Interior Designer/Stager

Have any of you who do rehabs ever used an interior designer/stager for decorating and staging your property for sale? If you have, how was your experience with hiring one? If you haven’t used one, why not?

I ask because I see a lot of the real estate TV shows that do it, and I have to admit it makes a big difference between a vacant renovated home, and a decorated/staged renovated home.

We use a local furniture company that has pre-packaged rooms for rent. They bring everything, set it up and pick it up when we’re down. I think in some neighborhoods it’s essential to stage a house. A word of warning, if you’re using any of your own items in addition to what the staging brings, make sure it’s labeled “property of…” other wise it tends to get lumped in with their stuff and then it’s hard to get back.

Along the lines of “staging”, there was a builder of some national repute who was caught “staging” his homes in the San Antonio area. Seems he was using furniture of “3/4” size to make it appear his rooms were larger in his model homes.

Part of me goes, “That’s not Kosher.” The other part of me is pretty impressed by the ingenuity involved. Imagine what they could do if they were actually trying to do some could with that creativity.

It reminds of a story in the racing world. The rule says that all air going into the engine through the restrictor plate. The holes in the restrictor plate cannot be enlarged. One of the crew chiefs changes the size of the bolts holding the restirctor plate on so that air can pass around them, through the restrictor plate and increase airflow. He didn’t necessarily break the rules, but it wasn’t kosher and it was pretty damned creative.

Are people really that stupid that they failed to notice how small the furniture was?


I do not stage any of my rehabs. One that is done well makes a huge difference but they don’t always come back with a monetary benefit. If you’re in close competition with every other property in exceptional condition with brand new everything, it might be necessary. Usually just a fresh coat of paint makes a property in an ‘established’ neighborhood stand out. Staging in this case would be overkill. If one shot to the head does the job, no need to waste more ammunition and shoot it again.

This only applies to older neighborhood, where most prospects are found. If your project is a house with new floor coverings, new appliances, fresh paint, and not “lived-in” and it’s next to grandma’s house with wallpaper from 1970, you’ve already won. Staging might make people say “WOW!” and feed your ego but the house will be sold before the competition’s anyway. In an area where you are competing with fellow rehabbers, you can’t win. You will be outbid by someone dumber than you before you buy into the craze. ‘New’ and ‘fresh’ is all it takes to sell a better product at the same price… in most cases.

Just my opinion…

I agree with Danny, not every house is a good candidate for staging. Lower end houses and houses that already stand out (or if youthink it will target the house for bulgary).

But, I think it’s a great tool in houses where most of the houses are the same or in cases where you have odd shaped rooms. Sometimes people have a hard time visualizing furntiure in a room.

The last house was one of those. The bedrooms were quite small (1920’s house) and when friends came over to look the comment was always, “Wow, I don’t think a bed would fit in there.” By putting furniture in, it took that out of the equation.

Speaking of staging and being creative, what if as an investor you struck a deal with the furniture store and interior designer to offer for sale the items along with the house; or even allowed it to be a showroom of sorts. It would seem to me that they would have every incentive to cut you in on a commission for selling their items for them.

I bought 6 house in my life (for me to live in) 2 had furniture in them and 4 did not. Neither of the furnished houses was furnished like my furniture so I had to visualize anyway. I don’t know how a staged house helps the buyer decide do buy. I think it is a money making ploy by the stagers.

A question for you guys that have bought houses to live in. Were they empty when you looked at them?