A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

Book Review: Home Staging: The Winning Way to Sell Your House For More Money by Barb Schwarz

When I picked up this book, it had an unfortunate beginning for me. I was reminded of books that seem to be promoting their authors and their businesses, which I find do not contain much useful information, but I forged ahead.

Ms. Schwarz proclaims often that she is the creator of home staging, and she has created the program for Accredited Staging Professionals (ASP). Throughout the book, I felt that she was determined to have this profession regarded with the importance that she feels that it deserves. Let me disclose my bias: I have worked (and continue to work) on staging homes, and I do feel that this is a great benefit to the seller. I am not an ASP, and I only had a vague knowledge of Ms. Schwarz before sitting down to read this book. Although I have assisted people with staging their homes, I do not feel that my services or an ASP’s services are always necessary. I bought the book to see if it would be a good tool for some one planning to sell their home.

The simple answer to my quest is yes. The advice presented in this book about how to stage is sound and straight forward. The steps described for each room are creative, and she frequently gives examples of tasks that can be done with items around the house, or where to find staging materials cheaply. Much of the advice is similar to the article that I have on my website, but her photographs of before and after scenes are truly helpful (which I do not have). I also like the fact that she stresses the marketing aspect. Last night, I overheard a conversation where a person was complaining about keeping their home ready for potential sellers. It was a chore to clean up after parties and to take care of the house while he was travelling, and my distinct impression was that he did not consider the fact that he was offering a product which was competing against other products. The book deals with maintaining the house for a period of time.

My issue with the book is that some claims are made which do not portray an accurate picture. The author states that staging can bring in much more money when staged, in the realm of the ten thousands of dollars. Staging can cause a home to sell closer to the top end of market value, but claims of making a lot more on your sale by staging smack of get rich schemes that do not work. My wish is that these statements would have been toned down. My other concern was that part of this book was a marketing pitch to become an ASP or for Realtors to use an ASP. This part of the book would have been better left in Ms. Schwarz’ other work about starting a home staging business. These complaints of mine do not detract from the material about staging, which is very good. An interesting section offered maybe to fill out the work was about staging being used for everyday life. Not particularly bad as an idea, but even Ms. Schwarz makes the distinction that staging and decorating are two separate things.

Should you buy this book? If you are a Realtor or real estate investor who has not explored this topic, you may find that this book will be a great help to you. If you are a seller who is not using a Realtor, I would say that this book (or at least doing good research on this topic) could be beneficial to you. If you are a seller with a Realtor, and you need some ideas or something to have in hand, this book is good, but for most sellers this book is not necessary, and you will be able to obtain this information elsewhere.

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