Staging Does Not Sell A Home

Staging Does Not Sell Homes

Will Staging Sell My Home?

Staging does not sell a home! There I said it. I am sure this will put a lot of home stagers panties in a bunch. Let’s get one thing clear –  I am not saying home staging does not have a place in real estate sales, it is just not anywhere near the most important aspect. Does staging sell a home? No – not if other more important marketing activities are missed!

Over the last few years, I have noticed some homeowners who have become in love with an agent who promises home staging as part of their service package and in the process have forgotten about the most important things that sell a home.

When you are trying to sell your property, it only makes sense to do everything you can to fetch a good price.

Rarely does anyone want to sell a home hoping for less than top dollar. As possibly your biggest asset, you want a buyer to choose your home and pay the maximum price the market will bear. Unfortunately, this desire to sell can sometimes lead to wasted effort – trying out things that are reputed to be the end all be all in the sale of but in fact do little to move your home if you make mistakes elsewhere.

One selling practice that has gained popularity over the past decade is home staging. Sellers and real estate agents alike have started looking towards professional home stagers – people who will come into your home and spruce it up with furniture and another decor to make it more appealing to buyers. However, according to a recent study to come out in the Journal of Real Estate Research, the reliance on home staging to fetch top dollar may be misguided.

While home staging may improve the look of a home, evidence suggests that it is not the ultimate weapon in selling that many thought it to be. This is not to say that your home should not be in the best possible showing shape. In fact far from it. Homes that look their best sell quicker and usually for more money than those that don’t. Just don’t be fooled into thinking you need a professional staging especially if your home already looks good.

In other words, if you have something that looks similar to Archie Bunkers chair in your family room but the rest of your home looks spotless don’t feel like you need a professional home stager to come in with some chic toss pillows, and a shiny coffee table with an expense vase. In my twenty-nine years in the business adding decor has never been essential to selling homes!

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

On the surface the reliance on staging makes sense. If you had the choice between two similar homes, where one looked immaculate and perfectly decorated, and the other was dirty and filled with random pieces of furniture, you would naturally choose the home that looked better.

We are told early on always to put our best foot forward, especially when you want to appeal to someone else. You clean your car before you try to sell it. You dress up for interviews when you want a job. It only makes sense to spruce up your home for potential buyers. The problem comes when you have unreasonable expectations of staging. Home staging is no substitute for the hard work that goes into selling a home.

Things like hiring the right Realtor, setting the right price and marketing the home effectively are far more important in moving a home than the decor. When you want to sell your home quickly and for a good price you need to do everything right. Staging can be a helpful addition to this process, but it is no substitute for all of the most important steps that go into a home sale.

Don’t be brainwashed into thinking that choosing a Realtor that provides home staging vs. one that does not is how you should base your decision when selling a home!

The Evidence

Staging Does Not Sell Real EstateResearchers were interested in finding out just how much home staging impacted the sale process. The study, titled “The Impact of Staging Conditions on Residential Real Estate Demand,” involved creating a virtual home tour with six different variations and testing it with a national sample.

Some of the virtual homes included one with good furnishings along with a neutral wall color, a home with an unattractive wall color and good furnishings and a home with a neutral wall color and no furnishings. The final results indicated that people were willing to pay nearly the same price for any of the homes. The staging did not generate higher offers.

This was only a virtual study and does not mean that home staging has any place in selling your home. However, it does indicate that relying on staging to lead to higher offers or more offers on your home is probably not the best strategy. You will need to do a lot more to make your house move in a competitive housing market.

Frankly, I am not basing my opinion on home staging because of a virtual study. That, in fact, would be foolish because nothing beats real life experiences. Relying on something in a fake controlled environment is not the way to examine reality. That would be like saying your emotional reaction to seeing an alien on television would be the same as in real life. I think we can agree you won’t need a change of underwear from seeing an alien on television. Seeing a real one in person with a ray gun pointed at you would be a different story. Right?

First Things First – Pick The Best Realtor

Don't be a dummy select great RealtorTo sell your home, you will need to focus on the most important things first. This begins with choosing the right Realtor. You want an individual with a proven track record of success, one that can give you advice specific to selling your home in your market. With the right Realtor, you will have a teammate willing to do the heavy lifting required to sell a home.

Also, you will have genuine feedback and advice from someone who knows what he or she is talking about. Hiring the best real estate agent should prevent you from doing anything that would get in the way of selling your house, such as pricing it too high or performing renovations that can negatively impact the marketability of your home.

A good Realtor will be able to demonstrate to you that he or she knows how to sell houses. This person will have recent sales and current clients that are satisfied and willing to talk about it with you. A Realtor does not necessarily have to have 20 years in the business. He or she just needs to have a proven ability to move houses with consistency. This includes a high sale ratio to the number of properties he or she takes on, as well as a record of selling homes for close to the original listing price.

The concept of correct pricing is an important one. Pricing the home too high will repel potential buyers, potentially creating a domino effect that can leave your home on the market for months if not years. A good agent will know how to price your home to sell. This is why it is important to look at the variation in what the Realtor initially lists his or her homes for and what they sell for.

You want someone who is a good judge of what a house will go for from the beginning. Don’t be fooled by the agent who will try to “buy your listing” by telling you what you want to hear. Stay realistic and look at the market data through the eyes of a buyer. You should try to avoid agents that seem too focused on staging your home – especially at the expense of other more important work.

If the best thing you have heard from an agent is how they will stage your home for you, don’t second guess yourself. The “fluff” is not what you want to focus on when selecting a Realtor to sell your home. This is not where your energy should be concentrated.

Staging is a great way to accent your house, like a cherry on top of a sundae. Any agent that insists otherwise should probably be avoided. You can have immaculate staging, but if your agent fails to market your home effectively or price it according to what the market will accept, staging will not help to fix these underlying problems.

Don’t Let Home Staging Cloud Your Judgment

It would be hard for even the most ardent home stager to disagree that the greatest looking house in the world is not going to sell if it is overpriced, being marketed poorly or a combination of the two.

A few years ago while selling real estate in Hopkinton Massachusetts, I was interviewed by the home seller along with a couple of other local Realtors. I didn’t end up winning the listing and was very disappointed especially after seeing who the seller chose to represent them. Out of curiosity, as well as the need to understand how I could improve upon my presentation, I called and asked the seller what the basis was for their selection. The seller told me it was because the agent offered to stage the property for them. Realtor Promoting Home Staging

As a backdrop to this story let me say that this particular home was in great shape and did not need any staging. The seller had tasteful furniture, paint selections and there was barely any clutter at all. It literally would have taken the seller under an hour with my guidance to go through the home and get it in tip-top showing shape.

To be kind, the Realtor representing the seller did hardly any real estate marketing. Certainly nothing creative. You could not find their website for any local real estate searches. The photography and descriptions of the property were average at best. There was nothing the agent did that made this home stand out whatsoever.

This particular Realtor relied on the 3 P’s of marketing – put a sign in the yard, put it in MLS and pray. In this particular case, the agent’s prayers were not answered.

As a Realtor, it is never easy to lose out to another agent especially when you know you have superior skills. I knew all was not lost because the agent had completely overpriced the home to the point where it would take more than a few reductions to get it to sell.

I knew there was a chance I would be speaking to this seller again. Sure enough, that is exactly what happened. The house didn’t sell, and the owner called me four months later to get the job done. The home sold within a few weeks after I took over the listing. I should also emphasize that the stager took their “things” with them when the other Realtor was relieved of duty.

The seller in the case threw the baby out with the bathwater. The Realtors blinded them offer to stage the home for them and forgot about what is necessary to sell a home.

Folks staging does not sell a home! Staging is a tool that can enhance everything thing else you do. It is the icing on the cake. What matters most in successfully selling a home? After twenty-nine years in the business that is an easy question to answer. Here is what matter most:

  • The right price for the property – based on comparative market data, not an agent who tells you they think they can sell it for X, with X being pulled out of a hat.
  • The right real estate agent selection – if you think all Realtors do the same things to sell homes then you are totally misguided. Like any other industry, some agents have a much better skill set and know what it takes to get the job done.
  • The right marketing – doing an exceptional job at marketing is crucial in real estate. In real estate, it is usually pretty easy to see who is doing a standout job.
  • The right condition – you want your home to show well. It should be clean and well kept. Does it need to have leather furniture, a grand piano, the London Symphony Orchestra playing in the background, the fresh smell of pumpkin pie and every shred of evidence a family lives in your home put into a box in your closet – NO! NO! NO!

There are thousands upon thousands of homes that sell every week without professional home staging. This is not to discount the importance of having a great looking home. You want a well-presented home as first impressions mean everything.

Just do yourself a favor and don’t pick a real estate agent because they have offered to do home staging for you. Select a Realtor based on their track record of selling homes!

Additional Home Selling & Staging Resources

Do you think your home could use staging to enhance its appeal? Here are some excellent references to learn more about home staging.

Does staging help sell a home? Sure it will help but not if you overprice your property or choose a terrible real estate agent.

About the author: The above Real Estate information on staging does not sell a home was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone at 508-625-0191. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 29+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service Real Estate sales in the following Metrowest MA towns: Ashland, Bellingham, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northborough, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Sutton, Wayland, Westborough, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton and Uxbridge MA.

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  1. says

    I had to comment, Bill. I’m so glad someone finally is telling the truth about this. If the house seems like it needs staging, it more than likely needs a junk removal service. In most cases I don’t even want those listings, unless of course they agree to hiring someone to remove junk and scrub down the place….do that, then we can talk. Thanks for the straight talk!

    • says

      Pam it really needed to be said. There are some folks who become so blinded by things that are not necessary. This causes them to make mistakes. Over the years I have seen some pretty poor real estate agent selections based solely on the fact the agent was providing home staging. So dumb!

  2. says

    So let me guess:
    Are you bitter because a seller picked a Real Estate Agent who offers Staging vs. you who don’t?
    First I would like to say, you may want to go back and proof all the misspellings and grammatical errors on your post.
    Next, before you bash any profession, it would serve you best to actually KNOW what that profession is all about; specifically in this case we are talking Professional Home Staging.
    The disconnect lies in this: you have the definition wrong. Staging is not fluffing or decorating like some people – like you – think it is.

    Staging is a powerful marketing tool that when used correctly it will yield tremendous financial benefits for the sellers, that come in the form of selling fast, selling for more money in a seller’s market, or minimizing any losses or carrying cost (mortgage payment, taxes, insurance, maintenance etc.) in a buyer’s market.

    Staging is merchandising and packaging a property. I would like to ask you Bill Gassett: When was the last time you purchased a product that was not “merchandised or packaged”. Never, unless you are on a trip to some exotic country and you see a cart full of delicious apples and you must have one right then and there.
    And why is staging important. Because for anyone who has done real estate for a while knows that home buying is an emotional decision, it’s never a logical decision. People buy homes they fall in love with.
    So any smart and educated seller – and realtor I might add – who knows that, would capitalize on it. How? By making it EASY for the buyer to buy your home vs. the one down the street! Talk about EASY. Staples took the “easy thing” to the next level… they even got the Easy Button…They understand that to sell successfully you gotta make it easy for the buyer to buy what you are trying to sell them.
    Any time a buyer tours a home all they do is mentally list all the reasons why they should not buy it. And it’s understandable, that’s a big financial decision they are about to make. Staging (which also addresses condition of a home by the way) is one way to minimize “buyer’s objections” if you will. How do you do that? By merchandising a home and packing it into a product your buyers want and need – aka STAGING it.
    Home Staging is as basic a marketing tool as it can get.

    With all due respect, you are looking at home staging with a small mind and thinking small, produces small results.

    And as to your “one instance of virtual research” point: for almost two years I have tracked all the homes in two MLS areas (where I primarily work) that list staged or not-staged, vacant or occupied. And what I have seen over and over is this: Staged homes have sold within 60 days tops while non-staged homes and vacant homes have remained on the market for over three months and up to a year with one price reduction after the other.

    • says

      Keti the only one who seems bitter here is you! Obviously you just skimmed the article like many people do and did not really read it. If you had you would have realized that I firmly believe that a home should show it’s absolute best.

      The point of the article is that there are more important things that a seller needs to get right before staging will work including the right price and excellent marketing.

      if you don’t agree with that then you are a fool who is peddling magic that won’t work. All the staging in the world is not going to sell an overpriced home. Sorry see it everyday in the real estate world.

      Does staging make a difference? Absolutely but not at the expense of other more important things.

      The article also addresses the fact that a real estate agent should not be chosen JUST because they do staging. This is no different than choosing an agent because they offer to provide a home warranty. This is not what’s important when you are selecting a real estate agent to work with.

      Maybe you better go back and read the article completely before you bash me. Apparently you don’t believe anyone can critique your profession either. You should try getting a thicker skin! Real Estate agents are constantly critiqued online by their peers and consumers as well.

      • says

        Hey Bill! I actually agree with you! We always say that it’s not just staging that will sell a home, but there has to be an amazing Realtor to market and sell the home, like you! Price is another factor. The home HAS TO be priced right. Otherwise, staging will do diddley squat. A third factor is location. If the home has a bus stop out front, beside a train track and there’s an apartment building looking right into your backyard, staging will only help moderately.
        I have to say, the virtual staging example sucks, but you know that! Seeing a coloured drawing of the Palace of Versailles is just ok. Standing in the Palace of Versailles actually brings one to their knees with awe and emotion. I actually know you’re an advocate of staging in the right circumstances, so good for you. Staging is a tool, like a fresh coat of paint or some nice landscaping. It’s only one component of selling a home, not everything. All the best 🙂

        • says

          Sally you are a breath of fresh air! I will be the first one to admit that not every seller needs a Realtor to sell their home. Apparently there are a lot of stagers who think they are the second coming of David Copperfield performing magic everywhere they go. I have never been opposed to staging or making homes look great. The point of the article like you have figured out is that it takes more than staging to sell a home. There are tons of gorgeous homes for sale that will never sell because they are priced out of the market. Thanks for dropping by Sally.

      • says

        Isn’t it the job and responsibility of a Realtor to take care of his/her client to sell quickly at the highest and best price? Perhaps Bill Gassett should do his homework and become educated on how to do that. Staging is an integral part of marketing and is a proven technique to sell the home faster and get top dollar. When I meet someone who wants to sell their home, I refer them to a Realtor; I don’t tell them not to waste their money on a professional and just sell it themselves. How very unprofessional. Of course it needs to be priced appropriately but it needs much more than that. 98% of the homes I stage are in escrow within 5 days – and they close escrow as well. Bashing industries is most certainly not the classy move.

        • says

          Jennie perhaps before dropping an obnoxious comment you should actually read the entire article and not just the headline! If you took the time to read the article you would see that I have nothing against staging in the least. In fact I am all for a home looking it’s best before going on the market. Since you didn’t take the time to read, you should know the point of the article was that you shouldn’t hire a Realtor just because they are going to provide staging as part of their service package. That is just dumb and you are bound to pick a lousy Realtor if that is a big part of your criteria for choosing a real estate agent.

  3. says

    In spite of bunching panties, you do make some valid points. I will start by saying that I have a very prosperous home staging company for the last 11 years and prior to that I sold real estate for 7 years and still have my license for the purpose of referrals.
    I fully agree that overpricing and choosing the wrong agent will negate everything we just staged. In fact tell every client that #1. It has to be priced right because staging will NOT sell an overpriced home-( That is all over my website too).
    #2 They need to chose a Realtor that has a high listing to sales ratio and I explain how to find that out. I also offer a realtor connector service to agents I know that are top agents. (if the seller needs an agent, not if they don’t)
    #3. Then I tell them when these 2 factors are in alignment and they STAGE then they have a winning formula. Staging includes doing all repairs, any updates that are due and the de-clutter, and rentals of items needed. It’s much more than just adding some pillows. My 4000 sq ft warehouse will attest to that!
    I clearly outline to them that if they overprice their house, they might as well have just given me a check for no reason and I would be “taking” their money. With a smile of course. I then say, “Do you really want to sell your house? If you do then price right, select an outstanding Agent and Stage It.” Educating the sellers is KEY.
    Also there are tons of inexperienced Stagers who tell the lie that Staging will sell for more money every time and there ARE agents who also spew that garbage. It is also all over HGTV.

    It is up to me in my market place to tell the truth. Every year we have a small percentage that don’t sell, and when I ask why, the answer ALWAYS is “It was priced too high”. This is despite my advice to not do that!
    I agree with your points actually because it is a joint effort of all factors that bring about results. I even tell stories to my new clients ( if they need to hear it) about ” A past client” who paid for 14 months of rentals due to his stubborn refusal to price correctly. He went through 2 agents who told him he was overpriced, but that is the danger of letting a seller choose a price! Don’t get me started on Agents who price high to get the listing…you can read my blogs on my site for that!
    The clients usually are shocked at the prospect of staging and still not selling and having to pay rentals. But making them aware of their responsibility to price correctly and heed Agents’ advice, usually helps balance out any crazy expectations they may have. They are shocked and say , “No we do want to sell.” Then they take my professional advice more seriously because I am giving them the straight goods not blowing smoke up their ass. Always with a smile of course! I am always honest and never make false promises. I tell it straight.

    That being said, we staged 64 vacant homes last year and our average DOM was 9 days. a handful did not sell. The Real Estate Board’s average in my city was 56 days. All our sold properties were thrilled with their sales prices and attributed the success to the staging and in some cases the Agent I referred. They thank us, refer us and love us.

    It comes down to the fact that a seller cannot pass off the whole responsibility to a Agent or a Stager to sell a house, they have responsibility to care for that home and listen to the advice of the professionals with an open mind. If greed gets in and they want unrealistic prices due to their financial issues, that needs to be nipped in the bud. A seller’s financial needs DO NOT dictate asking price either! A successful seller is open to advice, and helpful direction.

    As for Keti and her comments, I know her, respect her and agree that she spoke truth too. One thing I will say though is that this blog seemed to be “lots of headings” about staging not working and that is unfair because if someone doesn’t read the article they are left with that thought and it’s an incomplete one. Thanks, Jill Gargus, Simply Irresistible Interiors Inc.

    • says

      Jill excellent comment. At least you were sensible enough to read through most of what I said. I have no problem with the staging industry and in fact have a number of friends who are stagers. It seems as though you have understood most of my points. Staging does help a property sell that is completely understood and I agree. Will it sell an overpriced home sitting on top of railroad tracks like Sally mentioned above – of course not!!

      The main point of my article was not to be fooled into selecting a Realtor who will provide staging if everything else they do is not up to par. That would be a big mistake.

      • says

        Totally agree – This article is well written and should inspire all home staging companies to do their due diligence before embarking on a staging gig as should a realtor before taking on an over priced listing or simply dealing with a seller who is not serious about selling their home.

        The way we do things in Dubai is completely different, as my staging company is more of a marketing company rather than simply a staging one so most of this does not apply as most homes sold here are empty and we furnish them show-home style while keeping a warm lived in feel to it.

        One thing that is imperative is “qualifying” homes for staging and part of that is assessing the sellers seriousness as well as determining the market price as well as comparing the most recent “similar” homes’ sales. Thank you Bill Gassett for such an inspiring eye opening article.

        Mathieu Nakkach
        Signature Stagers – Luxury Home Staging

        • says

          Mathieu thanks for your comments. I am glad you mentioned the due diligence part of things. Over the years I have encountered a few homeowners who don’t want to take responsibility for anything. If you are selling your home and it is priced to high you can have the best team of professionals working for you and it won’t matter.

  4. says

    Our team has recently added the option of a stager to our services. It is just one of the things we do that helps make a sellers home standout, along with professional photographer. I’ve never bought into the mantra that staging is what sells a home. It might help depending on the property but the heavy lifting is done by the Realtor® who prices it correctly.

    • says

      Cindy we are certainly on the same page. Staging has a place with some homes. Making sure a home shows it’s best is also super important. Should a Realtor be chosen just because they provide staging? Absolutely not! Look at an agents track record. See how many homes they sell. Of those homes how many need price reductions. How long does it take them to sell the home. This is what’s really important. Staging is icy on the cake if the Realtor does all the rest just as good.

  5. says

    Bill, you are right about the importance of hiring the correct Realtor. The correct Realtor will know how to help the homeowner determine to the best price for the location of the home, will have the knowledge to market the property AND the right Realtor will suggest if the homeowner would benefit from the services of home staging company.

    Home Staging is not about adding “chic pillows or adding a shiny coffee table” it is about targeting the home buyer for that home and helping them feel an emotional connection to the property. A Home Stager will advice the home owner where and how to invest their time and money in the preparation of their home so they will receive the best return on their money.

    Realtors and Stagers should be working together, we all have common goals, marketing the home at it’s best potential, receiving the best price for the home and making sure the homeowner comes out ahead..

    • says

      Anna thanks very much for your comments! You are 100 percent spot on. Selling a home is a team effort. You can have the best looking place in the world but if you have priced it wrong or don’t know how to market well your chances of success is slim. There is no question that having a home looking it’s best is a major factor in a home selling.

  6. Jillian says

    What a gentlemanly and professional way to write an article. “Hey profession that I’ll just assume is comprised entirely of women… I’m going to insult your profession while having to correctly state that it works – just because I want to complain about it not doing the job of the realtor as well -but hey, don’t get your panties in a bunch.”

    • says

      Jillian you have obviously missed the entire point of the article which is not to hire a Realtor just because they offer staging. Hopefully we both can agree that the nicest staged home in the world that is overpriced or poorly marketed is not going to sell.

      If you take the time to read the entire article you would know I think that having a home presented well is very important.

      Sorry but it doesn’t take precedence over hiring the best real estate agent.

  7. says

    Just reading this post today, a but in my opinion very fair and even handed unless you stop after the first paragraph.

    Sharing the portion towards the end on choosing a good Realtor on my FB page.

    Here is the way I phrase it when speaking with prospective sellers and I have been saying this for 11 years, “You can’t market around a bad price.” I follow that up by explaining the explaining in detail that everything centers around proper pricing, but there are many requirements to properly market a home and staging is sometimes one of them.

    Let’s face it, not every home needs staging, some need a consult with some minor adjustments to be made, others need nothing beyond a photographer, a good Realtor doesn’t direct their client to waste money, they help there client to maximize their return.

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