Four excuses made not to stage a home

by Christine Rae

1. I can’t afford to stage! — In today’s market, you can’t afford not to stage.  Every seller we talk to wants to get the most for the property when selling, so to not capitalize on the opportunity to maximize your equity return is short sighted.

Buyers want “move-in ready” and are willing to pay for it. They don’t want a list of deferred maintenance items without compromising what they are willing to pay. 

Before you say no to staging, consider the cost of not staging. You’ll have additional mortgage and utility payments, property taxes and household expenses while the house sits waiting for a buyer who can see past the seller’s life.

According to research by the Washington-based National Association of REALTORS®, the longer the property sits, the lower the sale price goes. Sellers have many options to secure the money they need to get the house ready for sale: borrow it from a friend, family or neighbour. Secure a home equity loan, use a credit card, have a garage sale, sell something on eBay/craigslist/ Kijii. The world is full of money. You just have to find some. It is in your best interest to do so.

2. Staging is just decluttering and cleaning. I can do that myself. — This is one of the biggest myths about staging.  Pre-packing personal belongings and cleaning are only part of the recipe for successful selling. Fully preparing a property for sale involves a commitment to three vital steps.

The first step identifies areas throughout the property that may adversely affect offers and suggestions to maximize equity. Step two is the fulfillment of those recommendations and step three is the truly amazing component — we call it showcasing. This step ensures fabulous photos, impactful open houses and memorable first impressions.

Many people think of this as decorating, but it isn’t. There is nothing personal about showcasing, as it involves research of the targeted buyer demographic and a scientific approach to furniture placement and accessories selected with a subtle colour strategy. Why would sellers potentially risk thousands of dollars in equity by electing not to do this?

3. I get compliments all the time about how great my house looks. Why do I need to stage? — Again, it’s a myth that staging is about decorating. Decorating is a personal expression of how we live.  The buyer of property isn’t interested in that — they want to envision how they will live. Decorating for living and staging for selling are two very different disciplines. Anyone telling you differently is misinformed.

Selling a house is not about the sellers, their tastes or decorating style. It is all about what the buyer wants and what we want the buyer to see in the property — the things they inherit when the seller moves their things out — that is what we are selling.

4. My agent said I don’t need to stage my house. It will sell itself. — I am sure your agent believes that and that she/he is giving you good advice, because it is what you want to hear. The question to ask yourself is, “At what price will it sell and when?” Staging is a proven and sound marketing method to sell property around the world.

Sometimes we can’t see opportunity because our perception filter is through what has been before. Staging has radically changed the way real estate is sold. Not doing it puts the sale in jeopardy one way or the other, no matter what the economy is doing.

More than 40 per cent of stagers’ work comes directly from property owners. Staging brings exceptional returns on your investment. When the market is slower or softer, properties need staging to generate interested buyers. You may not stage your listing, but someone else who is selling at the same time — competing for the same buyer — will and they will be selected by the buyer as the property to purchase.

(The above article originally appeared in