What does ‘Britain Got Talent’ Singer Susan Boyle Have to Do With Staging?

By Christine Rae

If you are one of the millions of YouTube watchers of the Susan Boyle video in “Britain Got Talent” show you will have witnessed the PERFECT metaphor for staging there ever was.

Treat yourself; watch it—even if you have seen it, go there again and experience the euphoria, then come back to this blog.

People will always pre-judge appearance. Apparently its human nature, so no matter how cute the house, how sweet the deal, people will write it off as a lost leader from the outset unless it projects at least the perception of success.

In real estate, business, the movies and singing you have to LOOK good first to generate value and interest then you have to back it up with sound believable facts.

BEFORE / Photo Courtesy: Christine Rae

BEFORE / Photo Courtesy: Christine Rae

FACT: 91 percent of people look at houses on the Internet first before contacting a real estate professional or house seller.

FACT: 91.3 percent of people surveyed by RISMedia said they believe staging to be a powerful tool when selling a property.

FACT: Buyers are busy, smart and circumspect; we know the majority base a decision to review property on location and price points; then after reviewing photos decide if the listing goes on their short list of 10.

AFTER Photo Courtesy: Christine Rae

AFTER / Photo Courtesy: Christine Rae

FACT: More than 75 percent of those 91 percent will drive by the property BEFORE contacting an agent to view and half of them will do it after dark.

FACT: Drive by starts on the Internet.

FACT: Putting a property on the market without FULLY staging is a disservice to the owner and puts equity return in jeopardy. We are not talking partial or surface staging; we are talking a property that has been edited, cleaned, repaired, upgraded and then functionally showcased targeting the buyer most likely to purchase.

Function, flow, color and lighting are only some of the areas that often need to be corrected. For instance, color: if you know at least 40 percent of all the paint sold in the world is sold as a result of buying the wrong color first—you can better understand it’s not the color that matters, it’s the undertone and the reaction to color that matters. Somehow the staging industry got off to a bad start from people thinking a cleared off counter and clean bathroom was enough—maybe it was back then.

NOT today.

Here is another thing I bet you didn’t know… the staging industry started during a recessive time.  Remember the 18 percent – 21 percent mortgage rate period? Well that’s when buyers said, “Enough, I am not trading my dirty carpet for your dirty carpet” and an industry was born.

To quote Malcom Gladwell “it was the Tipping Point.”

Don’t undervalue the impact of first impressions if what you know of staging is limited, find out more, if what you know about staging is old knowledge find out more. Find out how to make your listings SING!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christine Rae is the co-author of “Home Staging for Dummies” (Wiley, 2008), found of Decorating Solutions Inc., and an internationally recognized expert and trainer in the home staging industry. She is the editor of Staging Standard, an industry trade magazine on staging, and co-author of the e-book “Home Staging Business Guide.” In 2005, she launched an international staging certification program–the Canadian Certified Staging Professionals and Certified Staging Professionals in the USA and Australia.

Melissa Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, writing about home & design trends, technology, and sales and marketing. She manages the magazine's award-winning Styled, Staged & Sold blog.

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  1. This is very well written and I love your example of the singer. Home staging is important in any market but now more than ever.

  2. Staging, good for the seller, not so for the buyer, IMO.

  3. Christine: Very interesting point to equate home staging with Susan Boyle. We are a visual society. We place so much value on physical appearance. If it doesn’t look good (whatever ‘it’ is), its just not going to garner the attention it may deserve. If a home isn’t professionally staged there is a good chance that it will go unsold longer and when it does sell, it will sell at a lower price. Unstaged homes help sell the staged home down the street.

    I don’t understand the idea that home staging is bad for a home buyer. Most experienced professional home stagers address condition issues with the home seller and encourage them to make repairs. How is that bad for a buyer? Stagers help home sellers remove excess clutter and furniture so a buyer can really get a feel for what a home has to offer. Home stagers create appealing and functional furniture layouts so a buyer can see how to best maximize the space when they move in. I see all of these as pluses for a buyer, not negatives.

    With all the homes on the market now, home sellers have to understand that buyers are going to prejudge their home by what they see in photos on the internet. If the home doesn’t look as good as, or better than other homes at the same price point, it will be dismissed with a click of the mouse. Its not even a matter of buyers making low ball offers – they just won’t show up. Its just they way the business of selling homes works now. We can no longer assume that if we do things the way we used to do them, even 2 or 3 years ago, that we will get a positive outcome.

    Thanks for the interesting statistics and point of view.

  4. Americaneer Says:

    April 22nd, 2009 at 11:28 pm
    Staging, good for the seller, not so for the buyer, IMO.
    CHRISINE RAE to Americaneer
    I concur with Michelle – a properly staged property is a buyers BEST investment; everything is done – its mov ein ready – why is it not a good thing? i dont undertand…its a great service

  5. Ditto, Michelle and Christine. My Realtor experience of 32 years and observing buyers in the process of buying and viewing property is that they take more time in a staged home as it is more welcoming, more open visually and allows them to really SEE what they are buying as it is uncluttered and STAGED for their mind and psyche to be able to absorb what is really there. The talented stagers these days know so much more about demographics and the basics of color, focal point, etc, that the buyer gets to see the maximum potential of a property. They are buying an investment but they want to like it too. Great article. And, might I say Congratulations on being the resident Staging guru on NAR Realtor.com blogging site!!! Well deserved and earned.

  6. Christine: We are looking at different sides of the same coin.

  7. hey this is a very interesting article!

  8. As a CSP with a B,S In Interior Design and now a Realtor.I see the whole picture. I flip through cluttered messes with poor pictures I won’t even show them unless I stage them.
    Staging most definitely benefits the buyer. It is not hiding hidden flaws. The law requires full disclosure on all properties,as well as home inspections.What it does is allow the buyer to see the home and it’s potential through a buyers eyes without having to visualize what it could be. Many great features are sadly overlooked because of lack of highlighting the best features
    The Susan Boyle example is perfect, when searching for a home it’s the same as a blind date. Which would you want to see Susan Boyle or Anjelina Jolie? Even if Susan Boyle can sing better perception is reality. Remember the power of “BLINK”

  9. Very well written article with factual information that is often overlooked by many agents and/or brokers marketing properties. Sellers and Buyers, both benefit from staging. At times, sellers don’t realize the aesthetic, emotional and monetary impact staging provides to potential buyer. As for buyers, they don’t always have the artistic insight to visuals the potential of a home. Again, nice article and look forward to more.

  10. Is it alright to place a portion of this in my personal webpage if perhaps I submit a reference to this webpage?

  11. Home staging is a key component to our increase in home sales. Palm Beach County was hardest hit by the tanking of the real estate market. But clean, well prepared homes are selling fast once again.

  12. Staging has been the key to many of my most successful listings. As much as you want a client to see a home as the potential canvas it could be, there is nothing that works better than making a home up specifically for selling. I often work with interior designers to stage high-end homes and use their knowledge to touch up other properties to make them ready for the sale.

  13. My team and I try to make sure all homes are properly staged, before showing to potential buyers. Every Realtor knows, staging a home is just another important step in the process.

  14. What an great article, title kinda threw me off, but after reading through the article it made a lot of sense! Great article and i look forward to reading more of your content.