A Staging Question for Realtors®

Life is full of ironic absurdities.  We are now obsessed with obesity, yet bacon rules.  It is the prime ingredient for many new restaurant offerings.  As a consumer, you can just say "NO!" but you have to wonder why the same chain talks up its grilled chicken, while at the same time promoting a sandwich that contains two highly salted chicken breasts, bacon, cheese, and sauce.  

portraitIn real estate these days, the current wisdom tells sellers to bake cookies to give the home a personal touch, while stripping the home of anything that suggests anyone lives there.  The most saleable homes are supposedly those which are neutrally decorated, spotless and devoid of clutter, without personal pictures or other things that might indicate taste.  Bye-bye pictures of grandma, bye-bye bowling trophies and precious collection of gnome figurines.  The more like a new model home, the better.  Smell those cookies, but hide signs of Aunt Sally even though the cookie recipe was hers.  

No one would argue about the need to present your home as neat and clean.  Even if buyers are poor housekeepers themselves, they do not embrace other people's dirt.  Common sense would tell you if your home is decorated in vampire chic, has loud walls, or 1950's flowery wallpaper, then you limit the potential buyers.  When the walls are black even a potential buyer with vision sees hours of work ahead to make the home less Twilight-Meets-Dracula and more upbeat and livable.     But what about the pictures and personal mementos? A home that looks like a doll museum or a kiddie photo gallery can be distracting, but does that really mean that buyers must hide their cow-themed kitchen canisters and drawer the picture of mom that was on the piano?  Is this a case of staging gone wild?  

 Many agents would say "yes" about completely depersonalizing the home, but I have always wondered if "all" buyers react the same on this point.  So, real estate agents reading this blog, I pose two questions to you:  

From your experience, are buyers who want more expensive homes more likely to demand that the homes exhibit no sign of the current owner?  

Are buyers of more modestly priced homes more likely to see personal touches as "charming" rather than a turn off?  

You will note that I have not defined a price point of what is "expensive" vs. "modest."  I have no intent to be judgmental.  Let's face it, not every buyer is a good match for every home in their price range.  A buyer could reject a home because the basement steps are too narrow or the kitchen is too small, not just for Mom's smiling face on the wall.  The real question is whether tips like this are more pertinent to homes above a certain price point and or in more exclusive neighborhoods.   

As with any advice that a Realtor® gives, a seller who does his own thing and leaves out the pictures may turn off buyers and elongate that sales process. Understood.  But agents, especially those who have been selling homes for a while, do you see any patterns?  

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Comment balloon 14 commentsSteve Kantor • August 19 2010 10:32PM
A Staging Question for Realtors®
Life is full of ironic absurdities We are now obsessed with obesity, yet bacon rules. It is the prime ingredient for many new restaurant offerings. As a consumer, you can just say "NO! " but you have to wonder why the same chain talks… more