I actually wrote a very similar rebuttal earlier today and then found out about this blog thanks to Denise's Google Plus page. The "study" was so off base that most home stagers I know are in an outright rage over it. Misleading the public with poor practice is not something that will help sellers maximize their equity or build Realtor reputations.
Here I am, wading through data and getting my head around all the market reports I need to write to review the 2013 real estate market in the Iowa City area when I'm distracted by a post on Google+. (Yep. That's social media for you, it distracts you from the job at hand!) The post is from Melissa Marro who is pretty fired up about a study about home staging that gets me thinking about the study and about home staging.
Up front I want to say that I really am not 100% convinced on the effects of home staging. At least not the kind where the house looks like it comes from the pages of a Home Magazine. What I do know is that buyers like to see nicely kept, well maintained homes. Uncluttered rooms with well placed furniture are way more appealing to buyers than cluttered, "busy" rooms. That said, the Study quoted in the WSJ is so off base in its findings that I have a hard time even seeing it as a study. In this study they took potential buyers through virtually staged homes and asked them what they would pay for the houses in question. From their findings they establish that home staging does not work as far as increasing the sales price is concerned....
Let's take a closer look at this study. There are plenty of REAL buyers out there. How about asking them how they made their decisions? How is someone who hasn't bought a home yet a reliable person to ask what they would do IF they bought a house? As a real estate agent who works with plenty of buyers I can tell you that buyers often do the exact opposite of what you expect them to do when they make the decision to buy a house. People don't buy houses, they buy lifestyles. They see themselves, their kids, their pets etc. in the house. They imagine themselves grilling on the deck or pottering in the yard. Or they see themselves in the man cave on the lower level with the home theater system. There are any number of things that will get buyers excited. These emotional triggers are a big part of what makes buyers make the decisions they do. The potential buyers in the study had no emotional connection to the houses they looked at. How could they possibly know what they would do in a "real time" buying situation?
The next thing is that the potential buyers in the study were shown houses that were virtually staged. How is that the same as staged by a staging professional? I'm not knocking Virtual Staging, I'm sure it has its place in an Internet driven real estate market. What I don't understand is how the study can claim that potential buyers making a decision on virtually staged homes has anything at all to do with what staging professionals do. That's comparing apples with oranges. It doesn't work. If you consider that fact, you have to admit that considering the study doesn't use "real" buyers or "real" homes to make its point, the question becomes, is this a "real" study?
Does Staging Work? I'm not sure about the answer to that. It's possible, since staged homes do tend to sell faster and homes that sell faster usually get a higher price. Does it need to be staged to the hilt though? That's the bit I'm not sure about. I don't think buyers want to go into homes that are "over staged." It makes them feel uncomfortable. At least that's been my experience up to now here in the very down to earth Midwest. A common sense approach works best, less is more as the saying goes. As it happens, real estate is local and I'm sure the answer varies from market to market. If you're really looking for an answer to this question, your local Realtor is the person to ask...
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Author Bio: Melissa Marro, Home Staging Industry leader, Realtor, and entrepreneur offers a unique perspective on New Home Construction, Resale Residential Real Estate, and Home Staging
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For more information on buying or selling in the Fleming Island, Orange Park, or Jacksonville, area, visit StageListSellNEFL.com or call Melissa Marro (marro.melissa at gmail.com), Keller Williams First Coast Realty, for more information (904-466-2093).