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To stage or not to stage: a tale of two houses

To stage or not to stage: a tale of two houses
January 21, 2021 Allison Andrews

I am often asked if I have data on the effectiveness of staging.  The most complete answer is yes and no. Sure, there is data with hard figures on how much faster a staged home sells, but the most effective information I can give you is this real-life story. 

I can easily Google staging statistics. Everything that I have found is quite impressive in favor of staging like staged homes sell 87% faster than non-staged homes at a 17% higher selling price.  .  Yet, as fantastic as that Googled information is, it’s somewhat nebulous and unrelatable.  The real impressive numbers are my own, and, well, I haven’t done a very good job of capturing those numbers.  You see,  I’ve been too busy staging and selling homes 87% faster than non-staged homes at a 17% higher selling price.  

Finally, after one successful stage and sell after another, I decide I should write about this one.  

Here it is.  A real stage and sell scenario that is relatable, undeniably impressive, and right before our very eyes.   My seller clients called me this last Fall to sell their house.  This is a really great house.  

Built just 3 years ago and built well with beautiful finishes and styling. The house has a main floor open layout crowned by a gorgeous kitchen, 4 bedrooms, 3 full baths, full basement, 2 car garage, beautiful front porch, 2 back decks and so much more.  Oh yeah, it’s in Oakhurst. For anyone who doesn’t know, this is a popular neighborhood, home to one of our beloved Commonwealth Market and sought out by scores of young hip buyers. 

I, of course, couldn’t wait to get my staging and realtor mits on this beautiful home.  My sellers did inform me of their neighbor’s house having lingered on the market for 75 days with very little traffic.  My sellers shared with me their neighbor’s frustration and confusion by the lack of interest in their house.  

Now what makes this anecdote so compelling, is, the neighbor’s house was right next door (same location) and most importantly it was virtually the same house, built by the same builder, built the same year, same floor plan, same square footage, you get the point. Like a Unicorn almost not to be believed extremely rare “Apple to Apple” real estate comparison.  

As I was building my pricing model, the neighbor’s house had finally sold and I had to use it as a comparable to justify my pricing.  I knew the neighbor’s house sold for under full market value. I also knew we may have to answer to our pricing that relative to their sold price looked high. The neighbor’s house went on the market originally for a fair market value price.  It sold for $40,000 less than their asking price.  It was on the market for 75 days.  75 days in our Charlotte market in this location and for the quality house is a head-scratcher.

I had to understand what happened to the neighbor’s sale.  Was it a litmus test for our sale?

As soon as I uploaded the listing pics there was my answer.  There was nothing totally objectionable about the pictures of their listing.  

They showed the usual features.


But the on-line presentation of the neighbor’s listing was just utterly unspectacular. Nothing drew you in or compelled you to go to the trouble of making an appointment, change out of your athleisure wear and go see this house.  The choice in furnishings was heavy and dark.

The placement of furnishings hid the floorplan, and the scale of the rooms. The quality of the pictures was not clear and professional. I knew immediately the lack or low quality of staging was the reason these sellers sold for $40,000 under their asking price.  

I was about to find out if I was right!

My sellers provided me with a beautiful, clean, bright, perfect canvas to work with.  I staged the home to highlight the open light-filled spaces, the sleek finishes and fixtures, and the stunning color palette. Of course, and equally, as important phenomenal professional pictures were taken. 

We put it on the market with high hopes. 

Wala! We went under contract in 16 days ⅕ of the time of the neighbors days on market. 16 days! My seller’s asking price was a bit higher than the neighbor’s initial asking price.  They received 97% of their full asking price.  The difference in the gross sale price for these 2 identical houses is $30,000.  

I often say staging pays for itself. More accurately, staging makes money. 

Now take a look at the bedrooms of the two homes. The staged home is on top.

The only difference in these sales is 2 things, ok 3 things;  The staging, the pictures, and the listing agent. You judge for yourself.