Property styling or ‘staging’ is an increasingly common occurrence these days. For those not familiar with this concept, this is basically when a seller pays a professional to ‘pretty up’ the property ready to be put on the market.
This styling or staging often involves the following:
- re-painting the house a neutral colour palette
- house washing
- putting away mis-matched furniture and renting nicer furniture and bedding
- replacing family photos on the wall with non-personal artwork
- bringing in carpets or rugs to be placed over any ugly or damaged flooring
- spraying the house with fragrance (for example, to get rid of any dog smell)
- planting pretty flowers and mulching just about every corner of the garden to hide those obnoxious weeds
The goal is to present the home in such a way as to stir emotion in prospective buyers.
Sellers are becoming savvy and realise that selling a home is very much about selling an aspiration and a dream.
Many buyers end up feeling disappointed on the day of settlement when they visit their new home and find it less appealing than when they saw it during the marketing period! Gone are all the nicely folded towels and candles in the bathroom. Gone too are the nice rugs and matching throw cushions or artwork. Worst still, many end up finding problems which have been expertly covered up during the Open for Inspections! The garden which looked so enchanting in the brochure and during the Open for Inspection will most likely be overgrown when possession of the property is taken.
I recently inspected a property which had been ‘staged’ within an inch of its life. I observed that as people were walking through the property, they were commenting on how ‘beautiful’ everything was and that the vendors obviously have ‘good taste’, etc. Prospective buyers were literally smitten by all the ‘fluff’ around the house, rather than focusing on the things that really matter. As it turns out, I was aware in this particular instance that the vendor is a professional interior decorator!
As a tip, the more that a house is ‘staged’ for a sale, the more careful and wary prospective buyers need to be. Why is there a rug in the middle of nowhere? Is the vendor trying to hide a bad patch of floor board? And why is the room downstairs painted a very dark colour? Is there a potential damp issue that shows up more clearly when the walls are white? Does the dining area look a lot bigger because the dining table has been pushed against the wall and some of the chairs removed (common strategy!). What about all those nice pavers in the front yard? Are they actually properly affixed or simply ‘placed’ there quickly just for the sale?
In an era where home staging is increasingly becoming the norm, buyers need to be more astute when inspecting properties. Try to see past the nice furnishing and decor and focus instead on the quality of the construction or renovation. These are the things which will truly endure.
About Oliver Stier
Oliver J. Stier is the Director of OH Property Group, a leading Sydney buyers agency. He studied Quantitative Economics and Finance at Cambridge University (UK), University of Toronto (Canada) and Princeton University (USA). In addition to being a licensed real estate agent, Oliver also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation.