In the September issue of Consumer Reports, "About one in 10 sellers we surveyed said they wished they had made more cosmetic changes to their home before putting it on the market. Even more of those who sold their homes for significantly less than the original asking press expressed that regret." There is a profession dedicated to helping sellers. Yet after almost 5 years of staging homes to sell; it is still an uphill battle to sell the concept of staging to Realtors and sellers in many areas. It has me and a number of Professional Home Stagers puzzled. So over time I would like to take a look at some of the comments and concerns received.
We often hear that Home Stagers are rude or mean. I always listen and learn through real life experiences so let's look at one from my past life selling Real Estate. I was working with buyers to find them a home in a very nice suburb outside of Detroit. They were amazed at what greeted them. At one house when you opened the door your senses were greeted with the owners' love of pets. The sweet smell of the litter box (which at the price range we were looking at cost $400,000 an ounce); the soft touch of the cat as they rubbed up against our legs; pet hair on the sofas and chairs updated the upholstery like a new slip cover. The pet dishes in the kitchen lent a warm and cozy touch. The barking dog scared my clients young son. After this house, my clients asked me never to show them a house with pets again!
So I ask the question again, what is rude when selling a dream? The buyers want to walk in and be welcomed as if they were your most honored guests and you were putting your best foot forward. When I continually see all the articles in the press related to steps to prepare your house for sale and articles on home staging and everyone covers what I call the 3 Cs (Clean, Clutter, Color or Paint) and week after week I visit with sellers that seem to miss this, I'm confused. Especially today when buyers are even more demanding and can afford to be.
Professional Home Stagers are trained to look out for emergency exit triggers. If you are paying them you want them to be open and honest, which unfortunately some might take as being insensitive. You don't want them avoid issues, to be mouth pieces for others, or to be so gentle you might miss their point. That doesn't mean you have to do everything they recommend. Great Home Stagers will help you with a list of priorities and recognize that you have a budget and time constraints. They will also point you in the right direction so you focus on the key ingredients to selling your house. There are many distractions along the way.
Maybe instead of emphasizing the 3 C's we should emphasize that selling is not easy; it is not easy to please buyers in this market; it is hard work that takes a great deal of time and energy; it is not easy to treat your buyers like honored guests. Sellers please throw your personal feelings out with your first load of clutter and welcome feedback that gets you on the road to where you next need to go.
If you are planning to wait out the market or if you have decided to take your property off the market what a great opportunity you have to make the process less stressful. You can work with a professional Home Stager to get a priority list together and tackle projects when you have the time. If you have elderly parents or family members, you can work with them over time to get market ready and they can enjoy their home in the process. Not all but many parents will welcome the time and attention. One of my neighbors stopped me and brought me in to see her wonderful new granite counter tops. Her children encouraged her and helped her find a source. I have been working with my mother over time to update her house. You can respect yourself by taking the time and care needed for one of your biggest investments.