Posted on

Buyers Beware of the Home Stager

I was reading today about a favorite trick of real estate agents, “home staging.” In case you are not familiar with the concept, the idea is to make the house more appealing to buyers by preparing a home for viewing. For example, sometimes having a million dusty nick nacks all over the place can detract from the beauty of the home, and reduce its appeal to buyers.

The home stager is advertising the home. Like a car dealership full of bright, shiny new cars, a squeaky clean, clutter free kitchen wakes up the happy consumer in each of us. Its a brilliant idea, really, and apparently, it is quite effective. According to the ASP, or Accredited Staging Professionals , home staging not only sells homes faster, it sells them for more money.

THis is valuable information for a home buyer.  Should a buyer pay more money for a home because it was staged?  Does a staged home add value to the property, or just perceived value? 

From a buyer’s perspective, it certainly is a big difference to walk into a staged home, versus an unstaged. The first thing you see in a home is… stuff. If the home owner has tons of stuff and the house is a mess, its hard to look past it. Almost like going into a dark room and waiting for your eyes to adjust to the limited light, it takes time and practise for a buyer’s eyes to see the home despite the homeowner. After a bunch of unstaged homes, a staged home is a breath of fresh air and a smile. “Ahh, I could live here.”

The “stage” leaves with the homeowner. Don’t let it fool you.

It is a more pleasant, and initially, a more hopeful expereince to walk into a staged home. But, staging is a trick, it is not real and should be ignored. A positive reaction to a home due to nice furniture is not a good reason to buy a home, or to pay more money for a home. Remember, the decorations, good or bad, will leave with the home owner.  The value added by staging is earned by changing the perception of a buyer.

That said,there is some valuale information you can glean from the homeowners “stuff.” When a person takes care of their belongings, they probably take care of their home as well. If a persons house is a disaster, you can probably assume that they aren’t doing more than the most basic maintenance. In other words, the condition of the homeowners things is a good indicator of the overall condition of the home.

As a buyer, you must learn to look past home staging tricks. You could miss out on a great home if you cannot look past the clutter. Equally, you could overlook structural home issues by being blinded by a great staging job.