Do staged items go missing?

likesivyMarch 21, 2010

We are listing with a realtor a 2 bedroom condo we've bought and rehabbed. I plan to stage the unit. I've heard that knives and forks get legs and disappear from model homes, so I gave myself guidelines. Nothing of any high value or sentimental worth. Nothing small enough to slip into a pocket. Does anyone have advice along these lines? For example, I'd like to have a few books here and there. Would my books be safe, or should I buy some second hand hardbacks? I know that when properties get shown, the realtor can't be everywhere and will often give a couple some private time to talk things over. People do crazy things. Yes, I'm putting empty wine bottles in the wine rack.

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Personally I would not put out anything I would miss. I trust no one, because I did have items stolen and both the REA and myself were in the house. Go to a thrift shop, or garage sale and look for a nice book, light hearted for a quarter etc. As to silverware, those can be bought at a thrift shop also. Dishes? I saw a nice set of dishes at the same thrift shop for 25c for a nice 4 piece set. Can't beat that!
Good luck

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 11:39PM
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Things seem to go missing more and more in this economy. There are two women that come to open houses in my area and have been stealing things for months. I'd say they are pros at this. They are well dressed, and well spoken and seem very interested in the house so no one would suspect anything. Don't put anything out that you wouldnt want to disappear.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 8:02AM
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Chances are, nobody is going to steal from you. Most people are decent and honest.

With that said, you don't know who you are dealing with, so don't take unnecessary chances. If you have something you would be crushed to lose, don't leave it lying around. Obviously, don't leave small electronics on the counter - phone, camera etc. I wouldn't worry about books or silverware unless they are quite valuable.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 9:54AM
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A woman who works as a professional stager told me recently that she can guarantee that the magnifying glass she uses to stage a desk will go missing. It happens every time. She buys very inexpensive ones and figures that into the cost of her services.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 2:35PM
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No silverware. Put out only things of little value that you would not mind losing.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 9:44PM
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When we sold our house we lost several small candles, a book, and once someone opened a cabinet in our bathroom and stole my husband's prescription.

Our home was on the market for 20 months and had 4 open houses and 19 showings. All the items came up missing during open houses when there was more than one couple in the house at a time.

When staging the dining area, we did not include utensils, just place settings.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 10:30PM
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Kind of surprising about so many missing items....we always were left with a realtor's business card everytime they showed someone through our house. We never came back to anything out of place or missing! We did have most of our personal items stored away and when I set my dining room table I just put on place mats and my fiestaware dishes, no cutlery. I guess it depends if you are in a big city or something?
Good Luck!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 11:43PM
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I guess it depends if you are in a big city or something?

Doesnt make any different at all. I am in a nice area where you wouldnt expect it. Bill is right, MOST people are decent, but it only takes one.

The two ladies I wrote about above, probably would never have even been discovered if it wasnt for the agent. She was doing an open house, one said she was ill and needed to use the bathroom. (how do you tell someone they can't use the bathroom when they are sick?), she allowed her to use the powder room on the main level, the other woman wanted to see the basement (they were halfway down the basement stairs when the 1st woman said she was ill). When the agent and the second woman came up from the basement (just a few minutes later), the woman who was supposed to be using the bathroom was coming down from the upstairs level where the bedrooms are. The agent knew right away something was wrong. She kept her composure, tried to get info out of them, followed them out, tried to get their license plates (they parked a few doors down so she couldnt see). She called the owners right away and said, I think you need to come home, she didnt have a good feeling. Sure enough, lots of things were missing from inside her jewelry box, her dresser drawer. The police are investigating.

After talking to other agents in her office, they started to realize these ladies have been visiting homes for months. Most people dont even realize things are missing until they go and look for something. It makes it very difficult to pin point when things disappeared.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 8:34AM
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Some people send their children into other rooms to look for stuff. This is from stories I've read on this forum.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 11:33AM
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The comments on here are sad... "people steal because of the economy and big cities or something".

People steal because of their own bad morals, not because of the economy or their location.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 1:20PM
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OP here. The property I am talking about is vacant. I'm arranging items like furniture, lamps, wall art, towels, window treatments, and bedding to create a model home feeling. It's sad to hear comments about thievery, but I am not all that surprised. Ever wonder why hotels screw artwork to the walls?

I want to have a faux loaf of bread on a cutting board in the kitchen, but perhaps I need to hot glue it to the counter. I want to have a small grouping of spa-like bath products in the bath, but I think I'll arrange them in a big basket with a sponges and loofas and then cellophane-shrink-wrap it and add a huge bow. Forget the lovely bowl of faux green apples, even if everything's from the dollar store. I still don't want to have to replace them.

Any one have ideas on how to use decorative props that won't disappear? Do I have to glue down the thrift store glasses I'm setting up in a little bar area, or is it only pricey things that get lifted?

PS. I'm hoping I can create a fake flat screen tv from a sheet of plexiglass, foam board, spray paint and electric tape. I'll let you know if this works!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 10:23PM
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The faux bread may just look silly in a vacant house.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 11:41PM
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When we staged our dh wanted me to go look for a curb find flat screen tv for upstairs. It didn't matter if it worked or not since it wouldn't be plugged in.

I'm not sure if you're joking or not, but I wouldn't go to extremes in preventing theft. As you don't leave anything sentimental or valuable in the house you should be fine. It's not worth being stressed over some trinket that you're only buying to sell the house. You're sanity and peace of mind are worth more than that.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 11:50PM
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I'm not joking, and I'm not stressed. I just want the place to look homey in a sophisticated way, so I am carefully choosing accessories that capture that feeling. I don't want to be bothered having to replenish my props, most of which represent more of an investment in time than in money.

I'd like to hear from people who have staged on a shoestring. I'm loaning some of my own home's furniture -- some nightstands, lamps, framed art, a desk, a bookcase, a set of curtains, duvet, etc. One bed will be an inflatable and another will be a futon on boxes. Others items are thrifted or borrowed from my daughter (her standing globe and a glass-topped 4-seater dining table). You get the idea. I am a big fan of staging, so you'll never convince me that my efforts are wasted! I love this part of selling a home.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 12:29AM
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Still, I would lose the TV....put fresh flowers out; go to Ross'(dress for less). I purchased a throw that I draped over a chair for $8. I guess I was just naive and didn't worry about the theft!!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 12:43AM
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I want a large wall mounted tv to suggest one room as a relaxing family room or man cave.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 1:34AM
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Hot glue the faux bread to the counter??? I understand how you can start obsessing about things when you are selling, but items getting stolen is the exception rather than the rule. You don't need to glue down anything, bread, glasses or whatever.

Something to keep in mind, one of the suggestions for staging is to have objects that are at least as large as a basketball. Not to avoid theft, but because larger things make a better presence.

People are going to know that the condo is not lived in. Staging water or wine glasses and faux bread are going to look artificial. I like the idea of the basket of soaps and shampoos wrapped and tied - leave it there for the future owner. Maybe some high end brand of bottled water in the refrigerator with a note offering them to visitors.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 8:51AM
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"I just want the place to look homey in a sophisticated way"

Nothing screams sophistication like plastic bread hotglued to a counter!

Staging is great, but you want to keep it clean and simple. The items are supposed to suggest a purpose for the space and lifestyle for the purchaser. A couple clean white towels rolled up next so some bath salts or soaps is fine. A huge shrink-wrapped basket is overkill. If the items you pick scream "staged" then they lose their effectiveness.

Also, staging shouldn't just point out the obvious. If you have a big bar area, everyone knows it is a bar and can picture how a bar is used. Putting bottles or glasses on the bar doesn't add to their vision. However, if you have a little nook, adding a comfy chair with a book on it could turn an awkward space into a cozy reading area.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 9:42AM
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The wife of a builder that I used to work with did a pretty good job of staging and setting a mood. In the kitchen she used nice towels, decorative plates and platters and an attractive cookbook on a stand. The bathrooms usually had nice towels, some candles and plants.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 11:52AM
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The comments on here are sad... "people steal because of the economy and big cities or something".
People steal because of their own bad morals, not because of the economy or their location.

Cmarlin, I think you missed the point of both of those posts. We all know people steal because of their own bad morals.

A bad economy brings those same "bad moral people out" to be more creative in HOW they steal, and typically, you find more crime in big cities than small towns.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 1:17PM
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When we were selling our house (vacant-staged) some one walked off with a 8'x 11' rug ($1000.00). We figured it must have had an agent involved, because you had to have access to the lockbox system.Won't do that again in a hurry.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 10:05PM
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Good grief, a whole rug? I do know of a sterling picture frame stolen by a dishonest agent during a brokers open house. The worst part wasn't the frame, but the loss of the valuable photo in it. The family was very hurt, but there was no way to know which of the dozens of agents had done it.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 12:02AM
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I think it falls under the same category as checked luggage - simply don't leave out anything you cannot stand to lose. Rather than gluing things down, I think I'd go with something that can be lost or not put anything out. Maybe I'm just cynical, but people who leave jewelry and prescriptions in unlocked areas are far more trusting than I could ever be.
I was in a neighbor's house for an open house (the neighbor specifically asked us to go by so we could give our impressions and increase attendance.) and I noticed that an expensive pen had been left out on the desk. I warned the REA right away, but I was actually surprised it had not grown legs. Better safe than sorry.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 4:24PM
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Oh my, I guess I am just too trusting after reading this post...but that is the reason my DH says "no open houses". There is a virtual tour on the MLS and if they really want to see it, they can make an appointment with the realtor...and I just trust that the realtor will keep a good eye on my things....or at least, I hope so.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 4:43PM
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I don't think its fair to expect RE Agents to police a home when it is being shown. Some clients may prefer privacy when viewing a potential new residence.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 6:06PM
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