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Friday, September 14, 2007

Is staging right for you?

In the real estate business a whole sub-industry has grown up around the concept of “staging.” Staging involves making the home look better through the use of a professional who is schooled in interior design. These pros may use your stuff or they may bring in stuff from outside (it costs more with their stuff, since you are essentially renting it). They come in and de-clutter and clean first. Then, they rearrange stuff or bring in stuff to make rooms look better – more current, bigger or cozier or at least more stylish.

If the house that you’re trying to sell is empty, the stager will bring in furniture and accessories to make it look lived in; albeit, lived in by an extremely neat person. It is an old real estate axiom that empty houses are harder to sell, so maybe staging has a value there. In the normal house staging can bring out good features and may help soften bad ones. Proper staging can make a small living room seem more spacious or turn a big, cold basement room into a cozy family room setting.

Certainly a good stager can turn almost anyone’s home into a better looking product. That the rub in a recent article that I saw that claims staging is a form of false advertising. The author made the case that staging is used in some cases to hide issues or mask defects. I suppose a well placed area rug could hide a stain in the carpet or a discolored area of wood flooring and that would be a form of false advertising or dishonesty. I’m sure that being dishonest is not uppermost on the stager’s mind. They are more likely going for ooh’s and aah’s, rather than trying to hide the aha’s.

Staging isn’t cheap either, especially if the stager charges you for a bunch of accessories or furniture pieces. It can cost several hundred dollars to stage an empty house and a few hundred for one that is occupied. Most of that is for the “creative talent” of the stager, of course. Of course, your mother will tell you that there’s nothing that a stager could do that she couldn’t tell you anyway.

Perhaps that’s an alternative. Not necessarily mom; but, if you have family or friends who you consider to have good taste, ask them to give you their opinions on what you might do to make the place look more appealing. Just remember that, once you’ve empowered them to tell you what you need to change, you may hear things from these people that you really weren’t prepared to hear. They may not like your display of deer heads on the family room walls or the mismatched and worn furniture from your grandmother’s house in the living room. Just grin and bear it and take their advice. These are people who are looking at your house much in the same way as a potential buyer might and they are telling you the truth. Dealing with it now may cut down on buyer distractions and help sell your house faster.

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