Staging homes is really “storming” the real estate industry.  In the past few years, staging homes has become an increasingly growing “cottage” industry within the real estate market.  In 2007, The National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (NAEBA) surveyed their  brokers & agents and found that 82% of the respondents stated that buyers were likely to get distracted from important issues when viewing a  staged home.  In addition, 51% of the respondents noted that staged homes often cover up Home Interiormajor defects and structural damage.  NAEBA is a small, international, professional trade organization that works to represent the best interests of the real estate buyer.  A recent article by columnist Blanche Evans with Realty Times ATTACKED NAEBA’s position on home staging.  Blanche’s article is one of the most biased pieces of journalism that I’ve ever read!   In Blanche’s article she states that “NAEBA is a spoilsport when it comes to staging homes” and NAEBA’s position on staging is SILLY and can possibly do serious damage”  Blanche’s article continues the trend of “old school”, traditional real estate brokers, insiders, agents, etc. that just don’t get it.  Blanche’s article is just preposterous!!!

OK, let’s try and help all the “confused” Blanche’s in the world.  First of all, Blanche is correct that a home-buyer’s decision (right or wrong) to purchase a home is always going to be based on three factors:  emotional, practical and financial.  A buyer agent’s responsibility is to properly advise their clients not to rely too heavily on the emotional aspect of buying a home.  As buyer agent’s, we believe our home-buyers decision process should be ranked:  financial, practical and then emotional.  The sole intention of staging a home is to get the buyer emotionally attached to a home.  So, why attack the “spoilsports” at NAEBA?                  Vase

There is nothing wrong with staging homes.  Right now, staging homes is “red hot”.  In the past, staging homes was limited more to higher end properties.  Not anymore, sellers can spend a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars to stage their homes.  Done the right way, staging a home is another excellent way for the seller to market their home.  But, I have no doubt, that the increased emphasis and “frenzy” on more elaborate ways to stage homes will definitely increase abuse and deception by the sellers.  Sellers will be more likely to try to hide defects in their home through staging options.  For example:

It is OK to add small furniture to make rooms appear bigger, but NOT OK to position furniture to hide holes in the walls or termite damage.

It is OK to play soothing, pleasant music as long as you are not trying to hide, “clangy” plumbing pipes.

It is OK to have cookies baking and pleasant smells as long as you are not trying to hide dingy mildew/mold smells.

It is OK to add a nice, expensive rug as long as you are not hiding a stain in the carpet or damaged wood flooring.

All the examples above are based on a seller NOT disclosing these issues or problems in a state required disclosure form (if applicable).  Most states require sellers to provide a disclosure form to potential buyers.

It is a buyer’s agent responsibility to protect their clients by uncovering issues or problems that are listed above in the examples.  I do not want to diminish the responsibilities and duties of the buyer’s agent.  But as staging becomes more prevalent then deception by sellers is going to occur no matter who the buyers have protecting them.

I can GUARANTEE you that the increased emphasis on more complex and elaborate home staging will increase the number of sellers trying to hide major issues that they should have disclosed (ethically and legally).

”So, be careful out there” – Sgt. Phil Esterhaus, Hill Street Blues

Now let’s end this post on a lighter note.  The all time FUNNIEST home staging mistake that our office has seen was when a seller left a ”porn” tape on a bookshelf right below their framed picture of the Ten Commandments.  No joke, this funny staging “faux pas” did actually occur with one of our agents and their buyer client.  Post a comment to this blog post, if you have a funny or deceptive staging story that you would like to share.

HomeBuyer Advocate Mike

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