Few home renovation reality show hosts are as enjoyable to watch as Chip and Joanna Gaines from HGTV's "Fixer Upper." And for good reason: One, let's face it, they're a cute couple. Two, as the show's before-and-after pics make clear, Chip (a contractor) and Jo (a designer) are a potent combo when it comes to transforming humble hovels into gorgeous homes.
And now fans craving more about this pair can get their fill with their first book, " The Magnolia Story," out Oct. 18. This biography reveals how they first met (at an auto repair shop), the highs and lows of raising their "babies" (four kids and their home remodeling business, Magnolia Homes in Waco, TX), and plenty of lessons learned along the way about renovations, real estate, and relationships.
One of the keys to a successful home sale, says Jo, is home staging, where you arrange your furniture and dcor (or some rented stuff) in a way that entices buyers to make an offer. Yet home staging is a highly misunderstood practice, one where home sellers can easily make missteps that can undermine these efforts.
Here, Jo reveals the top five home-staging mistakes she's seen, so you'll know to avoid them when selling your home.
Mistake No. 1: Purging all your family photos
"You'll hear staging experts say to take down your family photos, kids' artwork, and anything personal, so that a potential buyer can picture their family in your home, rather than seeing yours everywhere," says Jo. "Personally, I love knowing that a house is well-loved, and seeing those personal touches displayed reminds me that my family would be happy there, too."
Mistake No. 2: Including too much furniture
"Trying to put too much furniture in one space makes it look smaller than it really is," Jo explains. "Try to stick with three large pieces at most per room to keep the house feeling big and open."
Mistake No. 3: Not cleaning up
"It's true that leaving your house a mess can keep a potential buyer from seeing how beautiful your space really is, so a quick cleaning blitz before a showing can do a lot of good," says Jo. "When the house is clean, buyers can see you love your house -- and know they will, too."
Mistake No. 4: Stuffing clutter into closets
On the other hand, "if you're scrambling to clean up when a real estate agent schedules a last-minute showing, don't stuff your closets full of laundry, toys, odds, and ends," says Jo. "Potential buyers will definitely want to know how much storage space your home has, so no closet will be safe for concealing messes. If you're in a pinch, a last-ditch effort to hide a mess is under a bed."
Mistake No. 5: Ignoring your home's exterior
"Simple touches like making sure the lawn is freshly cut, power-washing the driveway, or putting a few freshly potted plants on the front porch can make a big impact," says Jo. "It's all about reminding them that your house is cared for, so they won't worry that you're also ignoring what they can't see."