staging and pre-listing inspections


Liz Jenkins


I recently went on a staging consult for a realtor and her client to evaluate what was going on with this house. It had sat on the market for over a year with barely a showing. This realtor just got the listing, as the original agent wasn’t doing a whole lot. There were a lot of the usual culprits such as bad floral wallpaper in the kitchen, a poor staging job (done by the realtor – some realtors are pretty good stagers too – but this one – yikes!), dingy windows, overgrown and poorly maintained landscaping, etc.

One of my first recommendations for this 10 year old house was a pre-listing inspection, primarily because of numerous maintenance issues I noted such as light fixtures hanging off of the exterior, needed caulking in the bathrooms, funky odor in the house. The realtor brought it up as well – and, as it turns out, for good reason. The inspector found some significant structural concerns, a pretty major leak in the crawl space from the dishwasher, quite a few electrical and roofing issues, and almost fractured his ankle in a concealed hole in the backyard.

The out-of-town owner was initially a bit freaked out by the report but once she calmed down and looked at it more clearly, she realized that it’s better to know NOW what the buyers inspector may find. This particular inspector is extremely thorough (full disclosure: he’s my husband – so I do know how picky he is) but that’s what you want. You do not want to be stuck in a situation, especially in today’s market, with a legitimate contract that gets blindsided by an inspection bringing to light all of the things you should have know up front – and corrected. No inspector can find everything but taking care of these issues ahead of time can end up saving the deal in the end. Savvy realtors know this – the ones who are really looking out for their clients.

Being extremely familiar with inspections, especially pre-listings, we have seen everything from mold to wild animals living in crawl spaces, to major leaks under showers to serious electrical issues. None of these things would be really obvious to someone living in the house (except the wild animals, maybe!) but imagine how this looks to the buyer!

So get that inspection done – take care of as many issues as you can – and help keep the contract you get. Staging can only get you so far – personally, I’d rather you took care of the inspection issues before I did any staging. A solid, well maintained house is the one that sells . . . and stays sold.