Why don't more home-owners invest in staging services when it works so well?

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October 19 2011 - Palatine
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May not be knowledgeable or think it cost to much money
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February 14 2012

There's no question that prepping your home for sale will help.  We see sellers who stage their homes sell them faster and at higher prices than those who do not.  Buyers often can't 'imagine' what neutral colors, decorated spaces, and neat/clean and updated rooms what will do with a home.  With so many distressed properties on the market - those who make the effort to hire a staging professional or tackle it themselves will help their properties stand out favorably.

Often sellers are put off by the upfront costs of staging their homes.  Pprofessionals who have confidence in their work and are willing to take the risk and offer their services on a commission basis (more fee for defined quicker and higher value sales) may be a good way to grow a staging business. 

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February 14 2012
Profile picture for fam566000
I am a home stager who charges a flat fee for my services. I get more calls than my competitors who charge by the hour on a running tab. I am so busy I am shopping for a partner and an assistant. I sold two homes to buyers who dropped in after I placed my staging sign in the yard. The listing agent earned those commissions, even though I gave the tour and casted the vision. If more stagers charged a flat fee on half-day and full-day rates for their services, the industry would grow by leaps and bounds. There are several national staging associations that provide staging statistics, but who needs them. My clients are ridiculously happy because they have all moved on with their lives. Who needs statistics when you have happy referrals from clients and business partners who value your services. Realtors need to learn how to work with sales associates and industry affiliates. Gone are the days when you can tell a buyer "It's just paint!" with the hope of selling a home on potential. Good luck with that.
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February 12 2012
Most homeowners live in their homes. When a home is lived in, it is often difficult to hide the items used on a daily basis. When there is a family in the house, as apposed to one or two people, that task becomes considerable more complex. However, basic staging and de-cluttering should always be done prior to listing and showing the house.
If the house is vacant and empty, staging a house will typically cost one 1-2% of the sale's price. If the size, condition, and layout permits, I would strongly suggest staging the property.
It is not in a Realtor's budget to stalk warehouses full of free staging supplies and keep movers and a moving truck on hand, as some previous replies have suggested. However, a Realtor should be well-versed in matters of staging, and suggest to the seller what options may work best in this specific scenario.
Lastly, be careful as to how you present the conversation of staging, as some people are in love with their home as it is. I typically explain to them that the home should look as though it were a weekly rental and the surroundings should be as impersonal as possible.
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February 04 2012
Because lots of homeowners think they can stage their own homes. After all, they've watched a few episodes on HGTV and now they figure they're experts at it.

Because lots of agents think they can stage homes. After all, THEY'VE watched a few episodes on HGTV and now figure they're experts at it.

Because--and this was noted below--the homeowner gets hit with a lot of suggestions from their agents that can cost money. It's sometimes difficult to separate the "need to do" from the "nice to do."

Because some homeowners think that staging is the same thing as interior design, and they're not interested in that.

Because some homeowners don't understand the different levels of service that many stagers offer. For instance, a consultation for a few hundred dollars may, in some instances, provide the biggest bang for the buck. Or staging just select rooms, or doing vignettes versus the entire property. The stager doesn't have to be nickel-and-dimed down. Rather, the stager can charge a fair price for the level of service the homeowner can afford and wishes to have.

Because it can be difficult to quantify the benefits. DID the staging result in a higher sales price? Or maybe it resulted in a quicker sale, still saving the homeowner money. But how do you show that? You see these semi-phoney (call them potentially misleading) figures that, for instance, updating a bathroom will return 78.4% of the investment to the homeowner, while installing a pool will only return 36.6% of the investment. (Always so precise with those decimal places!) I'm not saying stagers should come up with a similar formula. (Spending $3,000 on staging will result in a 2.6% higher sales price and reduce days on market by 17% . . . that sort of thing.) But that's what some people look for when making a decision.

Hope that helps.
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January 31 2012
Since the majority says that the listing agent should absorb the cost of the staging -- how much would you spend on each property?

I quite frequently stage a home with small kitchen items, a few pictures, bathroom accessories, etc... except for my kitchen accessories, not everything flows for each home.  Thus said, I spend a lot of time shopping for each home at Home Goods, Marshalls, etc...what is normal to spend?  
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January 30 2012
On "Selling LA" one chick talked her client into spending $300G's on staging and that was plan B. Plan A was $600G's! Doh!
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December 19 2011
Profile picture for the_country_hick
Why should the seller pay for anything when the realtor has already agreed to take a percentage of the selling price for doing all that is needed to market the property?

The listing realtor should be doing this as part of their earning their commission.
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December 19 2011

Home owners do not do staging more often because:
1, it cost money
2, they are confortable in their own decor , space and can not comprehend why it will not be appreciated by others.
It has to be delicatly explained  when selling the staging concept.
I have many times done the staging myself and lent out my own furniture and decorative items , ( books , flower arrangements , pictures etc.) not because I have to, but because it is in benefit of all parties concerned.

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December 19 2011
Profile picture for SteadyState
Because the listing agents are so good at marketing, sales, and negotiation that it would insult the listing agent if the home is staged.
Corollary 1: An REA that asks the seller to stage is not worth his commission.
Corollary 2: Since sales and marketing are the reasons sellers hire a REA and staging is part of the sales and marketing program for some homes, this cost should be completely born by the listing agent.
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December 07 2011
an experienced realtor can be just as helpful as a stager and wont charge you $100-$200 an hour. just dont take any comments given as personal insults. he/she is just trying to help your home look more attractive
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December 07 2011
You wouldn't go to meet your new client in the clothes you gardened in that morning, and staging is just as important to receive the best first impression when home selling.

In response to Bob Brandt - yes many agents can give great advice to their clients on updating, maintenance and even furniture and decor placement. However, being the expert on paint colors isn't what most agents want to be remembered for.  Your time may be better leveraged in marketing and negotiating.  We're a valued part of many top selling agent's team - and they find a huge value in bringing in a staging expert rather than dealing with those details.  They don't want to be known as the jack of all trades and master of none!  

Frequently agents find their sellers take our advice more seriously than when they say the same things.  Perhaps it is information overload, perhaps we just reinforce what is said -- either way, it can be a winning combination.  
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November 20 2011
Many home sellers contact us after attending an open house at a home we have staged -- because the staging did work so well.  They can see the value and want their homes to sell quickly.
Sometimes owners call us after their home is on the market for several months -- surprised that it didn't sell quickly.
It's always hard to invest $$$ in something that isn't guaranteed to give a measurable rate of return - and we understand their point of view!

Statistics - it's hard to measure because it is speculative.  We stage several homes per week and they are selling at 1/3 of the average DOM compared to the market average right now.  This year we staged a home and one house down was an identical home for sale.  The staged home sold in less than 30 days, the unstaged home was still on the market after 6 months.  

The key to our success in having home sellers trust us to help them with staging is that we do keep the costs in line with what they can afford and the home's selling price.  No one should pay $3500 to stage a home that sells for $175,000. 
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November 20 2011
Profile picture for sunnyview
I'm speechless BobB. You have my stunned thumb.
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November 06 2011
Profile picture for SoCal Engr
Just curious...

Was the prior post actually a REA calling out the "staging industry"?

If it was, correct or not, then it's refreshing to see a REA that is willing not to toe the industry norm.
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November 06 2011
Most intelligent buyers can see right through the facade.
Most intelligent sellers already know enough to declutter, clean and neutralize. Most Realtors have been making these common sense suggestions for years.
One home I showed asked us to remove our shoes. When we were done our socks were like cat hair balls.
The ones that ask for a little extra time to straighten up are usually the worst And then the agent asks for feedback.....
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November 06 2011
SoCal
The Buyer really pays for the staging anyhow! :)
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November 05 2011
Profile picture for SoCal Engr
"My personal pet peeve is seeing the high end listings get the extra marketing services such as staging but not the listings in the lower price point. The ultimate goal is the same..."

The solution to that is simple. If you feel the listings/owners deserve the service...provide it.

Has it occurred to anyone that most services have a minimum cost (i.e., not cost effective to pursue work that "just pays expenses"), and that there comes a point of diminishing return on marketing low-end properties - especially when the owner is already upside-down or barely able to cover commissions.
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November 05 2011
Profile picture for Stage It Up
If price is the mitigating factor, the stager should be prepared to provide different pricing schemes so that the professional services can be provided in some capacity. It shouldn't be a go-no go gauge. It should be...let's see what I can do for the allotted budget. The agents appreciate the can-do spirit and the willingness to work with them at their, or the seller's, price point.
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November 05 2011
 My personal pet peeve is seeing the high end listings get the extra marketing services such as staging but not the listings in the lower price point.  The ultimate goal is the same......
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October 23 2011
Cost to the seller is one of the reasons I provide professional staging at my cost. I sell more homes than 98% of all agents in my MLS and 25% of those sell in 30 days or less and at or above the list price. Staging certainly helps and that is why I am willing to pay for it. It is difficult to explain the benefits to sellers or other agents.
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October 23 2011
Profile picture for SoCal Engr
"It's the expense they are worried about most of the time. Many feel they are selling at rock bottom prices to start with and to add that expense, some of the sellers feel it's un necessary."

Personally, a certain amount of my reticence about this has more to do with how I perceive REAs approach this. My personal experience has been that REAs have all kinds of ways for me to spend money to help the house sell. All of this comes out of my bottom line, supposedly helps the house to sell faster (a benefit to both myself and the REA), but there never is any discussion about the REA participating in the costs - or even having considered including some costs as part of their "marketing plan".

I still see some value in getting a house ready to sell, whether you call it "cleaning up" or "staging". My hackles just start going up when a REA starts trying to spend my money. Other opinions may differ.
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October 23 2011
When I go on a listing appointment I first look for issues that can be potential deal breakers. Some examples are roof repair or replacement, potentially dangerous electrical panels, pet smells or stains etc.  I give the Sellers a list of items to take care of before the house is listed and try to work within their budget.  Many times it is cleaning, decluttering, painting, weeding etc.  I take care of the staging as part of my services. Quite simply it works!
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October 23 2011
Dear Candice,
It's the expense they are worried about most of the time. Many feel they are selling at rock bottom prices to start with and to add that expense, some of the sellers feel it's un necessary.
Personally speaking, its one of the best investment you can make in selling your home
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October 23 2011
You can stage a home without paying for it. Some owners think that their home is priced low enough that they'll get offers regardless of how the home looks. This is sometimes not the case. Also, numbers show that a staged home typically sells faster than an unstaged home. Some agents only offer staging by paying for it.

Rather than paying for the service, I suggest sellers go to HGTV & look at the before & after pictures of homes. They can also look at their competition in the area to get a better idea of how they should stage their home.
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October 20 2011
Profile picture for wetdawgs
Hi Candice:  Thanks for telling us you don't have the answer of hard fast numbers and it is simply hand waving.   That is what I suspected, but now you've supported my suspicions. If I read between the lines incorrectly, I'd love to see those unbiased numbers.

I have no problem with staging at the agent's expense if they wish to offer it as part of their advertising.  Otherwise, as a seller I will have it clean, decluttered, and quite respectable.   I don't drool in the best chair, the carpets are in good shape, the house doesn't smell (I invited the most critical nose I know)  and the dog bones will be hidden.

Yeah, I'm a "show me the data" type guy.
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October 19 2011
Profile picture for SoCal Engr
"Staging" is an over-used and over-loaded term.

Over-and-over, the mantra from REAs is "declutter, depersonalize, make it so the buyer can visualize their stuff in the house".

And then? Stage it, shape it, frame it, sell it.

Bottom line...

- Informed sellers know clutter doesn't sell.
- Neutral colors are easier for potential buyers to accept.
- Clean, unobstructed sight lines make the house show better.
- It may help to "suggest" how a room could be used, but really? A buyer can't envision a bedroom being used as...a bedroom? a home office?

Staging may help, but I have never seen it as a "pay the pro" proposition.
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October 19 2011
Profile picture for sunnyview
That kind of reads like a non answer. I have not seen any solid stats that are not biased for the return on staging. Does a formally staged house sell better than just having a clean, ready house? I don't know. I would say those stats are had to come by.
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October 19 2011
Thanks to all the agents and owners that answered my question, 'why don't more home owners stage their homes to sell when it works so well?'  I want understand what the obstacles are to getting more agents to use the 'secret-weapon' of staging. 
I know RE agents that hire stagers and they insist that their sellers stage their homes because listings sell much faster and usually for more money. They even pay for the staging if the seller won't, or can't.  Price IS key... re-using the seller's stuff, etc. Maybe agents should show more leadership in this regard? 
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October 19 2011
Profile picture for wetdawgs
@Michelle:  As I asked the original poster, can you share statistics to support your statement?   I'm not wanting statistics of a staged home in top form to  a tired home with stained old lounger and lingering pipe scent but like for like with a motivated seller who has cleaned, repaired, decluttered and organized the home without the benefit of the seller.

Or, is "a staged home brings a better sales price" one of the myths bandied about?    Data would convince me otherwise, preferably unbiased and peer reviewed.



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October 19 2011
Related Questions
Why don't more home-owners invest in staging services when it works so well?
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Latest answer by Reema Sharma
February 14 2012 | 40 answers
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