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What is staging?

If you talk to enough “sales” people, you’ll get a goodly share of opinions as to the meaning of “staging.” While I can’t equate the term with marketing, it is a function of it. Most recently the term has been associated with real estate; but the term or practice has been part of the selling process since I was first allowed to go to the store without my “mommy.” Some call it staging while others may use another term. The bottom line is that it’s a process or procedure intended to better market a product or service. I know this article is supposed to be about real estate, but I’ll eventually get there.

Ladies, when was the last time you went shopping for perfume? You can buy perfume at Sacs Fifth Avenue or Nordstrom’s or you can buy perfume at Wal-Mart or Target (pronounced “tarjae”). While I can’t tell the difference (it’s a man thing) most of the time, I do know that at Sacs and Nordstrom’s you’ll pay much more for that “special” formula exclusive to pricey stores. Does the produce cost that much more to produce? I’m not an expert on the subject; however, my sources (I took an oath not to reveal them) tell me the production cost is not significantly higher, if at all. Now let’s examine why you might buy the high-priced product over the “other.”

Some of the ladies I interviewed (I can’t give the names without being subject to harsh retribution) for the column stated that they liked shopping and being seen at a Sacs or other high-end store. Some said they were impressed by the marketing as viewed on TV or in a magazine; others indicated that they like being pampered by the “beauty consultants” (I think that’s what they call themselves). I can now hear some of you saying, “I think he lost it, again; what the ____ does this have to do with real estate?” Good question! It’s about staging. The more one does to “position” a product in the marketplace, the more likely it will sell and for a higher price.

Since I don’t want to be criticized by the minority population, I think I also need to present the male’s perspective. Since I’m writing from my office with a nautical theme, let’s talk about boats. When was the last time you saw an ad for a boat that didn’t have a bikini-clad damsel encouraging you to buy. Even a small “fishing” boat is promoted by that damsel. How about the manufacturer of ski boats or sail boats, there’s that damsel again? That damsel is about marketing or staging.

Now to real estate. When was the last time you visited a “model” home being presented by a builder or developer? I’ll bet it was “staged.” The first thing you would notice is that it was furnished by a professional interior decorator. Next, it had some additional amenities or upgrades. The price of the home or condo quoted didn’t include the furniture or the upgrades. If you have to ask, “Why do they do that?” you probably just graduated from elementary school. It’s elementary, my dear Watson.

If you’re asking as to the purpose of this article, for which I’m way underpaid, it’s intended for those of you who are trying to sell, or considering the sale of, your home or condo.

Staging is probably the most ignored factor for sellers when they decide to sell their property. While I’m not suggesting that one invest a Brink’s truck full of their precious funds to do a complete renovation and refurnish the home, do look at what might make it more appealing. A short time ago, I showed a couple a property that was a perfect fit for their wants and needs. The property needed painting and furnishing but the price was perfect; and when totaled, fit within their budget. The showing was a disaster. They had seen another (duplicate floor plan) that was completely decorator furnished and priced considerably more. If the owner had invested enough to repaint the unit and get rid of some junk, the “sold” sign would have been erected.

Marv Needles

Here’s the point. In today’s market, while everyone seems to be looking for the lowest-priced property, most expect one that shows well. It reminds me of someone I met that stayed at a low priced motel and complained that it did not come close to their last stay at a Marriott. Buyers that are “bottom fishing” still don’t expect a total turnoff.

If you want your home or condo to show at its best, contact a Realtor or consultant who has experience in this arena. To be competitive in this market, you may not need to invest any dollars, just some of your elbow grease. Many times a small investment will return many dollars and result in a quicker sale.

Marv Needles is the broker/owner of ERA Flagship Real Estate which he founded in 1973. He has been a full time resident of Marco Island for over 40 years.


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