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Signs of a housing bottom in home staging

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

In this commentary at Bloomberg today, Caroline Baum stirs memories of the late, great housing bubble as it was inflating and looks at the current "home staging" mania.

When CondoFlip.com debuted in 2004, you knew housing was headed for a tumble.

Here was a Web site where customers could buy and sell, sight unseen, condominiums that had yet to be built. It was confirmation of the degree to which home prices had come untethered from housing fundamentals.

If CondoFlip.com represented the peak of the home-buying frenzy, the proliferation of “home staging” businesses to gussy up houses for sale may turn out to be a sign of a bottom. That would certainly validate the message from recent reports showing home sales and single-family starts moving sideways for the last four to six months and home prices falling at a slower pace.
Note that the panic buttons shown above didn't appear until Condoflip.com was about to turn into Condoflop.com, as BusinessWeek noted a few years back.

As for home staging, where we used to live, before the "Reduced Price" signs began popping up atop the For Sales signs, you'd often see "Newly Staged" as an enticement for potential buyers to come in.

What is home staging? Caroline explains...
The term, if not the concept, was new to me.

I was dimly aware that real estate agents rearrange the deck chairs in order to make a home appealing to prospective buyers, especially in a down market. But I had no idea there was such an animal as an Accredited Staging Professional, an ASP mission statement, books and courses on the subject and, what else, a reality TV show.

My education started when a press release for a new book, “Staging to Sell: The Secret to Selling Homes in a Down Market,” by Barb Schwarz, landed in my inbox.

The pitch included rave reviews -- a “must-read” -- testimonials by brokers on the secrets of Barb’s success, and compelling data: “Even in today’s slower housing market, 95 percent of staged homes sell, on average, in 35 days or less.” There was no indication what price those staged homes fetched.

At a minimum, the success rate would seem to offer more Hope for Homeowners than all the government programs combined.
There's lots more at Bloomberg - a sign of the times, to be sure.

2 comments:

donna said...

I think it probably does help. OTOH, it's a bitch to come in right before escrow is due to close and find everything trashed and dirty when it was clean and pretty a few weeks earlier, like we did when we bought. Yeah, we bought it anyway, but hubby didn't appreciate having to clean and paint everything for a week before we could move in.

Dan said...

Staging has been around for a long time. I can only imagine that these staging "professionals" saw the bubble and the bursting of, as business opportunities. I wouldn't connect any causality or indicator status to this at all.

Hell, in Hollywood, mostly during the bubble years, they literally staged with actors simulating "home life" - going about the house, grilling out in the back yard, etc. I once read a casting call for actors to fill an entire neighborhood's front yards to simulate the perfect outdoor grilling weekend for prospective buyers of houses on the block. In my opinion, this is all a stuffing of the bra; once you unclasp that bra, you're left with little to nothing of what you originally thought you had.

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