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

5 Reasons Your Home’s Staging Might Not Be Awesome (Even if You Think it Is)

Nowhere in life is the old adage that beauty is in the eye of the beholder truer than in real estate. One woman’s dream home might be a mid-century modern, Mad Men styled contemporary, while another’s includes all the gingerbread charm of a classic Victorian. But when it comes to prepping a home to be viewed and (fingers crossed!) sold, there is both art and science to staging a home before its listed to maximize its appeal to the broadest number of target buyers.

The challenge is this: staging is an investment, one every seller can’t afford to make (although studies have shown professionally staged homes sell faster and for more than non-staged counterparts). So many take it on as a do-it-yourself project which, like all DIY home improvement projects, can be fantastic or, mmm, not - depending on the approach, skill, and resources of the “self” who does it.  

The only thing worse than not staging your home for sale at all is to spend your time and money doing the work only to have buyers react badly to it. Here are a few common scenarios in which sellers think their staging is awesome and buyers, well, beg to differ:

1.  You used beat up or ugly furnishings and decor.  Great staging - DIY or professional - includes choosing furniture that shows the home off in its best light, and positioning the furnishings optimally, too.  Sometimes this can be done using certain pieces of the seller’s furniture, other times, furniture must be rented or otherwise obtained.  One area in which budget-minded sellers like to save money on staging is by finding cheaper alternatives than renting new furniture from a staging company or store.

In this era of Craigslist, eBay, Freecycle, estate sales and other peer-to-peer online stores and trading sites, there is an abundance of access to used furniture at great prices. I have no bone to pick with the smart sellers who use these tools to replace their own furniture with something that is in better condition, more attractive or a smaller scale than their own, so as to highlight how much space their home truly offers. That said, using old, floral sofas from Craigslist’s Free Section, unattractive thrift store “artwork” or even your own truly worn out, old furniture is a recurring reason buyers cite for focusing on how bad the staging is vs. the house itself.

What’s worse, the furnishings you might think was THE BEST BARGAIN EVER might actually give your nice home a worn-down, unkempt feel to the buyers who come to see it.

2.  You created distracting themes and scenes.  My friend Barb Schwarz is the head of the International Home Staging Professionals Association; she defines staging as “preparing a home for sale so the buyer can mentally move in.”  The goal is for buyers to visualize the new-and-improved versions of their lives that your home will help them realize, so some pro stagers will set up objects to communicate the lifestyle activities that a home facilitates.  It’s not bizarre to see a breakfast table and chairs on the patio of a home with lovely views, a crib and baby gear-vignette in a small room suitable for a nursery, or a popcorn maker and recliners to show off a media room’s theater-readiness.

Occasionally, though, these scenes and vignettes can go rogue, creating borderline bizarre scenarios that distract and detract more than they help.

A beach scene (ball, umbrella and all) in a midwestern bedroom, a lively Parisian mural and Eiffel tower replica in a California condo and bizarre collections (taxidermy, anyone?) are all real-life examples of staging scenes that have done more harm than good.

3.  Your house is neither clean nor clutter-free. For various reasons, some homes just take time to sell. And if you’re living in a home that is on the market for long, it can be challenging to ensure it is perfectly pristine at all times, meaning every single time a buyer enters it. And it doesn’t take a truly filthy house to turn a buyer’s impression of your home from awesome to awful. The little messes that a family accumulates through daily living can be perceived by buyers as distracting at best - disgusting, at worst.

If your home is well staged, do not underestimate the power of piles of clothes, mail, paperwork, dishes or kids’ toys to deactivate the home-selling power of all the hard work and money that went into preparing the property in the first place.

4.  There are glaring gaps.  Sometimes a home’s staging leaves a glaring gap, an elephant in the room house, so to speak.  This often happens when sellers run out of time and money to prepare a place, but it can be avoided through smart advance planning and budgeting for your pre-listing property preparation.  

  • Rooms - Listen, I personally live in a house that is beautiful everywhere until you poke your head into my young adult son’s room.  So I can relate. This situation might be okay to live with, but it’s a real home staging fail for a property that’s on the market. Don’t let there be one or two rooms that it looks like the stager - or house cleaner - missed.  And this goes for the garage, closets, cupboards and drawers, too.  Buyers like to look inside these areas to see how much space they have - if they are crammed full of junk, it creates the impression that the house lacks storage and order.
  • Exterior vs. interior.  Some homes have amazing curb appeal, but look like they’ve been run over roughshod on the inside.  And the opposite is true: some look like Martha Stewart handled the inside and junk man extraordinaire Fred Sanford was in charge of the yard. Neither of these is ideal.
  • Multi-sensory gaps.  If your home is beautiful to the eye but smells bad, is strangely hot or cold, or has a noise issue (think: neighbors’ music, freeway noise or strange in-house creaks or whirrs), buyers might appreciate the visuals but fixate on the multi-sensory challenges.  Especially if you have pets, you might want to ask a friend or your agent to step in from the outside and give you a gut check on whether your home is smelly - you might be so used to it you can’t trust your own senses.

5.  You lacked a neutral, expert eye. Home decorating and home staging are two different things. When you decorate your home, you customize it with your specific tastes, preferences and aesthetics in mind. When you stage it, you aim to neutralize your home’s look and feel so it appeals to more buyers and doesn’t have turn-off potential.

Schwarz puts it this way: “Decorating a home is personalizing it. Staging a home is depersonalizing it.”

I cannot count the number of beautifully decorated homes I’ve seen where the seller must have thought they needed to do zero staging, and where the seller was simply wrong. Their very personal tastes in Elvis quilt art, red lacquer furnishings or sewing machine collections had been beautifully executed for them, but also were so highly personal, so very specific that it was near-impossible for a buyer to envision their own lives or families or homes or activities taking place in that space.

This is one reason I encourage even sellers who are on a tight budget and can’t afford pro staging and sellers whose homes that have been beautifully decorated to at least have a home staging consultation with their agent and a professional stager.  These pros can call out little “edits” (furniture or decor items you should remove) and give you advice about what buyers love and hate to see in a home that you might be able to execute yourself at a surprisingly low cost.

ALL: What is one the biggest staging missteps you have seen (or made!)?

ALL: You should follow Tara and Trulia on Facebook.



By Maryanne,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 10:12
After remodeling and updating a dated, 1970's condo in an adult community, it remained unsold despite a desirable location in the community and features not offered in other inventory (garage, 2full baths.) For three years and with two agents, I asked "should I stage it?" and the response was not to bother: the clean, new-ness would sell it they said. Empty, I saw the bedrooms as small, and the fine features go unnoticed. After this article, my regret to not follow my gut and stage the unit, as I finally took a disrespectful low-ball offer as the fourth year on the market rolled around. I do believe that the lack of staging kept buyers from seeing the true potential of the unit.
By Mindy Warden,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 10:17
Great article! I always enjoy reading your posts. From the perspective of a professional home stager, your information is on point and so very helpful in the continued education! I'd also advocate for staging services letting sellers know that the investment in home staging will cost LESS than that first price reduction!
By Dennie,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 10:43
So what should you do about highway noise or your neighbor's barking dog (volunteer to walk him while the house is being shown.) Mindy sounds like a professional stager. I've moved 14 times, was "staging" before there was term for it - neurals, no clutter, watch the smells. Except for my first house and a house I built and flipped, I have never taken more than a week to sell a house. You have to use practical sense. What makes sense in a $700,000 house, won't necessarily make sense in a $300,000 house and that won't make sense in an $80,000 condo. And how much you're losing on the house makes a difference, too. A lot of this made me laugh.
By Kurt Hammond,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 10:46
Staging is so important. I lived in Japan several years back. They have a unique home market there - everyone prefers new properties. Older homes take forever to sell and when they do, they are at a great discount to new. We had done some upscale renovations that helped to make the property competitive with new.
However, it was the staging that sold the property. There are no professional stagers in Japan but we got a book on staging and did the DIY route. We decluttered, reduced furniture, cleaned off countertops, depersonalized. Our biggest challenge was in getting people to tour an older house, but everyone who viewed the property commented on how clean, inviting and spacious the house was.
The amazing thing about staging is that people don't realize that their perceptions are being manipulated, if the staging was done right. It is the subtle power of persuasion.
It still took us a long time, but we actually got two offers in one of the world's worst markets for used homes, and a price that was significantly above the comparables for age and size of the home!
By Sandy Stewart,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 11:04
As a Realtor that actively engages in staging our listings, this article is point on! If the seller is not willing to take our advise about what needs to be done to the home in order to show it in it's best light, we sometimes choose not to list it. If the occupants can manage moving out, there is so much more control of the overall environment.
Sellers must understand that as hard as it is to keep up the home during the selling process, the better they are at taking our advice in terms of staging and price the faster it will sell and for more money!
I love the above comment of Mindy's, "I'd also advocate for staging services letting sellers know that the investment in home staging will cost LESS than that fist price reduction!"
By Loretta J Hanley,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 11:20
i tried all of the above but when one lives in a "poor" rural area selling is not apt to happen regardless of what you do. so put the for sale sign out. depersonalize and keep it clean inside and out. price it within reason and be ready to negotiate. after all you do want out of the house. i even created private income producing property and invested 10K in new kitchen etc. still no sale. so when the right buyer comes a calling i will stick to the reduced price and no more reductions and sell as is! i believe somethings are better left to god and not a realtor who never once showed my home or had an open house in 18 months on the market. the best he did was to give directions to the house and never told me someone was coming. i never saw her and suspect that the reason i did not was the shabby way she was treated. the realtor should have picked her up, brought her, and toured my home with her. lousy realtors do lousy things. i think there should be an article on how to pick a realtor and warn people what to expect from said realtor. thanks for reading. and good luck with YOUR realtor:)
By Dcprov77,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 11:27
Listed our house in on Jan. 7 after packing up everything personal, and neutralizing the entire interior, freshly painted, cleaned to perfection, etc. Sold in Feb., after 2 competing bidders took the price $7000 over asking price. We settle in April... and we have 3 dogs. This advice works.
By Beverly Carlson,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 11:48
There is a plethora of opinion on what staging is just like there are plenty of ideas about how to decorate a house.

It is hard to tell someone their decorating is lousy, because decorating by definition is so very personal. However there are home staging professionals who stage for a living and staging is not about the seller but all about the buyer. A seller who "stages" lousy is probably engaging in personal decorating.

If staging is lousy, is it really staging.???

My contention is that lousy staging doesn't meet the definition of "staging to sell."

When the home does not sell quickly, the "staging" must be evaluated of course, but also other facters must be evaluatied in particular price for the market, neighorhood, and any unusual factors that are affecting the way the property appeals to buyers.

I am both a Realtor and professional home stager. I stage my own rentals, listings, and stage for the Realtor community. The only reason that I stage is for RESULTS!
By Katie Daire,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 11:48
From the buyer's perspective, there's something about staging that says "this owner really cares about their house -- they must have taken care of it." There was one house we toured that was way too cluttered to be traditional staging, but they had gone out of their way to make it look comfortable and relaxing, sort of like a bed and breakfast. Had a table set up for a tea service, the bed turned down, robes and towels laid out--things like that. DEFINITELY not standard staging, but we felt like if they had taken the care to do similar things that highlighted those features of the home and made it feel comfortable, they probably 1) loved their home; and 2) really wanted to sell. We ultimately didn't buy it, but it made a real impact!!
By Paradigm Design,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 11:50
Good points in this article! I have done architectural renderings for the unstage-able, to show what it could look like. For example, in the room with the window that looks out towards the power plant, I had on an easel a photo rendering of that same window view showing a big vine-covered trellis that screens the power plant and makes the back yard lovely.
By Ssbluesky,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 12:08
As a prospective buyer, I remember touring one home that had large, I mean huge, silk flower arrangements on every table and silk plants on the floor in every corner of the rooms. The fake palm tree at the door even prevented you from walking inside without brushing up against it. They probably thought that it made it look home-y or natural but it felt suffocating.
By Aksel Olsen,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 12:13
I am sorry, but I really dislike staging, and I hate that the norm is now that you have to do it, at least in the SF Bay Area, making your house the oddball standout if you don't. Many other countries don't have this practice; it is a waste of thousands of dollars on the part of both buyers and sellers, unnecessarily adding to the cost of housing in an already overpriced market.
By June Constable,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 12:13
Living and Listing in a retirement area, I often have clients who have waited until they are in their 80's to move to a nursing home, or back with the kids. Those folks think their houses look just as good as the day they moved into it. Even though nothing is "worn out" these homes are very "tired" looking and many times even smell of "old". Sculptured or even shag carpet and blond furniture is difficult to sell. Hopefully good articles like these filter down to Sellers and help us sell their properties. Thanks !
By Paula Davitt,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 12:19
I've been in real estate sales for over 25 years. I've found articles such as these helpful and often pass them on to my clients early in the process. It can avoid an uncomfortable conversation that they just don't want to hear.
By waterdancer52,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 12:23
We used our large formal living room to play table tennis in, so obviously there is a ping pong table as the focal point. We use the formal dining room (open floor plan with counter and stools into kitchen) as our den/living area with big comfy couch, big screen tv, recliner etc. We love living this way, but when we go to sell, should we convert these rooms back to their traditional use? I personally don't know many people who use a formal dining room any more, buy maybe most buyers would prefer that? It's a 3 bedroom house on 1/3 acre.
By Cbensley_62,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 12:23
I like the post about the lousy Realtor. How do you find a good realtor and get rid of a rotten one??
By Margaret Woodruff,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 12:40
The post about the lousy realtor was the exception, I hope, and not the rule. I work for a broker that would NEVER allow something like this to happen. Ultimately, the realtor works for the Broker, and if you get stuck with someone you're not satisfied with, you can ask the broker to assign someone else from their office.

When you are searching for a realtor, interview, look for feedback on home sale sites like this one, and ask people you know. Watch your area for the realtors selling the most, and make sure your expectations are clear when you hire them - i.e. "are YOU going to show my house, or will someone else?". Most houses are sold by Buyer's Agents where I live, not listing agents, so there are a lot of considerations. Make sure you talk to several people, and don't take the cheapest or the first. A good agent is worth what they are charging.

And if you plan to go the For Sale by Owner route, remember, you're hiring a part-time agent!

Good luck!
By Julia Holyfield,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 13:03
Nice article. I sympathize with sellers trying to live their life and show their house at the same time, but the best point this article had was to cut down on the clutter, so the buyer can really SEE the house. Another point I have to add is CAREFUL using air fresheners!! I'm house hunting at the moment and so many houses have been so BATHED in horrible air freshener smell that its hard to see past to the actual house. All you want to do is run back outside for a fresh breath of air. Lay off the glade plug ins and open the windows, please!
By Sandra Parker,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 13:08
i dont know where you live, but we live in Missouri, we have been looking at houses to buy. we looked at 6 yesterday...out of the 6 , ONE was clean,uncluttered and smelled good, the other 5 were full of trash,dark,smelly and cluttered,a week ago we looked at 5 more...NONE of them was clean etc...the week before that we looked at 10---out of the 10---TWO.and these houses ranged in price from 85,000 to 200,000.....I wish all of these people had read your artical. I was worried because we hadnt redone some of the rooms w/new paint in the house we are trying to sell.....my house is MR. CLEAN clean and we still cant sell it..priced right, great neighborhood.......no one is buying houses in the town I live in! getting very discouraged.
By Lynn Tardibuono,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 13:08
Tara made some good points about staging and home selling. Staging is a definite skill-set but after many years of being a Realtor and absolutely loving home designing, TV shows about staging, etc. - I've become pretty comfortable with it. As for the current real estate market in my area of Sonoma County, the housing inventory is so low that houses get bought up before they are staged - if possible! But I do still agree that staging can increase the offer from a potential Buyer - thus I continue to stage my listings!
By sdcondogirl,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 13:09
I agree with Kurt Hammond! This is the very reason I gave up as a Realtor. The lousy "Realtors" got all the business (HOW???), while I struggled doing Anything and Everything for a customer. On the other end of the spectrum,"the straw that broke the camel's back" for my career was when I had shown and written an offer with a customer and later learned she bought the house without me---denying the whole thing... so I did not get procuring cause (a share of the commission). Really ruined me on the whole thing, although I have to rely on a Realtor now...
By Linda M. Bagley,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 13:10
Thank you Tara...
By evjamescompany,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 13:25
One of our whole house Rehabs Sales. The best is when we had to rework the master bath flooring. We installed electric heated floor with stone. During the showing I set a chair outside the bathroom and I requested that the clients take off their shoes before entering , it took only six clients and the home was SOLD !
By rock1v,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 13:26
Have a lot of University of Michigan items lying around and hope you get a U of M grad. Worked at my house, sold in 1 wwek.
By nettlehand,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 13:28
That striking, painted wall? Especially the ones painted what we used to call oxblood... instant turn-off. I can only think about how many coats of paint it's going to take to cover up someone's idea of beautiful. I'm a buyer and I won't even look at houses with walls like these. Leave the walls neutral, please, and don't bother staging. I'm not buying the furnishings, I'm buying the house. Your furniture blocks my view of possibilities.
By Cj Yeoman,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 13:34
I feel for Realtors who have to work with seniors who feel their home is great as-is. Yes, my mom did reduce her price a nice amount, but I think what moved it was my staging. Basically I packed up ALL the family photos, rolled up the rug that was hiding a beautiful hardwood floor, and replaced the 20-year-old bedspread with a new comforter & dust-ruffle. Then I took NEW pictures and had the agent post them with MLS. Luckily the paint & carpet was already neutral. The house sold shortly thereafter. You HAVE to either get a daughter to get tough with the staging or a son to sit down & tell Mom how much LESS $$ she'll get to pay for her new senior living if she doesn't listen.
By Carol Goldwater,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 13:43
I agree with you Aksel.I have never had to stage any home we have sold.We keep our home unclutered and clean.It is always ready to show any time day or night when we have it listed.If the buyers have not insight or brains to know that the home furnishings are ours they probably do not have enough money to buy my house anyway.Seems like staging is just another way to seperate you from your money after the realtor takes their mostly unearned % .The last home we listed our realtor did not even bother to show it one time after the initial open house.She did tell me that she could not find even a crumb to clean off of my counter tops while she was there.Every thing was that clean.Just really need to list and sell it myself and hire a lawyer for the paper work.
By Caroline Fitzgerald,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 13:59
Everything in the article and most of the comments are exactly why I created my business! A well staged house is going to sell faster and for more money, period (poor rural community notwithstanding- although that sounds like a REALLY lousy realtor!!!)

The message that helps the most for a seller's mindset: the moment you decide to sell is the last moment you see your house as your home, it is now a product you are trying to sell (and you need to be no more emotionally attached to it than if you were selling a refrigerator.)
By Kevin Olson & Jessica Laude,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 14:12
I still don't think it's necessary, just another person without a college degree trying to make some money off someone selling a house. Our listings sell just fine, flips and regular sales, without staging.

As for showing homes there are just as many "well" staged homes as there are "poor" ones. The staging is often a fun topic with buyers because they get a kick out of it.
By Carol,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 14:16
well, Carol Goldwater, you are just perfect
By Albert Dussault,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 14:20
any one who believes this crap--is crazy enough to think that that is what selling a home is about, well, you had better think twice...this are absolutely ridiculous guidelines
By Tracy Swimm,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 14:22
I am a Realtor in the Dallas area, what staging is creating for my sellers now, ( it is becoming a seller's market ) alot of multi offer situations. As we all know , the more offers the sellers receive the more money money in their pocket. Stagging creates smiles and smiles equal money.
By Christine Merlino,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 14:37
If you have a clean house, empty the closets, clean out unnessary clutter, make lots of visits to "goodwill"..Scrub everything down(do this at least once a year) when you go to sell, 80% of your work is done...Why, because thru out the years you have "lived there", you "stayed on top of things. Just replacing your appliances, door knobs, light fixtures every 4 years will help to sell your home faster.
The number one selling point "Location, location"...You can have the most beautiful home or landscaping, but if it is near a motel, a bar, pig farm, it will never sell...In the past years we have purchased good quality homes with "good bones", We always expect to "update", including appliances, light fixtures, paint...Big Deal...But the important things "like a newer roof, furnace, LOCATION, these are the "selling points".
No need to spend money on appliances, or flooring(unless they are truly an eyesore...People usually come in "and change to their own taste.
But it must be clean...
I've purchased and updated 4 homes in our lifetime...When time to sell..."They "sold themselves"...We gained in bad market...Why? Clean, warm nuetral colors, all of the above updated...Classic lines...

But, the number one selling point? LOCATION...and no major expensive repairs.
I just sold my home on ForSaleByOwner.com in two weeks and saved almost $19,000 in Realtor fees. I myself, found every home "we bought", on the internet. Of course, to "view it", we had to set up appoinment with their listing agent. Or someone thru their office.
Half the time, the agent"knew nothing" of the house, had "never been inside it", we wasted time", while "they found out the answer to a question I might have had.
The 4 homes we last purchased? I found them myself, the realtor sent me pages of other homes(all not what I was looking for". The buyer of these 4 homes, were all upset, once finding out, "theynever gave me the info on their home, (list search) so basically, "the had to pay a commission fee", to a realtor "that had never even saw their home>'
Its about "luck"...
By listing "my home "myself", I was able to "answer their questions(about area, schools, etc,) withing an hour by email).
I sent even more pictures to them "directly...Though I had about 40 pictures on line...
Yes, we had 4 nice homes, passed inspections 200%...Why? Because thru the years living there, we "maintained the house". You could eat in my attached garages"...DECLUTTER! Not just when selling, but at least every 6 months...
If you do this, you can sell your own home for under $300 dollars...So many "free sites"...
By Denise Moore,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 14:58
As one who has bought and sold numerous properties, you know what really chaps me? Realtors that have no idea what the prospective buyer is really looking for, or the features of the property that will fit the buyer's needs and wants.

I've been in sales my entire adult life, and no self-respecting sales professional would pitch a product/service without truly and thoroughly "interviewing" the client as well as having a solid understanding of the product/service being presented.

And, that is my greatest complaint about the Real Estate industry. Realtors should be able to guide the client through visualization of the client's key desire points. Your seller and your buyer will love you for it, refer business to you, and enhance your reputation in the highly competitive world of real estate.

As for staging... Yes, it's important. And, especially are cleanliness and lack of clutter. But sellers can only go so far in purchasing new and trendy accessories / furnishings. Your job, as a realtor, is to help your client visualize. Do your research, and you will SELL it, baby!
By Berubeb,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 15:03
I find a great deal of this frustrating, having bought and sold 3 properties in the last 8 years. Great deal of backslapping on the part of realtors, stroking each other and praising the brilliance of each other. I don't think the experience of the poor realtor is an aberration; there is a great deal of schmoozing that goes on, patronizing behavior on the part of the realtor in their eagerness to sell a home if you're a buyer. When we were trying to sell, an upper bracket home, we got indifference and disingenuousness; full disclosure it was in 2007-2008. The other common characteristic among EVERY realtor we have ever deal with: treating you in a patronizing fashion, almost imperious. I remember our experience in Florida when we arrived in fall 2007 and being told we better buy NOW or we were going to be sorry. We clearly saw what was on the horizon and the house we leased was priced at $1.5 million; in two years time it was at $825,000. There is a great deal of "insider trading" when it comes to inspections, staging, painting, cleaning, etc.; realtors who are propping up friends of theirs who have businesses that support the industry. I am never certain where you go to get someone who doesn't "have a dog in the fight", someone who is clearly impartial and doesn't treat you like a child. While I appreciate staging, a good deal of it seems contrived and another effort to show the seller how smart the real estate agent is; not sure if anyone can provide empirical evidence that it makes any difference. I am certain I will get scalded by this realtor friend audience, but having been treated in such a condescending fashion by realtors over the years I am a big kid and I will just tuck it away and chalk it up to being an outsider.
By Lynn Bowling,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 15:20
In my area of the country--NW Florida--there are many hunters, and as such many homes sport heads of the hunter's prowess. Nothing seems as offputting as seeing a few deer heads hanging in the otherwise lovely dining room of an open concept home, but I'm torn whether to suggest the seller de-head the house and store the trophies until they move, or leave them up in hopes another hunter will buy the house and be thrilled at what he sees. As a real estate professional I can say that staging homes for faster and higher sales as been totally successful. That is not to say that some homes are clean and well staged by the seller just naturally, but when a seller can't see the clutter and the mess--and see no reason to do anything about it--I have no trouble declining to take the listing. Those same people would not have a chance of selling by themselves.
By Brenda Reeves,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 15:33
I have bought and sold five houses. I'm hoping to sell my current house soon. Not too long ago realtors told sellers to paint every room white, because it makes the rooms look bigger. Now the trend is to paint the rooms in the neutral taupe color. I hate that! It's a depressing color in my book. After my divorce, I bought a house in L.A. As most people know, property is very expensive in L.A. I was getting depressed looking at places. This is what sold me on the house I bought: It was in April, and the front yard was full of beautiful spring flowers. That sold me right away. Inside, it was bright, clean and all the walls were painted white. The owners had their wedding pictures on the wall in the master bedroom. That didn't bother me at all, because I knew they'd be taking them with them. I can't even remember what their furniture looked like. It was a cute house. I liked the layout. It was clean, and it had nice landscaping. The current house I'm living in just had a sofa and a few other pieces of furniture. The walls in the living room were painted red from the floor halfway up the wall. Again, it was a cute layout and it was clean. I'm painting all of my walls white to sell it.
By Ron Harrison,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 15:48
One persons open view of possibilities to a unstaged home is another persons dilemma of what to do with all this space. MOST need help I see it all the time. Staging will help sell a home, I buy, stage, and SELL with other homes still on the market and listed before the homes I buy in the same neighborhood and get my price without alot of negotiation.So you people that do not think staging works great! Less competition for me!
By Jgg8685,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 15:50
Having looked at MANY beautifully staged homes in Chicago
, we felt like we were looking at furniture showrooms rather than homes. I appreciate lack of clutter and cleanliness, but honestly, I'd rather replace older carpeting with nice carpet of my choosing rather than the seller's neutral but cheap hurry up job. This city's condo's have been staged into a horrible sameness.
By mlopez,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 16:06
Staging is very subjective by the realtor. I am certain that the real motive is that the house fits the buyer. Realtors tell a buyer to do something to the home and then the home sells. Is due to what the Realtor said or was it the timing of the right buyer that fit the home. My experience is every Realtor thinks they know what sells a home when in reality it is does the home fit the buyer. It would be better for the Realtors to do their jobs and match homes to buyers, not spend the sellers money on frivolous costly modifications that they think sells homes.
By Beth,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 16:19
I wholeheartedly believe in staging. I have moved all over the US in the last ten years and have went from staging the home myself to hiring professionals at about $50/hr and selling the house in one day. It makes such difference. If I wanted to change careers I would consider being a stager. I think its fun but I would get some more training on getting the most bang for my buck.
By donaldsondavid1,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 16:21
Carol Goldwater: You are 100% correct and all of your points are well-made. My experience has been exactly as you describe and everyone on here should...but likely won't...take note...especially those "professional stagers" and real estate agents who want to do little but collect commissions and play both ends against the middle.
By Tracey Serrell,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 16:26
Artificial plants/flowers are an awful, dust collecting, funeral parlor accessory. Makes a "staged" home feel uninviting.
By Mary Wiley,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 16:43
As a second home "searcher" (sadly, not yet buyer) I find EMPTY homes easier to evaluate, regardless of wall color, etc. When discussing staging, please remind people that the pictures they post online are of critical importance to out-of-towners who are relying on pictures to screen the homes they will tour in their limited time in their new city. When I see pictures of a home that is not only not "staged" but is not even picked up, I quickly move on to the next home, even though I am well aware that I could be missing a hidden gem. There are so many homes out there that there is no margin for sloppiness. If your realtor's pictures are not first-rate, hire someone to redo them. They are critical for the large "wants to move" market.
By Pamela Mills,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 16:43
I have been a Real Estate Broker for 34+ years in Texas,New Mexico, and currently in Colorado. I am appalled at the "negative remarks" of FSBO's with 1 or 2 success stories of their own, degrading much needed Professional Real Estate Agents! As with any Profession, "Bad Apples",Laziness, and Incompetency always are remembered first, without consideration for the reputations of the Professionals who actually serve their communities. In any Market, licensed Agents wear many hats for clients or customers from first contact to closing and thereafter! We must be knowledgeable and educated, have good listening skills coupled with good communication skills, marketing expertise, and work continuously with Lenders,Lawyers, Title Companies,Appraisers, Inspectors,Builders, and be sensitive to the needs and expectations of our Buyers and Sellers! Not an easy task for the average FSBO, selling their properties!
By Pamela Mills,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 16:47
A Real Estate Professional and Staging = SALES!
By Kiki,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 16:51
In San Francisco Bay area, you do not need any staging. You can have cow and horse poops in thew middle of each room, it does not matter, Chinese and other all cash buyers are still going ti buy any chicken coop on the market these days. .. And not only buy it, they will bid on it. The more poops, the more bids.... No joke...
By Karen Otto,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 17:07
another great, tell it like it is article Tara!
By Maya Garg,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 17:26
I definately believe in staging. Being the Realtor and also ASP from Barbara Schwarz institute I believe in what Barbara says. All my listings only go in the market once they are staged and we sell them in the very first week. People love it. Staging gives Buyer to visualise his own furniture and the space.
Great article to the point. Thanks
By capsalis,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 17:52
Christine from Michigan you are right on. I have been in this business a long time. I don't buy any of this staging crap. It is all about LOCATION and PRICE and that is 90% of it. I agree with other posters, I am not buying the furniture, and in fact I agree I would rather see the house bare walls and floors, then I can advise my clients on what would work. This staging is nothing more than a scam. LOCATION, LOCATION,LOCATION. You can sell a dog poop infested mess with cig burns in the floors if the location is outstanding. Nice try Tara, usually you are right on.
By Sharon O'roke,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 17:58
We can thank reality TV for staging. Now everyone expects it because they are HGTV'd out!
By Davidm,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 18:55
My sister said her house didn't sell until it was empty.
By Joey,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 19:37
Had an amazing lake front home. The cat was old and sick and barfed a lot on the only carpet we had in the house, in the master bedroom. The agent advised me to leave it and offer to replace it with whatever the buyer wanted as a selling feature. Unfortunately I took her advice. I know that must have been such a turn off to buyers. I'll never let anything like that go again.
By A New York Woman,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 19:40
As a buyer, I can sometimes appreciate a staged house due to the beautiful decoration, but most of the time I don't. I prefer to see a house without the staging; a photograph in a brochure of the house that has been staged is acceptable. I want to see the house meticulously clean, with empty rooms and white walls and no rugs at all. If I go into a house that has staging with large furniture, huge art posters on the wall, room size rugs, locked closets, and a realty agent that talks too much I see it as a distraction from the things that could be objectionable in the house and they send up 'red flags'.
By etalanian,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 20:05
I think there are different definitions for "staging" depending on where you live in the country. For most areas I think that if your house is clean and uncluttered, if your infrastructure is in good order, if your yard is pleasant, and if you aren't asking more than the market will bear, your home will sell. Neutral colors on the walls might help, but I agree that it's the realtor's job to guide the Buyer and help her/him to see the home as their own. I don't accept that furniture should be bought or rented to make a house more "sellable." That just seems outrageous to me.
By Stacey Gibson,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 20:31
Professional Staging can make the difference between selling for Top Dollar and Bottom Dollar! Lots of opinions and success stories about Staging® Properties! It's a MUST DO!
By Shaunna,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 20:45
I like to see a little staging in a potential home. Having some reference to whether your chaise lounge and California king can actually fit into the master bedroom of a house you're thinking of purchasing is pretty helpful. A totally empty house can be hard to furnish in your head in the relatively short time you have to view a home.
By cyhhfw,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 21:23
Thanks for the advice. We had a realtor here this morning to advise what is best to do and what would be a waste in our market. Her advice was spot on with yours. We will be taking these suggestions and listing our home soon, expecting great results in a challenging neighborhood.
I have one question, however. What do you do with the next door neighbor's house with the unkempt yard? So frustrating.
By lrn2listen,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 21:34
I am a buyer…a more discouraged buyer to be exact…seeking a house in the not-so-highly priced but safe areas of the Bay Area. A challenging task, …for sure because the inventory is so low and the bidding wars are so frequent (or the cash buyers) that makes me want to stop the search. In the current inventory, I have seen mostly staged houses and I am not sure there have been any others on the market, and frankly, I have mixed opinion about it. Don’t get me wrong; I like tastefully set up (staged) rooms, but I find they distract me from seeing the real value of a house. The staging covers up a poorly laid out wood engineering floor of the worse kind one could chose; or bathrooms with pink or blue bathtubs and in the need of a serious cleaning; or so-called 3rd bedrooms that are actually something else (i.e., a sunroom-at least this is good, or an unfinished basement cemented room of sorts, and more.) I enjoy nice decorations, but I would prefer to keep them on HGTV or in my home…if I ever get one. Having empty rooms with not so brightly (read: crazy) painted colors would help, too; but at the same time, having everything beige and the same color palette in the bathrooms and kitchen is too much. I understand the need for the neutral colors but this is just too much. Additionally, the staged houses with the currently “fashionable” colors or the updates done with the currently fashionable colors may appeal to some buyers but they are so untimely and will turn off the others. I would prefer a viewing of an empty house, because it gives me a better idea of its layout and of a value of a house; otherwise, I feel distracted and manipulated by the niceness and newness of the staged furniture and other decoration. It is true that decluttering helps but having your house CLEAN and without strange smells is even more important. I have seen so many “staged” and nice looking houses on the websites, which showed not so thrilling and not so enticing reality. These gimmicks indeed work and they encourage me to come and see a house; but later, I feel cheated and manipulated by them and by the wide angle camera lens, which makes a house and the rooms appear bigger than they really are.
By Norman Cohen,  Thu Mar 28 2013, 21:46
I live in a 3 bedroom condo with a xxl basement. I have all of my parents stuff as well as my own I am looking for a 2 bedroom and will probably not have much storage How do I know what I need to keep until I find the place I am going to buy and how do I get rid of the rest while staging the current place to sell. I have made many tripe to Goodwill and expect to get Salvation army or vets to pick up the stuff I cannot use Help overwhelmed in a cluttered home
By Felicia Frazier,  Fri Mar 29 2013, 05:09
Norman, just take it one day at a time. Even if your next home could accommodate everything I'm sure you don't want to haul unnecessary items and then have the same problem at your new place. If your deadline to complete sorting is quickly approaching or you feel very overwhelmed, it may be beneficial to enlist help from family and friends. I would use as many no-cost services that will come to your location, as I could to help reduce the traveling you seem to be doing. Here in Ohio there is an auction company that will come to your location and offers to photograph and post your items on their online auction site. You may want to see if there's something similar in your area. They can help you determine if you're sitting on antiques and help you avoid trashing things that could money back in your pockets.
If your parents have moved to a smaller home and have said that they no longer need the items, that will hopefully make your work easier. Getting rid of clothing and outdated decor(bric & brac) is probably the easiest place to start.
If you don't feel like you're making any headway then its probably time to call in a professional.
By Jlmandu2,  Fri Mar 29 2013, 05:24
Accurate info. The biggest mistake sellers make is not staging! Don't test the waters to see if you can squeak by with your property unstaged. It ends up costing you more in carrying costs in the long run. The biggest bang for your buck is a professional staging consultation - not necessarily the real estate agent's neighbor who has a flair for decorating and "consults" for her agent friend on her listings for 10 bucks. Take responsibility and hire a professional. Here is a good place to find one: StagedHomes.com A seasoned staging professional with a proven record will be able to evaluate your property and make recommendations to help you achieve the fastest possible sale.
By cruisegirl206-home,  Fri Mar 29 2013, 05:27
We're looking at moving in the next year or so and have been looking at a lot of listings on Trulia to get an idea of what the housing is like in different areas. I am amazed by how many listings have photos that show not only clutter but dirty dishes, heaps of clothes and just junk in general. Not only are the houses not staged, but they aren't even cleaned up. Why on earth would a seller or a realtor take photos of a house in that condition? Others are clean but with all of the clutter the rooms are hard to see. It's been very educational, and when we are ready to move I have a much better insight into what I need to do to make my house more visually appealing to buyers. I don't think it's necessary to hire a professional stager, but I will definitely get my realtors advise and ask some friends to give me honest opinions, as well as taking photos myself to see how the rooms present, before the listing photos are taken. Another must will be a small temporary storage unit, we don't have a lot of "junk", but a little less furniture will open the rooms up more.
By KeithKnob,  Fri Mar 29 2013, 05:30
I agree completely with the HGTV comment...I believe that's why this is its own industry today! It's because of the mindset in America today that stuff like this is needed. I believe the statistics are true, that staging really does help sell homes faster and for more...but I think it's kind of sad. People shouldn't need to have their eye "pleased" to choose a home to buy, but it's a reality today. I feel bad for you Norman, feeling the extra pressure to get everything "perfect" or your home won't sell. Don't worry too much about it, there are still buyers out there like us: the last home we bought hadn't been touched since 1965...still had green shag carpet, paneled walls and drop ceilings, and it was completely empty. There are still visionary buyers out there that can see the potential of a home through clutter or whatever, but they probably aren't the ones who are going to give you top dollar for your house either! Decide what you need most, a quick sale at a premium price, or just a sale eventually...and put your effort into that. Thankfully, our market here in small town Mid-West isn't too crazy with all that yet...but I see it coming.
By Felicia Frazier,  Fri Mar 29 2013, 07:07
(Written on my Iphone = no paragraphs)

I am a college graduate that decided to transition from corporate to professional staging.

Staging is a marketing strategy involving property preparation and visual merchandising, the same strategy that large retailers use to get their customers to BUY. They understand that most purchases are made once the customer has emotionally connected with the product. Savvy sellers and realtors understand that. Staging is not just limited to furniture rearranging, but encompasses a scope of things like making needed repairs, updates, painting, flooring, cleaning, de-cluttered and landscaping. Just like its not rocket science to install a faucet or paint a room, some do not have the time or are not comfortable with these tasks and choose to hire an experienced professional. Hiring a staging professional to prepare a house for sell is no different.

When done well, home staging gives a measurable return on investment, enhances and highlights the best features of the house and helps buyers understand the size and purpose of rooms, especially when viewing online. Over 90% of buyers are looking online for their next home and there's nothing worse than viewing messy and over personalized rooms or empty rooms that all look alike and are unidentifiable.

Not every house needs a major overhaul, but every house can benefit from being clean, uncluttered and odor-free (staged), regardless of market conditions.

I too agree that location is a factor. You can't control your local market, so you must ensure that you hire a good realtor and understand what type of marketing that they are committing to do for you upfront. Interview several. Price, Presentation & Marketing are the 3 things with which you have control over and when their done well, can get you closer to SOLD.
By Diane Concialdi,  Fri Mar 29 2013, 07:45
Great article Tara, and great comments. Even as a stager in Southern CA I have seen so many badly staged homes. Staging does work if you hire the right stager. Check their past staging jobs before you hire.
Thanks Tara!
By Barb Mihalik,  Fri Mar 29 2013, 08:18
As a full-time realtor and owner of a home staging company, I know, without a doubt, that home staging can help a home to sell. However, staging alone will not sell a property. First and foremost, ithe price and value must correlate.. Home staging is not meant to distract the buyer or hide unwanted features. On the contrary, the intent is to help those (of whom there are many) whose minds just are unable to envision how it will look furnished. No amount of staging can compensate for bad locations or incurable defects unless the price reflects those conditions. But home staging, correctly done, can certainly draw attention to attractive features,help to define spaces, give the buyer ideas for furniture arrangements and room purposes, and help the home photograph well for marketing purposes, I send my sellers to see well-staged homes prior to listing, just so they can compare theirs. Many end up realizing that dirty, messy, cluttered homes invite low-ball offers . Most buyers don't want to see a ton of work ahead of them. Sometimes sellers can't see their own forest for their own trees, but they can see someone else's. . Staging is always best..but, and I hate to admit it as a home stager, vacant is better than filthy, distracting, ugly, old, tattered furniture, tons of clutter, too much personality and screaming, loud paint colors.
Great article!
By Mary D.,  Fri Mar 29 2013, 11:18
I actually got this feedback from a realtor from two young women who came together to see my house during the first time buyers tax credit, or as I like to call it, the season of hell. My son was deployed overseas at the time and had put all his stuff into storage before he left so I didn't have to worry about his room when I listed the house, and they said that I had a "creepy empty room" that scared them. Grow up already.
By Kristine Blake,  Fri Mar 29 2013, 16:31
I am trying to sell my mothers house. It will be a year on the market, the end of April. Pure hardwood flooring throughout. Huge quiet yard, and a double detached garage. Four good sized bedrooms and tons of closet space and extra closets.
I took all the photos down, and the realtor did not think it was cluttered at all and that everything is fine.
I dropped the price twice, and still is sits.
I am going to put some plants in the huge bay window in the living room, but it is hard for me to go all the time to water plants. I think it lacks that feel of nothing alive in the home. Maybe I am wrong.
I even "smudged" her home with cedar a couple weeks ago. Maybe that will clear things up!
I would think the "bones" of the house would be key. Yes the downstairs bathroom is outdated, but it seems to make sense, to let someone else put "their stamp" on it. Imagine we spending all that money to re-do a bathroom and they like a bolder color choice. With two full baths, they can do one at a time, and still not be inconvenienced.
Anyone else have anything to add?
By Beth Robison,  Fri Mar 29 2013, 17:42
We are preparing our home for listing and, and since we are in the flooring business, we have lived like the cobbler's children: always put in the cheapest flooring the builder offered due to the ridiculous mark-up, with the intention of replacing it with nicer stuff down the road. Well, it's been 10 years and we never replaced it, and now we have to move. So we are planning to replace the carpeting, but with the cheapest reasonable replacement that we can, so it looks good for showing. Otherwise it's in such poor condition that I think potential buyers won't be able to see past it. Is it the conventional wisdom on here that that's the right decision versus a negotiable carpet allowance?
By talk2ya,  Fri Mar 29 2013, 19:03
So all in all are you saying, if your home is pristine and empty, people overall prefer some bit of staging? We were told to make sure the walls were painted & all the floors (hardwood) polished to a shine and the home would sell best empty...has been on the market one full year in April and all the realtors want us to do is keep lowering the price. So is it better to add furniture and stage or leave it alone, as is without any furniture?
By Dzvinbell,  Fri Mar 29 2013, 21:07
I have oriental rugs throughout the house which is going up for sale. Should I roll them up and just show the wooden floors?
By James Carlini,  Sat Mar 30 2013, 00:33
Staging is an issue? So is poorly skilled real estate agents.

Why hasn't it sold? It might be as simple as the real estate agent hasn't followed up on inquiries or responded to online requests from potential buyers. READ:

By Bonnie Ochoa,  Sat Mar 30 2013, 19:56
I am a new Realtor, and my mother is trying to sell her parent's home. I gave her the following tips: Declutter!, paint neutral so that the home is a canvas for the buyer, and lastly either stage the home or remove all the out dated furniture as it also dates the home, no matter the great condition it is in! Still no takers and it has great potential with an in-law suite/ rental suite in the Wilmington NC area. What else is there to do?? http://www.trulia.com/property/3088189103-217-Pinecliff-Dr-Wilmington-NC-28409
By Donna Wadsworth,  Sun Mar 31 2013, 18:38
Great article. I truly believe that staging and months of prep, painting,de- cluttering, adding crown molding and scrubbing everything, including the windows helped us to sell our home for top dollar. We had a multiple offer situation with requests for the furniture to be sold with the house! I also removed our dog and all signs of him when our home was shown. Lights turned on in baths and classical music playing in the back ground as well as removing my lap top and always clean uncluttered counters in the kitchen where my priorities when prepping for a showing. It involves some work, but it really pays in the end! I do not hesitate to pass this information along to my sellers as well as offer the services of a friend who is a home stagger.
By Russell Van Meter,  Mon Apr 1 2013, 03:54
Really informative article I especially love the responses, and the resorses they generated!
By Kelliec,  Mon Apr 1 2013, 06:56
As someone who has worked in a high end tourist town market for the last 15 years (most home prices average well above 1 million) in Florida, I can tell you that staging is a joke. Most buyers who are savvy (and today most are) will tell you that staging does not matter - what does make a difference is how well the home was built, how are the mechanicals and how is the neighborhood and market resale potential. Buyers - don't care to see the latest from IKEA or C&B provided from your staging so called expert. And Sellers - don't waste the money. For many years, when my parents and grandparents were selling and buying homes, the emphasis was simple. Keep the home clean, paint if needed, curb appeal is a must and keep the owners out of the way. And disclose the problems if any and fix potential problems before listing the property. You want a house to sell? Don't bother with staging gimicks as everyone knows this game up and down so you are fooling no one but are paying a nice sum to some jerk who knows a good con game - aka staging - where profits are big and any moron can play the game. I have seen too many staging experts actually hinder the sale of a property than help.
By Stephanie Jantz,  Mon Apr 1 2013, 09:44
By Kenneth Aaron Phillips,  Mon Apr 1 2013, 11:15
By Kenneth Aaron Phillips,  Mon Apr 1 2013, 11:16
By Kerry Barbero,  Mon Apr 1 2013, 12:23
I can see where staging has its advantages - potential for more offers, higher offers and potential for more money in the end for the seller. I do also see disadvantages when, for example, perfectly good materials/features/finishes are removed and replaced with new ones, contributing to unnecessary items ending up in the landfill. And, the buyer may end up ripping the new materials/features/finishes out once the home is bought to make the home fit their personal taste anyway. Just something for sellers, stagers, realtors, and buyers to think about. As a potential buyer, the key points I look for are a home's location, its cleanliness inside and out, and whether the home has received ongoing maintenance. I don't concern myself with paint colors as paint is easy to change/update and fairly inexpensive to do so depending on the size of the home.
By Matilda Duffy,  Mon Apr 1 2013, 14:41
good solid article, but fails to underscore the value of the house is relative to the age, especially given the high cost of heating and cooling these old units
By talk2ya,  Mon Apr 1 2013, 14:51
THanks for all your informative feedback~could you/would you visit 20 Malaga Drive in Trenton, NJ 08638 and share with me your feedback ? Since this is an empty home should we stage it or leave it as is? I am now 54 years old and was 5 years young when my parents bought this house (we were 2nd owners & the builder sold to us) SO many family memories took place in this home and it breaks my heart we have to sell it...the outside is just as special as the inside, a great neighborhood and an awesome home to live in...thanks for your feedback, my name is Kat~talk2ya@optonline.net is my email if you want to see this home or get more info on it... just on the border of Pennington, NJ/Princeton, NJ....in a neighborhood where all custom homes are built...thanks, and Hugs2ya, Kat~
By Debra Gould,  Mon Apr 1 2013, 15:49
Great tips Tara! I love what you said about "scenes and vignettes can go rogue, creating borderline bizarre scenarios that distract and detract more than they help."

There was a great example of that in a YouTube video by a so-called home staging expert who was teaching people to actually set up a picnic scene in a master bedroom when there was no budget for furniture. What made it even more bizarre was the recommended addition of a love letter or card on the blanket! Talk about distracting home buyers!
By Deborah J Wilmot,  Mon Apr 1 2013, 16:02
We live in Northeastern Wisconsin and have a 16 year old home, but designed to look "Old World" both inside and out. So far, we've had 3 realtors come through and it was so disheartening to listen to them. The first guy barely walked through and claimed our kitchen waaaaaayyyyy toooooo small and then professed that absolutely NO one would be interested in a screen porch or finished back yard. (The porch is roughly 16 by 14 feet and faces a completely landscaped private backyard with perennial gardens, trees, and a small pond. There is a flat area for yard games and another fenced(wrought iron type) in area that would be great for allowing small kids or pets to be secure) He then went on to dismiss all of our extra storage areas throughout the house. Un be lievable! The next realtor came in, insisted she loved the kitchen, screen porch and yard, but thoroughly criticized our supposed "themes" in the house. When we asked what she was talking about, she pointed out a few furnishings. We said they could easily be removed, was there anything else she found likable, all she could do was talk about dining chair seats and a single wall paper border in one room. Her idea of listing the house was at least $30,000 below our assessed value. And she used to be a top realtor with a local company. OY! Then we had a young man who owned his own company come through. We silently waited for his review. He looked at us and said, "For all the years I've been doing this, I don't think I've ever seen a home as well thought out and planned for as yours. You considered everyone's needs and made practical but yet thoughtful designs in this house. Is it decorated in my tastes --no, but I would not change a thing here for selling. Your home allows people to come in and get an idea of what to expect from the outside design. Yet, they could also change things up without affecting the all around allure of this property. Don't change a thing." Do other people go through this kind of craziness with just wanting to trust someone to do their jobs?
By Dfn,  Tue Apr 2 2013, 07:18
Staging is yet another layer of nonsense that has been perpetrated upon the housing market to take the responsibility of knowing how to sell and market a home from the realtors while bringing a whole new industry into the mix. How about just cleaning your house and getting rid of the clutter? A perspective buyer isn't interested in buying your furniture as a general rule. The other important aspect may be to get rid of the wild colors. After that, if a buyer can't see how the house would look with their own furniture in it then perhaps they don't deserve the privilege of home ownership. Realtors please learn marketing techniques and take the initiative to market each house the way it deserves and not as a cookie cutter house.
By Dfn,  Tue Apr 2 2013, 07:20
Staging is yet another layer of nonsense that has been perpetrated upon the housing market to take the responsibility of knowing how to sell and market a home from the realtors while bringing a whole new industry into the mix. How about just cleaning your house and getting rid of the clutter? A perspective buyer isn't interested in buying your furniture as a general rule. The other important aspect may be to get rid of the wild colors. After that, if a buyer can't see how the house would look with their own furniture in it then perhaps they don't deserve the privilege of home ownership. Realtors please learn marketing techniques and take the initiative to market each house the way it deserves and not as a cookie cutter house.
By jlee257,  Tue Apr 2 2013, 08:56
Marketing strategies are what sells everything today. The average person is perceived as unable to visualize or create their own environment. We 'must' be shown what we should want. Very sad. Staging once was what was expected in the 'builder's model' not in a resale. One of the houses in my neighborhood was bought by someone who fell in love with the way house was 'decorated'. They sold a year later because the house did not work for them and their furniture did not 'look right' in that layout. If you are unable to visualize, nothing beats laying out each room on graph paper and moving your furniture around and if that is too 'old-fashioned' there are programs and apps to do it. A house is a major purchase and buyers have some responsibility. I, as a seller, and the stager really cannot accurately anticipate what the buyer is really attracted to, unless the buyer is an HGTV brainwashed clone.
By Rose,  Tue Apr 2 2013, 10:49
The first time I walked through a staged house, I was looking to buy in Oakland or Berkeley, CA in the mid-1990's. It was pretty new and fairly rare. Everything looked so much more pleasing and appealing, eye catching comfy details, until I looked past it at the bath fixtures (worn, old, tired, pink...).

It certainly left an impression that if you really do have a nice, clean, well maintained place staging enhances the experience and makes the house a thousand times more appealing.

As a rental agent and property manager who shows places all the time, it is impossible to show a place when occupants are pigpens, or the place smells (air fresheners are suspicion raising too).

Likewise, everyone thinks a place is far too small when there is no furniture in it. They say all bedrooms look too small for their beds even when I know for a fact that the room comfortably fits a queen sized bed, desk, dresser, bookshelf, TV stand, a big stuffed chair and a large area rug and space to walk in the center of the room. Most people cannot visualize at all.

Likewise, I ceased painting units all white or off-white as everyone wanted something that did not look so sterile and cookie cutter. A couple of rooms with bold color absolutely sells.

When I sold my first house - it sat empty a long time, until I finally moved in to be able to make it look like a functional place someone could live in. It sold right after that. Almost no one but a professional or someone with an arts training has enough imagination to see what the space can be when it's empty unless you provide some context and furnishings to reference. I see the new owner regularly, she is so very happy with the place.

As for dated and old, most of the houses I have purchased and renovated are between 110 - 165 years old. I get top dollar for all of my rentals - way more than many of my neighbors get (sometimes twice as much). Good bones and solid construction are key, of course. But I do not want to pay for someone else's idea of what the kitchen or bath should look like. I would far rather rip out the hideous, rotten, old k&b's and do it all the way, solid wood construction cabinets,, granite, stainless, Jacuzzi tubs. I have wonderful residents who are very happy to pay top dollar for top drawer.

Most people cheap out, and you always get what you pay for. Buying, selling or renting.
By opondomusa,  Wed Apr 3 2013, 04:15
This is an excellent article.I especially find your point on having a neutral/ expert eye very important because often we think everyone will like our particular taste.
In line with this article below is an article on top 5 easiest ways to stage your home.

By Liz Murray,  Sat Apr 13 2013, 12:51
Well, I'm watching some of the comments, including the one from Rootsgal. Please, please, please, don't think because you cleaned our house, and it's empty, that this is a realtor's idea of decluttering. All it does it make the flaws more visible. I'm a stager, and I try not to be critical,.. but some times I have to use tough love because I know what the issues are. Don't beg and plead with me that I should like that "art" of black and white striped wall you think is gorgeous,.. or the mural of a beach scene in Arizona. What if the buy has only girls who don't like it. I cannot get over how people think they have the "designer:" touch. I have finally come to the conclusion in the last few months that nothing I say about how bad something may look will change YOUR mind.
By kellieetal,  Mon Apr 15 2013, 12:25
We've been looking to sell our home lately, and warned to NOT improve it, but only keep it as is (and of course when on the market, ready to show at the drop of a hat). On our street, our home and our immediate next-door neighbor's home are modest, but very well kept, while the rest of the street is...let's just say the other neighbors REALLY like junky cars and DON'T care about yards/upkeep. *sigh* So, I decided, I'd invest my time and whatever little money I would have put into improving MY home, into literally bribing a couple of the neighboring homes owners into removing their less attractive items from their front yards, and offer my Boy Scout son's "service hours" for a couple of the other neighbors by offering to buy the paint for their fence if they'd choose the color, and have my son and myself do the painting of a rundown fence, and offer to mow/edge the lawns of a couple OTHER neighbors. I'm hoping an honest (but kind, understanding) explanation that I'm trying to sell a house in a rough market and can really use (and thank them with $$) their help. Hey, if use $1000 and a lot of elbow grease to improve the appearance of the whole street, at the worst, I end up STILL living here but on a nicer street. (worth a shot?)
By Voices Member,  Tue May 14 2013, 14:53
I feel like most of the tips in this article were pretty obvious. Of course you want the house to be clean and look good...

David, http://www.californiaseopros.com
By bkugel,  Thu May 16 2013, 20:20
blah, blah, blah
By Nsinclair16,  Sat May 18 2013, 03:04
I am a professional stager and find it frustrating for myself and agents when the homeowners do not take the advice provided. I have no problems doing a full consultation and an open house prep for clients who can't afford my full services HOWEVER please take the advice. I try to provide sellers with choices to fit their budget that will still have a high impact but if they choose to do as they please it is upsetting. I am sure that agents are frustrated paying for staging consultations that clients don't follow through on. Overall, I can help to improve the presentation of a home but the advice I give is to attract the largest amount of potential buyers in order to get top dollar and a quick sale. Agents and stagers need to work together and homeowners who want to sell need to take the advice given by the professionals that are working for them. Not every homes needs to be staged but there is a reason why an agent is willing to pay for the consultation.
By cstork3,  Fri Jun 14 2013, 05:37
Are prospective home buyers such idiots that they can't past unattractive furnishings and clutter? (hint: the house doesn't come with that stuff!). And are the sellers so stupid that they fall for this scam? The whole concept of staging is ridiculous.
By keychangeshomestaging,  Fri Jun 14 2013, 06:06
People have to realize there are different "levels" of staging. The shows on tv have the stagers completely removing the furniture, painting all the walls and filling the house with rental furniture and accessories. This is an extreme example and turns people off to the idea of staging in general. Some homes benefit from just cleaning, decluttering and re arranging of what is there with a few added updated accessories. While this may sound simple people can't remove themselves from where they live, it is hard to accept that what they love is not universally appealing. If you think that all staging is is common sense, I would invite you to look through some of the listings in your area, many pictures are posted without even removing dirty dishes, clothes and clutter, shades are pulled down, sheets tacked up as curtains etc. Good luck with that.
By Mommydoc,  Mon Jun 17 2013, 07:22
I moved from a backwater rural market where properties take at least a year to sell. I left much of my nice furniture and decorative items and moved only my personal belongings and the bare minimum to live with. Even bought a garage sale mattress set to stage one bedroom so I could take a decent bed with me, but pared down and had friends also critique my staging. Put my house on the market when I left, asking $7000 more than my purchase price plus the cost of fairly minimal renovations I had done.

Owned the house for 16 1/2months. Sold 5 1/2 months later for $5000 less than asking, in dead winter in rural MN, and closed a month later. House was a 1950s story and a half with a great but not new kitchen and not either on the lake (most desirable) or with acreage, yet was one of the highest sale prices in the last few years. Came back to close and move the second wave. I have no doubt that the staging made all the difference.
By Jennifer Roberson,  Tue Jun 25 2013, 22:56
I actually prefer an empty house when looking to buy. I know what furniture I have, know what my needs are, and can immediately "design and furnish" the empty house in my mind. Of course this means the house *really* must be clean, even if empty.

Staging? Meh. It just looks fake to me.

But I know that staging works for many buyers. I've been told by agents that being able to "virtually furnish" an empty house is very unusual, that most buyers need to see a house looking like a house, not an empty place, to imagine themselves living there.
By zakmatt,  Thu May 1 2014, 08:55
This whole new "HGTV, any offer I make will only be on my dreams house that's pre-decorated how I want it to look" era is really annoying and guess what.....none of it stays with the sale of the house.

You're buying square footage, in a particular layout, in a particular location, in it's current condition.
That's it. That's all that SHOULD matter. Everything else is just superficial.
By vickeythor454,  Thu May 15 2014, 08:04
wow love the tips. After listing my house for sale two months ago, I was in need of a secure, affordable and clean storage unit, to store my items to make my home comfortable for the buyers. Thanks to my friend who recommended that I use A-1 moving and storage, I was able to get a safe storage unit in a very clean environment...I was so impressed and satisfied with their professional services that I would recommend them to pretty much anyone. For more info about their storage services, you can check out their website at http://www.a1moving.com/storage.cfm or give them a call today (561) 625-0600.
By vickeythor454,  Thu May 15 2014, 08:04
wow love the tips. After listing my house for sale two months ago, I was in need of a secure, affordable and clean storage unit, to store my items to make my home comfortable for the buyers. Thanks to my friend who recommended that I use A-1 moving and storage, I was able to get a safe storage unit in a very clean environment...I was so impressed and satisfied with their professional services that I would recommend them to pretty much anyone. For more info about their storage services, you can check out their website at http://www.a1moving.com/storage.cfm or give them a call today (561) 625-0600.

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