Years ago, I listed a house that showed extremely well. The owners were anal retentive neat freaks taken to a whole new level. I mean, you could eat off the floor of the boiler room in the basement. You could eat off the floor of the firebox in the wood-burning fireplace! It had been on the market for over a year, and I was their third agent. And even I couldn’t get it sold after a hefty price reduction.
When a friend gave me a visit to a great astrologer for my birthday, the wise old seer said, “I see a very clean and beautiful house for sale. It is too clean. Tell the owners s to burn a fire and leave a dirty dish in the sink.”
They did. It sold.
I thought about them the other day while showing a house in Upper Northwest DC. The owners bought it a couple of years ago as a granny house needing renovation, paying somewhere in the high $600’s. They renovated it using builder grade materials and appliances, painted, refinished the floors, and I hope they re-plumbed and upgraded the wiring. It came back on the market about a month and a half ago at $1.6 million, and was just reduced to $1.5.
When we walked in, my buyer noted that the house was obviously staged by a professional to within an inch of its life, and sure enough, in walked the stager with a little table she added to the scene in the living room. But even at the reduced price, I thought it was still at least $400,000 too high.
A house that shows well, either because the owners are channeling Martha Stewart or because they hired someone make the place look like they are, will probably sell in less time and for more money than a house that is dated, dirty and smells like kitty litter. But it probably won’t sell for a lot more than it is worth.
Yes, it’s terribly important to prepare a home for the market, repairing dings, de-cluttering, and in many cases, putting excess furniture in a temporary storage bin. And many people are hanging out shingles as professional home stagers, charging many thousands of dollars to make a house presentable. There is a school in Georgia that is offering a course that will provide Realtors and others with a Certified Home Stager designation.
And while I think it almost always a good idea to call in the professionals, especially for the décor and housekeeping impaired, that is not going to compensate for overpricing, problematic showing instructions or poor marketing efforts.
It's about pulling together the entire picture! And we have to remember that good staging is only one (albeit important) part of that picture!