Curb Appeal in San Francisco>Question Details

Philip, Both Buyer and Seller in San Francisco, CA

is staging an empty or lived in house really worth it? who are the best stagers in sf?

Asked by Philip, San Francisco, CA Sat Jan 12, 2008

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Here's my opinion as a recent seller. We just sold our home. When we were planning to list it, we thought about hiring a stager. We met with one for consultation ($100), and decided not the use one.

We ended up doing all the work ourselves, which essentially included
1. doing some landscaping. Planted new flowers in the flower beds to add color and cheerfulness
2. decluttering. puttiing 50% of our furniture and belongings into a storage space. We minimized the amount of furniture and children's toys in the home and left it to a minimum. We also cleaned out our closet, and donated lots of plates, kitchen appliances, and clothing to charitable organizations. The only things left in our closets were clothing that we would wear for the next 3 months.
3. cleaning like mad. had an industrial cleaning person come out and then our regular cleaning people came once a week.
4. creating a "light and bright" environment. I changed all my light bulbs to the maximum wattage that could be handled by the light fixture (many were changed to those energy saver bulbs... you know... as bright as a 100 W light bulb, but only uses 27 W). We hand washed the crystals on our chandelier, and they sparkled like they never have.
5. got rid of the old, dated wallpaper. It didn't seem that bad when we were living there, but after we tore it out and painted the walls off-white, the place looked bigger and cleaner. Best $2500 we spent in preparing the house to sell.

It was hard work for a week. We decided what to do based on feedback from our realtor, the consultation with the stager, and a video from the realtor about preparing your home to sell. It was a very dated video from the 1970s and my husband and I were snickering at each other as we watched it, but the tips in that video were very helpful. Her bottomline was, "The way you show a home is not the way you live in a home." That's when we got serious with the decluttering. I packed away things afterwork from 8pm to 2am every night for almost a week. We sold our home after being listed for 60 days for more than asking. Many people who came to open house thought we had it professionally staged, because it was so clean... but then, my realtor pointed out, "why would a stager put a diaper changing table and 3 cribs for triplet babies???" everyone realized that we actually did live there, and that we are clean people who care about our home. As a home buyer looking at homes now, I really see how a dirty or cluttered homes can make the home seem smaller and unappealing. Some home sellers do not even bother changing burnt out light bulbs when they are showing their house. Good grief, if they live in a house where the lights are out and they don't change the bulb... what else are they not taking care of in the house.

Good luck.

What I learned was that "clean" and "uncluttered" make the best 1st impression. And "light and bright" have our visitors leaving happy, even if they didn't feel like it was the right home for them to buy. There was a buzzzz... Even our neighbors were talking about our home after visiting for the Neighbor's Open House and Tea... and it was eventually a friend of a neighbor who bought our home.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 12, 2008
I have experienced the difference staging a home can make over showing it empty. One of my clients said it this way "people that were raised on television lack the imagination of those raised on radio".
The purpose of staging is to create a model home effect, to remove all personal taste and put forth a functional pleasant use of the space so prospective buyers can see that, "OK we can have a conversation area and a seperate reading area in this room" or "OK we can get a Queeen size bed in this bedroom".
It is completely possible for you to stage your own house if you keep those things in mind but if you've moved out and need your furniture at your new house then hiring a stager or renting and moveing the furniture yourself will help you attract buyers that see the value of your home faster than if it is empty.
Remeber that the goal in preparing your property for sale is to create the most attractive product on the market at that time. That's how you'll attract the most buyers.
As you can attest, as a buyer, you see everything from the moment you turn into the neighborhood, drive down the street, park in front of the house and then go in. It all adds to the decesion of "can I live here, is this the one I want" and "how much am I willing to pay to live here"?
Web Reference:
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 13, 2008
Jed Lane, Real Estate Pro in San Francisco, CA
Hi Philip,
I had to give Ally a thumbs up on how to prepare your home yourself.

The strategy behind staging is to make your home show heads above the others on the market in your price range and area. In my experience homes that are staged sell more quickly at a higher price than those who are not. I had two identical condo units on the market, one staged, one not -- the staged one got the offer and at a higher price.

Your Realtor can help you in making specific suggestions to prepare your home, that's part of our job, and will recommend a list of stagers.

There are a lot of options for various budgets. You can also do a bit of your own staging with furniture rental companies such as Cort or Brook, they have fairly reasonable monthly rentals with a 2 month minimum.

We have several in the area which offer a range of services; consultation with a report, some will stage with your furniture, to others who offer full make-over including painting, and more. It depends on the condition of your property and your competition. I have an extensive list that I can email to you should you want.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 12, 2008
Get a good realtor and they will help you stage it yourself. It's their job to sell your property.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 12, 2008
I forgot to add my recomendations for stagers, I'll second Taste and also recommend Spaces Design and Peggy Hughes. Spaces Design is a unique company in that they will take on the whole project and then sub it out to whomever is needed. They can replace windows, clean and stage. Most stagers just place furniture and won't paint or fix problems, Spaces Design is a one stop.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 13, 2008
Jed Lane, Real Estate Pro in San Francisco, CA
You should look on for an accredited staging professional.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 12, 2008
I forgot to add... Your question asks if it is worth it. Yes.
If you have the time and motivation to declutter and clean your house to get it ready for selling, then you can try to do it yourself. If you are really busy, then you should probably hire someone to do it for you. If you create the correct "light and bright" and open feeling in your home, you will have less problems selling.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 12, 2008
I was out showing homes this morning.

Some homes were occupied and some of them smelled of pets or smoking or left over cooking that was not pleasant to my buyer.

Some of the homes were vacant and some of those had the heat turned very low and they were very uncomfortable to stay long.

When I sold my personal home last year I moved out and left it vacant. I replaced our well worn carpet and had it painted (including the inside of the garage). I had the landscape professionally cleaned up even mopped the garage.

Someoneat knows how homebuyers will look at your home and what will be a positive and negative can help you. Your Realtor would be a good place to start. I think that renting a couch and chair or artwork for the wall is often wasted money, but sometimes the house might look emotionally cold without something.

If you live there, it is more about removing things, putting them in storage. Dealing with your pets, arranging the furniture that you leave in place.

I look at it as putting yourself into the retail business. A store has to be clean and well lit. It must make its hours of operations convenient for the customer (if you want to make the most money). You have to make the customer feel welcome and happy they stopped by.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 12, 2008
Dear Philip,

Good answers. Staging is definitely the better choice. The lines are cleaner. Buyers can get an idea of what the home looks like furnished and it's better for them because they feel they can "move right in." They are many stagers who do an excellent job at varioius price levels. You need to meet with a couple of them to see who best fits your need. Any realtor would be happy to give you a list of the names and telephone numbers once they know what type of a place you are selling - Victorian, modern, loft, Art al as some stagers specialize. If you wish to email me, please do and I will email a list. If not, I know you will find an excellent stager.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 12, 2008
This is a great question and one that I'm asked most frequently by clients. Staging will give it that extra distinction that will separate your property from the competition. After a day of viewing homes, buyers will remember your property more clearly than similar properties.

As a Realtor, I can attest to the difference in showing clients a staged home as opposed to a vacant or non-staged home. Since staged homes generally sell faster than non-staged, the cost of staging is less expensive than having to do your first price reduction.

Also, there are different degrees to staging and prices. You could have a professional consultation that would advise you of the best way to stage your home using your own furniture or you could have your home fully staged.

We are representing the sellers of a beautiful Victorian house in SF that will be coming on the market at the beginning of February. Our clients are using Fresh Home Staging and are quite pleased with their performance.

Good luck!

Mary Burns
Alain Pinel Realtors
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 12, 2008
Staged homes are proven to sell an average of 50% faster and/or for an average of 6% more than comparable unstaged homes. You should more than recover the costs! You can find stagers in your area on
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 12, 2008
You may get a number of varying answers here.

I support lightly staging a property with a few furnishings and a few decor items that will soften and warm the impression. You need not place furniture in every room.

First impressions count. A clean front door, and planter boxes with flowers or shrubs at entry create a positive entry. The view the buyers see upon entry may need some furnishings. Place a few items on a kitchen counter, add placemats on the dining table, and a few towels in a bathroom.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 12, 2008
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Brick, NJ
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