When Staging, Full Disclosure of Property Defects Is Essential

By Barb Schwarz, Stagedhomes.com

There is still a lot of misperception about what staging is, and these days, with Twitter, Facebook, and blogs, information spreads quickly. Each time I come across information that incorrectly describes staging I think of how important it is for us to always educate those we work with, and those we want to work with.

Just the other day an online article was brought to my attention: The article went into great lengths of how staging is about covering up things in a home for sale, thus creating a deception for home buyers visiting the home.

The article further described how agents specifically should caution prospective buyers when they see a staged home, and that “82 percent of home buyers are likely to be distracted from important issues when they go through a staged home. In addition, 51 percent of the respondents noted that staged homes often cover up real defects including structural damage.”

Of course we know this notion couldn’t be further from the truth. At ASP® Staging, we emphasize that staging is all about fully disclosing every feature of a property, not hiding it. Staging is never about fooling people.

5 Recommendations When Staging Homes

I thought I would share with you my recommendations of what you need to do as you stage homes. I am not an attorney so the following recommendations are my opinions. But don’t hesitate to consult an attorney when you have questions about matters like these.

1. Get a copy of the property disclosure statements from the sellers about their home and have a copy in your files for each house.

2. Anything you see in the property that is not reported on the disclosure statements you need to put in writing that you found it. Also, be sure to note that you notified the seller and agent in writing about it–and be sure to have them both sign it.

For example: “I found a hole in the carpet in the NW corner of the master bedroom.  I have informed the sellers, Mr. and Mrs. Smith and their real estate agent Sally Jones of what I found.” You would then them each sign it.

Now, the agent knows as well as the seller that you have seen it and reported it to them in writing. Keep a copy of that in your files. All great real estate agents would want to know that you found a hole in the carpet too of course.

3. We never cover up things that are a defect in the home when staging. Recommend to the seller that they fix any defect. If they choose not to, do not cover it up.

4. If the seller does fix the defect–and hopefully they will–as a real estate broker I want my sellers to disclose that they fixed something and have that added in their disclosure statements too.

For example in the disclosure statements you would include: “Hole in carpet in the NW corner of the master bedroom repaired professionally by ABC Carpet Co.” That way the buyer becomes aware that there was a hole in the carpet and that the seller had it repaired professionally.

5. Sellers are responsible to inform all buyers of defects in the property, but so are you. If agents see things and do not inform the seller and the buyers that they saw it and there is a challenge that comes up from it, they may be held liable for the defect too. I am not an attorney but this has been reported to me by attorneys, and therefore my opinion is that as a stager you do not want to face accusations that you saw a defect, did not report it, and covered it up.

That is why I recommend you get the property disclosure forms. If the defect is in the property disclosures, the buyer then holds the responsibility to approve or reject the disclosures and move forward with a sale, or end it.

Barb Schwarz

Barb Schwarz

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barb Schwarz, ASP, ASPM, AB, IAHSP, is the creator of Home Staging® and the CEO of www.Stagedhomes.com. She is the IAHSP founder and chairwoman of The Board of The International Association of Home Staging Professionals® and Foundation.

  1. This is wonderful advice for real estate and Staging professionals! Thank you, Barb, for clearing up the myth that Stagers mask property defects.

  2. Thank you for your comment dear Joan. It is indeed important information for both real estate and Staging professionals. We must together educate professionals and consumers alike to prevent misconceptions about Staging from spreading.


  3. I staged a property and the homoeowner wanted me to cover up a stain in the carpet with an area rug. After refusing to do so and explaining the potential negative results from hiding it from the buyer, she came in and threw down a rug after I had finished staging it. Completely deceptive in my opinion.

  4. Still crucially important at present. Thank you sharing.

  5. Great post! Total disclosure from the very beginning is the key!