Staging for Selling

When staging a home for sale, the old adage 'Less is More' works best: 'less' as in less furniture. Sellers need to pack before moving, so why not pack as much as possible before listing.  An uncluttered, de-personalized home allows potential buyers to visualize how it would look after they move in.
Fresh paint goes a long way toward creating visual appeal. If it's in a seller's budget, new flooring also adds perceived value. At a minimum, homes should be clean and well maintained including the lawn. I have personally witnessed buyer's perceptions of otherwise attractive homes downgraded by sloppy entrys.
For vacant properties, I believe staging should be done in the following order: 1) kitchen, 2) living area, and 3) master bedroom. Again keep to the 'Less is More' philosopy when placing furniture. A small kitchen table with 2 chairs gives a sense of function while consuming little space. Furniture can be purchasd at thrift stores or garage sales for minimal expense while adding thousands to a sales price. For those on a very tight budget, even plastic flowers go a long way toward adding warmth and color to an otherwise stark enviornment.
Most experinced realtors have a sense of what works and what doesn't. For additional ideas, check out builder websites to see how they present homes.

  • October 21 2009 - Austin
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Answers (19)

Profile picture for Corcoran1
Great advice.  Thanks
  • October 21 2009
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In general, I agree with this advice.

However, I have concerns about checking builder's websites to see staged homes.  In general, it seems to me, builders tend to use interior designers to furnish their model homes.  Designers create beautiful, rich, and eye-catching spaces that, from a stager's point of view, have too much furniture, too many patterns, too many accessories...wonderful things to look at, but a potential distraction from the house itself.  Design is an Ode, staging is a Haiku.  I suggest sellers look at before & after staging examples on a variety of stager's websites.
  • October 22 2009
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I agree with Nancy, although beautiful model homes do tend to be a bit busy. Home Staging is not design or decorating. It is not intended to distract a homebuyer. The purpose of home staging is to set the scene so that buyers can imagine themselves living in the home.  As Nancy said I would encourage sellers to view before and after Staging photos to get an idea of how to present a home for sale. Great advice though!
  • December 09 2009
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I agree "Staging" is your best bet when getting your home ready to sell.  You have to present your home in it's "best light". Put yourself in the buyer's shoes, what appealed to you when you purchased your home...was it all the visible floor space, clean uncluttered counters, rooms which appeared larger with uncluttered walls and floor space. Appeal to all buyers by removing your personal items i.e. photos, handmade decorations, hobbies, trophy's, from your home and replacing those items with generic staging items.  
  • December 14 2009
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Hello,

I am a Multi-Millions TOP PRODUCER with Re/Max.  I never use staging, it is a waste of money to have a professional come over and stage a property.  I believe that all buyer's have differant tastes and after staging, many still will like things "There Way" in their mind.  Don't waste the money!
  • December 14 2009
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What works for one house doesn't necessarily work for all houses.  You can stage an ugly house and it still won't sell.

However, dismissing a whole concept when its application has been proven over and over is pretty narrow minded IMO. 

The "Days On Market" of listings speak for themselves.

Naima

  • December 14 2009
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agreed great advice
  • December 15 2009
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i disagree with deborah sorry staging is a good thing
  • December 15 2009
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A professional home stager with a willing home seller (that has a decent budget) can transform an "ugly duckling" home into a "buyer's delight."  Simple fixes like furniture elimination, painting dark wood paneling, painting old dark kitchen cabinets and replacing the cabinet hardware are only a few ideas.

An expert home stager should be able to think outside the box and transform a home based on it's requirements to attract the largest potential buyer audience.

Interior design and home staging are two completely different animals.
  • December 16 2009
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My last staged home was located in New Jersey and received an offer 24 hours after its first Open House (last weekend).  The Realtor I worked with was fantastic and believed in home staging and the home sellers implemented all my suggestions.  I have to respectfully disagree with Deborah, in this real estate market there are three things that sell a home:

1.  Price - this is where an experienced Realtor comes in.

2.  Location

3.  Presentation - this is where a professional home stager comes in.

Professional home stagers and experienced Realtors can make an excellent partnership and the home's will sell faster when you bring in someone specifically trained in principles of design aimed at attracting the largest buyer audiences.  

The latest Home Gain survey (Nov 2009) of 1,000 Realtors has Home Staging's return on investment listed as 586%; according to the National Assocation of Realtors, 80% of Realtors currently support or suggest home staging to their clients.  Home staging is definitely being recognized as a necessity to sell homes and not a luxury.

  • December 20 2009
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Great post Kate!

Naima
  • December 21 2009
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I agree that staging is beneficial and helpful in bringing out the true spaces of a home.  One key I stick to... stage the home in the decor and atmosphere w/the buyers in mind.  What is the buyer profile of that neighborhood?  What kind of buyer personas will be coming through the home and want to live in this neighborhood?  Definitely wouldn't want ultra modern/eclectic decor in a post-modern home.  Happy New Year to everyone!  ~Farrah in Austin, TX
  • January 04 2010
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Wow, what a great topic! The only thing I would add is that regardless of the condition of the home, there are 3 areas that are most important. These areas have to leave a great impression. If they don't, your chances of getting top dollar go down. These are:

* Owner's Bath or Master Bath
* Kitchen
* Laundry Room

Why these 3? Because this is usually, in "most cases" where the "Mom" of the family spends most of her time. Think about it. When you are not getting ready to head out for the day or winding down at the end of the day in the bathroom, you are probably cooking a meal or doing laundry. Sure you spend time in other areas of the house, but if these 3 areas are not a relaxing place to be, why would someone pick that house? If you are thinking of staging, be sure these areas are addressed at the top of your list!
  • January 05 2010
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Interesting, Alex.

I go by:
1) First Impression - prune those overgrown shrubs, mow or sod the lawn, power wash the house, make the front door a focal point, make the foyer a welcoming place where buyers can catch their breath and look around (create a foyer if there is none), don't do not publish photos until the work is done (the internet is the ultimate first impression for most buyers) - remember most buyers decide 'no way' or 'maybe so' within seconds of seeing the property
2) Kitchen - the heart of the home
3) All baths, with stress placed on the master
4) Living / Great room
5) Master bedroom

As Farrah says 3, 4, and 5 should be generic (to appeal to the maximum number of buyers) but very much tuned to the expectations of the most probable buyer.  If the mpb is a family with 2.5 children, the furniture layout and accessories on display will be different than if the mpb is a childless, double income couple. 
  • January 05 2010
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Oh, and Deborah, are you saying you do not encourage your sellers to clean up, pack away highly personal items and the seven mounted deer heads, pack or store away items (like the dust-covered food processor on the kitchen counter) that are rarely used but take up space, repaint purple walls, remove the seven occasional tables that block entry (except by walking sideways) into the room, clean up, replace the twenty year old valence, replace the twenty year old faucet and draw handles, clean up?  If you do any of that, or anything like that, you are staging.  Whatever you call it, it is staging. 

It may not be everything a professional stager does, but it is presentation marketing and it is at the base of staging.
  • January 05 2010
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After pricing the home correctly (the absolute most important factor in the selling process) staging can play a very important role in showing the property in the very best possible way. 

Last month I was showing a foreclosure to a client and the house was empty.  The listing agent took the time to put some small items in various rooms.  Things like a small vase with plastic flowers in the bathrooms and a small end table in the living room with a lamp and some pillows.  It may not seem like very much but it made the otherwise empty home show so much better. 

The home was also priced right and looked better than it's competition so it sold quickly.
  • March 30 2010
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Profile picture for PamSitterly
I believe top producing real estate agents have staging instincts, whether or not they choose to acknowlege it. Even inexperienced agents know a cluttered, crowded house will not show well. Excellent presentation is a must. So what one agent may call staging, another may call "decluttering" or common sense. But all homes need to be staged, de-personalized, nuetralized, de-cluttered if they are to show well.
Pam Sitterly
  • November 16 2010
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Being a home stager myself, I disagree totally with Deborah. I believe that every house needs to be staged.
You want your house to look its best, the rule of the 3 C's
Clutter free
Clean
Color
You want to pack all of your personal objects : pictures, collections of any sort, posters, etc...
You want the buyer to envision themselves living in your house.
You want to attract as much buyers as possible.
It is proven that staged homes sale faster and for more money.
Staging doesn't cost a lot of money.
You have to ask yourself , would I sell my house the way it is ?
Do not forget, buyers are not buying your stuff, they are buying the house. Make it attractive, and inviting to them.
Stagers will do as little as you want or as much as you want. We are here to help you your realtor have a successful sale.
  • November 20 2010
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As a stager, I see Deborah's point.  Top producing agents usually 'get' marketing and understand the presentation of a house is a key component of marketing.  They may have an instinct for what will show well.  Or they may study hard and work hard to understand and to explain presentation to their sellers. 

The issue is all those not-top-producing agents who don't know how to explain presentation to their sellers, or don't 'get' it and fall back on lowering the price. 

Sellers, if your agent tells you to clean up and declutter...worse, if your agent tells you that your house will sell just fine as it is.....consider hiring a local stager to examine your property and give you professional advice about presentation.  And if there is a huge gap between what your agent says and what the stager says, consider taking the stager's advice then getting revised photos onto the internet.  How a house is marketed really does matter.  And presentation is a critical component of marketing.
  • November 22 2010
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