Can Staging a Home Actually Create Stress for the Sellers ?

Real Estate Agent with Retired CA BRE# 01048160

Can Staging a Home Actually Create Stress for the Sellers ?

This question came up in a conversation with one of my current Sellers. As it happens, I staged the property and it took on a beautiful model-esque type of appearance. And while that is great for photos and exposing the home to other professionals and Buyers, it left the owner feeling totally displaced. 

When we met to discuss my marketing strategy, I suggested packing and editing the property and that process was done to perfection. All personal things were packed up even including the seller editing the closets and drawers and putting many contents in storage.

The Seller said she is now hesitant in sitting anywhere and just relaxing. The Seller reported that coming home feels more like going to a luxury hotel without the benefits of maid service. Making the beds, changing out the towels everyday and  making the place perfect for showing each day is creating stress. Not to even mention using the Kitchen to prepare meals. Of course my client has a great sense of humor about this but I realized that there is truth even in some humor and wanted to share this so at least some of this can be worked out ahead of time.

While this property will not last that long on the market, this is one factor of staging that might not have been fully considered. It was not top on my mind at the time I started the process. I can only imagine when pets or children are involved how difficult it is to try and live in a model-esque looking home. Things are used and many times left out when rushing about just to live life.

In very large or estate like homes, there are usually some staff available that can handle this issue. But for the more common lay person type homes which make up the bulk of our real estate sales, displacing people or at the least the feeling of it has to be factored into whatever is going to be done in getting the home show ready. 

This has me thinking seriously about any discomfort I may inadvertently cause because my goal is to set it up and sell the property. And I realized that I must be ever mindful that while all this is happening, life is going on as well.

I think because of the way this happened, after all these 26+ years in the business, I am still learning how to be sensitive to the wants and needs of my clients. And thankfully so.


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Comments (32)

Frank Castaldini
Compass - San Francisco, CA
Realtor - Homes for Sale in San Francisco

Great post.  Pricing a house to sell is also key to being sure that the stress reduces.  Yes you need to keep a house show ready.  Priced right it should not take long to sell.

Jul 10, 2015 10:51 PM
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Hello again William. I chuckled because I remember the process in my ownsale. I have pets and "no staff" and it was stressful.

Jul 10, 2015 10:53 PM
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

When selling a car, it is best to keep it clean all the time. Inconvenient but necessary. Staging may be no different if we want results that way

Jul 11, 2015 12:23 AM
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

Thankfully most of my inventory isn't owner occupied.  I sell vacation homes mostly and it's easy to do and not bother owners who aren't there.  I personally can't imagine selling my home while I live there.

Jul 11, 2015 12:47 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

William Johnson 

No doubt selling a home is stressful whether or not you stage it. Just keeping a place looking ship shape all the time, unless you live like that, is stressful, along with disrupting your life's schedule for showings. 


Jul 11, 2015 12:50 AM
Sybil Campbell
Fernandina Beach, FL
Referral Agent Amelia Island Florida

William Johnson,  I know that staging can be hard on sellers.  When my house was on the market in Florida, I had to leave it in showing condition all the time which meant I had to spend extra time preparing before I left the house.  The end result was worth it thous as my house sold to the first person who viewed it.

Jul 11, 2015 01:53 AM
Margaret Woda
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Crofton, MD
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation

Stagers would probably cringe, but I usually give my sellers some flexibility... After the professional photos are taken and posted to MLS, the primary goal will be accomplished, i.e., entice buyers through marketing to come see the property. Once there, I doubt seriously if a buyer will walk away due to minor changes such as a tissue box on the bedside table, a toaster on the kitchen counter, lamp cords running to the wall, or a trash can visible in the bathroom... With permission to "live" in the house, they're less anxious about the big stuff, such as no longer being able to see the TV from their favorite chair.

Jul 11, 2015 02:36 AM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

Hopefully, a well staged home will sell quickly and the sellers can move on to re-establish their comfort zones!  

Jul 11, 2015 04:15 AM
Denise Hamlin, Broker/Owner
Cardinal Realty ~ 319-400-0268 - Iowa City, IA
Helping Happy Clients Make Smart Choices

And this is exactly why I'm very torn in my thoughts about the question of staging. It's great for vacant homes, but the stress levels are high enough selling a house without adding to that stress by asking the sellers to live in an hotel like atmosphere while they are still in the home.

Still torn. If the house sells faster it might be worth it. If it doesn't, then having sellers feeling uncomfortable in their own homes for the duration of the listing seems like a rough ride to me. (And not something I'd be up for if I had my house on the market).

Jul 11, 2015 04:30 AM
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

William, this is a great insight. I have a family member whose home looks like something out of Architectural Digest and I am afraid to put down a glass when I visit for just what you described - ruining the picture perfect room. You can imagine people trying to live in their home and keep it perfect for showing at the same time - and not having some of their favorite items/pictures close by. Yes, that would be stressful - it is for me when I visit my family :)

Jul 11, 2015 01:08 PM
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

William - I once took a listing, where the seller was a bit of a hoarder.  The place was beyond cluttered, with storage boxes filled with stuff occupied considerable space within the house.

With the aid of her son, we put everything in storage, and had the home staged.  She too, was one of the people who became nervous in her new environment.  She missed all that stuff!

Jul 11, 2015 10:17 PM
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


You make an excellent point, and there is definitely stress when one is selling, and everything has to be pristine.  Great post, and mindfulness is definitely important.  A

Jul 12, 2015 12:20 AM
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

William Johnson - we do our best to make sure the home sells quickly. Staging is one of the ways in which we try to achieve it. However, in that process, we do 'stress' the sellers!

One of the experience for me was totally different - the sellers felt home looks so good, they don't want to move out! (Fortunately, they did!)

Jul 12, 2015 01:16 PM
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

That is definitely a consideration, not only for the homeowner-seller but, for the stager as well - wear and tear on their furnishings is anticipated but, when there are children and pets involved, accidents are far more common!  

Jul 13, 2015 01:20 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning William Johnson,

Congratulations on a very worthy featured post! You make an excellent point that we all need to consider!

Jul 13, 2015 10:25 PM
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI

I just read a post on % of clients that are repeat clients because of ...CARING. That was top priority!  A very thoughtful and caring post my dear!

Jul 16, 2015 01:47 PM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

William great point unfortunately selling  a home is stressful for the sellers and yes being show room ready is not easy, I always require 24hrs notice to make it easier for my sellers, Endre

Jul 27, 2015 03:29 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

A great home stager I believe is someone's
tap into the soul of the seller.

Aug 04, 2015 03:49 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Endre Barath, Jr. I love your attitude as per usual and I want you to keep us that this is

Aug 04, 2015 03:53 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

I'm looking all the positivity in the text and I kind of enjoyed it, believe it or not

Aug 04, 2015 03:54 PM