Northside SF
Real Estate Update
To Stage Or Not To Stage – That Is The Question
Staging a house typically involves bringing in an array of items to spruce up a home for sale. It can include everything from furniture to wall hangings, from throw rugs to baskets. I am often asked the question, “Should I stage my house for sale?” In most cases, the answer is a resounding, “Yes!” Homes have proven to sell more quickly and often for a better price when they are staged. The stager’s job is to highlight all the home spaces in their optimal state: to show what size beds, couches and furnishings can fit in various rooms. A well-staged home presents the house in its best light. Sometimes a client’s home is perfectly decorated. Closets have been cleared out, windows washed, and the garden spruced up. When that’s the case, staging isn’t necessary; however, this occasion is more rare than you may think.

In many beautifully furnished homes there is often just too much clutter. A home also may be decorated too narrowly to the seller’s personal tastes, which may not appeal to potential buyers. Bookshelves and kitchen counters tend to be overcrowded. Personal photographs can be too distracting. These cases may not require extensive staging. Instead a few hours spent with the stager will help determine what to clear away and how to “dress for success.”

More often than not a home might be vacant or sparsely furnished. This is when stagers really earn their money by completely transforming a home. Start by contacting stagers who can provide you with proposals on what they would do to prepare your home for sale. The best stagers are actually designers. The cost will include their initial design fee, rental of all art, furniture, and plants as well as placement of all items. The initial fee also includes two to three months of rental for the items placed in the home. Some bids include touching up paint and cleaning; some do not.

If the stager recommends cleaning, touching up the paint or some gardening, they often have team members who can do the work for a fee. If not, your real estate agent can likely recommend people who can provide these services. My best advice is to trust the stager and your agent. Their interest is to help you present your home at its best, so it enjoys broad appeal, and sells as quickly as possible at the best price possible.

Staged properties have become so much the norm in recent years that unstaged homes simply do not show as well. When you enter a home for sale and think that it’s nice but not something you covet, it could be because the home has not been staged. Conversely when you step into a home that looks instantly nicely put together, I’d guess it has been well staged. It’s all psychological, yet enormously important.

Let’s end with a quick real-estate-related fun fact: Do you know where the term “threshold” originated? We’re talking about that piece of wood at your entry door. Approximately 500 years ago, wealthier folks had slate floors. They got slippery in the winter, so owners spread hay (or thresh) over the floors. As doors were opened and closed, the wind would blow out the thresh. So a board was placed on the floor in the doorways to “hold the thresh” in place – thus “threshold.”

Stephanie Saunders Ahlberg has been a real estate agent for over 30 years and joined Hill & Co. in 1983, where she has consistently been among the top 10 salespeople. She can be reached at

March 2012
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