Realtor.Rock: Everything you wanted to know about home staging but were afraid to ask—part 2

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Realtor.Rock is a bi-monthly column where local Realtors share their expertise on real estate matters.

This week’s Realtor interview experienced some delay, so this article is actually by a home stager (me) and not a licensed Realtor.

Home staging, real estate marketing, and the Internet

Do you need to “stage” your home if you are selling in today’s market?

That depends on what marketing strategy you want to use. One way is to just put your home on the market, set a price, don’t do much other than clean it, and then see if it will sell right away. If it doesn’t, then start dropping the price until it does. Almost any home will sell in any market…eventually. The question is, at what price? An alternative way is to actually merchandise your home like a product by making it appeal to more people using professional staging.

Home staging is about creating great first impressions as well as memorable ones. Home buyers are looking at larger numbers of homes, thanks to increased use of the Internet. Buyers now have access to what, traditionally, was the domain of the Realtors only—the MLS. Now, using their own computer, potential buyers can search through hundreds of homes using sophisticated filtering tags to narrow their search. So, unlike the past, when they had to rely solely on their Realtor to steer them to a home or to laboriously search through a local “real estate for sale” listings magazine, they now have the ability to see all the homes in their area that match their desired criteria in a matter of minutes. This means that, in some very real sense, even without factoring in changing market conditions, there is now greatly increased competition for home sales.

If I can look at all the four-bedroom, three-car garage, two-and-a-half-bath, two-story homes in my area with a few clicks of my mouse, then it stands to reason there is more competition than there used to be when my agent might pick out three or four homes to take me to see or I found an equal number in the magazines that I wanted to tour. Now, instead of viewing a relatively limited number of properties, I can easily look at hundreds. If you don’t think this is important, consider this—in 1998 only 2 percent of home buyers used the Internet for their home search. Today, that number is more than 80 percent.

The best way to make properties stand out on the Internet is to first properly stage and prepare them for sale and then take great photos of them to show Internet surfers. Staging a home just makes sense as part of the overall marketing plan for selling real estate, if for no other reason than the increased use of the Internet. The need for excellent, enticing, inviting and exciting photos for the Internet market are reason enough to professionally stage a home.

Sometimes, people outside the home-staging industry can say things a certain way that, perhaps, we “insiders” may not. My latest find comes from the book titled, Flipping Houses for Dummies. (Roberts, Ralph R. & Kraynak, Joe. Flipping Houses for Dummies. Indianapolis, Ind.: Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2007.) Many of you are familiar with the wildly-successful line of “Dummies” books—it now seems there is a Dummies book for just about everything. I am going to quote this section in its entirety because I think it is so important. This quote comes from page 148, where he is giving advice to investors regarding which houses to look for when considering buying a house to flip (i.e., which are bargain houses that can be bought for much less than market value):

“Homeowners often lack the energy, motivation, and expertise required to properly stage their home for showing. Staging, as I discuss in Chapter 20, is the process of beautifying your home for prospective buyers. Think of it as primping yourself for a hot date. A properly staged home draws more interested buyers and commands a higher sales price, which is exactly what you don’t want when you are bargain hunting.

“When looking for a property to quickly flip for profit, keep an eye out for poorly staged homes. The poor staging reduces your competition as a buyer, enables you to make a low ball offer, and provides you with the opportunity to raise the resale price just by doing a little cleanup and redecorating

I could not have said it better. In other words, a staged home will bring more money, and staged homes are to be avoided by bargain hunters. Think about it long enough, and you may, like many home sellers, embrace home staging as a savvy marketing plan. In a slowing market where competition for buyers becomes much greater, staging can make a difference both in price and in the length of time it takes to sell your home.

Note to Realtors: If you would have any interest in being featured in this column, please contact me.

James Frazier is the owner of A Defined Design-Professional Home Staging Service. He can be reached at 815-997-3212 or through his Web site at

from the Oct. 3, 2007, issue

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