Thanks to “JC” for a recent comment on this blog expressing his frustration that his staged home didn’t sell.
It’s awful to be in that situation when you feel like you’ve done everything “right”. I don’t know JC or even what city he lives in, but he said he spent a lot of money on staging, used the stager’s “hand-picked Realtor”, and even moved out of his house while it was on the market.
Home staging is but one (important) piece in the puzzle of how to get your real estate sold fast.
It’s possible that the stager’s “hand-picked Realtor” was not the right agent to hire for his particular neighborhood or price range.
For example, it’s generally best to list with a real estate agent who specializes in your neighborhood and price range. After all, if they usually sell million dollar homes and you have a $350,000 listing, it won’t get the same attention. Why? Because their commission on your home is way smaller AND they know more potential buyers in the higher price range.
Plus if they don’t normally work your neighborhood, they’re not as knowledgeable about it. So they don’t have buyers there, don’t know the area agents as well to talk up your property, and may recommend the wrong listing price. Worse, in some areas like the one I live in, if you hire an out-of-area agent the other agents in the neighborhood won’t show your home!
There are good agents and bad ones. I have certainly fired a few real estate agents over the years of buying and selling my own homes.
Were there strong photos on MLS?
Unfortunately, many home sellers have found that even after staging, the listing agent will keep the old photos on MLS. Or they don’t take good interior shots at all!
With 90% of potential buyers in Canada (and 70% in the US) searching MLS online themselves before calling an agent to book a showing, the listing photos are critical in attracting potential buyers who want to see the property in person.
If your home is on the market, make sure you see what it looks like on MLS. If the photos don’t show your property in its best light, demand that they be changed! Naturally, it’s up to you as the home seller to make sure your home is “photo ready” when those shots are taken, either because you’ve hired a professional home stager or you’ve done the work yourself. Don’t expect your agent to tidy the place for you!
How well did the agent market your property?
This is another benefit to hiring a real estate agent that specializes in your neighborhood. They know the other agents who have buyers looking there and it’s easier for them to talk up your listing in office meetings, get attendance at a broker’s open house or caravan, etc.
Marketing also includes feature sheets, MLS photos, advertising, open houses, virtual tours, special websites, etc.
When hiring a listing agent, make sure you discuss what marketing they are going to do ahead of time!
Choosing the correct listing price
Choosing the right listing price is critical because even if your home shows well, it needs to be priced realistically for what it is. Get out there and physically walk through homes that are listed in your area and price range to see first-hand how yours stacks up.
Listen to what listing price your agent recommends (it’s best to get at least 3 points of view on this, there can be a significant range) and then compare this with what other agents have recommended and what you see for yourself by going into other listings. Beware that some agents will suggest way too high an asking price to “buy” your listing, figuring they’ll talk you into a bunch of price reductions later.
Seasonality will effect length of time on market
The time of year and how many competitive listings are on the market at the exact same time as you will effect how long it takes you to sell. For example, if you put it on the market at the slowest time of the summer or over the Christmas holidays, it will take longer to sell because there are fewer buyers.
Is it the “right” house for the neighborhood?
If you are trying to sell a 2-bedroom in a neighborhood of 3 and 4-bedroom homes, it will still sell, but it will take longer because your pool of buyers is smaller.
Is the staging any good?
Like any profession, there is good staging and bad staging. Some err on the side of decluttering so much a place practically looks vandalized. Others, add so many cutesy touches and use so many silly staging tricks, they are totally distracting to potential buyers.
In his comment, JS assumed staging was a waste of money, but if it didn’t sell with staging, it’s unlikely that his home would have sold without it. I don’t know how long his house was on the market, or any of the other factors mentioned here. I wanted to share these so that everyone will take into account the full picture of what sells a house when it’s time to list theirs.
Please share your comments or experiences here. They will help others and also suggest new topics that you want me to write about further!
Learn more about how Six Elements can help you with home staging advice.
Debra Gould, President Six Elements Inc.
Internationally recognized home staging expert Debra Gould is President of Six Elements Inc. and creator of the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program with over 4,000 students in more than 20 countries. An entrepreneur since 1989 and author of several staging guides Debra has staged millions of dollars worth of real estate and uses her expertise to train others worldwide.