Don’t Buy Our Listings! Staging Required

Don’t Buy Our Listings!?
Because they are Too pretty. Too staged. Too well marketed.

Our listings NET sellers more (not buyers). Many agents will tell the sellers, “I can get you top dolla‘ “ (or they BUY a listing) and then turn around and tell buyers “this is a great ‘deal’!”

Well, you can’t have it both ways.
Is it a good deal for the seller or the buyer?
(like this 2 faced Realtor commercial)

Am I worried that this post might turn away buyers for our listings? Nah.

  1. Does anybody really read this?
  2. People buy from the MLS, not blogs
  3. 3rdly (is that a word) they know I’m exaggerating (a little).
  4. Lasterly (now that I know is not a word) the buyers will be compelled in our trance, like bugs into a zapper, and this post won’t matter. They will love the place and still HAVE to have it.

(shameless ad coming on..) is the only Real Estate Company in Virginia (and probably the USA) that requires staging for each listing. All part of our slogan Excellence Comes Standard TM.

Do we lose business from it? You betcha. Not only do we lose clients that want to just throw it up on the MLS, but also agents that were considering joining but were scared to lose clients. (His current listing should have been staged, it wasn’t, and now it just sits).

I also lose watching a deal that we “lose” and watch it sit… and sit… and sit.

Why require this? Because:

  1. It works and
  2. So few do it.

Upon reviewing 400 homes in Arlington Virginia from $350k to $800 on the MLS.

  • Over 400 homes
  • Only 7 had 30 photos (our MLS’s maximum) and of those
  • Only 4 of those had staging.
  • 75% (3) of those were our listings. (see them here)

Still wanna go with the big boys? If you do, pick any of the them that did a great job on the 393 listing.
Quantity matters right?!

Hello! Wake up! We are in a “buyer’s market” with competition from dumpy bank listings, it is a no brainer.

(sidenote: Buyers, we should get you a smelly bank place and make it look like nicely staged place. Or save $15,000 buying a photoless listings)

Now I would rattle off stats offered by the staging world about selling for 6% more, but I don’t believe in stats. Instead I see as a buyer agent, that only 1 in 30-50 properties are staged (and only 1 other non-Frankly listing out of 400 was staged and had 30 photos) and my buyers love them (but I prefer they get the stinky unstaged home).

And when I do my listings, the buyers at open houses comment “do those drapes come with the house.” You shouldn’t be looking at drapes when you buy a house… but people do! I even had one buyer look at a listing and fell in love with the décor in the bathroom and subsequently bought the townhouse.

I recently sold my Mom’s house and I did more than staging (about 60% of our clients do more than just staging). Here we did about $17K in redesign on a 27 year rental (I hate construction, so it was 100% outsourced). If I didn’t believe in staging, would I still have required my Mom to do it? As I mentioned in my “best ever” post: Frankly CRA, we got:

100% of LIST PRICE in 4 days & 3 agents said it was overpriced.

My best friend in Chicago wanted to sell his place and needed advice. He is the “Frank tell me exactly what to do” type. I believe in staging so much, I
src=”” align=”right” />worked backwards. I went to a top stager in Chicago and said, “Got any tech savvy Realtors that stage?” He recommended Eugene Fu (A year later featured as a top agent under 30 in Realtor magazine). Sold in four days for $10K over list.

My sister is about to sell in Seattle. What do I beat into her? Staging (she was already sold at Hello after seeing my mother’s house transformed).

While “staging” is the minimum that we require, more often than not there is some more serious re-designing needed. Sometimes granite, sometimes new appliances, chair rails, etc. Usually not new cabinets or new windows. Not just your $25 staging book and a box of hodge podge junk from Kmart (so yes, even staging has levels of service).

So why require it? Because (warning, cheesy line coming up!) my clients are like family*. (Told ya! * Yes that was a joke, I don’t talk like that)

No seriously if I make my best friend, mom, and sister stage, how am I going to let a client say, “Nah, just put it on the MLS and see what happens?”

Actually even my mom said that. I said, “nope, all or nothing.”

So while it might lose us signed listing agreements, at least our stuff sells faster and for more.

Like what you read? Subscribe via email (upper right of blog) or forward it. Don’t like it? Then comment.

– Written by Frank Borges LL0SA-

(Disclaimer: Now don’t get me wrong. You can’t just wave a staging wand and it is sold automatically. Other things matter, like proper pricing (not under pricing) and (see entire blog section on listings) sometimes a staged place won’t sell, but it works enough to require it.)

Photcredits: Don’t buy by WhatWhat, Chicago by Laffy4k Bug light by Lara68 , sit by naraekim0801 , Wake up by galapogos

  • 5
  • August
  • 2008

18 Responses to “Don’t Buy Our Listings! Staging Required”

  1. Fran 'The Title Man' Gaspari Title Insurance-PA & NJ (Patriot Land Transfer, Inc.) says:


    Nice job on the staging, and nice job on the video!!! Thanks, Fran

  2. Cynthia Bartch - Redesigned Spaces - Georgia (Redesigned Spaces ) says:

    Looks good Frank, glad your Mom listened to you!

  3. Janice Sutton - Temecula Murrieta Home Stager - Home Staging (1st Stage Property Transformations ) says:

    Good for you to stage all of your properties! I liked the video. I especially liked the bathroom transformation…nice color and great idea removing the glass shower doors! Backyard: Adding a 2 person swing w/pillows from the deck would be nice. Question….What was up with all the lawn mowers? Inquiring minds want to know. :)

  4. FRANK LL0SA Va Broker- says:

    Hey Janice, After 27 years, they just started to add up.

    I put it on Craigslist and got 80% of the stuff hauled out for free

  5. Ginger Foust- Dream Interior Redesign & Staging (Dream Interior Redesign & Staging by Ginger Foust) says:

    Frank, your mom is lucky to have a son that will step up and help her with her investments. Great video and staging transformations! Thanks for including your blog here on SIF for all of us stagers to see.



    That's an interesting concept to stage all your listings. I must say that I haven't heard of that, but it's a fab idea (especially in this market)!

    Great job on staging…look magnificent & the video wasn't bad either :o)

  7. Virginia Tatseos Stage-Show-Sell (Stage-Show-Sell says:

    I’m really curious. Since your company says that all houses must be staged BRAVO How many of your companies houses sell compared to your competition and how much more do you get?

  8. FRANK LL0SA Va Broker- says:

    Tatseos, I really don’t believe in statistics. How does one compare two completely different houses? I have a blog coming up about how we got $65,000 for a same size townhouse (but not as nice, but not $65k nicer). Maybe that can give people a better idea.


  9. Jamie says:

    Frank, good post, although the youtube vid wasn’t working for me – my setup I’m sure.

    I agree that staging is a no brainer and that it is worth it when done right. Since you are such a strong believer that you get your money back from staging and upgrading your company’s next move will have to be to pay for all the staging/renovation costs! That would be putting your money where your mouth is :)

    Another example that points to why staging makes sense: developers spend thousands sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars decorating models. Of course, they have the economies of scale to do this, but if scaled down appropriately for the individual seller it definitely makes sense.

  10. Ken Erwin says:

    Staging seems like a good way to connect emotionally with the buyer. Can you stage with your own stuff if it is neutral?

  11. Jay says:


    While I absolutely agree with you about decluttering your home, removing excess furniture and improving the curb appeal, I personally will never buy a home that has been staged for the following reasons:

    1. Unlike most buyers, I actually can envison a space and the potential it has. A bedroom that has a desk and a bed is not going to make me wonder if the room is a bedroom or an office.

    2. Just because a house has mass produced curtains from Pottery Barn or home accents from the clearance section at Home Goods, does not make me want to put in a full price offer on the property.
    In fact staging can also distract potential buyers from serious problems with the house. As you said in your own post, buyers shouldn’t be concentrating on the decor of house.

    3. Staging will only bring out more annoying staging shows on HGTV and the make the ever irritating plus-sized Donna and Shannon Freeman stick around even longer. (Yeah this is really relevant)

    Overall, I agree that when you sell a house, it should be decluttered, neutral and a clean and presentable condition.
    But as soon as I walk into a home and don’t see a TV in the living room, more than one appliance on the counters or matching coat hangers in the closet, I’m moving on to the next property. Hopefully a dump that I can fix up on my own.

  12. FRANK LL0SA Va Broker- says:

    Hey Jay,
    I think we are in full agreement right?


  13. Jamie says:


    doesn’t your #2 make the point that staging works as far as prospects overlooking the flaws of a home?

  14. Jay says:

    Hey Frank,

    Yes we are absolutely in full agreement ;)

    BTW, your mother’s rental looked worlds better after the staging- go figure.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Do you think staging is worth it for every property or only for those over a certain dollar amount? I am listing my house for under $399K and wonder if its really worth the extra money to stage.

  16. FRANK LL0SA Va Broker- says:

    Absolutely. Obviously you wouldn’t put in $18,000 in redesign, but sure, I helped clients put in granite and hardwoods and staged for a $300k place. Got 2 offers and went $5k over list and the agent that was trying to sell her place for 100 days emailed me in shock and said “how did you do that.” Meanwhile she had “new” appliances that didn’t match, a vacant unit, gold trim and no staging.

    Where are you looking to sell? (email me directly)


  17. Jim Johnson, CRS says:

    I enjoy following your blog! The Bend Oregon real estate market continues to be slow. It looks like a good time to buy in your area.

  18. […] “Advantage” Buyer (their client)? or Advantage Seller of Unit 2? Our listings are so good, I even say “Don’t Buy Our Listings” […]

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