before a showing. “Don’t do it,” Mr. Randolph warned, because it may just end up reeking of desperation. “People will think you’re trying to hide something,” he said.



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