What is the Biggest Mistake Sellers Make?

Home Stager with Triangle Staging and Design / founder of Stunning Solutions

Today I was asked this question by some wonderful agents in Georgia. It is a question that I have been asked before by a variety of people: agents, friends, and media editors. Everyone wants to know the "quick fix" or the answer that "cuts to the chase." Why? Because we live in a fast paced world and we know that we can save time if we avoid other people's mistakes. So, here is the answer to this common question . . . .

The biggest mistake that sellers make is: Not seeking professional staging advice.

Why is this the Biggest Mistake? Well, it is because this mistake can cost them lots of precious time. It is because this mistake can cause them to leave major money on the table at closing. This mistake can cause them stress by letting their house linger on the market.

You probably thought the answer to the questions was going to be not creating curb appeal, or failing to de-clutter the house, or not neutralizing pet/smoke odor, or not removing outdated wallpaper. All of them are major mistakes, but the biggest is not seeking professional staging advice so that all of them could be fixed. Every house needs a marketing specialist that knows how to see the property with buyers eyes. That is the art of a professional stager. A two hour consultation will show and teach sellers how to make their house stand out among the competition.

Chances are that the house you are selling, be you the seller (owner of the property) or the other seller (the agent of the property) can be improved in more than one way. There isn't one big mistake, there are lots of little mistakes in each zone of the house that should be improved BEFORE anyone comes for a showing. It is an entire makeover. And it works!

There are only a very few sellers who would not need any advice when it comes to selling their homes. Even interior designers I know would benefit from the advice. That's because they fail to see their home as a product on the market. To them, it is a museum for all of their treasures. And, thats exactly what I'm talking about -- there is a world of difference in how you live in your house and how you sell it. What is the biggest mistake sellers make? Not getting a professional stager to help them see this diffenence.

Comments (7)

Brett Tousley
Keller Williams Realty - Richland, WA
Tri Cities Real Estate | (509) 420-0013

I've got to take my hat off to home stagers.  I work with buyers regularly and I can tell you staging makes a huge difference in the way that they perceive a home.  While it is very common here to see new construction model homes stage, it's rare to see a resale home in it's best condition.

You're dead on!  If you want to best possible price in the shortest amount of time, Price it right, Market it where the buyers are looking, and stage it!

Jun 26, 2008 05:26 AM
G. Calvin Cheatham
EXIT Realty Tri State - Florence, KY

I hate to disagree, an while staging is important, I don't think it is the "biggest mistake". Over pricing and picking the wrong agent are pretty big mistakes.

Jun 26, 2008 05:28 AM
Lorraine or Loretta Kratz
Crescent Moon Realty, Inc. & Land N Sea Auctions. - San Marcos, CA
Certified Negotiation Consultants


How do you get a seller who owes more than the property is worth ---- see the advantages of staging? Unfortunately, many of the sellers in our area have such a small amount of equity if any at all and when you suggest they get a professional stager involved many just balk at the cost. Also, agents are leary of investing in staging because if this listing doesn't sell it money that they invested and cannot recoup.

I see your point about staging, I have seen homes that were dated and in need of help, but price correctly they sell.

Jun 26, 2008 05:31 AM
David Daniels
Owner of FlyersToYou, Inc. and former Top Realtor - Hemet, CA


It's interesting. It occured to me that when I look at my car's interior...it has "stuff" everywhere. Yesterday's mail that I forgot to bring inside, my daughter's homework from that day, a box of Kleenex on the floorboard in the back, my cellphone charger's coil cord laying across the center console, the ticket stub from last night's theater parking still on the dash, the empty Starbucks cup sitting in the cup holder and...um...some dog hair on the back seat left by Kane, our adorable sheperd/rott mix who LOVES to go on car rides with us.

If I were selling the car...I wonder how much I'd get for it if I just left it like it is? Of course, no one is THAT silly! I'd naturally clean it "spic and span"...vacuum the floors (and the backseat), Armorall the dash, hang a new air freshener, wax the exterior, steam clean the engine....(blah, blah).

I'll stage a car in a $35,000 sale....but not my home in a $750,000 sale????

What's wrong with THAT picture??

Hmm....I may put together a generic home staging marketing piece that illustrates the car analogy. People might more easily relate to a before and after of selling a car...than they can home staging. And it would lead them into the "why's" of home staging nicely.

Interesting thought.

Anyway, great post!


Jun 26, 2008 05:59 AM
Honey Johnson
Triangle Staging and Design / founder of Stunning Solutions - Raleigh, NC

Lorraine and Calvin you are right!  Over pricing and picking the wrong agent are huge mistakes.  All of the pieces of selling a house have to allign to make that sell successful.  Many sellers ask me what price should they ask for their house.  They are trying to get a second opinion because they obvioulsy don't feel comfortable with the price their agent has suggested.  I always tell them to listen to their agent.  He or she is the professional.  Sellers who think they know more about pricing than their agents are going to find themselves on the market a long time.  Thankfully, I've never worked with a "wrong" agent.  In many cases I've worked with agents who have taken over a listing after the first agent didn't sell it.  Lots of these agents said staging wasn't needed.  The second agent and I staged it and it sold. 

Over pricing and the wrong agent can kill a deal.  That is a whole other can of worms.  But, for me, when I'm asked the bigget mistake sellers make, it refers to preping their house for the market.  The answer isn't just paint, removing personal photos, or landscaping, its all of it:  Staging.

Jun 26, 2008 06:17 AM
Cindy Bryant
Redesign Etc. Home Staging - Houston, TX
"Houston Home Staging Pros"

Funny, I already had that answer in my head before, I read your post.  It's so true.

Jun 29, 2008 04:27 PM
Phyllis Pafumi
ReStyled to Sell Home Staging New Jersey - Old Bridge, NJ
ReStyled to Sell Staging Homes NJ

NOT DOING ANYTHING can be the biggest mistake.  Yes they need to work with a  home stager but first they must be willing to LISTEN  to that home stager. That is  another huge mistake...not listening and letting us do our job

Phyllis Pafumi

Jun 30, 2008 03:16 AM