Every now and then, something just triggers one of my hot buttons. Yesterday, it happened again. I was browsing through the new listings in my neighborhood, and becoming overly frustrated with what I was seeing. The photos of the new listings were taken professionally. The camera was doing all it could to put the home in its very best light (on most occasions). But the camera cannot fix the first job that was left undone - or completely ignored!
Yes, I am talking again about staging! Agents who do not offer professional staging to their clients as part of the service they are offering are doing the sellers a HUGE disservice. That is just my humble opinion - but I have been proven right over and over again on this point. I have used professional stagers since very early in my career to help both me and my sellers put the home's "best foot forward", so to speak. And it has delivered exceptional results.
The home that particularly set my hair on fire yesterday is an absolutely gorgeous piece of property. Recently built, hardwood floors, fabulous kitchen - and with stuff hanging out everywhere! The photo of the study is just a classic with posters literally taped to the walls, a gun case visibly lying on the floor, and computer wires dangling everywhere. The sellers had previously been listed with another agent, and I'm sure became frustrated with the lack of activity on their home. So they switched to another agent, who did them no better service other than to drop the price. Agents, please hear me. As real estate professionals, we owe our sellers more! And sellers, you are paying your agent to market your home. You too should expect more!
Why is staging so critical? Buyers shop from photos. In our digital world, that is the reality. Buyers go online and choose the homes they are interested in based on the photos they see, along with location, price, etc. The pictures MUST be taken professionally. (Don't even get me started on that. Too many agents are still shooting their own photos with their outdated cell phones. But that is another blog rant entirely.) The professional photographer's job is to best capture the space in front of him/her. If the space in front of them is cluttered and obstructed, the buyers do not see really what the home offers. Once the buyer does come through the door, the hope is that the home will "wow" them. Staging will take that wow factor to another level, and allow the buyer to really visualize what it would be like to live in that home.
I tell most of my sellers, even when a home is beautifully decorated, it does not hurt to have a stager come in to validate the home's appearance. The stager is getting the home photo-ready, and buyer ready. I also warn the sellers that it is likely they will feel some resistance to cooperate with the stager. The stager is not making any comment on how lovely a piece may or may not be when they ask for it to be removed. But rather that the piece may be cluttering the space that will show in a photo too much. Just this past week, my stager visited a listing in Magnolia that will be going on the market in the near future. The seller was a bit distraught at how much the stager was asking her to remove. She was concerned about how bare the home would look. But then she saw the photos and she sent a beautiful note back to my stager proclaiming "You were right! Thank you so much!" because of how gorgeous the home now presents in the pictures. And it will likely sell quickly when homes around it are not. Some will remain sitting because they are incorrectly priced. But most will continue to sit on the market because they look so unattractive to the buyer community.