The second home I looked at was occupied. The homeowners I suspect had followed their Realtor’s advice about decluttering and cleaning. The Realtor showing the house was very professional and sharp. The sellers had made a great decision in hiring her. The problem was that in this price range the competition is most often professionally staged. The competition is steep; the most beautiful and pristine house usually sells first. If this house was staged it wasn’t staged well or the homeowners hadn’t done everything the stager had suggested. Every closet door was ajar to encourage buyers to feel free to look…the problem was every closet was messy and crowded. They had stopped short and I felt the disappointment.
While the house looked good to the homeowners and maybe the Realtor, as a Stager I knew they were both leaving money on the table, delaying the sale, and not measuring up enough in that price range to make a quick sale. This particular house had a master suite with a fireplace but the room was so busy visually (bookcases with a lot of small things on them, too much furniture, personal pictures..) that I know I was in the room much longer than I should have been before noticing it had a fireplace. Now I don’t have to tell you that a fireplace in a master is a great selling feature but this house had it buried amid visual clutter (some of the “clutter” was beautiful, but it was visual clutter none the less). Remembering that the buyer should notice the house; not the furnishings, is critical in getting the staging done right.
My Staging Perspective on the Day
It is important that buyers begin to understand that Realtors and Stagers do have the same goals but offer different kinds of expertise and almost every house needs one of each. Investing in your own Stager as a seller is a smart move. I wouldn’t be the best professional to help a homeowner set a price point (although I think I could come close; it is too important of a decision to leave to “close”) and a Realtor isn’t the best person to help you stage a property. Between the two $700,000 homes I’d estimate the sellers were leaving, at the very least, $30,000 on the table. Neither house would have taken much money or time to bring it all the way up to speed. My grandfather would have said, “Close, but no cigar.”