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By Tara-Nicholle Nelson | Broker in San Francisco, CA

5 Hypnotic Home Staging Techniques – and How to See Through Them

We all know how important home staging is if you’re trying to sell a home. It’s equally important when you’re buying real estate for exactly the same reasons. Just like a person you meet on a blind date, staging is all about highlighting assets and deflecting your attention from any flaws. As a buyer, you have to learn to look past the staging and see what lies underneath.

That’s not as easy as it sounds because clever staging can be hypnotic. I once had a client who called this the "vortex of cute." If you hear yourself oohing and aahing over wall hangings or a fabulous sectional, watch out!  Even if you’re buying a furnished home, which is rarely the case, you're focusing on the wrong thing.

Understanding hypnotic staging techniques will help you break their spells. Here are five of the most common, along with corresponding tips that will help snap you back to reality so that you can really see what you’re buying.

Hypnotic Staging See-Through #1:  Tiny Furniture. I’m sure that you’ve gone through your closet at one time or another to put together an outfit that made you look smaller than you are (fine, then – I’ll speak for myself!). Well, house staging aims to accomplish the exact opposite. By opting for very small furniture, rooms can be made to appear much larger than they really are.
That can be a problem if those rooms don’t accommodate your lifestyle.

I’m not recommending you turn away from a potential home just because it won’t fit your Nana’s custom-made-for-her-13-kids-and-their-spouses dining room table. But if the 'kids bedroom" won’t fit a standard-sized bed and dresser,  or you’d have to be the size of a Barbie doll to fit on the chaise lounge that the living room is sized to fit, you’ve got a problem.

Should you fall in love with a place that's heavily staged with tiny furniture, bring measurements of your furniture and a tape measure on your second look to make sure they’ll actually, comfortably fit.

Hypnotic Staging See-Through #2: Camoflauge and Cover-Ups. Just like baked cookies can make a house smell homey, gauzy wall and window coverings and soft music can make it seem positively dreamy. Downside: they can also camouflage a whole lot of nastiness. Don’t be fooled: investigate. You need to know what the natural light and sounds will be like after the gauze is gone, so ask for the music to be turned off and throw open the curtains. Then look outside the various windows to see what’s out there – I’ve seen power poles, neighbors’ patchwork roof repairs and even, once, a backyard dog fighting ring, obscured by gorgeous window coverings.

Speaking of looking, make sure you draw back any and all coverings, and open all closet and cupboard doors. I know a homeowner who only found out after she had purchased her home that the built-in microwave was powered by an extension cord. She hadn’t wanted to snoop, so (much to her electrician’s subsequent delight) she simply didn’t check behind door #17.

Hypnotic Staging See-Through #3: Activity Props You’ll Never Use. Don’t you just feel all warm and fuzzy when you walk into a room with a lovely crib and a baby mobile? See a room with well-organized shelving and a craft table and you immediately imagine yourself scrapbooking or quilting. Yoga mats and meditation pillows almost make you want to find your mantra, but also make a room seem more serene than it will ever feel when you actually live there (considering you’ve never said a single ‘om’.)

Come on, now - this is you we’re talking about. Unless you have—or plan to have—a baby or already do crafts or meditate, you need a home that will fit your lifestyle, your needs and your wish list. So when you feel yourself being swayed, just make a list of the activities you actually do in your current home and want to do in your new one, and pay attention to whether a given prospective property actually has space for those items.  (I’ve heard that stamp collecting can take up almost as much space as cultivating orchids – who knew?!)

Hypnotic Staging See-Through #4: Any item that seems to be there strictly for appearances. Décor can often hide or diminish the appearance of flaws that seem like small potatoes in light of the overall fabulosity of the place, but can actually prove expensive to change. So check for items that seem like they might have been put in just for looks—including curtains, rugs, paintings and doorways with no doors on them—and then don your sleuthing hat to figure out what flaws they might be concealing.  Water stains and wall cracks can be covered up (sometimes intentionally, sometimes not) by area rugs and wall hangings, and wonky floor plans can be staged as more open by taking the doors off their hinges.   

Hypnotic Staging See-Through #5:  Neighborhood staging. Before you get off investigative mode, you’ll also want to check out the neighborhood. Not the staged neighborhood -- the real thing, warts and cars on the lawn and screaming schoolkids and all. I've actually seen neighbors move their cars and refrain from their normal (noisy) activities when there’s an open house on the block. Even without that kind of intentional neighborhood staging, most open houses are held on a relatively calm days of the week and times of day, when traffic is light and noise is low.

To get the real scoop, make sure to visit the house at different times of day and on different days of the week in order to determine what the noise levels are like at evenings and weekend. You also want to make a point of showing up at the hours you’ll normally be coming and going, so you can check to see how easy it is to get in and out of the driveway vis-a-vis traffic and what the noise levels are like at evenings and weekend.

Agents: What staging see-throughs have you developed over the years?

Buyers and Sellers: What about you? What staging techniques have you found to be powerful – or pitiful?

P.S. - You should follow Trulia and Tara on Facebook!


By Jpwalker2008,  Wed Nov 16 2011, 08:45
Good tips, Tara! One staging technique that we can recommend involves both the seller and the realtor. If the homebuyer is one of those that checks out the neighborhood- on a non-open house day- make sure that your lawn is neatly kept with a fresh mow and kids' toys picked up. For the realtor, do frequent drive-bys to check your real estate sign and the lawn. If the homebuyer can't spot your sign - or they are more distracted by the toys in the front yard, you probably won't be getting a call to see the inside of the home. Thanks again for a great article!
By Joan Inglis,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 03:56
Few folks can envision furniture placement and room function in an empty home. Ethical, professional home stagers do not use "hypnotic staging techniques" geared to put potential buyers under "spells". Some of us are educated, highly-trained, experienced professionals who do not adhere to your list of " Hypnotic Staging See-Through" methods.
There are, however, bad apples in every basket - so sellers and Realtors should investigate home stagers before they hire.
Just as there are top Realtors, there are top Home Stagers. I am proud to be in this category.
Joan Inglis, ASPM®
By Sara Figueroa,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 11:07
Is it wrong to bring a tape measure one the first visit?
I'd like to comment on Sara's question, "Is it wrong to bring a tape measure one the first visit?" Not only is it a good idea to bring a tape measure, but also bring a camera and a pen and paper. It is a good idea to write comments about the properties you are seeing. When you leave and look at a half dozen or so other homes, it will be good to have something to go back on to help jog your memory.
I'd like to comment on Sara's question, "Is it wrong to bring a tape measure one the first visit?" Not only is it a good idea to bring a tape measure, but also bring a camera and a pen and paper. It is a good idea to write comments about the properties you are seeing. When you leave and look at a half dozen or so other homes, it will be good to have something to go back on to help jog your memory.
By Debbie Juleen,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 12:01
Staging See-Through # 2: Staging has a place and it generally helps a home show at it's best. As far as seeing what the house is like with window coverings opened and lights off, that makes perfect sense. However, looking for things like microwaves plugged in with an extension cord... a professional home inspection should have noted that and anything else which would effect the safety and habitabilty of the house.
By P Sullivan,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 12:02
No, Sara, it is not. If you are smart enough to determine that a home won't meet your requirements on the first visit, you save time and gas money on an unnecessary return visit. On the other hand, you may find that everything is fine for your needs. Make the most of each attempt to narrow the field and find what you want.
By Joan,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 12:03
Sorry, I'm so over the cookies. I don't need the calories and the aroma gets cloying after a while. No, I don't want the place to smell like a cat box, but turn off the oven and let me get a feel for what it's really like. PS No air freshener either
By LORI MARLOW, BRITTANY MARLOW,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 12:04
Not all agents or stagers are hiding things when they stage. I stage to sell not to deceive.
By Nsandre,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 12:14
By Judi Boad,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 12:22
Staging is helpful in many ways. It provides the less than creative mind a much needed visual to enhance their perspective of a home. You have provided good points to ponder and cues to investigate.
By Melanie Wold,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 12:23
Dunno if this is considered staging but one agent only showed us a house when there were no regular flights coming in or out of the nearby Naval Air Station (weekends). During the week it turned out we were less than 1000 feet underneath the approach runway - working from home was impossible.
By Gina Odom,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 12:25
I agree with Lori - I stage to sell and not to deceive.
Buyers should work a responsible and educated Realtor. Make sure you do your due diligence and get all of your inspections done. Your Realtor should be able to help point out the flaws of the house. And getting all of your inspections done will help with estimating costs. Make sure you use a reputable company for your inspections.
By Mary Ameur,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 12:33
I agree with Lori a home should be staged to sell and to show off it's greatest potential. What Realtor wants to spend the day with a potential buyer who can only see the home owners personal life in a home and than not settle on a home that they can see themselves in. Hiding the poor structure or a neighborhood? You got to be kidding me. Driving down the street should give you a good idea if this is the neighborhood you want to live in. If the structure, electrical and plumbing is not sound your concern should be with the inspector not the stager. The stager helps the home owner de-clutter, remove personal items and creates a pleasing environment. A good home stager will point out any problems they see up front with the home owner and make a list of these items and help them to correct any deferred maintenance issues.
By cckeimig,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 12:53
Thanks for the good tips, just in case we need them. Sometimes it *is* quite useful for ppl to see furniture in homes they look at so that they can get an idea of true sizing. I've seen programs where people thought houses looked small because of the lack of furniture (or that they looked huge), and they appear more comfortable looking at furnished places because it gives them reference points.
By Joyce Lowe ABR,CRS,GRI,CNS,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 13:10
You should never take photos of a sellers house without their permission. You are the buyers agent and have not been given permission to take photos of their home and neither should your buyers.
By Suet,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 13:20
When I was in the market, and made the trip across country to purchase; I preprinted a check list of all the features I was looking for in a home, materials, quality of construction, number of outlets, color, room size, initial appearance. Added a section for notes for outstanding features; fancy trim work, pool, extra garage, low maintenance landscaping, etc. I put the address on each sheet, with zip code, and as I went thru each property I could easily determine if I should consider putting an offer on that specific home. This allowed me to compare each home without the "staged" attributes getting in the way of of a logical decision, and prevented it from becoming an emotional one. When I was done each day I could put the MLS, my notes and the photo of the home in front of me, this allowed for an objective and informed process. I found a home, with everything on the "want" list, & many items on the "would be nice to have" list. I don't have any recollection of what type of furniture or how the home was staged, because I was able to look past the personal items to the actual house.
By Sally English,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 13:36
I have been around real estate for a long time but have never had anyone identify the "tiny furniture" trick. Thanks for sharing.
By Stacey Gibson,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 13:49
I agree with Joan Ingolis, ASPM. Accredited Staging Professionals do indeed enhance property by highlighting features of the home, inside and out. They do not use tricks to hide concerns as anything that is of concern should be listed on the disclosure for the property. As for using props to sidetrack buyers, that is not the intention. It is simply providing options for space use and allowing buyers to get a feel for the size of the room. Stacey Gibson, ASPM, Chico Home Staging
By Joanne Bernardini,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 13:50
Don't forget the air fresheners and scented candles could be masking a big problem! I once showed a home with an excessive amount of them and it turned out the chimney had had a fire and the attic was dripping with a smelly black tar like substance!
By Thedharma,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 14:00
Thank You Tara, These tip's are a great service. Thanks again for all of your insight.
By Gary Faber,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 14:04
This article should have been titled "5 Attributes of Poor Home Staging". Those of us who are competent and do beautiful work at http://www.nurturesourcedesigns.com in Berkeley, CA would not even consider these as "techniques." I can only infer the writer has simply run across a bad patch of stagers in their time. Thank goodness for the recession as many of the shocking stagers are out of business and many lesser real estate agents too (a bigger problem than bad staging). If you really want to inform your readers and buyers or sellers about great real estate write about the home preparation work prior to sale that is crucial in today's market for a timely sale at the best price. Our Berkeley based design company projects manages the painting, flooring, kitchen/bath enhancements, lighting, landscaping (all things the buyer purchases when they buy the house). For us staging remains vital to the home presentation but we have always been clear it is about the house and the feeling within that makes a house into a home.
By Rochelle Curtis,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 14:09
New construction homes are sometimes difficult to show buyers. Here's a good reason for buyers to view them with their real estate agent, and not by themselves. When we walk through the models and they exclaim over the granite countertops or the lovely landscaped back yard, along with how big the secondary bedrooms seem to be with a bed and dresser in there, I have to remind them that this is the "model", and not what they will actually be buying (unless they buy that model and the furnishings). The countertop is a costly upgrade; your back yard will be just dirt; that staged bed is shorter than could accommodate the average person's legs. So we not only have to assist in helping buyers overlook resale home staging, but especially new home staging that has the upgrades that the buyer falls in love with. It's sort of like the wonderful new toy that the child craves and gets for birthday, and then finding out "batteries not included" and it takes eight that you don't have...

And to reply to Sara above: I most definitely urge my buyers to take along a tape measure, a camera (to use in vacant homes), and to use the MLS printout I give them to take notes on. I also suggest that they already have notes with their own furniture measurements so they can determine if the furniture will fit into various rooms (easier than trying to walk the "maybe" dimensions of a large sofa and/or king-size bed, which I have seen them do).

Excellent article, by the way!
By Ann Meng,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 14:09
I believe that for most Buyers, the real decison is made in the first 30 seconds, 6 feet inside the front door. If they do not feel that this is "home" no amount of measuring and cabinet opening will make it happen. I have also learned that most people cannot make the mental visual leap from what-is to what-could-be, so good staging is a benefit to both the seller and also the buyer. Once the emotional decision has been made, then is the time to take a closer look, so the price and negotiaion, which is a rational decision can be made with care.
By Info21,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 14:20
This was a great article. I have oohed and ahhed over the artwork myself; but I've also returned to the neighborhood after 5pm or weekends. (There was a house I was looking at that was on a very busy road to a school...that you had to drive down a couple blocks to see) Turned out the BUSLINE had a stopped outside the house. SKEERCHED, WHOOOOOOSE....every 15 minutes in the am and pm). But, I have to tell you: We DID take the doors off because it IS a wonky floor plan and we actually added a door to close off a laundry room. We just never bothered to change out the wainscotting. So, I guess someone could always cut the hinges back in and put the doors back if they wanted.
By Brenda Wild,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 14:22
Best to peel back the layers of eye candy with your Buyers and make sure they can live with the naked truth of the property. It is always a good idea to lift up the expensive rugs on the floors that might be hiding some ugly truths. Wiring and plumbing can be a bit of a trick, so I rely on the inspectors that go beyond flipping a light switch and turning on the heat.

Too often the Buyer has short sightedness when looking at what exists. Do you job in painting a picture and pointing out the attributes of the room, yard or overall layout of the house. Sometimes it takes a bit of imagination and energy but whey the Buyer sees the possibilities, you have a sale!
By jon,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 14:23
I love the the "vortex of cute." I haven't heard that label before but I'm sure I've shown that house to some buyers!

Seriously, the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents did a member survey a couple years ago and came up with some interesting angles on a buyer's view of staging. It was called "How to not get tricked by staging - and potentially save $5,645 when you buy your home " It is still available at my office website at:
By Tired Seller,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 14:44
Can you tell us just what to do when selling? We had an agent come through, and mind you you can eat off my floors, point out all the tips you gave above! Our home looks model like because this is how we live..no toys, no trash, nothing left out, new or updated everything, but buyers walk though like your a builder and demand uprade after upgrade! We took ours off the market and will wait till it's a sellers market again...look out buyers soon the tables will be turned! Tired of this market!
By Kevin Vitali,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 14:45
Check out the neighborhood. I had a neighbor who bought their house (not through me) and were shocked the first time the train came through. They never realized there were train tracks on the other side of their property line. They never realized it!! I suggest that you look at bing maps see what landmark you see like train tracks power stations and so on.... Drive down every street on either side of your house and see what surrounds it.
By Davidhi,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 14:48
In addition to staging - how about the Seller's being present (husband, wife, and 2 little kids) present during the walkthrough? Cookies were also being baked in a addition to a new fishbowl placed in the kitchen(staged??). My real estate agent did nothing... Me, I was naive. No I see what a gutter business it is. I would trust a real estate agent as far as I could spit!!!
By Sarah Rummage,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 14:51
Ever go into a neighborhood to show homes, and they have all been staged and they all look alike? Beautiful, but none stand out. How can we stage, and still have the home be tasteful and unique?
Sarah Rummage
By Debra Parker,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 14:56
Your point about #3 , I recently rented a home with intent to buy within 1 year. I dont like carpet so at first it was a turn off. Just when I thought I can live with the carpet I discovered dust mites, after itching for no apparent reason when I walked the floor, I called Stanley, who discovered the mites. One rainy day I noticed beneath the carpet was molded wooden floors, I always said what owner would cover up a nice woden floor with carpet, the answer was covered up, a owner with molded flooring.
By Beverly Carlson,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 15:05
First time I have heard of hypnotic staging! What training covers that?!

My experience is that buyers see what they see. The ugliness of a house comes to light real fast with a home inspection and that is not the stager's role to do home inspections. As far as even thinking about covering up bad flooring I won't do it! Neither do I shine a spot light on it. That is the seller's responsibility (and the Realtor's) to disclose and the buyer to use a bargaining item during negotiation.

Staging is more like get ready for Sunday dinner company. You decide it's time to get ready and clean and polish the dining room table and set the table with the good china. This approach is not ordinarily not considered hypnotic, just good taste.
By Albert Burns,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 15:07
Great points..
By Sharon Whitehead,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 15:10
they sell the tiny furniture at Garden Ridge and I am sure at other big box "import" stores. As a pro stager since 1999 and a licensed agent since 2004, I thought I had seen it all. But furnishings like this are more a "placement" than a true staging. It is a lot easier and cheaper than moving/buying real furniture and if stagers are just getting into the business, it may be the only thing they can afford for inventory. I know houses sell faster and for more money when properly staged. http://www.showhomedecor.com
By Lavonne Jolley,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 15:24
The main thing that I tell my sellers is "If you don't plan to keep it after you move, go ahead and donate it to charity before putting the house on the market......and clean, clean, clean!
By Linda Landry,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 15:27
Personally, as a REALTOR and a potential buyer myself, I prefer a few home like touches rather than a 'staged' look.
Add a few color coordinated bath towels, rugs, flower vases and a corner setting of table and chairs for warmth. Trying to 'make' a house look occupied but not lived in is fake to me and buyers laugh at the cardboard big screen TV that isn't fooling anyone. The realistic approach is more believable and allows the buyer to see the condition of the floors/walls as well as room sizes. All buyers I have assisted envision their furniture fitting or not into the space available. If not a
handy tape measure is more accurate than another article of furniture they will never see again.
By Bj Kenyon,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 15:29
We were just at a beautiful new Model home build by one of Americas top builders.
When I asked to see the same exact model that was just finished just down the street but wasn't all glitzed up... the sales agent looked shocked. I told him how was I suppose to get a real feel for the place unless I saw it stripped of all the decorator touches like beautiful furniture and wallcoverings. He didn't like my idea one bit.
By Sue Mullins,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 15:38
As a buyer I always take photos of the properties we are looking at. Some sellers welcome it. The first picture I always take is of the street number at the front of the house or apartment. After ten+ properties there's no way I can remember which one had the wonky kitchen cabinets. So first picture = house number.
By Bj Hardin,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 15:40
An interesting perspective on home staging. As a stager myself, i never use "tiny "furniture, nor do i even know where to get "tiny" furniture. I use furniture I rent from a bonafide furniture rental company (that real people use). As far as "hiding" problems with the house, I believe it's the realtor's/seller's responsibility to disclose all issues-at least it is here in California. And just for the record, most of the stagers I know are not in the business of deceit, but in the business to help buyers envision themselves living in a space, and the possibilities of use for a room-whether it's yoga, a craft, a hobby, etc. Quit bashing staging!
By June Iseman,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 15:47
Efective staging is a must for some properties. Brokers stage to sell, not to camoflage. This is a ridiculous arcticle. Buyers are not idiots.
By Bj Hardin,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 16:12
let me say one more thing-the reason staging exists is because there is nothing more intimidating to most home buyers than a big empty room. Most of us cannot visualize furniture in an empty space, and 9 put of 10 homebuyers will think their bed wont' fit in the bedroom-unless you SHOW THEM IT WILL. the power of staging-an awesome tool!
By Suzanne DeTurris,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 16:19
Open houses are held on Calm days...are you serious??? They are held when customers are most likely to show up...on a weekend when they are off from work. As far as "rooms you will never use" she mentions a baby nursery with a crib as staged...what a joke. Staging involves putting a home in it's best light yes but in most cases cleaning counter tops and moving furniture so that people can actually get around them is just smart showing. As an agent who stages...it is much better to show a room with furniture then an empty space that you cannot photograph well and has no perspective. We have all seen these photos of a floor and a window..you are left wondering what you are even looking at.
By Isobel Hyman,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 16:48
If you truly believe in the legal definition of a "buyers agent", none of these tricks should be of concern - as the agent advocating for you, as a buyer, should know when they are deceptive, vs. simply adding to appeal - HUGE DIFFERENCE! It is your buyer agent's fiduciary and moral responsbility to represent the house from a professional's perspective - good and bad aspects alike!

From my perspective "staging" merely 'suggests" the possibility of what could be, when it presently is absent (i.e. an empty area 'could be' a great little office etc.). It is NOT to hide or deceive, but help buyers imagine, as many people are simply NOT VISUAL and only see what is in front of them! I've had people not want to buy a home because a wall was painted a certain color - this is ridiculous! and proves the need for realistic/honest staging - so those not visually inclined can 'see' the potential. SO many people pay way more than they should for someone else's renovation.....when a home without it (but a great 'footprint) is undervalued.

There are a lot of 'smoke and mirrors' out there in staging - but that's the buyer and buyer's agents responsiblity - all the homeowner is doing is putting their best foor forward. Example, a kitchen can have 50 year old cabinets, now painted white with 'today' pulls, a stainless applicance or two and walls painted a 'today' color, while everything is old and falling apart, but it can "look" new and renovated. Examine what you are buying and be realistic. Dont' just 'fall' for the 'look', although if you buy the 'look' you can recreate it yourself, just understand, it is NOT the renovated kitchen you might think it is.....knowedge is power, don't put down the listing agent, homeowner or stager, LOOK to your buyer agent, to TELL YOU THE TRUTH! about what you are responding to! and learn to be an educated consumer!
By Voices Member,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 16:54
The price of a property is determined by market, location, condition and presentation. Home staging is a serious profession aimed at addressing the only 2 variables that a home owner can control: condition and presentation. A professional stager 's job is to help a seller address the flaws, not deceive them! Home buyers are not idiots. They are very smart, well informed people with little imagination. As many colleagues have said before me, home staging is intend for helping buyers figure out a property's potential. While tricks and camouflage would never work with them, showing a clean, freshly painted and furnished room (or the virtually staged photos of it) help buyers enormously. Virtual Staging by Ilaria Barion http://www.virtualstagingbyilariabarion.com
By Joel Kent,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 17:06
As a professional Stager of over 20 years now, I really don't know about "small furniture". I have done everything from 1500 sq ft condos to 34K sq foot estates. And Working closely with the Listing agents and the owners, banks, estates we never worked to hide any flaw. These were usually addressed as they would be discovered in any home inspection that was professionally done. Then we were not there to clutter the home but to provide how the home could be used on a daily basis. Obviously each home is geared to it's occupants for their use. I hardly see an empty home as how anyone would live. As far as a Realtor saying that our services were not required I am here to say that I was only called to homes that had languished on the market empty for 10 months or longer. And I am very pleased to say that I never left a home unsold, and in the past 20 years that I have been doing this I have managed to aid in selling over 30 properties and the real estate professionals that I elect to work with are all multi million dollar achievers and understand the value of the craft. I am an Interior designer by trade.
By Jerry Stevens,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 17:09
Joyce Lowe wrote: "You should never take photos of a sellers house without their permission. You are the buyers agent and have not been given permission to take photos of their home and neither should your buyers. .."

Well, I've been to The White House and the Secret Service would not permit us to take pictures of THAT house, but other than that, I can't imagine that a person who hopes I will buy their house would be afraid I might take pictures. You simply do not need permission to take pictures of a house that you are considering buying.
By Terrylynn Fisher,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 17:10
Thanks Beverly, I like your thought process, truthfully the good Realtor that works for customers and clients not "deals" would never try to trick a buyer. I do think it's in good taste to have the property clean and no odors or clutter...like you would want to see it if company comes. A proper home inspection is always in order and agents most often attend and do their agent disclosure at the same time. Would we want to sell our clients a dud and loose all potential referrals? I don't think so. That is short sighted. All I can say is that agents LOVE to be referred to new clients by their past clients. I think when you do your business from the integrity and goal of serving the client, at least for me, I'm doing the business I enjoy with the client in mind. Not a quick deal. So as with any industry, I guess we have our warts.
By Jennifer Duaine,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 17:20
Tara raises a great point here. A savvy consumer should pay attention to neighborhood, condition, (i.e. disclosure/inspection), and price. A staged property can be deceiving... Certainly it has value, to give the consumer ideas.... But it would be great if we could all just focus on what we were buying, instead of how it was to be decorated.
By Byrone Mayo,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 17:22
Wow, you no i have gotten over 35 home's and after buying them, I have to look back, and say to myself what Tara said is to be true...But their are some great realator's out here, and I'm thankful to those who love their job!!!
By Byrone Mayo,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 17:44
By Susan Atwell,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 17:50
I’ve been hypnotized by all the great comments on this article.

As a home stager, I laughed just a little when I saw the headline. If people could look past staging, then couldn’t they just as easily look past clutter? And if they can look past clutter, why do we need to stage? ;-)

Seriously, my first goal when staging a house is to make it move-in ready. Sometimes that’s all you can do - fix anything that is broken, downplay the unattractive, and make sure the home does not come across as needing a lot of work. And at the same time help home buyers make an emotional connection to the home so they will want to stay and look under the rug, behind the curtains – really see the house.

A staged home should come across as warm, inviting and spacious. I know I have not done my job, if it just looks staged. http://www.atwellstagedhome.com/
By Donna Dazzo,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 18:02
As a professional home stager, one who helps real estate agents sell their listings, homeowners sell their homes and buyers envision how the space can be used and if their furniture will fit, I object to the way you portray the role of home staging.

I never use tiny furniture - not even sure what that is - nor have I heard of anyone using this "trick" nor is it taught in any home staging training. Rooms actually appear smaller when they are empty. Even I have to pull out my tape measure to see if a queen size bed will fit in a bedroom. That's why it's important to furnish vacant listings.

Also, rooms need to be defined for the buyer. Is this an office, a bedroom, a dining nook? What is it? Staging helps with that.

Also, as mentioned by Ilaria, staging is also about the condition of the property. Professional stagers always tell the homeowner to paint, clean, make repairs, update lighting fixtures etc. so buyers don't feel like they have projects ahead of them and therefore offer a lower amount of money, or worse, turn around and walk out the door.

I do tell home sellers that we don't want a buyer to walk in a room and immediately see the bad view, so let's put up some sheers so that the buyer can focus on the space instead. But a buyer would have to be an idiot not to eventually peel back the curtains to see what the view actually is!

And what's wrong with imagining yourself doing yoga in a room set up to do this activity? Perhaps their current home is too small for such a special room, but they've always wanted it. Why not show them the potential of the home?

Every home, including those NOT staged, has artwork, curtains and area rugs. Should homeowners selling their homes remove them?

Buyers should do their homework before making an offer, and of course have a home inspection. But to tell them that staging is all a bunch of tricks that will fool them into making an offer, is doing everyone involved in the sale (buyer, seller, agent) a disservice.
By Ross Therrien,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 18:40
I always tell my buyer clients to remember, all the pretty will be gone after closing. Staging though is great for homebuyers needing some vision and ideas.
By Elslosch,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 19:08
I appreciate the comments about checking behind the curtains, driving through the neighborhood, counting outets in a room, bringing a notebook and pen, and bringing measuring tape. When it comes time to sell my home, I will not want anyome coming through for the first time and taking photos of my home. I have some nice stuff and do not want that advertised to anyone. But if they took pictures in my presence of architectural features, that is another deal altogether. I take alot of care in my home when it comes to keeping it maintained well, so on a first visit if I half way like a home, I will be looking over the furnace and air conditioner, and checking out the built in appliances and not wasting any time. And I will be looking to see if there is decent overhead lighting, evidence of serious wall cracks, past flooding, and all that stuff. I still cannot understand why people waste their breath commenting on wall and rug colors. Honest to goodness, the windows, roof, siding, and mechanical guts of the house are what will financially take a homeowner down. The rest is eventually fixable. But I have seen homes with the "little furniture", and I think that is an obvious trick as well. But that is why measuring the furniture you plan to take with you, and bringing a measuring tape are a good idea. The home measurements provided are not always entirely accurate.
By Janet Ford - (918) 856-5718,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 19:37
Bring a tape measure? Let a buyer take photos? Well, that will depend on your state regulations and permission from the seller. For a Realtor some states do not allow them to "measure." No way would I allow a buyer client to take photos of a seller's home, without prior authority to do so. The buyer can review images of the home from flyers or on-line.
Get real people, this is how homeowners could lose their silver, or Mona Lisa and you are now involved in the "plot." Do you want to stay in business, lose your license, or go to jail, directly to jail and do not collect your $200.
By Wes Black,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 19:37
The very best with Tara.
By B Dawson,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 19:53
What does it say about consumers who "can't envision furniture placement and room function in an empty room"? If it's a living room, what do you do in your current one? Or the bedroom, the dining room? The more professionals up the marketing volume, the dumber consumers become.

I'm not a realtor. I've purchased multiple homes in my adult life and our most recent purchase was made after seeing a lot of empty homes - and I mean empty. I didn't have a problem looking at empty homes and my realtor had no problem discussing them, pointing out good features, possible problems and always offered good critical assessments. Isn't that the realtor's job? I remember my first house hunt right out of college. My realtor told me "never pay for fresh paint on the walls". That used to be the staging trick, and luckily my realtor put me wise because he was looking out for me. What good is staging if we're supposed to look past it for the flaws it's meant to disguise? It makes no sense.

Our prior home is for sale in Ojai, CA with our realtor coming by to do the listing this weekend. If she recommends staging (the home is empty) she's going to have to come with some hard facts to justify the money it costs. My research has shown that the only people in favor of staging seem to be those who do it or those who have schools that teach how to do it.

I would welcome any links to INDEPENDENT research that supports the 3% increase in selling price - a claim I have seen all over the web. Anyone have links to that kind of research?
By 6601 S Country Club Dr. Okc,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 19:59
My husband and I had been looking to purchase a house for the past year. In this time we had placed bids on 5 different houses. When our realtor took us into a house I would take a dozen or so pictures so that I can keep track of which houses we really liked. We mean no disrespect and we share them with no one. But after looking at 3 or 4 homes in a week, every week they start to meld together so I take pictures. After a year of hunting and looking and looseing to other bids we have purchased home and yes I also took pictures of this house.
By Grace Morioka (408-426-1616),  Thu Nov 17 2011, 20:23
Don't forget the "mood lighting" in the dark rooms. I've seen it often especially in condominiums where the unit is positioned in such as way as not to have a lot of natural light coming into the home. Instead the stager gives the home the "mood lighting", cozy, den-like feel for the living room or dining area. To combat this, turn off the lights and look at the home in daytime without the special mood lighting. I do this for ALL of my homes with my clients so that they really get a feel for the property and the interiors. Most of us don't live with lights on all the time--so knowing what your house will look like in natural light is key!
By Sandy E.,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 21:47
I agree with Donna Dazzo. As a Accredited Staging Professional (ASP), I take offense to this article. It is obvious that Tara has had some bad experiences with some inexperienced Home Stagers. Remember, one bad apple does not ruin the whole basket, so bashing our profession is unprofessional and shows your lack of education on the true meaning and purpose of Home Staging. Most, not all, of us have had extensive training in our profession and are very proud of what we do. We are there to prepare the home to appeal to the broadest group of buyers and to assist the homeowner in making that happen. Our intent is to get it sold and for the best price. Just remember, the price for Home Staging is FAR LESS than a price reduction that the Realtor may have to suggest after a few weeks on the market. Considering the alternative, Staging is the way to go!
By Tamara Schuster Broker, Agent,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 22:02
Great Blog. staging is a huge business in a tough market. Declutter, declutter and minimize is the way to go . Less is more. Make your house shine and eliminate clutter. Staging can be overrated.
By Stephanie Leon PA 786-574-3928,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 22:11
A home inspection should of caught the microwave connected with an extension cord and the water stains that are more than just a stain. A stain is just that a stain and can be repainted... The home inspector will be able to determine if it is an old stain or a current stain, where the issue has not been resolved.

If a buyer falls in love with a home it is not because they were fooled into it as the article suggest.. Cause the home was stage or decorated... A staged or decorated home looks better than a blank slate. Why do you think builders stage/decorate the model homes? Ding, Ding, Ding cause they sell faster.
By Biff,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 22:39
Wow, I am not a realtor or stager, so I guess I shouldn't say anything.

As to photos, I don't understand all the angst, if someone is THAT crooked, and KNOWS what to take pictures of, WHY would they take pictures at all? And someone who would forbid a ruler. Well, good luck on your NEXT client,

Lastly, the comments about a "good home inspector would have caught..." Well, yes, 1 of 3 home inspectors I have hired have caught things beyond what I had "caught". This AFTER I had paid them all about $500 on average. Should I just carry an inspector in my wallet, and pay him $500 for each house I walk into?

Keep it up ya'll. One day, far from know it seems, you may honestly ask yourselves,"I wonder why my sales are dropping relative to peers?"
By The_dallas_dean,  Thu Nov 17 2011, 23:41
Everyone has different tastes so it is impossible to "stage" a home for everyone's liking. Most of the time it is so "dated" anyway. I can almost tell you what year a home was built by looking at what was "in" that year. It makes me laugh when Realtors list items that mean nothing to me as a buyer. (oil rubbed/bronzed fixtures that cost $25.00 at Lowes)Of course now, granite counters, open kitchens and on and on are the buzz words. I hate staged homes but I REALLY hate clutter. I can see through the (Kirkland) staging but sometimes I have trouble seeing through all the junk. I think the best advise to give the sellers is to eliminate their personal items, clean off all the counters (kitchen and bath), have it professionally cleaned, replace anything worn out or broken and have all the paperwork available for updated roofs etc.
By YDMJ2003,  Fri Nov 18 2011, 02:57

Enjoyed your writing style!!!!
Good tips also!
By Mandy.itouch,  Fri Nov 18 2011, 03:37
Thanks for the tips. I never knew about the tiny furniture. I never thought it would be offensive to take pix. When we were looking for our last house I did, and kept them in my camera, but only so I could remember which house went with the notes I took on each. We now rent (while we are stationed overseas), and this neighborhood was so calm and serene every time we saw it....until we got in and were around all day. It's one of the busiest streets! My kids have to cross this street to get to the busstop. On the flip side, we are trying o sell our house back in the states and of course we want our house to look as nice as possible. But we aren't trying to be misleading about anything.
By Tina Walton,  Fri Nov 18 2011, 04:47
Wow. Lots of thoughts are running through my head. As a Realtor, I always think that each home I help a Buyer purchase that they might want me to sell it in the future. So, I am always looking for the red flags. As far as home staging goes, the goal is not to decorated but to create the most mass appeal.
By Ginny Lacey Gorman,  Fri Nov 18 2011, 05:08
Tara, excellent post on disguise in selling a home...I can remember a buyer telling me of a house they had bought at one time that had totally disguised some of the problem elements...it is so important to really look at a home besides using a good home inspector...thank you.
By Betty Lawson,  Fri Nov 18 2011, 05:49
We are going through the process of preparing our home for the market. Our realtor was extremely helpful with recommendations and we look forward to placing them into effect. I also want to remind buyers that someone lives in the home! I always have tart burners lit and they will remain lit! The odors are tasteful and not overpowering. I have viewed other homes on the market photos on-line and they are staged to perfection, cold and austere with no personality and excuse me for saying it but so few people live that way. Even those with no children. I also have a craft room in the fourth bedroom. Come on folks, have a little imagination you can turn it into a bedroom! A rooms purpose is to fit the current owners lifestyle. Showing the space in it's best light and space gets the job done!
By Mickey,  Fri Nov 18 2011, 06:08
I loved the insight provided by realtors here. I've worked as a painter's rep http://(www.perrygreaves.com and he's on Artistsspace.org) and Perry provides art for staging. I've never put up good work over a hole in the wall. But I understand this message about false advertising. It's been around for decades. But how far do you take this fear? On a first date, do you ask her to take her hair down and put her glasses on so that you can determine if you want to continue seeing her? It might be better to assume that cosmetics will always make her look better and go from there.
By Rooms In Bloom,  Fri Nov 18 2011, 08:12
As a professional home stager, I take offense to this article and the implication that home staging covers up problems and 'tricks' buyers. The process a professional home stager uses actually identifies all the problems home owners need to fix BEFORE a home is showcased. If the home owner refuses then a pro stager does have the right to refuse to stage the home. We NEVER advocate 'hiding' things - we want to maximize the home's features and highlight its upgrades. We always recommend that a seller attend to deferred maintenance before we stage and we have refused jobs when they haven't.

I hear a lot of people saying that buyers should be able to look beyond what is in front of them but this is not a reality. Ten years ago significantly more people could see a home's potential regardless of its condition and how it was presented. This number has dropped to only 10% of the population which can see beyond what is in front of them. That means a whopping 90% NEED staging in order to see a home's value. Don't get upset at stagers for this stat - its the new generation of buyers who are determining what a seller has to do before the house will sell at its full value. We call this model home mentality (http://decoratingdivas.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/model-home-mentality/).
If the stager you consult with advises to hide stains with rugs or holes in the wall with pictures - RUN not walk - away and find a professional who will enhance the home, not hide the problems.
By Trina Macchi,  Fri Nov 18 2011, 08:40
I have never heard of "Hypnotic home staging" and I think the title is deceiving. What you are really talking about is "cover up techniques". A good home stager should simply strip away clutter, personal items and dated colors etc. to uncover the features of the home so that the buyers are not distracted and are able to easily see themselves living in the space. It is that simple. You are giving buyers yet another thing to be paranoid about with your misleading title. It is common sense to look out windows, listen for noise, open closets, measure and to lift up rugs. No buyer should ever be afraid to do these things, especially at a second showing!
By Sbean1018,  Fri Nov 18 2011, 11:54
Taking photos or filming a house while attending an open house is a practice that should be widely discouraged. The only time it is appropriate for a buyer is while you are in the company of your agent.. Random people who just walk in off of the street could have ulterior motives. If allowed photos and video, they have just got a blueprint of your windows, doors, security system, landscaping access and VALUABLES! People know you are moving and a U-Haul in the driveway is not unusual. Be careful, be safe.
By Alice Zamnuik,  Fri Nov 18 2011, 12:02
This struck me as a biased article about staging homes. I have enjoyed some of Tara's articles and have found a few words of wisdom and helpful tidbits. In my experience most buyers need to see visually how a room can look with furniture in it. Very few buyers can visualize their own furniture in a room that is empty. I don't believe I have ever seen a home staged to deceive, the exception being a few builder's "model houses" that are loaded with all the upgrades. A good real estate agent-Realtor will always point out the flaws of a house that they can see visually and they rely on a good home inspector and the seller's disclosure form to inform the buyer of any electrical and structural problems that can't be seen visually. As to staged neighborhoods, I do agree with Tara that it's always best to inform the buyer to inspect the neighborhood at night-time, weekends, and times that they would be departing and arriving from work. I also recommend checking a street out at 1:00 AM on a weekends to see if there are any potential problem neighbors. Another person mentioned checking out railroad tracks and flight patterns, especially when buying in a state or area that you are not familiar with. I recommend pulling up the satellite image, using Google - mapquest, to see what is around a property.
By Helen Oliveri,  Fri Nov 18 2011, 13:07
Great Buyers tips to look at when visiting properties.
By Jill Hosking-Cartland,  Fri Nov 18 2011, 15:17
Both the pros and cons of believing staging is a conspiracy, have been very well represented here. So, as a Professional Stager, I'll just say this: If I could hypnotize a buyer with my staging work, I'd be charging a lot more.

Ridiculous article title and theory. As has been stated, buyers are not stupid, and to insult them with intentional trickery will be the death of that Home Stagers' business.
By Jerry Stevens,  Fri Nov 18 2011, 17:12
Janet & Graham Ford wrote: "Bring a tape measure? Let a buyer take photos? Well, that will depend on your state regulations and permission from the seller. For a Realtor some states do not allow them to "measure." No way would I allow a buyer client to take photos of a seller's home, without prior authority to do so. "

Me: And, wondering what the buyer is hiding, I would turn on my heels and run as fast as I could.

Janet & Graham Ford wrote: "Get real people, this is how homeowners could lose their silver, or Mona Lisa and you are now involved in the "plot.""

Now there's a common problem. Mona Lisas in plain view! No, I think a person seriously concerned about theft would know that I could just as easily steal it after seeing it and that doesn't require pictures. I didn't say anyting about posting it online.

I have never asked permission, just started snapping pictures. If asked to stop I would not and would laugh and wait for the police if they were called. There are no laws against it any state I know of, but if you know differently, please be specific about which state or states.
By Home Show Lover,  Fri Nov 18 2011, 21:31
I am not a stager, just an average buyer who loves home shows. I don’t understand why anyone considers appealing staging unethical. In my opinion, the stager is not doing their job if they do not make the house appear its absolute best. I agree with the comment about the cookies. I prefer to see a house without any added aromas; I automatically start looking for the litter box and pet damage when I walk into a house that has baking cookies, potpourri, etc.

When I am looking for a house, I look to see if it will fill my lifestyle and needs. I don’t know how many properties I have viewed that did not display a television before flat panel TVs became the norm. I think the area where people make the biggest mistakes is foregoing properties that don’t have the latest granite countertops or other silly cosmetic item. The room space and layout is 10x more important than the countertop. You can always change the countertop in the future for a minimal cost. You cannot however easily change a room layout or neighborhood.

Overall this was a great, tip of the iceberg article.
By Home Show Lover,  Fri Nov 18 2011, 21:38
I agree with the comment about the builder model upgrades! I wish that they had to display one model that all the standard items that are included in the price they are quoting or at least not let them say the price starts at...
By Lucy LeGris,  Sat Nov 19 2011, 07:56
This article really made me laugh.... I've been in the real estate industry for over 20 years and after going through the ASP Staging Course and all I've learned from them, there's nothing in this article that is true except for #5 and that has nothing to do with Staging. As far as the buyer with the microwave on a extension cord?!?!
Please, where was your property inspection report? Did she even get one?
Thanks to all the ASPs that responded to this article. Buyer beware, hire the best!!!
By Nettemor4,  Sat Nov 19 2011, 10:02
To the defensive stagers writing back here - you needn't be. Tara helps buyers and sellers. If you're a buyer, you have to look at the gestalt of a home - location, structure, and accoutrements.
I'm a homeowner and am always going to open houses to check out our own neighborhood as well as others nearby. I'm not in the market presently, but want to keep my finger on the direction it's going in; and also get some tips on renovating and decorating my own home. Some "staging" is blatantly obvious with cliched deco (or Tuscan) prints and silk orchids in every nook; and other staging jobs are so well done that you can't be sure if there is just a very creative homeowner living there. I appreciate good staging and find that the really high-end stagers often leave their cards.
As for whether there is actually someone living there, usually a quick look at the closets will tell you the age, gender and number of occupants. When a house is empty, it not only doesn't show well and looks paradoxically "smaller," but it clues you that the owner (or estate) is too cheap to shell out for a little staging. That could mean a foreclosure - a possibly good deal; a family that's moved far away with their furnishings and are "motivated" - also a good deal; or it could mean an intransigent seller who has overpriced the home and wants to haggle over every penny.
There are sites (perhaps this one) that tell you how long a house has been on the market - though that can be deceiving because a house can finish its contract and then go on the market again under another MLS number. By constantly checking the listings, you become aware of which houses - and neighborhoods - are languishing. As a potential buyer, it's not always possible to know the reason - e.g. offers can fall through due to water or termite issues and you just can't know that a priori. But a little research can discover a lot. I once found out that a seller had moved to another city almost a year before, had gotten a promotion and was expecting a baby - talk about motivated! Had I wanted that house, I think I could have gotten it in a slam dunk.
By George_Seeker_of_Truth,  Sat Nov 19 2011, 19:51
Tara, you hit some nerves. I well recall the model homes of a major, national home builder. They could not easily hide the low ceilings that I, as a 6' tall American, nearly brushed with my head. The scaled-down furniture was hilarious to me.
Nevertheless, we ended up with a well-built, poorly designed new home. We just did not see the two tiny bedrooms or MB bath, equally small..
Still we loved the home for decades.
Big negative now when buyers
say they want SMALL and keep looking for BIGGER.
By Michelle,  Sat Nov 19 2011, 21:43
I am so mad at myself!!! This month I staged a house where the primary offenders were a leaking roof, a broken water well, and a crud-load of dog-hair (even way up in the chandeliers). If I was a hypnotist as purported in this article, I wouldn't have lined up the roofing contractor, the water well contractor, or $1350.00 dollars worth professional cleaning services. Yes, it went pending in only 8 hours, but STILL, I could have had the same results apparently by simply looking deep into their eyes and maybe bringing in some belly dancers to distract everyone.

Oh well, live and learn...
By Steve,  Sun Nov 20 2011, 06:23
Several good points (and opposing) made here! First consider the common goal for all parties involved, - to create a win-win sale of the home. Tape measure & photos are great, but if the home is occupied, consider possible security risks of photos falling into the wrong hands. One solution is to ask permission from the home's occupants (whether they are the sellers or tenants), and if necessary schedule another visit for photos and a more in-depth inspection. Also, if the seller/home occupants are "prepared for anything," then allowing or INVITING photos, measurements and thorough inspection on first visits can certainly expedite the sale and minimize the risk of losing the sale to another home before a second visit can be made.

When I was a "buyers' agent," I was the one that came prepared with a camera, tape measure, flashlight, plug-in circuit/polarity tester and I was the one who asked the pointed questions on behalf of my client. Unfortunately, many Realtors (in fact ALL of the Realtors I worked with when I was a Buyer), fail to put themselves in the Buyers' positions and they simply want to make the commission and move on to the next client.

As for "Staging?" . . . I am all for it! When trying to sell my home with a Realtor, not only was I present at the open houses, but provided a hot, dark Ghiridelli chocolate fountain with fresh fruit and made sure every potential Buyer and "Lookieloo" enjoyed some. Of course my Realtor "ran the show" and gave tours, but at the same time, I was available to immediately answer any questions about the house's history & structure & quality, hidden amenities, the character of the neighbors, and any other less obvious selling points that came up in casual conversation. The result? Three full-priced offers!
By AccentPositives Home Staging,  Sun Nov 20 2011, 07:37
As a professional Stager, I have never seen, or used "tiny" furniture. Stagers should and DO use furniture that is of appropriate size and scale for a room and its use. Dealing mostly with occupied homes, I often end up removing or splitting up pieces to improve functionality. Many sellers have too much stuff or over sized pieces in their rooms.

Secondly, as a professional Stager, I point out needed repairs or fixes that should be done in lieu of or before staging, good Realtors and Stagers do this. I stress this in my consultations...no amount of staging trumps a clean home in good repair AND that is priced correctly.

Reputable Stagers are not in the deception business as many like to claim. And as for the one comment here that freshly painted walls were pointed out to them as a "trick"....I don't know too many buyers that want to take on painting projects upon moving in unless they are designers or die hard do it yourself types.

Overall I view this as a silly and uninformed article.

Try this http://accentingspaces.com/post/2100321/selling-do-your-homework

AccentPositives Home Staging
Corona, CA
By Staging Guru,  Mon Nov 21 2011, 08:47
To me home staging is not about deceiving the home buyer, but all about showing the possibilities. It's up the to realtor and home buyer to do their due diligence. Most of the serious problems like pet stains under area rugs, walls with cracks, etc have to be disclosed by the realtor anyway. Dana J. Smithers http://www.PresStaging.com
By Ali Shahidi,  Mon Nov 21 2011, 15:15
Staging is one of the best techniques a seller can use to showcase their home. For buyers I do recommend that they bring tape measures, take lots of photos and view the house multiple times at different times of the day. The TDS and home inspection should uncover most major issues.
By Ana Gabrea,  Mon Nov 21 2011, 16:03
The bottom line is, a staged home make a lasting impression. They are more memorable. Staging should highlight the function of each room and show off the home. Often times, there is so much furniture and so much clutter, that sellers would benefit from staging aka/ organizing, de-cluttering.

The best tip I have for realtors and sellers when selling a home is that the sellers shouldn't be in the home when it shows. So many times I show homes and the sellers stay in the house, to offer comments, suggestions, highlight the best features. Each buyer, however, sees something different in the house, and what a seller may highlight as a plus, the buyer may see as a negative.

Thank you for the article!
By Stephen Clyde,  Fri Nov 25 2011, 14:42
Team Clyde has just partnered with a professional home staging company. We believe this partnership is essential to successfully marketing our clients homes. Not only do homes need to be priced right, they must be presented as "Best of Show"
By Ashley,  Sat Nov 26 2011, 10:52
This article makes me think that it is unfortunate that home staging is even called "staging". It implies that a fake "stage" is being set. The real truth is that most home stagers are simply attempting to bringing out the very best in a home. Many homeowners have too much clutter, let things go unrepaired or become shabby looking, purchase furniture that is too big or too much for the space or turn their dining rooms into plastic toy pits. It hardly seems to me that removing clutter, rearranging furniture, adding warmth and ambiance with lighting and artwork and - heaven forbid - hanging curtains is deceptive. And good grief I seriously doubt that the extension corded microwave was a staging trick. Sounds more like a cheap homeowner, incompetent inspector and a buyer who didn't pay attention to details.

Is Tara a buyer's agent only? Has she never represented a seller? Has she never taken on a client whose home was a filthy, cluttered, smelly mess with wall to wall outdated furniture and hideous wallpaper. Would she advise that client to leave things just as they are as not to appear 'deceptive'?

I agree totally and completely that buyers should investigate every nook and cranny before making such a huge purchase, but those who make the nooks and crannies look and feel their best are not attempting to deceive.
By Debra Gould, The Staging Diva,  Sat Nov 26 2011, 13:10
Congratulations Tara-Nicholle on exploiting 2 "hypnotic" marketing tactics, guaranteed to: get readers, attract outside links and increase comments -- Generating Controversy and Creating a Common Enemy!

Of course the seller wants to sell his home for as much as possible, and of course the buyer wants to pay as little as possible. That's true of ANY transaction, real estate or otherwise!

The claims about home staging made here are absurd as already illustrated by the many comments from experienced home stagers who reached out to better educate your readers. You also do a disservice to real estate buyers who you've portrayed as especially gullible.
By Brian Petrelli,  Mon Nov 28 2011, 09:54
Great article. Rugs and door mats should always be lifted up during inspection. We've caught many a warped / discolored floor for our clients.
By Tony Hammer,  Mon Nov 28 2011, 22:56
Staging a property is an art and presentation is a very important part of every type of marketing, sales, decorating or whatever business you are involved in. A well staged property definitely plays a positive role in the showing of a property. However, the agent showing the home should be in control of the situation and be able to direct the clients past minor flaws and decor.

The problem with most sales people is they fail when it comes to showing the positives as opposed to the negatives. A very experienced professional can help make decisions for the client and not just show a product. There is so much more to selling a home than the immediate surroundings. Potential has to be introduced as a selling factor.
One great way for a real estate agent to shoot himself (or in this case, herself) in the foot is to try to discredit the Home Staging industry. It is the bread and butter of their bottom line. Without Home Staging, a major number of real estate agents would not be sitting on higher commissions nor would their reputations as effective top sellers exist.

I wonder if the author of this article has ever advised her seller client to keep the clutter, the smelly cat box, the cracks in the ceilings, out in plain sight so buyers "won't be fooled" . I also wonder if the author has been guilty of advising her clients to lower their prices when a little de-cluttering would show the home in a more positive light - thereby getting the home sold faster, for close to asking price (and sometimes higher) and as a result putting a higher commission in her pocket.

For a real estate agent to try to devalue and discredit the benefit and very real proven results of Home Staging is an example of cutting one's nose off to spite one's face.

Would the author anymore buy a car that still had the personal remnant of its last owner in it? All the discarded rubbish on the floorboards of both front and back seats, the dirt and grime that builds up, the 70 pine tree air fresheners hanging on the rear view mirror? I doubt it. Home Staging is much like selling a car. You have to tend to the details before you can present it in its best light.

Home staging is the act of detailing a home so that it is shown in its best light. It's aim is to create space and play up the architectural features of the home. Suggesting that Home Staging is nothing more than a magic trick is not merely insulting, it is patently false.

Frankly, I've never run into - nor have I ever heard tell of colluding with the neighbors to "neighborhood stage". It is no skin of the neighbors back whether the home sells or not. People are too busy with their own lives to pay that much attention.

I've also never run into "using tiny furniture". I wonder if the author has watched "Alice in Wonderland" one too many times.

I don't feel the author has created a common enemy, however. I feel that all the author accomplished was to broadcast to the public that she could use a bit more education in her career. Anyone who would discredit the very professional industry that helps to put money in her pocket sooner rather than later is one who needs to pay closer attention to her profession's educational resources.
By Matthew Hars,  Fri Dec 16 2011, 17:48
this is funny... good tips tho minimal is good !

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