Ouch, that stings!....Some HGTV viewers express their opinions on staging

By
Home Stager

Being a member of Active Rain has given me a pretty good idea of how the majority of real estate agents regard home staging.  Most seem to be for it!   For quite some time, I have been searching for a forum that would allow us to see what potential buyers and sellers thought about staging.  And finally I found it!  Click here: Oh, dear....(staging) - Topic Powered by eve community  It is from the HGTV message boards under the category Buying and Selling Homes.   

The phrase "be careful what you wish for" comes to mind in this circumstance because I wasn't quite prepared for just how candid those responses would be.  Even though these opinions were expressed by only a handful of viewers, it still gives valuable insight as to how staging is perceived by both buyers and sellers.  Reading these posts was a real eye opener for me.  And painful, too!  However, just like the homeowners on the staging shows who have to listen to the frank comments of people touring their homes,  we do have to take to heart what is being said.  We are strong!  We can handle it!  

I was taken aback by the many things they perceived as being true that we would view as misconceptions; such as:  

  • Staging is a fad
  • A house that that has been cleaned, decluttered and recently painted IS staged.
  • Professional staging gets tacked on to the asking price.
  • Staging should only be for vacant or model homes.
  • New furniture must be brought in to properly stage a house.
  • Staging was invented in order to supersede interior design.
  • Staging is fake decor.
  • Suggestions for preparing a house to sell should only come from a realtor as they know the market.  

There were a few posts in defense of staging but they were mostly from home stagers or sellers whose homes were staged by their Realtors.  Some of the other concerns mentioned were:  

  • Having a sign in the yard stating that the home has been professionally staged.  The assumptions were that the house was staged free of charge by a new stager or that the homeowner got a reduced rate by allowing the advertising.  They feel that  a house should not be advertised as staged by a professional staging company anymore than it should be advertised that it was freshly cleaned by a commercial cleaning company.  One mentioned that, while house hunting with her spouse, they purposely never stopped to view homes that had a rider on the sign stating that the home was staged.  Their perception was that  staging was being touted as a feature of the home rather than a provided service.  The consensus was that it is okay to advertise that the house was staged in a vacant home but not so in an occupied one.  

  • Staging should be invisible...not contrived.  One person stated that if she was viewing an obviously staged home, she would be more interested in critiquing the stager's abilities than focusing her attention on the house.  Another felt that staging was manipulative and somewhat desperate.  Potential buyers were turned off by homes that were staged with fake lemonade set ups on the porches, open novels on tables next to reading chairs, and having all the tables in the house, including the patio,  set for company--complete with fake food.   

  • Several posters stated that they hated staging.  As both a stager and homeowner whose homes sold quickly and profitably as a result of staging, I just can't fathom how anyone could hate staging.

Now that we know what buyers and sellers are thinking, we need to address these concerns and make sure that our marketing materials and blogs clear up the misconceptions.  We also need to make sure that our staging efforts are not being perceived as "contrived".   

I welcome any thoughts or suggestions on ways to address these issues.  Go to Oh, dear....(staging) - Topic Powered by eve community  and let me know if I missed any important points. 

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Comments 58 New Comment

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Rainer
42,191
Susan Smith
Rooms That Work LLC
Fantastic post...thanks for sharing it with us!  It's a great measure of where staging is in it's evolution.  More educating to be done...what an exciting opportunity.
August 28, 2007 08:57 AM
Anonymous #40
Anonymous
Noelle Hipke

I personally just staged a house I listed and the homeowners loved their home even more!  Many people don't know how to place funiture, art, accessories, etc.  So often when I come in and just make a few simple changes with the homeowners own items, it completely changes the feeling and flow of the home. 

Buyers are small minded if they put down staging...where else do they plan to get great ideas for their home?  As for putting a "staged" sign out front or fake food on the table, I would say it is taboo!

August 28, 2007 09:56 AM
Rainer
46,116
Jackie Peraza
Home Stager - Framingham, Massachusetts
Perceptions AdverStaging(TM), LLC

This is a *great* post.   Tempering my thoughts and comments I'm also thinking this is a very small sampling of the overall population as is evidenced by the growth of our industry - so with that, here goes.  I think all feedback is important feedback and we're supposed to learn from it, positive or negative.  It seems to me there are valid points to be learned from in this feedback, ie: staging is supposed to highlight the house, not bring attention to the actual staging and certainly not the stager. 

As for those consumers (that's what they are) that have no idea as to what staging is really all about, well...we're in a blossoming industry and it's up to us to educate them.  If their only exposure is through HGTV what else are they to think?

I personally loved this comment: "staging is fake decor"  I recall reading a post recently about cardboard furniture...how much more "fake" can you get?

Jackie (hoping she doesn't get shot at with clay ducks) Peraza

August 28, 2007 10:03 AM
Rainer
184,317
Judy Kincaid

Tina -- Great point about the term "staging" possibly adding to misconceptions.  I have been wondering about that myself lately.  I think the term is suited for explaining what we do in vacant homes but I think it gives the wrong connotation of the services we provide for occupied homes.   

Cheri -- Those are the exact thoughts I had when I first read those posts.  When I first started my staging business and was explaining to people what I do, many of the responses were, "That's what Realtors do!"   

Education is definitely the key.  We need to emphasize that the staging that they see on tv and the staging done by professionals in the field are two different things. 

Rebecca -- You're welcome!  I agree that sign riders shouldn't be used to advertise that a home has been staged.  Neither should there be signs throughout the house that tout the stager's expertise.

 

August 28, 2007 11:26 AM
Rainer
184,317
Judy Kincaid

Kelly -- Thank you for your kind words and support.  I like the phrase "be the shiny penny"....that says it all.

William -- You are quite welcome!  Yes, more education is definitely called for.  You made some very valid points and it is obvious that you know firsthand the true value of staging. 

August 28, 2007 11:12 AM
Rainer
184,317
Judy Kincaid

Juliet -- I have always felt that staging should be stealth....no advertising and no obvious clues such as bed trays, champagne in the master bathroom, tied up towels, etc.  I think more and more people are getting turned off by these "tricks of the trade" if you will.

I can't agree with you more about not posting before and after photos while the house is still on the market.  In fact, I usually wait about 6 months until after the home has sold before I use them in my marketing materials...but that's just me.  I was feeling uncomfortable about using some before shots of a house that I did a consultation for in a recent blog, so I deleted them a few days ago...and feel so much better!

I stage for what the house needs.  If having the furniture on an angle will make the room appear more spacious or draw attention to the focal points, then so be it.  I seldom set the table...but there are rare occasions...when there are no drapes and nothing in the room but a table, that it is necessary to add some dimension, color and different textures to the space.  Again, things that a skilled stager can determine.

I always set my table when company is coming....the only time we don't use paper napkins!

August 28, 2007 11:44 AM
Rainmaker
191,184
Janice Sutton
Home Stager - Temecula Murrieta
1st Stage Property Transformations
Judy - Thanks for putting this out there. Great post and comments!   I try to do the less is more approach.  I dislike the way model homes look and rarely visit them for this reason.  I have had my Realtor-clients tell me that people came by at the Open House because they liked the pictures online.  That is one of the best compliments a Home Stager can get! 
August 28, 2007 11:39 AM
Rainer
18,634
Don Diltz
DRE:01204965
Coldwell Banker
Interesting viewpoints.  It always is a good idea to listen to the customer to see what they are thinking.  I think that the invisibility of staging is important....It is like merchandising in a store (things set up just right & neat & appealingly)....we don't see a store ad that says "well merchandised"...it just is. 
August 28, 2007 11:46 AM
Rainer
184,317
Judy Kincaid

Janet -- Welcome to the discussion!  I value all opinions and comments.  Thanks for adding yours to the mix. 

You struck a nerve with your statement about all staged homes being so void of personality that they are starting to look alike.  Love the lobotomy analogy because it does ring true.  I think that is why I have always preferred working with occupied homes and I don't strive to make them look perfect.  My goal is to make sure the best features of the house are center stage and most of the time that can be accomplished with creative use of the homeowners' furnishings.  Thanks for stopping by and giving such an honest reply.

Diane -- You are welcome!  The reason there are no names given on the HGTV forum is because it is a message board and that is the way it is set up.  I am in total agreement with you...staging should be done to play up the best features of the home...not the stager!!!
August 28, 2007 02:27 PM
Rainer
184,317
Judy Kincaid

Josette -- Those were some very insightful comments.  I loved your description of what staging should be -- Staging should be subtle, a pull at your emotions, an evoking of a lifestyle, the thought that this too could be mine.  If you put it in their face I think it loses some of that seduction.  That's good stuff...do you mind if I use that phrase in some of my marketing materials?

I knew that not everyone was on board with staging and have heard many disparaging remarks about it over the years but was completely floored reading those no-holds barred opinions on that message board. 

Joan -- Homes that are overly or improperly staged can be as distracting as ones that are not staged at all. 

 

August 28, 2007 02:44 PM
Rainmaker
299,310
Karen Otto
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, www.homes
Home Star Staging

My answers to those bullet points from commenter's...in italics 

  • Staging is a fad.  - Staging has been around for over 30 years and gaining momentum
  • A house that that has been cleaned, decluttered and recently painted IS staged. - and is a home that will sell quickly and for top dollar
  • Professional staging gets tacked on to the asking price. a properly prepared home that shows well and is maintained yields a higher price and often close to or over asking price - what seller would argue with that?
  • Staging should only be for vacant or model homes - all homes in all price ranges whether occupied or vacant, new models or well over 50 years old deserve the same attention to detail when selling 
  • New furniture must be brought in to properly stage a house. - not true! Many stagers use only what the owner has to stage the property and it looks great!  Suggestions are always made as to what to keep and what to pack.  For vacant properties rental furniture (that has been used many times before) some inexpensive pieces, even thrift or second hand store items are used and look fabulous.  Stagers make magic happen
  • Staging was invented in order to supersede interior design. - staging is a cost effective alternative to interior design when selling or even dwelling. Stagers don't upsell furniture and accessories to clients that are selling their homes, they try to use what the owner already has.  Interior Design is decorating for dwelling and for personal taste - staging is NOT decorating!
  • Staging is fake decor. - this one makes me laugh.  What's fake about wood furniture, artwork and decor, linens and things that everyone has in their homes? We're not floating false images in a room, we're using REAL items and making them look fantastic!
  • Suggestions for preparing a house to sell should only come from a Realtor as they know the market.  - If all Realtors were truly prepared to tell their clients what needs to be done in their homes and DID NOT TAKE THE LISTING until their clients prepared the home properly for sale- then I'd agree with this statement.   But it's just like any other service, if their client's needed painting or their electricity upgraded, would the Realtor be the one painting and doing the electrical work?  Staging COMPLIMENTS the Realtor's job and gives a return on their client's investment!  What will it take to get some to open their eyes as to the fortunes they are missing when they don't call a professional stager BEFORE listing?? STOP leaving money on the table!

Thanks for letting me vent Judy!  I feel much better now.  Bring it on! I'll be happy to answer more comments!

Secret word - 'bramble" = What Karen Otto does on a soap box...

August 28, 2007 08:42 PM
Rainmaker
104,210
Josette Skilling
Keller Williams Capital Properties

Judy, use away!  But hopefully never on a sign rider!

I just got home from The Great Indoors where I'm looking for ideas and for furniture I can use to add to my stash.  There is a group here who can furnish ten homes at once and have three designers on staff.  Since I'm on my own I tend to do it all but I'm a wannabe decorator anyway.   I know that what I'm putting in the house will help folks see themselves there.   

 

August 28, 2007 09:19 PM
Rainer
2,358
Jim Volk
RE/MAX Premier Properties

Judy,

Here's my take on the various comments about staging....

Prior to starting my staging business, I had a successful 35 year career in retail merchandising. During that time, I was affiliated with company's such as Federated Department Stores, JCPenney and The Gap. My primary job was to present merchandise. To make it visually appealing and presented in such a manner that it was more likely to sell to a customer in OUR store versus the competitor's store.

I was most successful in presenting merchandise in a way that the consumer, at a glance, could imagine the product on themselves, or living in an environment that the product represented. The way we presented merchandise in the Giftware Department when I first began in retailing is drastically different than the way itis presented in stores now. Why? Consumers/buyers are more savvy. They realize that competition is fierce and that stores will vie for their dollars in any way they can, be it pricing, service or presentation. Its for those reasons that in order for stores to be successful today, they must present their product in the most appealing way possible.

Three or four decades ago, giftware was presented on shelves, tables, etc., lined-up in a row like like toy soldiers. Similar items were grouped together, but little, if anything, was done to enhance the product or to educate the customer on how it could be used in their home. Today, virtually every giftware department is merchandised by lifestyle. Items are artistically grouped and displayed to enhance their desirability. Customers are better able to imagine how they ca be used in their home through this type of presentation.

There are many stores who do not present their merchandise in the manner described above, an yet they are still successful. WHY? Most likely, it is a price driven presentation. They sell the product cheaper than their competitors, and therefore attract customers in that way. These companies are will to accept a lower profit margin on the products they sell simply because they sell in greater quantities.

The decision on what type of presentation that a store will use is not a decision driven by FAD. It is one that is strategically planned. Companies that desire a higher price and higher profit for the items they sell do everything possible to enhance their product. Companies who desire quick turn on a larger number of products in spite of a lower profit margin do the minimum to enhance their items. They have the "pile 'em high and watch 'em fly" point of view.

So, how does this relate to staging? The relationship is simple, the product on the shelf is your customer's home, the mode of presentation is "staging." In order for a homeowner to receive maximum profit on their property, they need to be the type of store that employees whatever means possible to enhance and showcase their home. The most proven method is staging.

With all of that said, it is quite obvious that as stagers, we must continue to educate consumers about the benefits of staging and how it will put additional profit in their pockets. We're the disciples that must spread the word! Keep the faith kiddos, it will happen

August 29, 2007 10:07 AM
Rainer
184,317
Judy Kincaid

Brady -- I like the way you think!  You definitely understand the concept and benefits of having your listings professionally staged.  Thank you for the wonderful comments and enthusiastic support of staging.  So glad you stopped by.

Jennifer -- Surely, you are pulling my leg....who hates Realtors?  Thanks for making me laugh and for reminding me that, in every industry, there will always naysayers.

Deborah -- You make a very valid point that only Realtor's should know that the home is staged.  Your statement about effective staging was right on the money. 

 Kathy -- Advertising staging turns me off, too.  I tend to agree with comments on the HGTV board in that buyers might be more interested in scrutinizing the staging than appreciating the house.  I love this line--Keep the mystery and excitement of discovery as buyers view a property.  My sentiments exactly!

August 29, 2007 09:45 PM
Rainer
184,317
Judy Kincaid

Betty  --Thank you for the compliment.  I agree that staging does get far more positive than negative press...thank goodness.  Like you, I couldn't understand why those commenters would prefer homes that looked very lived in.  My guess is they think they can get a better deal on the price of those type homes.  It does help to see the negative comments so we know which areas in the education process that we need to improve upon.  Thank you for stopping by.

John -- How right you are!  We need more Realtors like you who understand the value of staging and are willing to help in our education efforts.  So glad you stopped by.

Coco -- Thanks!  I have been doing a lot of thinking and re-evaluating myself.  

August 29, 2007 10:12 PM
Anonymous #54
Anonymous
Linda Bourgault
Judy: I was taken aback as well! Some people really don't "get" the purpose of staging much less the psychology involved. As others have stated, you will always find the negative lurking around. They obviously are not candidates for your services, but it's better to allow them to weed themselves out while you use your time more effectively and efficiently. Thank you for your research and great info. Wishing you continued success.
August 30, 2007 07:42 PM
Rainer
184,317
Judy Kincaid

Thanks to everyone for sharing your thoughts and opinions.  I have loved every one of the comments.

September 14, 2007 07:01 PM
Rainer
1,370
Anita Ericksen
Realty Showcasing Inc.
Hate is such a strong word.  I can't imagine actually using the word hate and staging in the same sentence.  There will always be well wishers and devils advocates.  Keep in mind the saying "Criticism is the best compliment someone can get".  It's very true, if you aren't being critized you aren't doing anything worth noticing. 
September 01, 2007 05:05 PM
Rainer
1,370
Anita Ericksen
Realty Showcasing Inc.
Hate is such a strong word.  I can't imagine actually using the word hate and staging in the same sentence.  There will always be well wishers and devils advocates.  Keep in mind the saying "Criticism is the best compliment someone can get".  It's very true, if you aren't being critized you aren't doing anything worth noticing. 
September 01, 2007 05:05 PM
Rainer
1,370
Anita Ericksen
Realty Showcasing Inc.
Hate is such a strong word.  I can't imagine actually using the word hate and staging in the same sentence.  There will always be well wishers and devils advocates.  Keep in mind the saying "Criticism is the best compliment someone can get".  It's very true, if you aren't being critized you aren't doing anything worth noticing. 
September 01, 2007 05:05 PM
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Rainer
184,317

Judy Kincaid

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