Staging and the Soul of a Home

Today, I’d like to take a moment to discuss something that I feel is very important in the real estate business: staging a home. It is, in many ways, an underrated part of the sales process. The journey a home takes from its pre-listing state to the idealized, fully-staged end result that buyers end up seeing takes some skill to navigate, but the effort is certainly worth it.

Not everyone believes in the importance of staging. Some agents mostly leave a home as-is when it hits the market, cleaned up but otherwise much the same as it has been for years. Other agents prefer to leave the property empty, a blank canvas upon which buyers are encouraged to picture their dream home. And there is some merit to these beliefs. However, in general I find that personalized staging yields the best results. Think of it this way: if you go to a job interview, are you more likely to get hired wearing the jeans and t-shirt you’ve had on all day, or wearing a nicely tailored, flattering suit? Appearances can make all the difference when you’re trying to sell someone on the merits of a home (or a person)!

Take a look at this image, for example, for 5698 Tonopah Drive in San Jose, CA:

Tonopah Before and After

These are two photos of the same room in one of my current listings. The top photo was taken when the home was still vacant. It represents the “blank canvas” I mentioned previously. It’s OK, and looks nice enough, but compare it to the bottom photo, which was taken after the home was staged. Which room looks more inviting to you? Which room would you rather relax in after a day at the office?

Now take a look at these:

Tonopah Before and After 2

The composition of the photos is nearly identical, but the After photo has a subtle vitality that the Before one lacks. Both photos portray a very nice kitchen, but the kitchen in the lower photo seems more vibrant, more alive, by some very simple and tasteful additions. Finally, here’s a bit more of a drastic change in the form of the master bedroom:

Tonopah Before and After 3

The disparity here is extreme. Before the staging, the master bedroom was just, well, a room. Limited in furnishing only by your imagination, to be sure, but to the naked eye, it is merely an empty set of walls. In the After image, however, the room comes alive, showcasing itself as a warm, comfortable space to rest in, night after night. The top photo is a room with potential; the bottom photo sees that potential realized.

All in all, these examples show concrete examples of what I refer to as “bringing out the soul of the home.” In essence, each home has its own character, its own personality…it just needs some help bringing that out. And that is precisely what the right staging will do: it will enhance the home by being in sync with that particular property’s character, and show any buyer who lays eyes upon it the appeal of living there. Sure, you could always depend on the buyers’ ability to visualize what the home would be like after they move in their own furniture, but in my experience, having a ready-made scene available for anyone viewing the home is more effective. Instead of trying to picture furniture and decor in the various rooms, allow the buyers to picture themselves in those rooms, living their lives in happiness and comfort. Create a place that they want to drop everything and just live life in!

How much do I believe in the effectiveness of good staging? Frankly, I put my money where my mouth is. Not only do I own my own staging company, allowing me full control over the staging timeline and the specific furniture used, but I also offer FREE staging with all my listings! This is not a common practice, but I believe it is absolutely crucial to ensuring these homes display their absolute greatest potential in order to attract buyers and get their highest and best offers rolling in. Once you have decided you simply must live somewhere, your budgetary restrictions become more relaxed and your motivation skyrockets. Never underestimate the value of evoking a genuine emotional reaction.

Thanks for reading my thoughts on staging, and please share your opinions in the comments section! Also, you can check out some examples of my fully staged homes at my YouTube channel, and email me with any questions you may have at Have a great Labor Day weekend!