I watched a movie the other day in which the main character is a real estate stager in Boston. On a trip to Ireland, she found herself explaining to one of the locals what a stager does. Not skipping a beat, he says "Oh, so you're a con artist."
According to the dictionary, a con artist is a person who swindles you by means of deception or fraud. Let's look at how a stager and a con artist are different:
The carpet in a living room shows a lot of wear and tear in the main traffic areas.
A con artist might cover it up with an area rug. Or remove the light bulbs from the overhead lighting, so it's not so obvious. A buyer will mistakenly believe that the carpet is fine.
A stager will identify the best feature of the room--a fireplace is a good example. They will choose just the right art and accessories to draw your eyes to the fireplace. A buyer will recognize that the carpet might need to be cleaned or replaced, but the attractiveness of the fireplace leaves them with a good impression of the room.
Pipes are leaking, leaving unsightly water damage to a wall in the basement.
A con artist might turn the water off where it is leaking and put a coat of paint on the damaged wall. A buyer will have no reason to suspect a water leak.
A stager will note the water damage, but see the potential the room has for being a great family game room. They will rent a game table and chairs, and place colorful framed posters on the walls. A buyer will see that there is water damage, but fall in love with the idea of a room where their family can congregate for fun.
These examples should make it clear that we are not con artists. It is not our job to hide the flaws in your home in order to deceive buyers.
I had a seller just recently who pointed out some cracked tiles on his kitchen floor. He asked me if I was going to cover it up with something. I smiled and shook my head. "No," I told him, "we don't do that. And, I hope the seller of the house you are buying doesn't do that either."