Home Buyer Shocks Experienced Home Stagers

home buyer with snakeI recently wrote an article about how to pick the target market for your home staging project. It’s a process I use as a home stager to develop a clear mental picture of who the likely target buyer is for a home before I make my home staging recommendations.

Home stagers, have you ever been surprised by who actually bought a home you staged? I know I have, here is one example.

This home staging project was for a client who was living oversees. Her home was in a neighborhood I knew well, because I lived only a couple of blocks away. It had been occupied by tenants for several years and she was finally ready to sell.

I took on staging the vacant home once the tenants moved out, so I really had a pretty blank slate to work with furniture-wise.

But it wasn’t entirely a blank slate because the house had some unusual features that would have been too expensive to change. I’m being kind. They were actually weird features to my eye as a home stager, and also as someone who has bought and sold 8 of my own homes.

These “oddities” heavily influenced how I chose to stage the home and my own mental picture of who would buy. For example:

  • The kitchen counters and cabinets were all above standard height. Great for a very tall man, but not so comfortable or practical for the average woman.
  • Between the kitchen and dining room was a small glassed in “reptile room.”
  • There were only 2 bedrooms despite it being a family neighborhood of 3 and 4-bedroom homes.
  • The stairway to the second floor had no risers, and a custom wrought iron railing that a child would easily fall through.
  • There was no door to the master bedroom and nowhere to add one.
  • The master bedroom had an ensuite bathroom with no door on that either.
  • The tiny second bedroom opened out to a second-floor deck.

Given these factors, I expected the home to be purchased by a single person (likely male) or a couple with no kids (and no immediate plans to have any).

With that assumption (discussed and agreed to by the owner and the real estate agent – a key point as you’ll see later), I staged the tiny second bedroom as a home office.

I figured, who would want a child or a guest just down the hall from the master when there was no door to the master bedroom? And wouldn’t the deck be a nice feature for a home office?

After a couple of weeks on the market, the feedback from showings was that it was a one-bedroom house, which lowered the perceived value of the property.

It was properly listed as 2 bedrooms on MLS, but that didn’t matter to potential buyers.

At the request of the real estate agent, I redid the 2nd bedroom to replace the extra home office furniture with a single bed, and rearranged the original desk and chair.

Yes, I was paid for my time to make these changes. We had all agreed on the staging strategy at the outset, so I felt no responsibility to make these changes for free.

You’d think potential buyers could see that a single bed would fit without actually staging the second bedroom with one, but they couldn’t. Proving you should never over estimate the imagination of potential buyers.

Once there were actually two beds in the house, house hunters believed it was a two-bedroom (just like it said in the listing). Another example of how and why home staging works.

The property sold a few weeks later— the only two bedroom house in that neighborhood to sell in an 8-month period (so a very good result as far as the real estate agent and seller were concerned).

The real kicker for me was that a single-mom with a 4 year old bought it! I still think she bought the “wrong” house for her needs, but then we’ve never met, so who knows?

Perhaps she was freakishly tall with a snake collection that had grown too big for their cages, her child was afraid of heights and cautious around stairs, and she had no plans to ever date again?

Have you ever found the architectural features or finishes in a house strongly suggested a likely buyer? Have you ever been surprised by who actually buys a home you staged? Please share in the comments below.


Debra Gould, The Staging Diva®
President, Six Elements Home Staging and Voice of Possibility Group Inc.

Debra Gould has been an entrepreneur for 25 years and is the author of several guides. She has staged millions of dollars worth of real estate and uses her expertise to train others worldwide. The Staging Diva Training Program has more than 8,000 students in over 20 countries.

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