Melanie Coker: Want your home to be a cut above the rest on the market? Stage it

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I’ve always been a bit of a cynic on the importance of staging a home for sale. While I’ve always thought it was a good idea and could contribute to getting a home sold, my mantras have always been, “Price sells homes,” and “you have to look beyond the fluff to the important stuff.” Like so many things in life and real estate, I gained some perspective when the shoe was on the proverbial other foot.

Part of my job as a real estate agent is to see past the fluff, so when I am helping clients, I am logical and practical when looking at houses. “You know it’s not going to look like this without all this stuff,” and “these features are just cosmetic and don’t justify the price being that high,’ are phrases I’ve often repeated to clients who just went starry eyed over gorgeous staging and have completely forgotten that the roof looks a little suspect and how old was that hot water heater again? I’ve seen staging convince people they really don’t need that fourth bedroom (yes they do) or a 45 minute commute to work won’t be THAT bad (yes it will.)

So when I was browsing a few houses for myself this weekend, I didn’t expect to be so easily swayed by nice smells, boxwood wreaths, and fluffy pillows, but here we are. I bit, and I bit hard on a house that doesn’t really meet my essential checkboxes, but the staging was such HGTV perfection, I had already mentally moved in and was relaxing on the luxurious ivory sofa with my dog, reading a book while my kids were far, far away on the other side of the house, having fun playing Fortnite in the sunroom.

Luckily my significant other was there, playing the role of Melanie, real estate agent, saying “You know all this stuff isn’t going to stay in the house right?” and “Is this really the bathroom you want? The closet isn’t any bigger than the one you have now.” I reluctantly agreed that he was right, but I still went and looked at the house again. I’m trying to let it go, but I’m still thinking about how cute that “blessed.” wall art was in the dining room.

Staging works so effectively because it appeals to all the emotions that are wrapped up in making a place home. Marketing 101 tells us that most purchase decisions are based first on emotion and then justified by logic. So as a homeowner who wants to sell, appealing to those emotions is a powerful way to give your home an advantage. As a buyer, just make sure you bring along a cool headed real estate pro or a sensible significant other to help you balance those warm fuzzy feelings with practicality so you find the perfect mix of the two.

This post originally appeared as a column in The Livingston Parish News