Real Estate

NAR President: Reality TV Shows Give Buyers Unrealistic Expectations

Just over half of listing agents believe staging boosts how much buyers will offer, but about the same share don’t actually stage. Meanwhile, agents report TV shows leave buyers with impractical notions of how homes should look.

Just over half of listing agents in a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors said that staging a property increased its dollar value, but the same survey found that about the same share of Realtors don’t actually stage homes. At the same time, the survey found TV shows influence buyer expectations of how homes should look.

NAR’s biennial 2021 Profile of Home Staging found that 52 percent of listing agents reported an increase on the dollar value offered by buyers on staged homes in comparison to similar, but unstaged homes with the biggest chunk reporting an increase of 1 to 5 percent. About a fifth of listing agent respondents (19 percent) said they thought staging a home had no impact on its dollar value while 28 percent were not sure.

Source: NAR

The survey, fielded online in January, included responses from 2,347 active Realtors. They survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 2.02 percent.

Just over half of listing agents (53 percent) said staging a home decreased its time on market while 17 percent said it had no impact on time on market and 14 percent said they didn’t know if it had an impact. Just under a fifth (17 percent) said they thought staging increased time on market.

Source: NAR

But only 31 percent of seller agents said they stage all of their listings and 21 percent said they stage only listings that are difficult to sell or listings in a high price bracket. At the same time, 53 percent said they don’t stage homes, though most of those agents said they do suggest that the seller declutter and/or fix property faults.

Source: NAR

On the other side of the transaction, 82 percent of buyer agents said staging made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home. Just under half of buyer agents (49 percent) said staging a home increased the dollar value offered. Just over a quarter (26 percent) said they thought staging had no impact on the value offered while 25 percent weren’t sure.

Source: NAR

“Staging a home helps consumers see the full potential of a given space or property,” said Jessica Lautz, NAR’s vice president of demographics and behavioral insights, in a statement. “It features the home in its best light and helps would-be buyers envision its various possibilities.”

The vast majority of both buyer and listing agents also said having photos, videos and virtual tours on a listing was more important since the beginning of the pandemic.

Jessica Lautz

“At the start of the pandemic, in-person open house tours either diminished or were halted altogether, so buyers had to rely on photos and virtual tours in search of their dream home,” Lautz said. “These features become even more important as housing inventory is limited and buyers need to plan their in-person tours strategically.”

The most commonly staged rooms are living rooms, kitchens, master bedrooms and dining rooms. Of those listing agents who stage, the biggest share (49 percent) used a staging service while 26 percent personally offered to stage the home and 26 percent said it depends on the situation. When using a staging service the median cost was $1,500 compared to a median $300 when the listing agent personally staged the home.

Real estate-related TV shows have some impact on how buyers view a potential home, according to the survey. Nearly two-thirds, 63 percent, of Realtor respondents said at least some of their buyers thought their eventual home should look like the homes staged on television, according to NAR. More respondents (68 percent) said at least some of their buyers were disappointed by how homes looked compared to those seen on TV shows.

Charlie Oppler

The vast majority of respondents (71 percent) said such TV shows set unrealistic or increased expectations of the buying process while 61 percent said that the shows set higher expectations of how homes should look. Just over a quarter (27 percent) said TV shows result in more educated homebuyers and sellers.

“The magic of television can make a home transformation look like it happened in a quick 60-minute timeframe, which is an unrealistic standard,” said NAR President Charlie Oppler in a statement.

“I would advise buyers and sellers alike that before house hunting or before listing, they connect with a trusted Realtor to get a reasonable sense of what’s out there and an idea of what to expect.”

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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