How to avoid a bidding war? Avoid beautifully staged homes! Part 2.

Real Estate Agent with RLAH Real Estate AB95346

This is a story of some favorite buyers who finally went under contract last weekend.  

We met at an Open House last August when they were just beginning their search.  And they were looking for the first time buyer cliche - under $400,000, detached house, room for a garden and studio, and within a mile of Metro.  

In this part of the market, the thinventory is pretty anorexic!  But I can almost always find something that works in Silver Spring, Maryland - a close-in suburb of DC.  

Once they got serious, I noticed that they were responding only to homes that had great photos, great staging, and great curb appeal.  And in most cases, the listing agents were holding off contract presentations for up to a week.  This was to give everyone a fair chance to get pre-inspections.  

We visited one house, and they got really excited.  But as we walked through, I realized that it wasn't the house at all, but the staging that had a real wow factor.  

The kitchen had a beautiful hanging pot rack with AllClad dangling from the hooks. There was a Le Cruset on top of the stove waiting for Julia Childs to fill it with her Beef Bourguignon ingredients.  And as they were getting more and more excited, I realized that these serious cooks were impressed with a seriously flawed kitchen design - cheap cabinetry, the hated electric stove, granite counters that provided almost no prep space, and a strange location for the refrigerator.  Somebody else's buyers "won" this cute little place in a bloody bidding war.

Then we went to the next house, which was much bigger with a better design, had a large fenced lot, a kitchen that needed a "soft reno", a faint stuffy odor, and That 70's Show carpet in the basement family room.  It wasn't staged, and people were not throwing offers at the listing agent.  In fact, it had been on the market for almost two months.  But my buyers just couldn't get excited about the place, even though they could make it fabulous with little effort.  But without trendy staging props, this place was about as exciting as a pair of sensible shoes. 

So last week, I begged my buyers to stay away from the underpriced, staged homes with great curb appeal and delayed offer presentations and do this my way.  And sure enough, on Thursday afternoon at 4:00 pm, an adorable brick colonial on a tree-lined street popped up as a new listing.  There were no interior shots, so I jumped into my car to check it out.  I called them to let them know I was standing in their new living room. In half an hour they met me there, and they quickly made an offer. 

The listing agent presented their perfect offer within hours and we had a deal.  The inspection went smoothly and we'll be settling in a few weeks.  

It wasn't staged, but we could see how beautiful the oak floors were. The appliances are new and good quality.  The renovated bath had a steam shower, and the overall room arrangement makes sense. Oh, and there is a large screened in porch in the back for a little al fresco summer dining!

Let me make one thing clear.  When it's my own listing, it's staged to make buyers' hearts skip beats. The house will be a shameless flirt.  But when it's my buyer, I think substituting their own vision and imagination for staging props results in a far better outcome.  



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Dick Greenberg
New Paradigm Partners LLC - Fort Collins, CO
Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate

Hi Pat - Interesting story. We also have had clients that couldn't see beyond the staging - or worse, couldn't see beyond the builder upgrades in new home models. It's not an insoluble problem, once we recognize what's going on - a bit of patience and straight talk was our approach.

Jun 07, 2017 01:11 PM #24
John Meussner
Mason-McDuffie Mortgage, Conventional Loans, Jumbo Loans, FHA, 203(k), USDA, VA, - Walnut Creek, CA
#MortgageMadeEasy Walnut Creek, CA 484-680-4852

Great story, Pat, and a wise way of doing things.  Window dressing and makeup shouldn't be driving buyers further into their wallets.  After the paperwork is signed, those things are gone!

Jun 07, 2017 01:18 PM #25
Mega Team Real Estate
Realty ONE Group Alliance - San Mateo, CA
San Francisco and Peninsula Real Estate Concierge

Great post! You are a woman of many talents. 

Jun 07, 2017 04:34 PM #26
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Pat- James Dray was right, I love this. I remember a model home I saw that was so over staged that I walked away not remembering much about the house except the large paintings, over-sized vases with flowers, etc. Staging needs to enhance the space, not cover up things or take it over. 

Jun 07, 2017 04:53 PM #27
Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome


Hey Patricia Kennedy Good to see you back and with a good idea for buyer's agents. Congratulations on getting the right home for this client.

Jun 07, 2017 06:12 PM #28
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

I know I'm strange - I always liked seeing houses empty.

Good for you for getting those buyers to look at something other than the staging!

Jun 07, 2017 09:29 PM #29
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line

That is what makes a good agent, when it is our listing we go all out to make it shine, when we work with a buyer we can unearth the listings that sellers or agents don't dress up.

Jun 08, 2017 03:43 AM #30
Janelle Ancillotti
Seneca Home Staging - Syracuse, NY
HSR Certified Home Stager, Syracuse, NY

I've had "non-believers" tell me they look at homes for what they are, and staging doesn't matter. Your story about your buyers proves that most people are big fat liars when they say staging doesn't alter their perception.

Jun 08, 2017 04:33 AM #31
Kim Gaston
RE/MAX Advantage Realty - Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs REALTOR®, CNE (719)661-6987

Great story Patricia Kennedy. Your buyers must be thrilled and your biggest cheerleader. Kudos to you for your patience and persistence. Gotta love a happy ending.   

Jun 08, 2017 05:32 AM #32
Melissa Spittel
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Westminster, MD
"Achieving Results Together "

Great story! You did a tremendous service for those buyers. 

Jun 08, 2017 07:11 AM #33
John Wiley
Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

Great post and thought provoker.

I like homes that are occupied or staged as I think they show better.

I see the photos on MLS and get excited only to go to an empty house.

I think my buyers like to see how a room can be furnished and gives them perspective on how their furniture will fit.

Jun 08, 2017 07:39 AM #34
Peter Davies
Borawski Real Estate - Northampton, MA
Exceptional service, without exception...

I try to remind Buyers that you should mentally take the staging out and see the home as it really is, because that is what they will see if they buy it. That usually makes them look harder at the home not the furnishings.

Jun 08, 2017 07:39 AM #35
Sellstate Partners Realty - Cooper City, FL
Selling Broward County Homes with Passion!

Congratulations on the feature and getting your buyers the right home! I haven't met too many buyers over the years that can 'strip' a home of the decor or staging to look at its bones and potential. I'd rather show an empty home or one with minimal staging so that they're sure of the property. Good post!

Jun 08, 2017 08:04 AM #36
Stavrula "Sam" Crafa, RNC,GRI, CDPE, PSA
Future Home Realty - Seminole, FL
Providing the integrity and service you deserve.

Great post and great insite on your part. A win/win for both you and your buyer . 

Jun 08, 2017 09:03 AM #37
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC


Wise world and great tips on how to avoid a bidding a war.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Jun 10, 2017 07:59 PM #39
Sherry McNabb
Nest Ahead - Katy, TX
Local Roots | Global Reach

Bravo for Part 2!  I love the last paragraph where you point out that you obviously have to take different positions depending on which side of the sale you are on, because in the end it's our duty to represent our clients whether on the buying or selling side.

Jun 18, 2017 10:44 AM #40
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

Now THAT is a great story.  I have to agree that I like it when other agents have crappy pictures and the homes don't show well in the MLS because it gives me an advantage.  Once I've seen the home I know the deal and can inform buyers. Congrats on seeing through the lipstick and glitter.

Jul 05, 2017 07:51 PM #41
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Pat, hope you have a few more great stories like this to share - miss you in the Rain!  

Jul 15, 2017 02:52 PM #42
Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Clearwater, FL
Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor

So glad that they followed your advice. My own daughter wanted to purchase a well staged home and is so glad that she followed my advice back when she purchased a few years ago.

Jul 18, 2017 05:46 AM #43
SmartZip Analytics
SmartZip - Pleasanton, CA
Data-Driven Marketing & Referral Solutions

Great post Pat.  A great agent cleans the lense for their buyer/seller to best see their vision.  Fantastic work!

Aug 03, 2017 03:05 PM #44
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Patricia Kennedy

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