Do Some Sellers Have "Blinders" On When It Comes To Their Home?

Home Stager with Staged 2 Sell New York & Long Island

And, speaking of "blinders", how many houses have you gone into that still have Levelor blinds on most every window?

I recently toured a vacant house that has been on the market for more than a year.  Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I will show you what I found in this $800,000+ house that was built in the late 1970's and is located in an extremely 'tony' area here in Northport, LI, NY...

 living room of house in Northport

Here is the Living Room complete with raised platform which originally 'housed' a Baby Grand piano.  A brass and glass etagere and the white sectional were left to 'stage' the room.  Notice the vertical blinds on the window and the mirrored radiator.  Under the wall to wall is sub-flooring (sorry about the Realtor and her daughter in the photo!).  My suggestion was to remove mirrored wall, Levelors, carpeting & platform (replace with more neutral wall to wall),the Etagere and patch & paint the walls.  Cost to seller for a professional to do the job: $695.00

I would prefer using more 'up to date' furniture, but would work with the sectional if need be.  The cost to rent furniture that would make this room more appealing to potential buyers: $445 per month based on 3 month rental and $260 per month for a 6-month lease.

Remember that the asking price for this house that has been on the market for more than a year is in excess of $800,000. 

Let's move on to the Dining Room, shall we?

dining room of Northport house

alt shot of dining room Northport home

I should mention that back in the 1980's this house was quite the showplace and built-in Mica was very big (but then again, so were shoulder pads and "Dynasty" and neither of those things are part of our lives in 2009)!

I had my contractor price out removing the built-in shelves, carpeting, blinds, 2 leaves from the table and the credenza from this room and patch & paint the walls.  All totaled it came to $420 (including paint).

The estimate to rent 6 Parson chairs was $150 per month for 3 months rental and $114 per month for a 6-month rental.

There was the most wonderful Family Room complete with fireplace, skylights, and a wall of windows that looked out to a large, private yard that included an in-ground swimming pool.  The major problem with this room was a large, custom build Mica cabinet that housed a large-screen TV.

family room Northport house

family room Northport house

Aside from the carpeting, the major problem in the room was the dated Entertainment Center and the fact that the Fireplace, which should have been the focal point, was dwarfed by the large sectional and secondary to the TV unit.

So, once again, I had my contractor price out dismantling the Entertainment Unit, resetting the electrical outlets in the wall behind the unit, removing the wall-to-wall, and painting the wall behind the TV unit.
Total cost:$445.00

I could work with the sectional, if need be, but adding appropriate furniture & furnishings would create a room that would be more appealing to today's buyers.  The monthly rental fee would be $285 a month based on a 3-month rental and $193 per month for the 6-month lease.

So, let's do the math, shall we? 

Total renovation fee was $1,560 for all 3 rooms.

Total furniture rental fee based on 3-month rental: $880 per month for all 3 rooms

Total furniture rental fee based on 6-month rental:  $567 per month for all 3 rooms

If the seller opted to make the needed changes and rent the furniture for 3 months, the total cost (includes 3 months rental) = $4,200

If the seller made the needed changes and rented the furniture for 6 months, the total cost (including the 6 months rental) = $4,962

It's a "no-brainer" which option gave more 'bang for the buck'!  Based on a selling price of $800,000, any of the options cost much less than 1% of the selling price.  What do you think the next price reduction will be on this house - $4,000?  No way!  With that price point, it's going to be in the $20,000 to $50,000 range!

The seller opted not to accept any of the services and instead will do the work himself. 

Val Allocco, a certified (HSE), professional Home Stager, is the founder & owner of Staged 2 Sell NY which was established in early 2006 and serves all of Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk Counties) as well as the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.  She is also the Metro New York Chapter President of ASHSR (American Society of Home Stagers and Redesigners).

Val has taught Adult Education courses on "Staging Your Home To Sell" and has also been a featured speaker at numerous Home Selling Seminars on, and around, Long Island.  She is available for seminars and other real estate related presentations and can be reached at 516-982-2671.

Please visit for more information and examples of our work.

Comments (16)

Ginger Foust
Certified Staging Professional - Oakhurst, CA
Home Stager Oakhurst CA, Dream Interior Redesign & Staging

Val, wish that I could say that I've never had to deal with this type of situation BUT unfortunately THIS is my market almost totally.  And yes they do wear blinders.  Today I was rereading a blog that Kimberly Wester did some time ago about people that have very strong emotional attachments to "the way it was" and what a detriment it is to making a sale in any market. 

Maybe if we installed video cameras in the houses and showed the sellers all of the potential buyers laughing out loud as they toured.  Would they get the message?  I doubt it.  They would just be insulted and their homes will continue to linger.  SAD!

BTW I liked big hair and shoulder pads in the 80's but I wouldn't be caught dead with either today. What do you bet that these sellers still have their big shoulder outfits also???  O-:

Jan 10, 2009 12:29 PM
Barbara Cluck-Miksits
BCM Home Staging LLC - Ridgewood, NJ
Home Staging - New Jersey

Val, all I can say is I hope you got paid for a consultation. I see this happening all the time. I know you put time into preparing the prices and the proposal. Now they know what to do and they are going to do it themselves. I made a New Year Resolution to myself this year. I am going to charge a fee for proposals and giving out any ideas on how a home can be improved to make it marketable.


Jan 10, 2009 12:35 PM
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging Consultations that Sell Portland Homes"

Val ~ Are you sure this house wasn't used for Dynasty?  I can't believe how it was "staged" when you took these photos.  The excellent options that you presented to this seller would have made all the difference in the world ... this home needs updating more than most.  I'm shocked they elected to do it themselves.  I hope they change their mind about that and call you back in ... but if not, I doubt they'll have a clue how to put it all together.

Jan 10, 2009 01:55 PM
Kathy Passarette
Creative Home Expressions - Mount Sinai, NY
L.I. Staging/Decorating

Val ~ Wow!  I loved the 80's too, but life moves on.  I think the only thing I still deal with from the 80's is the music! You gave him a few options and you're right that the reduction will be way more than your quote.  And I'm sure you'll be hearing from him in the next few months, when he doesn't get to the work and his realtor starts talking price reduction!

Jan 10, 2009 02:14 PM
Pangaea Interior Design Kitchen & Bath Design, Remodeling
Portland Oregon - Portland, OR

I do wish we could charge for the proposal and idea generation. Hard to know when you are dealing with someone who is just going to take your ideas and do it themselves. A very fine line is walked to give enough information to get the client's interest, but not give everything away so they take your ideas.

They definitely have blinders on. I do my best to get past that with clients by assuring them that I'm going for appeal to 'the masses'. Seems to help them understand why I want things to be more neutral, etcetera.

I do hope these people will call you back. If not, anybody know where Linda Evans is these days? Maybe she'll take it off their hands.

Pangaea Interior Design - Model Home Decor - Redesign - Home Staging - Portland OR

Jan 10, 2009 02:47 PM
Laurie Mindnich
Centennial, CO

Val, even the little girl looks shocked at the blinds! Even a paint job would bring it more current; some people just don't understand the value that your insight brings to the table. If they only knew the huge difference...does the owner have "big hair"?

Jan 10, 2009 11:39 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Hey Val, I wouldn't be at all surprised if this owner calls you back and takes your suggestions.  I'd give it until spring---and probably another price reduction (or two).  What a shame--that house has so much potential!

Jan 11, 2009 01:03 PM
Trisha Lane
Simple Inspiration Home Staging - Portland, OR
Simple Inspiration Portland Oregon


All I can say is OH MY!  Too bad this house is going to be on the market for this next year as well.  This homeowner is a fool not to have this done professionally.  Evidently it's ok to loose 50,000 instead of only 4,000.  Perhaps they might want to consider a refresher math course.

Jan 11, 2009 03:43 PM
Diana Corcoran
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Hudson Valley Properties - Rhinebeck, NY
Rhinebeck Real Estate

All I can say is are a braver woman than I!  Sorry the job did not work out.  After all that work it is so disappointing.

Jan 12, 2009 07:50 AM
Kathleen Lordbock
Keller Williams Realty Professionals - Baxter, MN
Keller Williams Realty Professionals

Really dated look and although  quite plush for its day - those days have passed.Perhaps they went to one of your classes and feel they are well armed.

Jan 15, 2009 02:10 PM
Lori Donegan
Ready 2 Stage - Cleveland, TN

Some people have more dollars than sense!

Jan 17, 2009 12:13 PM
Cindy Bryant
Redesign Etc. Home Staging - Houston, TX
"Houston Home Staging Pros"

Where's the disco ball and Madonna?  Not appealing at all!

Jan 17, 2009 12:20 PM
Cathy Lee
CL Design Services Home Staging - Danville, CA

I would not give up.  Do you have virtual tours you can send to seller?  Seeing may make them believers....

Jan 18, 2009 12:46 PM
Cathy Lee
CL Design Services Home Staging - Danville, CA

I would not give up.  Do you have virtual tours you can send to seller?  Seeing may make them believers....

Jan 18, 2009 12:46 PM
Leslie Olson
Leslie Olson Interiors - Austin, TX
Interior Design and Redesign - Moved to Austin!

Oh, my. Looks like Carmela and Tony Soprano will appear at any moment...

Val, you did a great job of spelling out the costs clearly to the client (and very affordably, in my opinion).  Of course you'll have to keep an eye out for when the MLS pictures come out. I'd be interested to see what the homeowners actually did on their own.  Good effort to help them, though!

Jan 20, 2009 03:58 PM
Terry Miller
Miller Homes Group - Tyler, TX
Miller Homes Group and Tyler Apartment Locator

LOL. You sure Austin Powers is not in there somewhere. That is to funny.

Feb 25, 2009 04:37 PM