• Debbie DeMarais

The Emotional Rollercoaster of Staging and Selling a Home

I came across this article the other day. The title pretty quickly tells you how the author felt about her experience: “My Home Was Staged for Sale—and It Horrified Me.” As a home stager, I recognized what this person was going through. And I wanted to share the guidance I often give to my own clients.


Just to recap, the article details a fairly typical staging process. The seller and her husband hired a home stager at the suggestion of their real estate agent. In this case, most of their furniture and belongings were removed and their “dark, dated” furniture was replaced with items from the stager’s inventory, rental items, and items purchased at the suggestion of the stager.


While that's not the only way to stage a home*, it certainly is one of the methods that allows for the most transformation of the spaces. Here's an example of the same scenario from one of my past home staging projects in Santa Fe...


Living room with sofa seating, a rocking recliner, and a coat rack
An example of a sellers' living room prior to staging.

Living room with contemporary seating and area rug with wood burning stove in corner
The same living room pictured above after emptying the home and staging with furniture and decor from DeMarais HOME STAGING + DESIGN's inventory.

Late in the article, the author says, “the home stager knew what she was doing. By the end of its very first day on the market, our house had multiple offers over asking price.” But leading up to that point, the author details how she and her husband felt like strangers in their own home. They even ended up renting an apartment while their home was on the market—rather than confront the “shell of [their] former home” each day.

I have empathy for the sellers. Staging a home changes the overall look and feel. The home begins to feel as if it belongs to someone else. I’m always conscious of the psychological and emotional triggers that arise when having a home staged. To put my clients at ease, I always try to offer the “why” element to the changes I recommend.


I’m always conscious of the psychological and emotional triggers that arise when having a home staged. To put my clients at ease, I always try to offer the “why” element to the changes I recommend.

Styling and re-purposing a home’s furnishings and décor may not make sense to the homeowners. I understand that—change is difficult. But I try to point out how the changes create new energy, how these changes open up a floor plan, give rooms a proper sense of purpose, and increase the sense of flow.


But most importantly, I try to help my clients understand the purpose of home staging. These changes may be uncomfortable, but the optimal goal in selling a home is to attract a larger buying audience and get the most return.


The moment your home is listed, consciously it belongs to the buying audience. As difficult as it may be, all emotional ties to the home itself need to be carefully put aside. You will always have the memories you created in your home. Nothing can take those away. But as far as the house, the condo, the apartment, the physical building itself; buyers need the space to envision creating their own story in your home. Home stagers have the experience and, importantly, the objectivity to make that possibility come to life. The sooner a home sells, and the better price you receive, the sooner you can move to the next stage.


You will always have the memories you created in your home. Nothing can take those away. But as far as the house, the condo, the apartment, the physical building itself; buyers need the space to envision creating their own story in your home.

In the case of this author’s experience, had she and her husband opted to not have their home staged, had they instead decided to keep the nostalgic and sentimental elements that made the home “theirs” in place, the final outcome (multiple offers over asking) could very easily have been far different. The article might even have been titled, “My Home Was Not Staged For Sale—and It Sat on the Market for Way Too Long While My Husband and I Restlessly Waited to Start the Next Chapter of Our Lives.”


Maybe that’s a little long, but you get my point.


_____


*There are many ways a home stager can customize the staging process for sellers, but most home staging jobs can be simply grouped into three categories (you can see examples of all of these categories on this page of my website):


OCCUPIED STAGING - An occupied staging means that the sellers intend to continue to live in the home while it is on the market. Generally, occupied stagings involve assessing what the sellers already have in their home, and then rearranging those belongings into new configurations that will best compliment the home's finest selling features. More often than not this involves quite a bit of downsizing and depersonalizing of the spaces, which can be emotionally challenging for the sellers, who have been used to their home looking and functioning in a different way.


VACANT STAGING - A vacant staging means that the sellers intend to, or already have, vacated the property while it is for sale. While generally a more expensive staging job, vacant staging really allows a property to show at its very best because every aspect of the furnishings and decor are carefully curated by the stager from their business inventory. The home stager is able to create magazine-worthy spaces that excite the most aspirational tendencies in buyers. Excited buyers can translate into more, and more aggressive, purchase offers for a home.


SHOW HOME STAGING - Also know as model home, or spec home, staging: this is similar to vacant staging except it is performed on a newly constructed display model home or custom build. Often used by developers and contractors, show home staging brings spaces that have never been lived in to life by adding decor and furnishings throughout. It is much more helpful for prospective buyers to see how spaces might be used rather than be confronted with an empty shell of a new house.




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