More staging propaganda...

herusJuly 31, 2009

...or should I say garbage? The realtor emailed me today with this little list (see end of post; I have pasted only part of it here) as a way of trying to persuade me to stage.

Wow... someone is making money on this staging scam and it sure ain't me...

Herus (the one whose house "needs" staging; see my other thread)


A staged house sells for more money:

U.S. Housing and Urban Development reports that a

staged house sells, on average, 17% higher than an

unstaged house.

Statistics suggest staged homes sell at an average of

6.32% over what they are listed for. Non staged homes

only average 1.6% over the listed price.

Here is a link that might be useful: Baloney!

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I'm not a big fan of 'staging", I much prefer to believe that a clean, well maintained, clutter free, WELL PRICED home will sell itself. I give a lot more credit to intelligent buyers that can see past the pretty packaging. That said, there can be a market for staging, but probably not in this economy. Buyer's today are looking for bargains.

It never ceases to amaze me the number of people that have fallen for the whole idea of "stage" the home and it will sell. Some will put a few thousand into staging, when the best move they could make is to save their money and lower the price. But that's just my opinion.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 5:29PM
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And me? I don't want to see anything in a house for sale. An empty house is my favorite to view.

And yes, I realize I am not in the majority.

Herus have you already signed with this agent? I wonder how well you will be marketed if you do not stage as per the Realtor's suggestion?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 6:09PM
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xamsx, no I have SO NOT signed with this agent. And not about to, either. Frankly she has me PO'd something awful... EVERY email, phone call, whatever, from her is about how badly I need to stage this house. At first, I was buying into this but esp after getting all those replies in my other thread I started getting more and more annoyed.

Lesson in how to give up thousands while trying to steal hundreds. Or as my mama (and lots of other mamas I imagine) would say, penny-wise, pound-foolish.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 6:17PM
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I think these fly by night home stagers that are becoming "certified" by taking a weekend seminar or month long course and hooking up with real estate agents don't understand staging and sell the idea of it badly.

Done right by someone who understands the concepts, and I think staging can be an advertising asset to anyone selling their home. Staging is not just about the obvious cleaning, removing furniture/clutter, and depersonalizing.

Hiring a home stager should be like hiring a graphic designer to design a print advertisement. The designer will thoughtfully design an ad by purposely selecting certain font styles/sizes, colors, and layout to subconsciously persuade you to notice and like the item advertised. A lot of psychology goes into design that many people don't even realize.

I think a good home stager should do the same with a home using color psychology, elements of design, and have good knowledge of advertising/marketing to show the best impression of the home to help make the emotional attachment for the buyer.

We live in an image driven society, first impressions are everything and the better the impression, the faster an item can sell and the more willing someone is to pay more for it.

I hope you don't mind, I took one of your photos and tweaked it a little, I know the difference is minor but it can be helpful to pay extra attention to the photos you use online as an impression of your beautiful home.



    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 2:23AM
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Ask the agent to show you which homes, that are not staged are selling for 1.6% above list price. She is either a scammer or just does not know the market, or both.
Also, if she receives ANY financial compensation at all from the stager, or any other referral, it has to be disclosed in writing, or she is breaking the regulations.
I would tell her to get lost. After all, she is comparing your waterfront home to off water homes. A big mistake.
As far as "photoshopping" pictures, there are regulations that spell out what can and can not be done. I do not know if the above manipulation goes against these or not.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 8:05AM
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herus, looking at the above photo - if manipulating it is against some rules how about seeing if you can improve that pic.

BTW that light fixture not centered over the table is something I'd take care of just because it is driving me nuts (and I'm sure there will be others that feel that way too). I have one in my own home I need to fix. Also would turning the table and the rug the other direction give more illusion of space and provide a nice open path to walk to the door?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 8:38AM
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Just in case some are misinterpreting my post, by showing you the difference in pictures, I was not suggesting that you photoshop pictures, I suggesting that you may want to pay close attention to the quality of the photos you put up online.

Many buyers will go online first and choose between the homes they would want to see and not want to see and pictures can make a difference in those decisions. So it could be important that your pictures are good quality, and show the house in it's best light.

Easiest way of doing this would be to hire a professional photographer, however you could just take several pictures of your house and be very picky as well.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 11:51AM
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Interesting article. I question this statement by a stager though:
What sellers and Realtors don't understand about staging is that it helps with appeal and marketability. No, a staged home will not "earn" a seller more money over a non-staged home "That would mean a $300,000 home could be staged and then sell for $351,000." A house can only sell at what the market will allow or what it could appraise at.

What it does mean is a staged home has less "flaws or negatives" than a non-staged house. Buyers want houses which they can just move into without having to "fix it up". If sellers prepare their house through staging; process of cleaning, decluttering, neutralizing, updating and styling (giving the house a model home feel), buyers feel the house is worth the asking price and will not propose a lowball offer.

Potential Home Buyers tour houses with little calculators in the heads;

* Old dirty carpet - deduct $5,000 or more for new carpet
* Wallpaper or wall color buyer doesn't like - deduct $2,000 to have a professional strip or paint
* Outdated kitchen cabinets - deduct $20,000 or more for brand new kitchen
* Update bathrooms - deduct $5,000 for new bathroom

Make an offer $40,000 less than asking price.

Had the seller cleaned the carpets (up to $500 for a professional deep clean), removed wallpaper and painted the walls a neutral color ($100), painted the kitchen cabinets and added new hardware (up to $500) and updated the bathroom with fresh paint, new vanity or hardware, new light and fixtures (up to $500), buyers couldn't justify a low offer.

If a buyer is going to offer $20K less because the kitchen cabinets are outdated, will $500 worth of paint and hardware really make them love the kitchen? An outdated kitchen is still an outdated kitchen, even with a fresh coat of paint, isn't it?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 12:26PM
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I can see HUD doing a study on the value of staging - for example, to determine if they are likely to recover more money by selling their post-foreclosure homes "as is" or if they should have somebody stage them first. The 17% figure is quite plausible in such a context, although it's not clear if that would in fact make foreclosure more profitable. (Under this hypothesis, a foreclosed house that would sell for $50K, once cleaned up with fresh paint and an assortment of furniture, sells for $58,500 - is the additional $8,500 "worth" the cost of staging and administering the staging process.)

Assuming it's real, the survey about homes selling for more than list price appears to be quite old. Obviously, we're not presently in a market where a typical house sells for more than list price. It's also not attributed to HUD, or any other source, rendering it even more suspect. There are also lots of games you could play to "cook" a statistic like that one.

That said, outside of foreclosures, who doesn't stage a house to at least some degree - clearing up clutter, fixing obvious defects, freshening paint, cleaning or replacing old carpets.... There is value in having your house in a shape that makes buyers say "Wow", not "Ew!". What people in this thread seem to be recognizing is that there's a point of diminishing returns - how much will staging actually improve the sale price of your home, and how much will it cost? When you have a beautiful home, being told to spend thousands on staging (and possibly thousands more on furniture rental) seems to me to carry you well past that point. (Were the same house vacant and not painted or updated since the 80's, the argument for staging would be much more compelling.)

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 2:51PM
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Here's my 2 cents, for what it's worth.

We spent several years trying to convince my MIL to sell her home after DH's stepdad died. She was house-rich, cash-poor. Home was a desirable style in a desirable neighborhood. She was very attached to it, been there for 35+ years.

Finally in May 2006 she agreed to sell. RE market was starting to slow; I knew she'd lost $200K just by waiting 12 months too long. We got her out in a hurry - gave away the good stuff to family/friends, used an estate liquidator to get rid of the 'junk' stuff, and yes, used a stager who had their own furniture/accessories so wanted a completely empty house to work with. From the time she said "yes I'll sell" to the time of the first open house was a mere 2 months.

Had the floors refinished, the old kitchen cabs (the built-on-site, 1930's kind) repainted from a cold industrial gray (mistaken color choice done a decade back) to a nice warm white. All wallpaper was removed, a few light fixtures replaced, hideous basement sheet vinyl replaced with beige low-pile carpet. All the fussy, heavy curtains were removed. The stager did not use a lot of furniture, especially in the bedrooms which weren't that large.

House was listed at $1.2M (she had bought it for $47K originally). Several similar homes went on the market within a week of her listing: one more expensive, two in the $920K range. None of these were staged, unlike hers. All the photos on the web (we checked them out although we didn't visit the homes) showed attractive, traditional decor.

Market continued to slowly soften. But MIL received $1.02M offer and closed within 5 weeks.

Two months later, the three competing homes still had not sold, despite two of them offering price reductions.

Staging may not work in all instances. But it was advantageous for my MIL's home. Although she had some nice things, there was just too much clutter, too little cohesive interior design choices. The house looked much, much better after staging - more spacious, more welcoming. You could really imagine yourself living there - and I say that as someone who had never particularly liked their home (I refused their offer of selling the house to us because I loathed that 1930's tiny efficiency kitchen!).

    Bookmark   August 2, 2009 at 1:15AM
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I'm going to be in the minority here, BUT...staging works on majority of buyers.

Having bought and sold several homes, I can tell you from experience that staging works.

I compare staging to politics. In fact, staging is politics. Most poeple on this board are savvy buyers/sellers. However, staging makes the house enticing. It's like a politican who is FOS, and some people know it and will not fall for his "pretty rhetoric packaging". However, most people will end up voting for him/her if he says the right things. It's called psychology.

If majority of people weren't easily brainwashed, our country wouldn't be in the mess its in.

People preceive value in pretty packaging.
Example: 2 Xmas presents. One packaged pretty, the other one ugly. I wonder which present most would choose?

IMO, the realtor is correct. However, I think the owner can stage themselves, by decluttering, neutralizing, and cleaning.

There is NO such thing as "certification" in staging. Some people just hang up a shingle and rip others off by giving them a worthless piece of paper. I know I checked*.
Besides, you cannot make a stager out of someone who doesn't have NATURAL talent.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2009 at 9:35AM
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I also believe staging is valuable.
Is it worth paying lots of money for every house, no but some people have no talent to do it themselves, others can almost do it themselves in a day.
Like many things there is no exact answer for every circumstance.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2009 at 12:03PM
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I also would put my money to better use then into a stager. (cleaning, painting, putting unnecessary furniture in storage) I don't care how people have decorated their homes. I'm interested in roofs, plumbing, wiring, foundation, etc. All that other silliness just gets in my way of actually seeing the house. Empty is best for me. I would not hire a REA if they were pressuring me to stage my home. We would not get along well. NancyLouise

    Bookmark   August 2, 2009 at 2:42PM
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Staging definitely works and helps sell homes that NEED staging badly. Your home does not need staging and I feel shows well.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2009 at 9:52PM
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You might want to redo a few of your pictures, though. Some of them look cut off on the bottom.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2009 at 11:42PM
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When Dh and I put our house up for sale last March it was just at the very beginning of the economic "downturn" so we "staged" huge!!!! Dh had our yard looking immaculate; I not only kept the house clean, I took down and packed away all our personal pictures and hung up inexpensive "things" from stores like Ross, TJ Maxx. I kept the dining room table set with my Fiestaware dishes, a fresh bouquet of flowers in the center, etc. I KNOW it helped sell the house! But I would never pay a "stager"; anyone can do it!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2009 at 12:38AM
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Not everyone can stage a home nicely. Some people can. More people think they can.

For example - I love my father dearly, but his taste is "unusual." To compound it, he firmly believes that if he likes something, everybody else will like it too. While he has spent a great deal of time cleaning and straightening over the past year, his condo has just sat on the market. I'm sure that he would have a lot more interest if he would just let someone stage the place. He insists he watches all the "Sell my house" type shows and follows their advice, but obviously, he is not capable of doing it himself.

Anyway, the OP's home is very nice and looks like it will show well. I'm sure everyone can find something they would do slightly differently, but I don't see anything that would warrant a professional intervention.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2009 at 10:47AM
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Luckily, my realtor isnt suggesting a pro stager, just the basics of clean it up, get rid of clutter, etc. But since I will be putting my house on the market soon I have been going online and watching many of the cable home improvement shows (I rarely watch tv and donÂt have cable). I guess the concept of staging isnÂt really disturbing to me but some of the fixes they come up with just canÂt be true. I understand that all gushing comments at the end of each segment are prompted or fake but can you really fool a buyer with cheap accent pieces? The house I saw was over a million dollars and they fixed its problems with the most generic of artwork for the walls and fake marble columns and home made window treatments and light fixtures. All done with a great sense of style and craftmanship but really, am I supposed to believe a person looking to buy a luxury home wouldnÂt be able to see the real value of the decor? Are rich people that stupid?

Again, I can see where some homes and some sellers might need some guidance in this area but I can also see where some professionals might take things way off track. To me the staged homes on tv looked like film sets or worse - hotel rooms! All the houses I bought in the past were empty.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2009 at 2:34PM
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John, can you share links to some of those cable home improvement shows?

    Bookmark   August 3, 2009 at 10:45PM
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marti8a - just go to or google hgtv and click on any button about "see full episode" and you can watch the most recent episode of any show you want. There are plenty to choose from. I think one of them is specifically about staging.

In more than one episode a solution was to spray paint bathroom hardware in order to change the metal's color or make all the hardware in the room match. The host makes a comment about how the open house is tomorrow. It takes weeks for the spray paint smell to go away from an object. If those fixtures were installed after they dried, in a bathroom, anyone walking through that house the next day would smell the spray paint smell. Same story for the rushed paint job in some of the rooms - you would smell the fresh paint and know that some problem has been cosmetically "fixed". It would all be a turn off for me.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2009 at 9:10AM
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When we decided to list our house, we started getting our floors refinished and painting the entire house. I replaced bathroom vanities and changed formica tops with granite and marble. I had hired a plumber to change all the faucets on the sinks and tubs to stainless. My bathtubs and showers were all tiled and I left them with the old tile, just wanted the fixtures changed.

One day after coming home from work, the plumber showed me a hall bathroom where he changed all the faucets. He was proud of himself and the job considering he didn't damage the tile. Everything looked good to me. He then pointed out that he couldn't change the single faucet on the tub wall because the pipe was frozen and he'd have to remove tile to fix it. He proudly told me he spray-painted the handle with silver paint. He then showed me he spray painted the shower head.

I was amazed because I didn't notice it. I was going to leave it except my son-in-law later told me that it would be picked up during inspection and could cause problems with the sale.

I changed plumbers and fixtures.


    Bookmark   August 4, 2009 at 6:45PM
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My two cents:
We put our house in New England on the market this past February in the midst of the economic freefall. A modest house ( with 2 out- dated baths and an 1990 kitchen)in a high-priced town. A plain jane "Cape" on a busy street.
We didnt have $ to improve the kitchen and baths- so instead- an artistic friend helped me "stage" by doing the basics: attention to detail around the house; having friends come thru with new eyes and point out little things; decluttering, making every closet either empty or super neat and tidy; rearranging of furniture- investing in some new softgoods. Basic stuff to make the house fresh, clean and clear. We accepted an offer 6 weeks later.
Did we get the price we hoped for? No. Did we get a price we needed and in the time we needed? Yes. Would the house have sold that quickly in this lousy market without the staging? I don't think so. Bottom line: we priced it right and made the best of what we had.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 3:00PM
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I think staging doesn't help but I also think it can usually be done without a paid stager helping.

Several years ago we had a house that was great condition and we put it on the market...where it sat for over a year. It was only a couple of years old and everything was in good condition but reflected our somewhat unusual tastes (teal carpet, that kind of thing).

So we pull it off the market and live it in a couple of years and then decide to list. We called in a very active agent in our area and his wife (a buyer's agent) came by and gave me staging advice. We went through every room. She recommended repainting and recarpeting everything. Then she suggested decor, everything from a small picture at a certain place to silk flowers on various tables. I took careful notes and followed the suggestions all of which cost about $12000. The house looked gorgeous, like a model home. It sold to the second buyer to look at it (this was a bit of a seller's market but not really a hot market).

Next house lived in 7 years. This time we staged it before we even called a real estate agent. With 3 kids over 7 years we recarpeted repainted and did some inexpensive stuff. Replaced the kitchen faucet, replaced dated light fixtures and so on. That market was a fairly neutral market and it took a bit longer but we still sold reasonably quickly and for a very good price.

In both cases, I don't think staging necessarily got us more money. I do strongly feel it gave us quicker sales. In both instances, the homes were bought by couples coming on corporate relocations where they had been living abroad. They were flying in and looking at tons of houses in a short period. They were impressed by houses that looked better than the competition where they could just move in if they chose.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 10:05PM
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Wow, wow , wow, what a lot of hostility.
Ok I agree that you cannot learn to be a stager in a weekend. You have to have a natural ability first, an eye and a visual background certainly is an asset. I was a photo stylist for 25 years. I fell into staging before anyone knew what it was called. I thought I was just 'fixing' homes for real estate pals. I've spent years behind a camera, ensuring the angle it was seen at was perfect, that the room was perfect, so people would buy the product. I learned what works over years and years,not a weekend. There are plenty of stagers with backgrounds equal to mine. Like any business,doctors, lawyers, car mechanics, there are people skilled and not so skilled at their jobs.

Here is what I know for sure. Three things sell a house. Two you can change one you cannot.

LOCATION:The most important and the one you cannot change.

PRICE: You can change this just so much until you take a loss but it is vital you price it right.

APPEARANCE: It goes without saying, or should, that your house better be in great condition, need absolutely no repairs and be up to date and visually appealing from drive up to garage.

Here is what I also know. We can't see the forest for the trees in our own homes. We have more 'things' than we need and our homes are very personalized, as they should be. If you are selling, your house needs to look like it is ready for the mother in law inspection as I like to call it.
A good stager, will not charge you thousands of dollars. More like a few hundred and it will be money well spent.

A good stager will , with grace and ease, show you ( and most often do it for you) how to , very quickly whip your house into a show home. Think home tour. If your home were on the home tour, well it would look pretty great don't you think? You'd put away the toys, send the dog to a neighbor,paint that room that has really needed it, replace an outdated light fixture, you see where I'm going with this!

It is not brain surgery. If you have the visual ability, anyone can stage on their own. Most people don't have the time and a lot of people just are not visual.
Then of course the vast majority of us, just have such an emotional attachment to our homes that it is darned hard to pack up the kids baby photos and our big wedding portrait. BUT, this is going to be home to another family and your stamp just cannot be on it any longer.

Here is a great example. I staged a home in Dallas, where staging is not HUGE yet. The owners listened, did everything I suggested, most of it themselves ( and they had a lot to do, replace carpet, strip wallpaper, very dated house)
The agent is smart, he knew how to price it and also knew it would sit for months if it were not staged. It took them a month. I went back twice after the initial consultation. They had three offers the day it went on the market and sold it immediately. It was in a great location, at a great price and it looked great. In today's economy, you have to have all three, in any economy all three are important, but especially today. There are still un staged homes on that same street, sitting, a year later.

Contrast this with a couple who had a nice big house, with absolutely no master bathroom. When I say master bath, I mean you have to compete with a new build. Bathrooms are important. If you have an expensive home ( over 600K, you better have nice, big bathrooms.) This was an existing 1980's ranch house.The first thing I told them was staging would help ( they had huge amounts of clutter and toys everywhere and dated wall colors) but if they did not either lower the price a lot or redo the bathroom ( it would have cost 15 grand on an almost one million dollar house) it would never move. That was a year ago. Every potential buyer that has seen the house has said, 'why isn't there a nice master bath'? It is still sitting there, a year later. Redoing the bathroom would have moved the house.

Another historic home, empty, not a stick of furniture sat on the market a year. The owners thought because it was historic it did not need furniture. They moved out of state and had to move back a year later as the house never sold.

So, what would you rather have? A financial drain or a house that sells the day you post a sign in the yard. Sure there are a lot of scams out there but like anything, do your research. How did you find a good doctor? You asked friends. Find a stager the same way. If they don't have a website, run, they are not professional. If you can't get references, run they are not professional. If they are associated with the Real Estate Staging Professionals ( RESA), it is a good bet they are legit. RESA is a trade association , NOT a designation from group that teaches staging)

If you have a good eye, do it yourself. There are plenty of blogs and books on how to DIY your house for sale.
Staging is not about getting you MORE money, It is about getting you what your home is worth, fast. Every day it sits on the market, it loses value, it becomes 'market stale' and the first thing your agent will do is lower the price, usually by ten grand. That is money you don't 'see' but it is real money.
So, is it better to spend a few hundred up front to put your best foot forward?
Or is it better to lose 10 grand and often more because you did not want to stage? Would you detail your car before you sold it? Of course? Does detailing it get you more money? No. Does it make people want to buy your car? YES
Staging is no different. It's detailing your house, it's putting makeup on before you go on a date, it's a no brainer.

For more information on staging read my articles on under
Dallas Home, Design and Staging Examiner

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 9:34AM
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karene627 - sounds like you could be an asset to this forum, however you might want to read the terms of use as there is no advertising allowed in your posts (ie your link), so you don't get kicked off the forum.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 10:52AM
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Woops, sorry about that! Why do they ask for a url then?

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 10:56AM
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No need to apologize - just wanted to make sure you knew as I'd hate to see anybody that can be valuable to the forum not being allowed on here again.

The url is so you can add info or a link to pics etc. for what you are talking about etc., without having to know html. Like some people post links to a picture listing to get it critiqued etc. Just have to be careful when you have a business as to not advertise it or have it so it could be construed as advertising. You don't have to put anything in there either.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 2:13PM
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Re: dabunch

This site is for houses and gardens only. Please keep your right wing talking points to yourself. Thanks.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2009 at 10:33PM
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Well said, Debunch
Most everything is marketing/presentation. That's why people buy a lot junk and then ask themselves, what was I thinking. It's mostly due to marketing of product. I like the example of wrapping of Christmas present too. Same with food, presentation offers so much as to how people think it will taste. Some can take a hotdog and make it appear to be a gourmet meal ;).

We did things for showing, to sell by owner, to entice buyers. We cleaned our home immaculate. After clearing clutter, put little touches to make more appealing to all. We sold our house, by owner, in 2.5 months.

While we were looking at homes, I wish people would have just cleaned and cleared clutter ;) The house we purchased had old ugly wall paper, weird paint colors that didn't flow etc. Was not clean enough, junk everyhere. We could see beyond that and potential, however most people did not. It was on market longer than necessary. I think we got a better deal due to this. Initially it was a lot of work but it was worth it.

herus, your house is absolutely gorgeous!! There are cases staging can be an advantage. I think, staging can definitely get way out of hand and unreasonable. To the point of being silly. IMO, it's clear, this is someone who wishes to make more $$ from you or does not have good judgement. How frustrating for you. What do they suggest you change that would make a major difference? Your home is awsome.
Best of luck to you!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2009 at 11:00AM
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People get wise to fakey staging just as they get wise to everything eventually. What really sells a house IMO is that it's clean and you can see what you're getting (uncluttered, not jammed full), and is priced right for the type of house, condition, and location, and for the current market. It has to appear to be a fair deal, all things considered. Some of the staging techniques seem geared to draw attention away from problems, a tactic I definitely am turned off by.

Ideally I'd like to view a home empty; no air fresheners, clean but not recently remodeled (not even new paint). I want my inspector to be able to get a true picture of it, and to feel reasonably confident that any problems have been properly fixed, not hidden.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2009 at 3:31PM
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>>Ideally I'd like to view a home empty; no air fresheners, clean but not recently remodeled (not even new paint). I want my inspector to be able to get a true picture of it, and to feel reasonably confident that any problems have been properly fixed, not hidden. >>

Just by saying that it's clear you cannot be classified with the majority of buyers. Some people can see beyond the surface; heck, I count myself in that group too. But most people CANNOT, and for those, staging helps them see what they would have overlooked otherwise.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2009 at 3:26PM
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