I have conversations with home sellers and Realtors daily about the benefits of staging. I have seen sellers reap the rewards of simple changes like painting and de-cluttering. I know it makes a difference but recently I lived the experience while helping my parents shop for a home. My parents had found a home they loved and were going back for a second showing. It needed some renovation work so they asked me to tag along. We met up with their Realtor and the seller's Realtor at the home. Here is how it all fell apart for the sellers.
1. We pull up and I notice the garage door is not hanging properly. We go into the garage and it is like an episode of hoarders. Certainly, it is spacious but I cannot really tell what condition it is in for all of the "stuff". When we get close enough to the door we realize the cables have broken...it is simple repair. We think "ok, no big deal".
2. The seller's realtor greets us at the side door and informs us we cannot go in this door because the owner's have left their dog penned up in that room. Bad plan sellers...you never want to inconvenience your buyers - especially those there for the second time. We go around to the front door, our trip there shows us that these people also do not keep up their landscaping. Everything is over grown and weeds abound. We arrive at the front door and literally have to squeeze through because the sofa is placed almost directly in front of the door blocking entrance and exit. As I walk in I realize the heating grate in the floor is destroyed from having furniture dragged over it.
3. The first thing I notice is the destroyed carpet with an area rug over it. Not clever at all. A steam clean would have done wonders here but instead their "camouflage" just alerted us to their carpet sins.
4. The next thing I notice is that normal-sized furniture will not fit in the front living room. They made this clear by jamming too much furniture in and blocking every door and window possible. All they did was illustrate that the room is hard to furnish. Another really bad idea.
5. The next thing I notice is the clear water damage in the dining room ceiling. It is obvious water came in and leaked down by the chandelier and over to two recessed lights. I ask the seller's realtor and he says he never noticed it before. I promise you, that is impossible. He says it must have been from the fire in 2004. I'm sorry, did you say FIRE? It has been almost ten years and the sellers couldn't fix the damage from a fire? Now we start to wonder what else they didn't fix. See here is where staging helps, had they actually fixed the damage and painted the ceiling again, that can of worms would have never been opened. Now we are really on the lookout for other damage.
6. The list really goes on and on - more water damage in one of the upstairs bedrooms "cleverly" hidden by a series of art hung on the wall, broken glass all over the basement floor (really? that is a problem if someone gets glass in their foot), items in storage that were just thrown in haphazardly, lots of cracks in the walls including one wall that was almost shattered by the furniture in front of it..... I could go on for hours.
So here is where the problem comes in. All of these items these sellers chose not to fix were out there right in the open, this made us wonder what we were not seeing that needed to be fixed or that was ready to fall apart. The other thing that was extremely hard to miss was the fact that these people had absolutely no regard whatsoever for anything they owned. They did not maintain or take care of anything. If they have no pride in ownership of anything then clearly they were not maintaining their home as it needed to be throughout the years. The result - we ran. Interestingly, we went to that home with my parents fully prepared to make an offer. We then made a last minute change of plans to view another home they had seen before. We went and it was immaculate. The walls were perfect, the floor was perfect, it was clear there was pride in ownership. My parents bought that second home and moved in this past weekend. That first home? It is still on the market.....