Washington Post Article on Staging - Just Pick up Home Staging for Dummies

Home Stager with A Different View

The July 27th Washington Post had an article in the Business section regarding the practice of "Decorating for Dollars" and how it applies to home staging and selling a home. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/26/AR2008072600013.html.

The essence of the article was:

 "Even though it's yet another person making a living off your home sale, a consultation with a stager won't break the bank. Most I spoke with said their fees for a consultation range from $250 to $600, depending in part on the size of your home. For that they will give you a plan for making the house fresh and appealing to buyers. They will rent accessories, such as small tables, lamps, pillows, mirrors and art, for about $150 to $400 per month. Furniture rental, if necessary, can run another few hundred dollars a month. You could pay them to stage everything down to the garage and linen closet, or save money by having them focus on one or two troublesome spots.

I'm still not convinced most buyers need to spend their money on a stager's advice. Cash is short, and it could be better spent on the tasks all sellers need to tackle, such as removing or replacing old carpet; repainting in fresh, neutral colors; cleaning and repairing windows; and prettying up the yard.

You can find many of the principles of staging, and tips for low-cost shortcuts, outlined in "Home Staging for Dummies," which you can pick up for $19.99 or less."

I found this article offensive and am wondering how many stagers she actually spoke with while compiling her research. Convincing sellers to part with money to stage in this area is an uphill battle. This article won't help.

I'm sure the book has some excellent ideas but how many homeowner's actually have the skill to put everything into practice? Any comments?



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Tori Lynn Wallitsch
Prudential Ambassador / Ross Designs, LLC - Omaha, NE

I have been Staging and educating the Omaha real estate market for three years now and it has been an uphill battle some of the time.  I can see how people who have not experienced professional, third party Home Staging would be a little confused about the value we offer.  If you think about how we describe Staging to people it sounds like we tell people what common sense would dictate - clear the clutter, depersonalize, clear closets and cupboards of unnecessary items, etc.  BUT the reality is that THERE IS SO MUCH MORE TO IT!!!  People just need to experience it themselves to really "get it".

I think it would be great if we could all offer to a Staging consultation to someone in our local press so that they could actually experience the Staging phenomenon and THEN write an informed article about it.

Jul 27, 2008 01:05 PM #1
Teresa Mills Schremm
Looking Fine by Redesign, LLC - North Olmsted, OH
Online Home Staging - Coast to Coast, ASHSR

Lynn, The article paints a really bad picture of not only the staging industry, but stagers in general!  This mis-informed author CLEARLY doesn't understand what we stagers do, and how it benefits a seller.  She makes it sound as if all we do is tell a seller "what to get rid of" and "rent furniture."  She even misinformed her readers by saying "If there are a lot of new-builds nearby, you're in competition...."  It's not just new construction...it's ALL homes in an area!

Did you notice how she "back-peddled" just a bit in the last couple of paragraphs?  She started saying that there are a "few" sellers who could benefit from a staging consultation, and having a stager "rent some furniture" for a vacant house.  This clearly says "I don't know what I'm talking about!"  While I welcome "publicity" about our industry....it sure would be nice if it included facts, not just guess-work!  Thanks for sharing the article with us.

Jul 28, 2008 12:55 AM #2
Rania Peet
Pure Energy Real Estate - Frederick, MD

yeah and they obviously havent come to Silver Spring MD.

Jul 28, 2008 01:02 AM #3
Lynn Crawford
A Different View - Olney, MD
Staging DC & Maryland

Tori - I agree completely and am thinking seriously about drafting a letter to the editor of the Post in response to her article.

Teresa - Our DC/MD ASHSR group has tried very hard to educate sellers and Realtors in this area about the benefits of staging. We have had members write articles for local publications, teach classes and be interviewed for local television stations. What makes me the angriest is that one article like this makes the education process much more difficult.

Rania - I'm sorry - who hasn't come to Silver Spring?


Jul 28, 2008 02:23 AM #4
Lisa Roy
SPACELiFT HOME STAGING, Greater Vancouver - Vancouver, BC

I try to point out that although there are some people who might not want to part with their money people are so busy these days that a lot would gladly pay to have someone come in and help get their property ready. Moving is a stressful, busy time always and for a lot of people, you can't out a price on helping alleviate that stress.  We helped a client yesterday for 3 and 1/2 hours pack and it was great.  There were two of us and between the three of us, we accomplished so much.  We are now ready to go in and do the staging later this week once the painters finish.  Nice for us too because we were able to put aside all the accessories we would need for the staging.....

Jul 28, 2008 02:36 AM #5
Lynn Crawford
A Different View - Olney, MD
Staging DC & Maryland

Lisa - I have a couple of clients in the same boat right now. We're helping them declutter, pick new paint colors and flooring and pretty much guiding them through the whole process. It helps tremendously when we can have some input in the beginning before the house is listed. I've done too many when I come in after the home has spent several months on the market and the process is much more time consuming and difficult.

I think the author of this article doesn't have a clue as to what a stager does. . .

Jul 28, 2008 02:57 AM #6

Hi Lynn, I have not read the book that was mentioned in the WP article, is it more of an outline of basic steps to prepare the property for sale?

I too can paint a fabulous Monet painting, all I have to do is go to the local craft store and pick up a paint by number canvas and follow the directions. But if I want a great piece of art, I need to have the talent and skill set to create the painting I envision.


Jul 28, 2008 03:00 AM #7
Cynthia Bartch
Granville, OH

So sorry, That was me Cynthia Bartch not signed in above.

Jul 28, 2008 03:02 AM #8
David Moon
First Impressions Home Staging & Interior Redesign - Charleston, SC
First Impressions

Maybe we need to add another acronym to the real estate lexicon: HSBO (Home Staged By Owner). Those same sellers can also buy "House Selling for Dummies" and try to be their own real estate agent. Given the current market conditions throughout the United States, both scenarios are way too hit-and-miss to be smart choices for savvy sellers.

Jul 28, 2008 03:10 AM #9
Christine Rae

I feel the need to comment because I was one of the people ELizabeth Razzi interviewed, and because I wrote "Staging for Dummies".
I haven't been able to secure an issue of WSJ here in Canada so thanks for the link.

I find no matter how great an interview someone has with a journalist - the journalist will only write what they think will sell papers - and the world is full of negativity, so generally that is what sells.
When i spoke with Elisabeth she told me she is a senior editor of Business section WSJ and writing about the benefits of staging services for sellers. She had spoken to a number of stagers (I don't know who) and called me because of the book. I stress the book is for people to get STARTED on the things a stager would tell them to do anyway. Explained the need for stager to do the final setup(at CSP I call it Showcasing) and the perils of doing that by themsleves. The book is great for that and i have had many stagers write to me telling how much they learned themselves from the book.

An article is only as much bad press as you allow it to have; to me the TV shows are much worse because they don't show labour fees. BOTTOM line you won't get business from the article even if it featured you and your business and you don't get business from TV - you get business by going out face to face with the people who know the value of what you do and talking with them. You are in the real estate business - agents deal with negative economy, negative press, financial news  - all the time but they still list and sell houses - and we will continue to stage them too.
Just like movie starts dont rad what is written about them i stopped reading the papers when it features staging because it would affect my day - keeping focussed and keeping moving forward is all  i can cope with in a day

Let it go - the people who read this on Sunday will have forgotten it by now anyway. Sure, I am disapppointed the article wasnt better; I really want staging to be accepted and honored as much as you - but as someone who has been in the trenches for 7 yrs selling a concept which wasn't even on the map 7yrs ago i can honestly say "keep your eye on the head of the bird" and don't scatter your energies by feeling bad about something written by someone who doesnt understand this industry. Write local articles with good stuff in it, write this woman and tell her of your disappointment, write congress, the president - who ever you need to write to, to get it off your chest - then get back in the saddle and start selling:)

Best regards

Christine Rae christine@stagingtraining.com

Jul 28, 2008 04:44 AM #10
Lynn Crawford
A Different View - Olney, MD
Staging DC & Maryland

Christine - I'm not quite certain if your response is directed towards me but if it is I appreciate your insight. Believe me, I "let it go" right after I read the article. If I was that thinned-skinned to be overly upset about this article I wouldn't be in business right now. My concern was the way she portrayed stagers as a group and particularly the comment that stagers are "another person living off your home sale." 


Jul 28, 2008 04:58 AM #11
Michelle Molinari
FEATURE THIS... Real Estate Staging & Interior Decor - Lafayette, LA
Feature This Real, Estate Staging & Curb Appeal Concepts

"Another person living off your home sale". LOL.

My first job was at Disneyland. I lived off of other people's vacation funds.

When I managed restaurants & bars, I lived off of other people's food and alcohol budgets.

When I hocked nannies with my placement service, I lived off of other people's childcare budgets.

When I sold do-it-yourself home rennovation materials, I lived off of other people's home improvement budgets.

I was proud of the chili-dogs at Disneyland I prepared. I was proud of the seafood and margaritas I once served. I was proud of my nannies, and I was proud of the quality of the paint-tile-granite-wallpaper I sold.

So now, I live off of home sales. That's OK by me!

What do journalists live off of? Other people's reputations, innovatons, fears, ideas, hard work, and some other things, too.

We know EXACTLY what we do, and there is NO SHAME in helping people sell their homes for top dollar at break-neck speed, so they can get on with their lives and take all their deserved equity with them. There is no shame in writing a book to educate the interested public on the concepts of staging. If anything, upon delving into Christine's book,  they will realize, "Hey, there's more to this than I thought... why, honey, it's practically a science!"

Why didn't the reporter go out and find some disgruntled victims of the staging vampires?

We all know why. I'll stage anyday, Wall Street Journal's support or not. I am proud of my SERVICE TO SELLERS.

And now that I work FOR MYSELF, I just don't get and more job satisfaction and pride than this. No one, no publication, and no other person's opinion can change my life's course.






Jul 28, 2008 05:30 AM #12
Lynn Crawford
A Different View - Olney, MD
Staging DC & Maryland

Michelle - I agree completely. Enough said.

Jul 28, 2008 10:55 AM #13
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Lynn Crawford

Staging DC & Maryland
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