There are plenty of articles out there that tell you how to stage your home so others will want to buy it. But that doesn’t clear up the confusion about which strategies are off limits. Staging is an investment, and it can be hard to rationalize spending money on a place you’ll soon be leaving. The last thing you want to do is fill your home with DIY projects that never look as good as the Pinterest images that inspired them. If you want to sell your home quickly, do not, under any circumstances, do the following:

Shop the free section of Craigslist for new-to-you furniture. One oft-quoted staging suggestion is to make sure each room contains just enough furniture to show a home’s potential. A desk and chair can inspire someone to picture their own home office, while a kitchen table can spark dreams of family suppers. Things begin to go awry when sellers decide they need to stage their home with new furniture and head to Craigslist for fast, cheap options. Let’s be serious – few people are going to fall in love with a dilapidated couch you found on the side of the road, and throwing an old blanket over the back of it isn’t going to help. In some cases, it’s better to offer buyers an empty canvas than a home filled with shabby, broken or dated furniture.

Turn your living room into a glorified diorama. Some people get really into staging their home. They begin innocently enough – placing a fruit bowl filled with bright lemons in the middle of the kitchen table, for example. Then they add a few placemats, maybe wine glasses and silverware. Perhaps a pinecone at each seat for a bit of seasonal flair. Before you know it, the “stage” has been set with so many accessories that the room feels like a life size version of your 5-year-old son’s diorama. Fill that fruit bowl with lemons and then stop; in this case, less is definitely more.

Flooding your home with strong, artificial scents. Every home has its own particular scent, and you want to make sure your home has an appealing one, especially when strangers are coming to see it. It’s one thing to go wild with a bottle of Febreze, but it’s quite another to spray perfumes, hang air fresheners, or burn incense in every room. The same rules applies to the nose as it does to the eyes – neutral is best. Make sure your house is clean, take out the trash, lock up the litter box, and place a bouquet of fresh flowers on the kitchen counter. And hey, if you want to bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies right before potential buyers show up, I’m sure no one will complain!

Keep potential buyers in the dark. And we’re not talking about little white lies or sugar coating the facts. We’re talking about the actual dark, such as dark colors, heavy curtains, furniture in front of windows, and closed blinds. When it comes to staging your home, natural light is your best friend. To take full advantage of all the sun has to offer, make sure you clean your windows, wash your curtains, and trim any outside foliage blocking the precious view. If you have time, you can also put a fresh coat of paint on any walls that are dark or dingy. Warm, neutral colors like light gray or off white will make rooms seem bigger rather than claustrophobic.

Get up close and personal. By now, everyone knows that clearing your home of personal photos and mementos is a good strategy. It allows buyers to picture their own families living there instead. But did you know you should also remove yourself from the premises? This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many homeowners are so desperate to sell that they decide to stick around, trailing buyers and pointing out various things. This is a terrible idea because it makes the buyers nervous about voicing concerns and potentially hurting your feelings. Trust that your real estate agent is speaking on your behalf and helping buyers see all that your home has to offer, and go treat yourself to a latte at the coffee shop or a movie downtown while the magic happens.

Staging your home is an art. Some days it might seem like a burden, but when you finally get the offer you’ve been dreaming of, all that hard work will have paid off. For more advice about priming your property and getting the most for your home, contact Network Real Estate today. Together, we’ll do everything right.