Selling-Why Realtors Are Advising Their Client’s On Their Home’s Clutter

As the previous seller’s real estate market swings to a buyer’s market, sellers (including their listing agents or realtors) are looking for creative ways they can distinguish their home for sale from other similar listings in their neighborhood. Among the list of marketing tools at their disposal, many realtors are turning to “staging”, a process where a home is de-cluttered, redesigned and in some cases remodeled in order to prepare it for sale.

Although many realtors are realizing the benefits of staging, it still can be a delicate subject to bring up with the prospective seller most often because the home seller is still emotionally involved with his or her home and is resistant to suggested changes. The best way to make staging acceptable is to get homeowners to separate their emotions from the sales process, to convert the image of their home to an image of their home which uniquely reflects their tastes and style to seeing their house as a commodity that they need to sell. Once over this stumbling block, a seller will be able to see the possibilities suggested changes will bring and the improvement to the overall bottom line–his or her pocket.

Staging is about making a house look great, but it’s important not to confuse it with interior design. So what is the difference between staging and interior design? Both involve furniture placement, adding color, and carefully placing just the right accessories, but that’s where the similarities end. The goal of interior design is to create an environment that perfectly reflects the style and tastes of the home’s owner through color, furniture styles, and accessories; the focus of staging is to make the house more marketable by creating the most appealing home to the greatest number of prospective buyers. Instead of reflecting a unique style tailored to the homeowner’s tastes, a staged home must look well designed, but impersonal enough to not conflict with a buyer’s own sense of style and at the same time appeal to the tastes of a wider audience of potential buyers. That’s why you are more likely to see a home’s interior painted in a neutral color rather than shocking violet.

Home stylists, as stagers are sometimes called, compare the process to the design of a model home. Their objective is to furnish and accessorize the home in order to call attention to the home’s best features–the features that will most attract the interest of a potential buyer. At the same time, they avoid any decor that’s too unique–such as a bright painting or furniture with highly ornate patterns. Sellers whose homes are vacant may have more difficulties as it is often difficult to sell a vacant home because buyers have trouble visualizing what they’ll look like furnished. This is another area where stager’s services may be needed and will help the home sell quicker. An online article on staging in Business Week, ran a whole series of before and after photographs of homes that had been staged and their final sale prices. From the pictures provided, it was clearly apparent the difference staging made in the homes desirability and marketability. In most cases, the homes featured sold for amounts higher than the originally listed price.

As most realtors working with stagers have experienced, they have found that stagers are much more successful when they have a real estate background than one in design. Staging professionals with this kind of background usually understand the stress the seller may be experiencing, have the tact to suggest changes and know the ultimate objective that is desired–that the listed home sell quickly and at the highest possible price. One staging professional Barb Schwarz, a Concord, California realtor and former interior designer advised, “A designer may understand design, but stagers who understand sellers and the needs of the market can act a lot quicker and cater to those needs.”

As the staging industry grows and the working relationship between stagers and realtors becomes much more integrated and widely accepted, staging will become another marketing tool that most realtors will offer their sellers.