Model Home Mentality: The Effects of HGTV

Home Stager with Beyond the Stage Homes

Home staging, which has changed the landscape of how homes are sold today, has made really dramatic strides in only the past few years. These changes come in response to a new generation of home buyers whose high expectations are dictating what sells homes – and what doesn’t.  We call this change in mindset Model Home Mentality and it encapsulates the effects of HGTV and snazzy model homes on impressionable home buyers who must have all those fancy upgrades as well as a home which has ‘the look’ before they buy it.

Gone are the days when a home owner could put a for sale sign in the front yard and trust that a buyer would be able to look past the way in which they lived in the house and envision what it could look like. Truthfully, it’s a little sad that buyers have changed so drastically that they would rather walk away from a property which has potential and just needs a little TLC rather than accept the challenge the home offers.

Buyers – especially first time buyers – expect a certain level of home when they make the decision to purchase. They aren’t just buying a house, they are buying into a lifestyle – one which has all those bells and whistles they see on TV and in decorated model homes. The expectations of these discerning buyers and their willingness to pay more money for homes which model the lifestyle they want to have, is shaking up the real estate industry. Savvy sellers are becoming aware that in order to get the full value of their home, they need to be prepared to do what it takes to showcase their homes properly.

In order to reap the benefits of this new real estate trend, we often tell home owners that they should be prepared to invest some time and money in both the preparation of their home as well as in the professional staging or showcasing. By committing to this two part process, the family home will then take on a polished, modern appeal which will be memorable to all buyers previewing the property. The cost? Normally about 1% of the home’s list price and always significantly lower than a price reduction once the property is on the market.

Neutral Bedroom with no Showcasing makes this space fall Flat!

Adding some WOW to this space suddenly makes it memorable!

Competing against new build homes is difficult to begin with (and a whole other article), however there is NO competition when a resale home fails to impress buyers. First time buyers are young and hip; they gravitate instinctively towards homes which are updated and beautiful to look at. This puts the average seller who is over 50, at a distinct disadvantage. Wallpaper, dated fixtures and finishes, cozy rooms stuffed full of collectibles and belongings – all trademarks of a happy, well lived in and loved home are key components to making a home’s target buyers run for the hills -  or the nearest model home.

So what does it take to sell to this new generation? Well, it used to be that simply doing some painting, packing away personal pictures and cleaning off counters were the most important things. These are still important aspects of the preparation process but without proper showcasing, the house can still fall flat with buyers. Going to the next level and professionally staging a home by using modern furnishings and beautiful accents to create memorable focal points is what makes buyers go WOW.

Bringing in a pro stager bridges this generation gap and puts a powerful tool in any home owner’s arsenal. From the initial consultation which gives sellers a customized preparation plan to staging options for their home, consulting with a professional stager is a great first step. Instead of a general list of things ‘to do’, working with a professional will take the guesswork out of how to properly showcase your house and maximize its selling features. Investing both the time and money to be sure your home is staged to sell is the best way to ensure that this new generation of buyers see the value and appeal in your home, regardless of the price point.


Rooms in Bloom Home Staging & Design Inc. is an award winning company based out of Kitchener-Waterloo, ON. For more information on our home staging services or to book a home staging consultation, please contact us. To view our extensive portfolio, please visit us online at

Posted by

Heather Cook  is Co-Owner and Principal Staging Designer of the award winning Rooms in Bloom Home Staging & Design Inc. based out of Kitchener-Waterloo, ON.


Contact us today so we can help you create the WOW Factor in your home.


Comments (13)

Brian Madigan
RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto) - Toronto, ON
LL.B., Broker

HGTV makes everything look great, so if you have a property it's going to look pale by comparison unless something is done.

Oct 18, 2011 01:32 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Heather- great post.... Buyers' expectations are higher and sellers need to be prepared to try to meet them. 

Oct 18, 2011 02:15 PM
Heather Cook
Beyond the Stage Homes - Kitchener, ON
Delivering beautifully staged spaces

Brian - you're totally right .. HGTV has really changed the game and most of those shows are really unrealistic and it raises unrealistic expectations with buyers as to what they can and should expect in a home.

Kathy - thank you :) We did a seminar this morning for our real estate board and this was one of the hot topics we brought up with the realtors. You should have heard all of them chiming in with stories on how picky buyers are in our area - and how much more sellers need to do to impress them!

Oct 18, 2011 03:20 PM
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging Consultations that Sell Portland Homes"

Heather ~ there are so many picky buyers today because they can afford to be picky with all of the inventory available.  Sellers must really step up their game if they want to compete with new construction -- as you pointed out.  Why buy a dated-looking home that needs upgrades, when you can go down the street or across town and buy a home that's brand-spankin' new?  This is where professional home stagers can really help sellers ... and we see it time and time again.  We're just about to destage a home that was on the market for 4 months (dated) but once the sellers took our advice and made some easy updates, and the house was staged ... it sold in just two weeks.  Not really magic, but our clients think it is!

Oct 18, 2011 05:52 PM
Heather Cook
Beyond the Stage Homes - Kitchener, ON
Delivering beautifully staged spaces

Maureen - You're so right and although we both know its not magic which helps us transform client's homes so they sell faster - we ARE heroes to our clients. We just had one client whose house just sold and she called my partner with the news that the offer had firmed up and she was crying as she kept saying 'thank you' over and over for our help. Their house had been on the market 75 days prior to us staging and it sold firm within 2 weeks after staging. The husband hadn't wanted the staging and theirs had been a very nasty divorce situation - and the house not selling had only prolonged everything. Now, with the house sold, everyone can move on with their lives. Good work with your staging and keep up your magical efforts!!

Valerie - Thank you :) The pictures you referred to were from a house we staged lightly but the changes were dramatic - especially in terms of showcasing how a blah space can become impressive with key changes. These changes really translate into great pictures online so sellers can get more interest from buyers and therefore more visits and offers.

Oct 19, 2011 04:19 AM
Sally Weatherley
Vancouver Home Staging, Home Stager Vancouver, B.C

Heather - This is a really great, well thought out post.  You make a very strong case.  Often the seller is older and the buyers are younger.  It really is important to reach out to the younger buyer and "give them what they want", which means updating the look of the home, through furnishings (sometimes), artwork and accessories. 


Oct 20, 2011 05:14 AM
Janet Jones
Just Your Style Interiors, LLC - Kihei, HI
Home Staging, Interior Redesign Kihei, Maui, Hawaii

Hi Heather--this is a fantastic post.  You are so right that buyers are fussy and picky today--and they have every right to be.  No longer is an investment in a home guaranteed to bring a hefty return over twenty years.  And HGTV certainly has raised the level of expectation of what a home should actually look like. 

Oct 21, 2011 06:33 PM
Heather Cook
Beyond the Stage Homes - Kitchener, ON
Delivering beautifully staged spaces

Thank you Sally - after looking at tons of pictures online and seeing neutral but uninspiring (yawn worthy) photos I thought this post was pretty appropriate. We did a presentation for our real estate board this past week and the topic electrified the agents.  You are exactly right - to sell the homes, we need to give buyers exactly what they are looking for!

Janet - Absolutely right; HGTV has been a huge game changer for the real estate industry. In lots of good ways but also in raising the bar for buyer expectations. Good for us but still makes me a little sad that our generation can't and doesn't want to look beyond a home's aesthetics and be prepared to invest both time and money to realize its full potential.

Oct 23, 2011 04:14 AM
Janice Ankrett
Burlington, ON
Staging Professional

Heather, I couldn't agree more! I work in an area with a lot of new builds. I just had an older client who is selling a home in the older part of town and they really need to compete.

Oct 23, 2011 01:39 PM
Kim Gaston
RE/MAX Advantage Realty - Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs REALTOR®, CNE (719)661-6987

Hi, Heather. Wonderful message and beautiful examples. High impact staging is a necessity to stand out. Buyers want to be wowed, so sellers go big or go home (without an offer).

Oct 23, 2011 05:31 PM
Heather Cook
Beyond the Stage Homes - Kitchener, ON
Delivering beautifully staged spaces

Janice - Its tough competing against new build construction and in Burlington (yep, know the area well cause that's where I grew up and we looked for homes there about 8 years ago) so many of the homes are older and feature older decorating styles. Its hard for buyers to justify the extra work needed to make those homes current when they can just go to a new build site and select everything from scratch. If sellers want to compete against these types of homes, they need to do a lot MORE to prep and showcase their homes.

Kim - Thank you :) I love it - yes sellers need to pull out all the stops so that their homes have the appeal necessary to pull in savvy buyers.

Oct 24, 2011 02:52 AM
Liz Gallagher
LG Home Harmony - Home Stagers & Organizers - Montreal, QC
Montreal Quebec RESA member
Great post, and all too true. Well done on the staging as well.
Nov 08, 2011 10:59 AM