Staging and Professional Photos Aren’t Necessary

There are two points of view to think about in regards to professional photos and staging – the buyers and the sellers. This particular series of before and after photos show my (buyer) clients’ house when it was still on the market and clearly un-staged (*before*), versus the photos showing how they transformed the space when they moved in (*after*).  Honestly, the before pictures showing the house make it look much better than what it was like when we were there in person…I’ll do my best to describe it below, but there was a lot to consider with this house, and I’m happy my clients ended up there even though their first impression was T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E.

FIRST IMPRESSION: It’s so hard to not judge a book by it’s cover, the floors were destroyed, and the house was only 3 years old.  It was clear multiple animals lived there, not only from the holes in almost every carpet, but from the two enormous dog crates in the kitchen (instead of a dining table), and the smell that they attempted to cover up with candles.  We also walked in to a little pile of doggie doo on the floor – seriously, that was a wtf moment – and we almost ran out screaming (maybe we did – we all blacked out after that).

ANOTHER COMP: It was so hard to see the past all of this to the true potential that the house had – but we had a saving grace; another house was for sale on the same street, same layout, but perfectly staged. Once we saw it, my clients wanted it. The downside? It was on the market for A LOT more than this one. Luckily, what my clients realized is they could do the same to this house, pay much less, and make it their own.

FURNITURE & STAGING: Every room was filled with furniture that didn’t do anything for the space – over-sized La-Z-Boys in the family room, dog crates in the dining area, multiple desks in the second bedroom – the list goes on and on. Staging is so important to showing buyers the functionality of each space. The huge chairs, dark paint color and blackout curtains in the family room made my clients worry that a regular couch might not even fit in the room because it felt so small. The dog crates in the dining area had the same effect on the space – it seemed like there was no way a good size table could fit in there. When we left after our first showing, I’m sure they thought they’d never step foot in that house again.

SELLERS: If you’re thinking of listing your house, listen to your agent who will hopefully tell you that staging and professional photos are a must.  It should be included in their listing presentation as part of their package – if they tell you it’s not necessary, please interview other agents. When your house is on the market, keep the staging up and don’t let your day to day clutter creep in. This is very hard – especially for people with dogs and kids, but it’s so important when trying to sell your house quickly and for top dollar.

BUYERS: Don’t always dismiss houses that appear poorly staged and maybe even gross – of course, there’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed here, but keep an open mind.  In many cases, the updates may be cosmetic and it could potentially not take much to make a huge transformation. You’ll likely save some money buying the ugly duckling and sprucing it up yourself.  Your agent should help you determine if the updates appear to be cosmetic or more structural and costly.

This might seem a little contradictory – but this is why there are two view points to understand. If you want to sell for top dollar, staging and pro photos will help accomplish that. If you are buying and not afraid to get your hands a little dirty (or spend a little on cosmetic additions), keep an open mind when looking if you come across that ugly duckling.  As always, listen to your agent and ask their advice – in this specific scenario, we were able to negotiate a seller credit to replace the destroyed flooring so my clients could move in with a clean slate.  A fresh coat of paint and their adorable furniture finished the job, now they get to sit back, relax and enjoy. Which version would you pick?!

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