Confessions of a Home Stager... I Have to Admit...I Was a Member of THAT Group!

Home Stager with Room Service Home Staging
Confessions of a Home Stager...

Put down the phone Gertrude ... it’s not what you think.  Before I morphed into a Home Stager I was part of the “just paint it and clean it and if they don’t like it tough!” club.  I have a distinct memory of flipping channels one Saturday and falling upon one of those Cable Channel Home Staging shows.  

In it the family watched a video of potential “buyers” as they walked through and homecritiqued their home.   I remember when one couple was highly critical of the dated bedspread in the Master Bedroom, I shouted at the television....  

“Are you nuts!  It’s just the Bedspread!  You can buy our own!”

As they went through each room I found myself actually challenging the “buyers” as they walked through and found fault with “the dated curtains.... dark colors..... floral wallpaper”.  It’s not that I liked all or any of these decorating features but having bought and sold my own homes, I felt they should be able to see beyond this.  

I’m not sure when the transformation occurred....  but I have a feeling it was about the time I was helping a friend’s mother look for a home in our area.   

She was like the “TV Buyers!”

She only saw what was there...not what could be.  

I get itAnd that’s when I realized that for the majority of the Buyers they need some assistance in seeing beyond shag carpeting and outdated wallpaper.   

When a Buyer is more focused on the linoleum than the lifestyle ….when they keep thinking about the paint and NOT the possibilities....

They’re NOT seeing your home... they’re seeing your THINGS.  

You’re NOT selling your THINGS!  

If you plan on selling your home consult with a Professional Home Stager and make sure your Buyers will be able to see all of your home’s possibilities.


Re-Blogged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Sharon Tara 01/30/2012 12:05 AM
  2. Janice Ankrett 01/30/2012 03:08 AM
  3. Shannon Lewis 01/30/2012 01:13 PM
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Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Kathy. I too have been known to scream at the television. Well written post and I agree with you.

Jan 31, 2012 01:10 AM #43
Martin Kalisker
Greater Boston Association of REALTORS - Boston, MA
Professional Standards & Legal Assistant

I like your perspective.  Unfortunately, most of my clients aren't willing to front the money for proper staging, and fewer still are willing to compensate me in the form of a higher commission if I front the money and ultimately get them more for their home.  Right now, I'm looking at a $15,000 staging of a luxury condo.  Most of the $$ is coming from the fact that the unit is a third-floor walk up with narrow stairs and no way to use a crane to get the big pieces into the unit!

Jan 31, 2012 01:41 AM #44
Jim and Suzie Hudson
RE/MAX Lake Country - Greensboro, GA
30 Year Residents at Lake Oconee

Kathy, you are so right!  So many people do not have a "visionary" mind, so why take a chance?  Another point is that homeowners cannot look at their own space and see it through the eyes of a buyer. The hardest part of home staging is asking the seller to make changes without offending them!  Even a little staging is better than none. 

Jan 31, 2012 02:01 AM #45
Vanessa Saunders
Global Property Systems Real Estate - White Plains, NY
From Manhattan to the Catskills of New York

Marketing, prepared for all types of buyers!  This is crucial point and one that is sometimes hardest for a seller to understand.  It's a tough area but one must be firm with the client...they will almost always thank you later!

Jan 31, 2012 03:26 AM #46
Beth Thoma Robinson
Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers Big Island - Hawi, HI
R(B) SFR - Hawaii Island Luxury Resort Real Estate

This is maybe the most simple, clear explanation I've read.  I've sold two listings..$1+million...where the sellers were world travelers with huge collections.  The listings had been with other agents and I'd shown myself, only to realize after I left that I had no idea how many bathrooms the house had because I'd spent  all my time looking at the stuff.  

What I need is your magic secret for getting the Seller to understand without feeling offended! I once had a literal tug of war with a seller over a stained rug in the kitchen that I"d been moving to the garage for a $2 million listing!

Jan 31, 2012 03:34 AM #47
Mary Sheridan
Keller Willliams - 1033 Hamilton Place,Johnson City TN 37604 - Johnson City, TN
Creative Marketing, Buyer Agency 423-943-7655

I've seen both extremes, as all agents probably have - the doctor who fell in love with a house and then didn't buy it because it was so perfect that there wasn't any way to make it "hers" and many who turned down really good choices because they just had no imagination.   


Jan 31, 2012 05:01 AM #48
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Real Estate

Even though they are not purchasing the sellers things they are certainly a distraction to them that's for sure. I always try to keep the buyers on topic but it just can't be helped. Besides, sometimes I even make comments or start laughing.

Jan 31, 2012 05:08 AM #49
Ann Wilkins
Golden Gate Sotheby's International Realty - Oakland, CA
Oakland, Berkeley, Piedmont CA

Kathy,  Since most buyers start their search on-line, having an attractive and staged living space is critical.  Often the buyers can only see so many homes on a weekend so....they tend to pick the ones that look best on-line.  Even as an agent, I want to show the more attractive listings.  When I see a house that is not staged, and not cleaned up I start thinking that it is a short sale where they don't really want to move for a while - no motivation to sell.

Jan 31, 2012 07:00 AM #50
Cynthia Larsen
Cotati, CA
Independent Broker In Sonoma County, CA

I'm constantly telling my buyers to "look through" all of the personal stuff ... basically empty the room when they walk in. It's amazing the effect personal belongings have on a buyer.

Jan 31, 2012 07:51 AM #51
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

The more I have been on ActiveRain the more respect I get for Home Inspectors.  Thanks for the post.

Jan 31, 2012 08:08 AM #52
Mimi Foster
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

I must say that it took me a moment or two to get my mouth into a closed position again from how far it had fallen :)  I not only offered to BUY the paint, I offered to PAINT it.  The house was perfect for them, and they couldn't see past the wall color.  It was an amazing learning experience for me.

Jan 31, 2012 10:55 AM #53
Sylvie Stuart
Realty One Group Mountain Desert 928-600-2765 - Flagstaff, AZ
Home Buying, Home Selling and Investment - Flagsta
A lot of buyers do need to be guided into that vision, and for that, a home stager can absolutely make a big difference getting past the things in the house.
Jan 31, 2012 11:34 AM #54
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

I've always enjoyed looking at vacant houses more than occupied ones - maybe because I didn't have to be distracted by the "stuff."

Jan 31, 2012 11:49 AM #55
Melissa Brown
Helen Adams Realty - Charlotte, NC
Realtor - South Charlotte NC Homes for Sale

Kathy - I am such a big believer in staging - it just makes perfect sense.  It's just so hard to get sellers to understand that their outdated wallpaper and weird decorating tastes are a turnoff to many buyers!

Jan 31, 2012 01:05 PM #56
inter state
Inter-State Realty - International, IT

kathy, it's true .... almost everyone can't see the "possibilities", only the paint

great article - short and to the point

we also believe in doing staging, but unfortunately in our market, there's no professional staging company, so we have no choice but to DIY bits and pieces here and there

Jan 31, 2012 01:12 PM #57
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Janet- yes!  And we all fall in love with and become accustomed to our own homes.  It's difficult to see past that.

Toni- I mentioned this to someone earlier but I spoke to a Realtor who'd found their buyer exactly what he said he was looking for except he could not get past the wallpaper. 

Chris- I think it's one of the reasons I love looking at Before and After photos.

Sheila- you?? Scream at the television!  Good for you!!! Many thanks!

Martin- it's tough when you can't get the seller to realize that the investment in staging is so well worth it.  I too have to charge somewhat more for condos... a lot of time spent getting the rental inventory from the truck to the unit.  And often we have to done by 4 and cannot work on weekends. 

Suzie and Jim- you are very right..  a little is better than none.  A Realtor told me that although the sellers did about 60% of what I'd suggested, it was still good enough to get them a contract in under 4 weeks. 

Vanessa- you absolutely need to know who your target audience will be and play to them.

Beth- That's a good story that you can use to try to relate to your seller.  Let them know you've been in the same position.  I'm usually pretty good with working with clients of all sorts but every once in a while you get this immovable object.  Try giving your client the "whys" of what you're suggesting. Good luck.  Have you used a Stager to try to get your point across? 

Mary- I think when someone begins to nit-pick on why they don't like the house... they really just don't like it.  They're looking for reasons to justify how they feel. 

Lyn- I was looking at a house once with my Realtor and there was a basement pool with windows so you could stand and look through the windows and see people as they swam.  We both had some good chuckles.

Ann- the homes definitely reflect on you.  If you are showing your client 4 or 5 well presented and staged homes they will sing your praises.  But if one home is busy with "collections " that you can't see the actual house, then your clients may wonder why in the world you wasted their time there. 

Cynthia- we're all curious and can't help but look.  But when you become so distracted that you forget to "see" the house.. then you have a problem.

Gene- that's why we're all here. to learn!

Mimi- you are such a professional that I can't imagine you doing any less!  (but I still think it would have been fun to see you go for her throat!)

Sylvie- We offer a third and impartial as well as trained eye.  We're there to help the Realtor and Seller get their house sold.

Marte- Vacant ones can be fun but I still love looking at "model" homes.



Jan 31, 2012 01:20 PM #58
DeeDee Riley
Lyon Real Estate - El Dorado Hills CA - El Dorado Hills, CA
Realtor - El Dorado Hills & the Surrounding Areas


I totally agree with you, some buyers have no imagination.  Thank God for Home Stagers!  Congrats on the feature!!!

Jan 31, 2012 03:35 PM #59
Marshall Brown
Mid America Inspection Services, LLC - Fargo, ND

The opportunity to see a portion of someones else's life and how they live is distracting. Perhaps that's a second reason to strip the majority of your personal item form your house when it's listed.

We don't see as many staged homes in this area as in some more metropolitan areas but I think those that can utilize the owners possessions look more like a home than when all stager's appointments are used. I see houses that are obviously staged and look more like a furniture store than a home.

Feb 01, 2012 02:48 PM #60
Kim Mulligan
Engel & Völkers Seattle/Eastside - Seattle, WA
Selling Homes for the 21st Century


It's so true. I don't know if it is a function of experience or physiology, but I believe there are people who can visualize what something will look like with different colors, finishes and textures, and those that can't. I've run into this with people before just making a small investment in something.

Buying a home is huge, overwhelming, and scary thing for a lot of people. That's why clients are well served by what you do to throw the widest net out there. To do the best job possible, for top dollar, strongest offer and fewest days on market, it serves our sellers well to have it properly staged.

Feb 02, 2012 12:05 AM #61
Bob Miller
Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty - Ocala, FL
The Ocala Dream Team

Hi Kathy, I am sorry but still not a believer in a market where 60% of sales are distressted sales.  Do you have any numbers on ROI for staging?

Feb 02, 2012 12:23 PM #62
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Kathy Streib

Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224
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