Feb 02, 2010

Home Stagers a Casualty of the Down Economy

This doesn't seem to have made the headlines yet, but I know of at least a few home staging businesses that have gone under of late. Fewer people are selling their homes, so fewer home sellers are hiring stagers.
I found out about one such bankruptcy the most direct way possible -- I was in the process of buying a house in which the stager's furniture and decorations were being claimed by the bank foreclosing on the stagers's loan, and everyone was worried about whether the stager's property's fate would be decided in time for the closing.

That actually worked out nicely for me -- we ended up buying all the property from the bank for a very reasonable amount ,and moving into a fully furnished home!  But I may forever feel a twinge of sympathy as I look around at various objects that the stager had painstakingly collected, presumably over years of being in business. In other cases, I've seen ads for entire warehouses of stagers' furniture and property up for sale, cheap.

I'm not a fan of every stager's work, so in part I see this as a market correction rather than a tragedy. But having also recently seen the wonderful work that a home stager did in preparing my house for sale (that would be Ken McHale Design, in Berkeley), I'd encourage sellers to help keep the good ones afloat by hiring them -- and not pulling sneaky maneuvers like bringing them in for a free consultation knowing that you have no intention of paying them for anything more, a common complaint among stagers!

In a tough economy, a house that looks its best really can rise above the general market malaise, and a good stager can work magic in this regard.