From Before to After: What Lies Between and its Perceived Value

Home Stager with Home Matters Property Stylist Group, Indianapolis, Indiana

As consumers, we buy our products and services based on our understanding of the benefits and value in relation to what we are willing to pay. Home staging is a service that is often undervalued by consumers because of their lack of understanding of the process, skills and talent required to take the project from the "before" photos to the "after" photos. Often, when viewing our before-and-after images of completed projects, potential clients recognize that those homes look or simply "feel" better after having being staged. Still, when presented with a quote (or "bid") to stage their home, many owners get that deer-in-the-headlights look on their faces. The reality is that the quotes we provide to un-informed or under-informed consumer will always be met with disbelief because they do not understand the value. 

So, from my perspective, the $64,000 question at this point in the time-line of the home staging industry is: HOW do we help our clients comprehend the VALUE of what it takes to transform their home into an improved, more marketable product; that doing so translates into a significant (time and financial) benefit to them for the fee they pay? The answer is twofold: EDUCATION and RESULTS.

First, it is up to us (professional home stagers) to EDUCATE our potential clients. While some of the art of what we do (for example, the exact selection and placement of furnishings) is difficult to explain, the businessof what we do (including the processes of packing, transporting, installing and de-staging) can be conveyed with ease and should be included in conversations, presentations and documentation. Also, providing clients with a quote that details the specific fees for each individual impact area or room can further underscore the value of what we do. By educating clients on exactly what it takes to stage their homes, they will be less likely to have "sticker shock" when they see the bottom line.      

Educating potential clients can be done at the same time that we market our business. Why not develop creative ways or tools to share information with clients about the "behind-the-scenes" or "in-between" world of home staging? Here are several suggestions to get you started:

•·        Attach a document to your staging quotes

•·        Insert a page on your website

•·        Create flyer's and other visual media for realtors, builders, investors and home sellers

•·        Develop articles and press releases for local media and trade organizations   

•·        Include information in local training programs for home sellers and realtors

The second way we can convey the value of home staging is through our RESULTS. We accomplish this by ensuring that everything we do moves everyclient's property toward greater perceived value and marketability (see "Property Ladder" information in the Home Matters blog of 11/30/07). This involves developing and implementing the most appropriate design plan for each home-given the targeted market of potential buyers, the features and price point of the home, and the established budget. It also involves tracking and publicizing statistical information about the properties we stage (for example: the number of homes and their price points, the percentage of each home's list price vs. its sales price, and the number of days on the market). These statistics can give us the credibility to reach and educate clients.      

The truth is that-even after having been educated about the benefits of home staging-many clients still can't clearly tell the difference between the "art" of what we do and simply rearranging or renting furniture. This is probably why clients-even the ones who  already believe in the benefit of home staging-are always nervous until that moment when they can actually view, with their very own eyes, the "after" transformation of their home. It is only at that point that they can clearly "see" the value of home staging because it is right there in front of them, tangible and real. 

So maintain a firm commitment to improving the marketability of every client's property, track and publicize your results, and get out there and start educating. Try any or all of the activities suggested above and just watch what happens when that deer-in-the-headlights look changes to an expression of AHA!

What goes on between here
There ?
Big House
 This is what the customer sees. 
From this
To This!
Is there anything in between?
Posted by


Home Matters is a home staging company that offers services for both occupied and vacant homes. We work with all budgets and have received Angie's list highest rating for the past three years. Visit Home Matters website for more information.

Comments (20)

Marsha Cleaveland
No longer in the sales business - Glendale, AZ
Excellent info and articulation of the confusion of the public regarding the value of staging. Track those statistics to demonstrate your effectiveness at shortening the marketing time.
Dec 09, 2007 11:06 AM
Karen Dembsky
Peachtree Home Staging LLC, Home Staging in Atlanta, GA - Peachtree City, GA
Atlanta Home Staging
EXcellent post Linda!  I really enjoyed reading it.  I have been challenged recently to educate a group of realtors on staging (or redesign) when the house is occupyed so I am working on that presentation now.  Seems they grasp the value and intent of vacant home staging but not the value of the intial consult and redesign.  I might be able to incorporate some of your wisdom here while constructing my presentation!  Thx.  And e-mail me if you have some other thoughts that would help my case!
Dec 09, 2007 11:37 AM
Linda Barnett
Home Matters Property Stylist Group, Indianapolis, Indiana - Indianapolis, IN
Home Matters Indianapolis Indiana

Marsha:  The value of what it takes to do what we do is measured mostly in our results.  I believe that consumers need to have an understanding of how we go about doing our jobs.  Thanks for stopping by.

Karen:  Getting in front of Realtors is key into the understanding of our services.  They need to clearly understand the differences of consultation and quotes and what specific information we will be providing their clients. Then of course, they want to know, what is the fee for those services. Thank you for your comments.

Dec 09, 2007 11:30 PM
Kathy Passarette
Creative Home Expressions - Mount Sinai, NY
L.I. Staging/Decorating
Linda ~ Excellent points!  Your pictures also say so much about the benefits of staging.
Dec 10, 2007 12:09 AM
Kathy Riggle
Houston Home Staging

Excellent post, Linda. I need to spend more time on marketing to realtors, and you have motivated me!


Dec 10, 2007 02:52 AM
Dale Campbell
Virginia Real Estate - Mechanicsville, VA
Linda - It is all in the communication!  Geting the home owner to understand the value of such a service is the hardest part.
Dec 10, 2007 03:55 AM
Charlene Storozuk
Dezigner Digz - Burlington, ON
Home Stager - Burlington Ontario
Linda - great post.  You really got your point across and made a lot of great suggestions.  Your photos speak volumes too!
Dec 10, 2007 04:05 AM
Fernando Rosado
West Palm Beach, FL
561-906-0050 or 561-840-8950
Great post and love the befores and afters. Great taste!
Dec 10, 2007 07:21 AM
Elaine Manes Gage
Home Staging Online Services - Denver, CO
Staging done ONLINE!
Linda- Your post made me realize something for the very first time. We, as stagers, have the ability to raise home values! I can't think of another industry that can make the same claim. We just need to point that out to our sellers!!! Great blog! Thanks for the A-ha moment!!!
Dec 10, 2007 07:23 AM
Linda Barnett
Home Matters Property Stylist Group, Indianapolis, Indiana - Indianapolis, IN
Home Matters Indianapolis Indiana

Kathy P.  Thank you for your comments

Kathy R.  I'm happy to of been of service to you.  Education is our golden ticket right now.

Dale:  Education is difficult only because,  the public only knows what they know until you show/tell them sometime new/different.

Charlene:  Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog

Fernando: Thank you for your kind words.  We all need that from time to time.

Elaine: Yes, we can make a house for marketable and it does help raise the perceived value.  


Dec 10, 2007 08:24 AM
Barbara Blake, Salt Lake Staging Specialist

Linda, this information is so important to me right now.  This hits on the resistance I face every day when I talk to Realtors and Home Owners.  They do not understand all the preparation, scheduling, delivery/pick-up costs and anything else that goes on behind the scenes. 

I am going to start using this outline (hope you won't mind) right now to start an educating campaign.  I cannot thank you enough for this letter.  Now I have to go and sign up on Active Rain.  What a neat forum.

Dec 11, 2007 04:02 AM
penny white
Jacksonville, FL
Linda, Thank you so much for this post, I will use your outline too -with your permission!
Dec 11, 2007 11:26 PM
Yvonne Root
rooms b.y. root - Prescott, AZ
Home Stager - Northern Arizona
Linda, excellent points! It seems that those of us in a service business must identify clients who can "feel the pain." It would seem that the current market would have those in pain falling all over us. So, it must be that we simply haven't as yet educated Mr. and Mrs. Home Seller, not to mention, Mr., Miss or Mrs Real Estate Agent. Thanks for moving the cause forward! 
Dec 12, 2007 10:42 AM
Linda Barnett
Home Matters Property Stylist Group, Indianapolis, Indiana - Indianapolis, IN
Home Matters Indianapolis Indiana

Barbara;  The perception of our value is often not understood.  Please feel free to use what you can of this.  I happy to help. Thank you for stopping by to read my post.

Penny; Use what you can; You have my permission.

Yvonne;  Thank you for your kind words;  I think its all of our responsibility to move the cause forward. 

Dec 12, 2007 12:07 PM
Julianna Hind
eXp Realty - Tacoma, WA
REALTOR, 206-679-4768, Tacoma Federal Way, Auburn, Kent, WA
Linda, so true, I have seen bidding wars, and realtors choode to raise the listing price after we staged!
Dec 12, 2007 03:44 PM
Linda Barnett
Home Matters Property Stylist Group, Indianapolis, Indiana - Indianapolis, IN
Home Matters Indianapolis Indiana
Julianna;  Staging definitely increases the value. Thanks for taking the time to comment.
Dec 13, 2007 12:03 PM
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging,
Linda, you hit the nail on it. EDUCATION is key for clients to understand the value of what we do.  Thank you for sharing so eloquently here how others can do that simply by being prepared.  Great presentation and explanation of how to achieve that.
Dec 14, 2007 08:20 AM
Linda Barnett
Home Matters Property Stylist Group, Indianapolis, Indiana - Indianapolis, IN
Home Matters Indianapolis Indiana
Karen;  You are absolutely right.  Being prepared will always help home sellers make good sound decisions.  Thanks for your comments.
Dec 14, 2007 10:50 AM
Tom Whalen
Thanks for posting this Linda.  I was told that I needed to read this and I'm glad I did.
Dec 17, 2007 07:30 AM
Linda Barnett
Home Matters Property Stylist Group, Indianapolis, Indiana - Indianapolis, IN
Home Matters Indianapolis Indiana
Tom:  Thank you for finding this post and sharing your comment.  I'm happy that in the words you found a little something, something. 
Dec 17, 2007 10:58 AM