While Some Tips Are Worth Your Time, Better to Hire a Stager Instead of Following NAR’s Staging Field Guide

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Eubank Staging: Image courtesy of Jim Olvera

The National Association of Realtors’ Field Guide To Preparing & Staging a House for Sale hit our inbox last week. It’s a compilation of staging tips and information gathered over the course of the past two years. There’s some great information and some ridiculous information. So let me break it down for you.

Probably the most ludicrous information I read was from one of the Extreme Makeover designers. Note I said “designer” not “stager.” While this show is a favorite of mine it is not remotely related to selling a home. They are creating a design, a plan for a specific family. That’s about as far from staging as you can get. I’ve worked in television and you do things differently for TV than you do in real life. Unless a stager has done both, they have no business handing out staging advice.

The bad advice included the idea of using a TV as artwork. It was referred to as the “modern family hearth.” That is completely absurd. The focal point of a room for sale is always architecture not a television that will be moving with the seller. This designer also advocated using window treatments and not using artificial plants. Stagers ditch window treatments in favor of light and revealing architectural detail constantly. We also love our “fake” plants. At last count I had 35 gorgeous artificial orchids that look so real they almost fooled my horticulturist neighbor! There is bad fake and good fake, stagers know how to fake it!

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Some really questionable advice about staging a home in the winter included lighting a fire and not showing the house at night. Just stunning. Definitely get your MLS photos with that roaring fire but leave the house for work with a fire going? Never! An agent could be delayed and then you’ve got the potential of a real safety issue at home. If you have a remote starter that would allow a Realtor to immediately turn the fire on and off that’s one way to handle it, otherwise do not fan the flames! Advising sellers not to show their house at night in the winter just blew my mind. Really? Let’s be serious here. The majority of folks see houses after work. There is nothing more inviting than a snow covered lawn with a freshly shoveled walkway, some great landscape illumination and lights glowing from every room in the house.

The Field Guide had a great article on staging garages. Now garages really never mattered until this market. Stagers will always tell you to store your excess off site. It’s worth the money and right now garages are definitely turning away buyers. They should be clean, no oil stains on the floor and no cobwebs on the walls.

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We’re all pretty sophisticated about holiday decoration when it comes to selling. It’s a no brainer to keep the 200-piece Santa village packed and just have a tree and a wreath. I was glad to see a tip about using timers in the winter months, which is one I’ve always suggested regardless of the season. Walking into a home with lamps lit equals instant ambience. Another useful piece of information is to ensure holiday decorations are not in the MLS photos! You do not want Valentines Day buyers looking at a bathroom with a snowman toilet seat cover.

Now one tip I loved and I’ve never come across was in an article on staging your laundry room. If your dryer vents outside as opposed to under the house you can have some nasty build up on a side of the house you seldom visit. No one wants to see that! Clotheslines are something else I consider. We’re all trying to be green but it’s worth reeling it in for showings!

We have a lot of multi-million dollar homes in Dallas so I was pleased to read that Ryan Serhant, an agent often seen on the reality show, “Million Dollar Listings New York,” advised luxury listing need staging too! Price point is irrelevant when it comes to creating that emotional connection. Every buyer wants to see “home” when they walk into a house.

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Karen Eubank

Karen is the owner of Eubank Staging and Design. She has been an award-winning professional home stager for more than 25 years and a professional writer for over 20 years. Karen is the mother of a son who’s studying for his masters at The New England Conservatory of Music. An ardent animal lover, she doesn’t mind one bit if your fur baby jumps right into her lap.

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