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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Annie’s Mailbox: House staging seems frivolous

Marcy Sugar and Kathy Mitchell Creators Syndicate

Dear Annie: The time has come for my husband and me to downsize. It has been 10 years since we’ve sold a home, and something seems to have become popular: “staging.”

I have been married 50 years and in that time have sold seven homes. Four of them sold to the first people who saw them, so I feel I have some insight into how to present your home for sale: Fresh paint where needed; an attractive yard and entry; clean windows, floors and rugs; heating and cooling units in good condition; and a minimum of personal items. But today, that doesn’t seem to be enough.

I am told by realtors that I must “stage.” I have to get rid of anything, including furniture and paintings, the stager deems offensive. I should set the table as though I am about to serve dinner, put out champagne and glasses by the bed, and basically set it like a model home. We are told this is what people expect.

Can this be true? What happens if the house doesn’t sell for a year? I’ll have to dust the dishes on the preset table for my imaginary guests and invest in a lot of champagne if I have to do this every time there is a showing. I’m all for new fluffy towels, but so many of the other suggestions seem frivolous. I pity someone with small children if this is what it takes to sell a house now. – Curious

Dear Curious: People who make their livings setting up homes for sale will of course try to convince you that you need to do this, but it’s all a matter of degree. A house that looks like a model home is going to create a more positive impression than one that looks unkempt. But most buyers expect a house to be in good shape structurally and include the elements they want. They’d rather see the toilets flush properly than have champagne by the bedside. This is why buyers should hire a reliable inspector before finalizing the sale. An attractive presentation is lovely, but it’s all gravy. Those who buy a home based primarily on a nice table setting deserve what they get.

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