Home Staging and Home Selling - When it Doesn't Work

Home Stager with Creative Concepts-Home Staging and Contracting, Salem Oregon CCB #180695

This week we removed staging from a home that has been for sale since April.  A routine task for us, but this "de-staging" job was unique.  This is the only house we have staged in 2009 that hasn't sold.  Usually when we remove staging the owner is getting to move on to their new home, maybe a new town and it's a story of wonderful new beginnings.  Not so in this case.  When we remove staging there frequently hugs and glowing testimonials about how staging worked so well for them.  I wasn't looking forward to removing this staging!

Does home staging really work?

What went wrong?  The owner and listing agent were thrilled with the staging and had given us referrals for other jobs.  We had received new clients after they saw our work at this home.  It was a home people could fall in love with - but no one did.

As we were driving to the job I was concerned not only for the seller whose home wasn't sold, but for her attitude toward our company as we were unable to help her achieve her goal and she paid a lot of $$$ to our company for staging. 

The owner greeted us graciously and came to sit down in the room I was packing up, chating warmly.  She went on to exclaim over the staging, the raves it received and how she wanted to use us in the future to help her furnish her new home.   

She let me know of her plans about the future of the house - she is working on a deed in lieu of foreclosure.  She went on to explain that the listing price was too high and the house couldn't sell because of the high price.  The agent had listed and priced in accordance to what was loaned on the home and in anticipation of negotiating a short sale as well. 

She had to prove to the bank that she made due diligence to sell the home and she knew that by staging it she was making every possible effort to sell.  She thought the staging was fabulous and wanted to be our reference - even though her house didn't sell.  Yes - she knew the staging worked -- it brought in more showings, looked great online and got raves from agents and buyers -- she wanted to be our reference.

home staging accents the positive!Our staging didn't get the house sold, but we got a new home staging fan and reference for our business.  The situation doesn't look good for our statistics, but according to the realtor and seller the job was a huge success and worth every penny.  So now when sceptics ask if staging always works, I guess I'll have to say no - not every house we've staged this year has sold.  But yes -- every home seller we've worked with this year is a reference and "staging believer".



home staging for Oregon real estate

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Ginger Foust
Certified Staging Professional - Oakhurst, CA
Home Stager Oakhurst CA, Dream Interior Redesign & Staging

Margaret, I had have a couple of the same type of staging incidents.  In the end the sellers confessed that they knew that the house probably wouldn't sell but they had to give it their best shot.  In one of my situations the sellers decided to move back into the house and sell their other.

There certainly are many scenarios playing out today.  This hasn't hurt your stats...a simple asterick and explanation will help clarify. 

Jul 19, 2009 03:34 AM #8
Margaret Oscilia
Creative Concepts-Home Staging and Contracting, Salem Oregon - Salem, OR
Home Stager, Salem Oregon

Sharon - You're right.  I'm a people pleaser and don't like to have homes not sell quickly.  Thankfully this home seller really did understand that the pricing was the problem.

Evelyn - Don't you just love clients who have such a wonderful attitude!  Makes even bad situations turn out feeling good.

Cathy - I think that her recommendation probably is more "real" and important than many others we've received

Melina - Would love to hear your spin on what an agent should do in this situation.  Already priced the house so low that it would be a short sale.  If the bank will take a deed in lieu it is better than a short sale on the sellers credit is what this seller was told.

Ginger - Using your staging certainly does help homes give it their best shot - you rock!


Jul 19, 2009 03:59 AM #9
Michelle Gibson
Hansen Real Estate Group Inc. - Wellington, FL

Margaret - That is a great reference, her house didn't sell, but it had nothing to do with the staging that she was still impressed with.

Jul 19, 2009 05:31 AM #10
Beverly Carlson
Carlson Properties 325-721-2429 - Abilene, TX
Abilene's Staging Realtor

Whatever it's worth, no one is going, gosh, if only they hadn't staged the house, I am sure it would be sold!   Market price and condition sell homes.  Staging is part of condition.  Market  price is what a buyer is willing to pay for the house. If the seller knew it was overpriced to begin with, then there is no guilt. Staging is like any other service.  You pay for services rendered not a guarantee.  In analogy, one pays for medical service whether one gets well instantly or not.    Staging is an ongoing process.  You don't clean the house just once and when it doesn't sell in a month say no need to clean it again.   It's possible that both price and staging will need continuous adjustment with the passage of time to match the expectations of a buyer's market. 

Jul 19, 2009 10:21 AM #12
Durham, NC

Margaret, this was an interesting post to read.  I had a similar situation in a vacant home--sellers lived out of the country.  The sales agent told me up front that the house was priced too high for the neighborhood but the sellers would not list for less.  My contract was extended three times before there was an offer on the house...at MUCH less than the asking price.  Like all these other good folks said:  staging is just one part of the equation.  It also helps that you sound like a gracious and giving person and kindness begets kindness!

Jul 19, 2009 01:11 PM #13
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Margaret, I don't believe an over priced home will sell no matter how beautifully it's staged.  But it sounds as if you have a client for life and a LOT of referrals besides.  It's a true success story! 

Jul 19, 2009 01:22 PM #14
Kate Jahnson
Home Stage Home - West Linn, OR
Home Stager

It is a sad day when a staged house doesn't sell but the house didn't move because of it's appearance, it was the price tag. Because of the new relationship you formed with this client the referrals coming your way will most definitely manifest into beautifully staged and SOLD houses.

Jul 19, 2009 02:37 PM #15
Cindy Bryant
Redesign Etc. Home Staging - Houston, TX
"Houston Home Staging Pros"

I had a house that sat longer than usual, the owner told me it was overpriced by 50K.  They dropped the price and it sold within the week.  It wasn't even in the ballpark with the other houses around it.  And the homeowners raved about the staging, but knew the price was the obstacle.

Jul 19, 2009 05:47 PM #16
Ashley Whittenberger
Ashley Whittenberger Fine Art - Austin, TX

I'm glad that it turned out to be a positive experience. I agree with Gary Keller when he says that selling a home is like a price war and a beauty pageant -- the winner will be crowned the contract. In this case, sounds like you had the beauty pageant taken care of, but the "battle" was lost with price!

Jul 20, 2009 12:38 AM #17
Tessa Skeens
Hampton ReDesign, Home Staging and Redesign - Denver, CO
Staging For Denver Realtors, Builders

I had a house that I recently de-staged. It too was the only one that had not received any offers during the staging period. The owner finally dropped the price over $100K AFTER I took out the staging. Gee I wish they had done that sooner!

Glad your sellers were appreciative of your efforts.

Jul 20, 2009 03:19 AM #18
Michelle Finnamore
Toronto GTA, Alliston, Newmarket - Vaughan, ON
Preparing your property for sale

Hi Margaret, Wonderful story and thank you for taking the time to post it. We can all learn from your experience. Sometimes the one we think we lost is actually the one that produces the most positive results.

I recently staged three houses within  a space of 7 houses in a row. I staged one and it sold quickly and for list. One was listed to high for the neighbourhood and I destaged it after the second month. The third did not want to paint out the red, gold, purple, green and orange walls throughout the entire house. It has not sold in two months. I did not stage that property myself but the client did carry out other suggestions that I made. It is now listed for sale by owner. 

When the listing client does not take the advice of the Realtor in regards to price or the suggestions of the professional staging company, you can only use the resulting story as  part of your presentation when new clients ask if staging works. As others have stated here, it is price and location that matter to the buyer as well.

Jul 21, 2009 12:57 AM #19
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, www.homes

Great story Margaret and a true testimony to a job well done.  I can just imagine how you were feeling as you approached this home.

My feeling is that no matter how great the house looks, staged beautifully or not, PRICE is always going to reign supreme and anyone who overprices a home in the climate of the real estate market we have today is committing selliing suicide - harsh but true.

Jul 21, 2009 12:00 PM #20
Linda Sticklin
Home Staging & Organizing - Berwyn, PA

Staging does not guarantee a sale. There are so many other factors that play into the equation. I staged a vacant resale this year and the seller opted to discontinue the lease after 3 months without a sale. It was purely a financial decision based on carrying 2 mortgages + staging costs. She was thrilled with the feedback on the house after it was staged, as was the realtor. The house was on a very steep, downsloping lot that was a deal killer for everyone that toured the house.

Jul 22, 2009 02:09 AM #21
Emma Vargas
Simply Staging - Cameron Park, CA
Simply Staging

I had a staged home on the market for almost a year.  I am not a Realtor, but it really didn't take one to know that it was over-priced from the get go.  However, I also knew the house looked fantastic when I was done with it and I too had made staging fans for life. 

They turned out to be the best clients I had ever worked with.  In the end, the house sold for almost $100k less.  They were constantly chasing the market and reducing the price. 

We only have influence over so much, but unfortunately the staging is too often to be blamed for homes not selling.  My sellers and your sellers learned valuable lessons; the pricing, condition and location all have to be aligned.

Jul 22, 2009 07:25 AM #22
Jill Banks,
Happily Better After Room Redesign & Home Staging - Mt Laurel, NJ
South Jersey Home Stager

Hi Margaret,

You're so right--we stagers can make a home look great, but pricing is a much bigger factor in home sales in today's buyers' market, and we have no control over it.  But, I don't think anyone can argue that staging leaves a positive impression--the client offered to be a referral even though the house didn't sell while staged.  That's a great testament to your talents and the power of staging!

Jul 24, 2009 02:26 AM #23
Jim Allhiser
Perfection Inspection, Inc. - Salem, OR
Salem, Oregon Home Inspector

Margaret:  very nice.  That sounds like a fantastic referral,  I am sure you could find some loop hole to hide that one in your statistics.

I hope you are having a fantastic vacation.

Jul 26, 2009 07:41 AM #24
Heather Cook
Rooms in Bloom Staging & Design Inc. - Kitchener, ON
Quality Home Staging

Margaret - we have had that happen as well however as everyone has been saying, staging is only one part of the equation. We can't control so much of the situation so its never a good idea to offer any kind of guarantee!

We are facing de-staging a home which although the seller loves the staging, they feel the accessory rental is too high. Its only a few hundred dollars and both the realtor and myself are worried that taking out the staging will take away the "wow" factor and that by trying to save a few hundred dollars that the seller will see the house sit on the market for a lot longer and will be stuck paying for the home longer than he wants to. We think it very likely that he will realize his mistake and want the staging back.

I am so glad however that despite the lack of sale, you have had such success from this project!

Jul 27, 2009 11:34 AM #25
April Moore
John L Scott - The Dalles, OR

Sounds like you did a wonderful Job of staging.  I'm sure the woman appreciated your efforts.  Your pictures are great. To have the skill of being able to create a beautiful room is a skill that not everyone can have.  You definitely have the skill perfected..

Jul 29, 2009 11:06 AM #26
Karen Cox
Landmark Professional Mortgage Company - Salem, OR

HI Margaret,

Sounds like you did everything right here and still have a wonderful referral source as well.  Great job!


Jul 31, 2009 03:41 PM #27
Chris Olsen
Olsen Ziegler Realty - Cleveland, OH
Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate

Hi Margaret -- Great post.  As a broker/owner, agent, and ASP, I know firsthand that while staging is a key element, it is not a pancea or guarantee.  Some homes practically sell themselves, staged or not. Some homes can be staged to the hilt but if it has a bad kitchen design, is over-priced, needs too much updating, smelly basement, in a bad location, etc., sometimes it's simply not enough.  To date, I've had 100% with staging, redesigns and renovations, we do all three for clients in the Greater Cleveland Ohio area and we know the strengths of home staging, but also put it in it's proper context so as to not oversell it.

Aug 07, 2009 03:15 PM #28
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Margaret Oscilia

Home Stager, Salem Oregon
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