3 Ways to Start a Bidding War Through Staging

By Audra Slinkey, Home Staging Resource

Every real estate professional wants to have the reputation for being “the agent that makes the most money for their sellers.” But how exactly can you do that? First, I’m going to give you a real life example of a home that recently sold for $100,000 over asking price, and then I’m going to provide the three ways this stager and agent got a bidding war started while we view the before-and-after photos from Donna Dazzo of Designed to Appeal.


BEFORE – By Designed to Appeal,

1. Assess the home’s market potential

Every real estate agent understands the various factors that come into play to determine the “comparables” for a property, but when a property is upwards of $200,000, there is a larger “staging potential” that comes into play. Recently, 2014 staging statistics show that professionally staged homes on average sell 10 percent higher than non-professionally staged homes. So what is that 10 percent worth to your seller?

For instance, in the above photo the agent would have an idea of the asking price of this home in it’s current “unstaged” condition. But what about in its staged condition…


AFTER – Designed to Appeal,

As you can see, the marketing of the home in both staging and photos has a dramatic effect on the outcome of the sales price. I call this the “buyer desirability factor” because the stager pinpoints the type of buyer we want and raises the “desire” for the space.

How can you assess the home’s market potential? First you need to assess the reasonable sales price of the home in its unstaged condition compared to its competition. Next, you need to ask whether you may be able to raise the price of the home at least 10 percent in its staged condition. If that raised sales price is over $10,000 …


BEFORE – Photo credit: Designed to Appeal,


AFTER – Designed to Appeal,

2. Coax seller “buy-in”

One of the biggest challenges for agents is getting the seller to understand the need for professional staging, as well as committing them to the sales process. Ask the seller, these few questions which will get them thinking about the quality of product they are putting forth and the dollar potential they are leaving on the table in the sale of the home:

Critical Question #1: What percentage of your home has not been remodeled in the last 5 years? Even though not all remodeling projects are equal, this question speaks to the relevance of this home and the design knowledge of the home seller, since interior design styles have changed drastically in the last few years.


BEFORE – Photo credit: Designed to Appeal,


AFTER – Designed to Appeal,

Critical Question #2: What percentage of your furnishings (particularly artwork) has been purchased in the last 5 years? As you can see from the before photo above (which is typical for most homes), most homes have dated furnishings which lowers the “buyers desirability factor” drastically.


BEFORE – Designed to Appeal,


AFTER – Photo credit: Designed to Appeal,

Critical Question #3: If you could make 10 percent more on the sale price of your home through professional staging, can I refer an expert home stager your way? Remember, statistically sellers who have their home professionally staged are making on average 10% more in this market than those who attempt to do it themselves. Sellers rely on their agents to educate them on the sale process and what they need to do to make the best price for their home. In this market, the seller who sells quickly but makes $30,000 less than their neighbor because they didn’t stage will not be happy sellers.

3. Don’t be afraid to tell the “ugly truths.”

The ugly truth is that anyone who has watched the real estate market over the last few years knows there’s no such thing as a “set price” for a home. The price is determined by what the buyer is willing to pay AND the buyer is willing to pay a lot more for a “model home” look. Stay tuned for next week’s blog post for more of the “ugly truth’s” in staging …

phpgKLtM0AMABOUT THE AUTHOR: Audra Slinkey is president of the Home Staging Resource, a RESA Accredited home staging training and certification company. Slinkey has personally trained over 3,000 stagers worldwide and is a bestselling author and international speaker. She also serves as president of the American Society of Home Stagers and Redesigners. Connect with her on Facebook!

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This post was contributed exclusively for REALTOR® Magazine.

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  1. Lisa Ellingson, Realtor

    Loved these examples, thank you! I put it on my facebook page for clients to see.

  2. James Sanchez

    Pictures and staging look great. But I think it should be brought out that if the staging was done and not photograph with a wide angle lens, it wouldn’t have the same affect that it has in the pictures. In all the before pictures, none show the ceiling as the after photos. The staging helps…but now you need the right lens/ photographer to make everything work for the online buyer. Like they say…a picture is worth a thousand words.

  3. These are great before and after photos that show the positive impact home staging can make when selling a home.

  4. Audra,
    I am so happy you brought this topic to light.
    Three Christmas’ ago I staged an occupied house in Watertown Ct. Realtors here like to have clients believe that houses do not sell in the Winter. My client believed in staging so I did not have to sell her, however she had a limited budget so we could not rent furniture. I reconfigured rooms and added my accessories and the house was placed on the market. She had five offers in the first week and the house was sold in 10 days for 7% above asking price.
    My client was very happy and her realtor never tells clients that her houses don’t sell in the winter. Instead she gives them my info and a great relationship was born.

  5. This is very good information and so true.

  6. This article made may day!!! Thank you so much Audra!

  7. Those rooms could have been empty for the photo shoot and they would not have looked like they were the same room.

  8. One thing not mentioned in the article – who is paying for the staging? If the realtor is paying, then I believe most sellers will go for it. If the seller has to pay for it, then the chances of staging the home go way down. At least that’s been my experience.

  9. Thank you Lisa, Barbara, Nancy and Jaimie for sharing!
    Beatriz, I’m so glad it made your day and my hope is that it makes those tough conversations with seller’s a bit easier.
    Pamela, the seller benefits the most from a staged home and if the questions I mention are asked, it gets them to hopefully thinking about their responsibility in getting the product ready.
    James, you are absolutely correct that the small cost of a professional photographer makes a huge difference!
    Thank you all for commenting!

  10. Hi Audra,
    I enjoyed meeting you last month at the RESA conference (I sat next to you during the “warehouse” seminar).
    I love your blog and the “before and after” pictures! Staging makes a huge difference in showcasing a house for sale!

  11. Gorgeous after photos! A professionally staged room does so much to help buyers visualize the potential of a space.

  12. Analily Park

    Loved the before + after photos, the “ugly + real trues” and
    how to approach a client about Professionally Staging a home. My clients have always been responsible for rentals, if needed. They don’t mind it because they know there’s a strong 7 -10% over the property price coming their way!
    Please, keep the articles coming!! Best,

  13. Interesting post and thanks for sharing…

  14. Fabulous designs. The photos are awesome, thanks for sharing the post. Would definitely try these designs.