Six real estate myths debunked

Ann Hannah, Don R. Campbell and Ron Abraham
Ann Hannah, Don R. Campbell and Ron Abraham

By Toby Welch

“There are so many real estate myths out there that people take as being the gospel,” says Ron Abraham, president of the Ontario Real Estate Association. REM recently asked three people in the industry about some of these real estate perceptions.

1. Houses that are professionally staged sell for more than non-staged homes.

“Staging a home can add dollars to a property’s sold price but it is more important for the property’s features and functions to show well,” says Ann Hannah, president of the Toronto Real Estate Board. “Allocating funds toward a new countertop, a fresh paint job or a good cleaning may in fact be money more wisely spent.”

2. Realtors don’t make any money in first six months.

“You cannot make a blanket statement that says that nobody will earn any money in the first six months in real estate,” says Abraham. “There are some people who don’t make any money in their entire career in real estate. Some people are very successful in their first two months and then do nothing. Other people are not successful for a year and then they blossom.

“When we instruct classes to prepare new people coming into the business, we say you should be prepared for no income for six months. The theory is if you get a listing in your first week and it sells within the next 90 days and it doesn’t close for another 90 days, there is your six months. But it is a myth that Realtors do not make anything in the first six months, generally speaking.”

3. Buying any real estate is a great investment.

“Buy any property as an investment is definitely a myth. Not only is it wrong; it can be financially ruinous,” says Don R. Campbell, a Canadian-based real estate investor and founding partner of the Real Estate Investment Network and Cutting Edge Research. “This myth is often perpetrated by those in the business of selling real estate and has been debunked over and over, only to be re-invigorated when it serves those who are trying to sell properties that make current poor investments,” he says.

“One key determinant for any property purchase is: Is it speculation or is it an investment? A property that does not carry itself through the income it generates is speculative. That doesn’t make it wrong, but it does add a much higher level of risk. A property with income that not only covers all operations and financing costs but also provides an income is a true investment. With this additional income, you can afford to hang on if a market doesn’t perform on the equity appreciation side – without this income the emotional and financial roller-coaster is much more violent and in fact can throw you right off the tracks,” says Campbell.

He says a good question to decide if the property is worth adding to your portfolio is: “ ‘If I bought 10 of these and the market stayed flat, would I still be getting closer to my overall financial goal – or would it hurt badly?’ If it is getting you closer, then it is worth grabbing. If it isn’t, then it is a speculative purchase with high risk,” says Campbell.

4. Choosing to sell your home yourself instead of using a Realtor will save you money.

“Homeowners who choose to sell a property on their own should consider that for the most part, buyers prefer not to negotiate directly with sellers,” says Hannah. “Buyers might, for example, have reservations as to whether homeowners are representing the condition of the property in a forthright manner. More importantly, those who use the services of a Realtor can do so with the confidence that they are entering into one of their life’s most significant transactions with a knowledgeable professional who is governed by rules, regulations and legislation. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for.”

5. Spring is the best time to purchase a new house.

“That will depend on the market,” says Abraham. “Is spring the best time to buy a home in a cottage market? No – the best time for a cottage market may be in October or November when there isn’t as much activity. A lot depends on the kind of market that that particular area is enjoying or not enjoying. Many people feel that spring is a good time because if you buy a home in spring and you don’t close the deal until the end of June, the kids are out of school. Or you close the deal between the end of June and before September so you move before the kids go back to school. You don’t want to start them in school in September and have to move them around December. For a family with young children, that might be an easier way to buy a home but it doesn’t make this myth a blanket statement,” he says.

6. Homes with pools are harder to sell.

“Homes with pools can narrow the interest of buyers, particularly when they have young children, says Hannah. “Buyers don’t always want the risk or the upkeep of a pool. Conversely, buyers who want a pool generally regard it as a bonus. If there is a pool, it is best if it is situated on a lot that is big enough to accommodate both a pool and a backyard recreation space such as a patio for entertaining.”

Sometimes it pays off to not believe every myth you hear.


  1. The comment in the article about staging is just poorly written. No one has ever stated that staging a home “instead of” maintenance and updating would bring the seller more money. Of course you would start there.
    When someone relies on information .. they expect that you are comparing apples to apples .. in other words .. with all things being equal.
    A staged well maintained home will sell for more money than a well maintained home that is not staged.

  2. As a stager, it is so disheartening to read that the REAs that we look to be part of a seller’s team and working in their best interests, that some are in fact, not… I truly hope that you represent a very small group of REAs otherwise future sellers are in big trouble!

    In addition to the facts written by my colleagues, I have to add that all the important aspects included in the function of staging, least of all throwing pillows on a sofa, add up to one very important goal: marketing a homes features and demonstrating its benefits in an effort to sell a client’s property so that it gets them what they deserve, the most amount of money in the least amount of time.

    Note: you are not required to have supporting documentation to write an article as noted previously, but you are foolish and irresponsible, if you don’t!

    • Hi Catherine:

      I harbour no disrespect toward your vocation, nor toward your person, when I challenge your reasoning (inherently faulty reasoning in my opinion) regarding the absoluteness of your assertion that ‘…future sellers are in big trouble!” if they do not use the services of home stagers in conjunction with listing Realtors’ services, across the board… going forward.

      The thrust of your theory is that without the services of a home stager a seller will not realize the best price for one’s property within a reasonable amount of time on the market. The implication, therefore, is that all sellers going back decades upon decades have not realized the best selling prices for their properties because home stagers, who ostensibly add value to properties via sellers acting on their advice, did not exist until relatively recently. Therefore, your theory implies that home prices have been distorted negatively over time in relation to perceived values without the benefits of stagers’ inputs, and that this scenario will continue on into the future if stagers are not employed across-the-board by sellers. This theory does meet the litmus test in my opinion.

      Speaking from the standpoint of a former practicing real estate appraiser, affiliated with the Appraisal Institute of Canada, the ‘buyer’ establishes the selling price of a property, not the seller. Many people confuse the terms ‘value’ and ‘price’. N’ere the twain shall meet; the two terms are mutually exclusive one to the other.

      ‘Value’ is nothing more than an esoteric term used by folks to estimate a property’s worth, before the fact of actually selling said property. Real estate appraisers are hired, for a fee (not a commission based upon estimated ‘value’) to render an ‘opinion of value’. Said stated value is subjective in nature, based upon said appraiser’s personal preference of application of comparables for dollar adjustment calculations. Any three appraisers conducting appraisals on a single subject property most always arrive at different values for said property. Ergo, value becomes an esoteric, theoretical, fluffy, subjective term.

      ‘Price’ on the other hand becomes a hard and fast reality after-the-fact of a closed sale. Home stagers’ potential inputs aside, savvy purchasers who use savvy buyer-agent Realtors in pursuit of acquiring the best properties for the best (lowest) prices inevitably transact the best deals, based upon the simple fact that the best Realtors are the best negotiators who can/do advise their buyer-clients to look beyond/beneath the superficial staging constructs, or lack thereof, of a listed property, professionally paid for and staged, or not. The buyer always has the power, whether he/she realizes it or not, in a negotiation process. The buyer can choose from amongst many desirable properties to throw low first offers at, in an effort to find out who will bite, regardless of whether properties have been staged or not, whereas a seller has only one, his/her own, property, to sell. The seller is almost always the most anxious of the buyer-seller equation.

      Sellers want money, fast, for their only significant asset. Buyers get to choose from ‘many’ such sellers’ assets, at their own leisure, if they are smart, and start the process early with a smart, ethical Realtor acting as wingman/woman.

      Professional staging practices theoretically work only in instances where sellers don’t have a clue regarding what it takes to properly display their properties in pursuit of selling same for the acquisition of the best prices within reasonable amounts of time. This particular reality unfolds when the poorly seller-researched/chosen listing Realtors fail to launch, so to speak. Incompetent, naive sellers sometimes tend tend to hire incompetent Realtors masquerading as pros via slick marketing campaigns, I am sad to say. This is the field-of-dreams wherein Professional Stagers earn their livelihoods… in my less than humble opinion. In the above unfortunate scenario ‘only’, going forward, a good stager can indeed appear to help an incompetent seller-Realtor combination.


  3. I thought realtors were deluded re the limited expertise they bring to the table but that was before I encountered my first “stager”. These two groups deserve each other but sellers should be under no illusions as to limited value of the service that either group provides.

    • Hi John:

      Unfortunately, you likely have come across a random cross-section of Realtors (the seventy-percenters destined for failure who have been in the game less than five years) that falls into the category of fairly recent products of Organized Real Estate’s revolving door, spit ’em out, collect their dues, watch ’em fail, do it all over again with another batch, policy.

      Had you been fortunate enough to have retained an experienced professional Realtor who had brought to the table years and years of real estate related experience ‘prior to’ becoming a Realtor, in conjunction with an attitude befitting a professional practitioner, you might have been a commentator professing the benefits of having enjoyed said Realtor’s augmentation of your fiduciary interests, as others have done herein over the years.

      Professional Realtors do not grow on trees, or simply sprout from real estate schools ready to bloom. Too many blown-in-the-wind weed seeds are encouraged to germinate within and ultimately contaminate the over-planted garden of non-fertile soil… thanks to ORE’s policy of sending inexperienced, poorly educated cannon-fodder masquerading as newbie Realtors, the seventy-percenters, to their inevitable career dead-end sidings, all the while foisting same on the unsuspecting, trusting public via slick (they think), read “goofy”, national TV marketing ads.

      Don’t blame the wannabes for trying their hand at the roulette wheel; blame the ‘house’ that controls the game. The name of the house’s game is money… lots of money… soon to be plucked from impending amature Realtor failures’ pockets for the most part. But hey… who cares… there’s plenty more chaff where they came from. But there is not plenty more public tolerance for this ongoing misrepresentation by ORE. There certainly should not be much tolerance left on the part of the thirty percenters, the ‘real’ professional Realtors, who are besmirched by their own umbrella organizations’ (run by salaried bureaucrats) lack of accountability to its most important paying supporters… the pros… the good guys/gals.

      Trying to turn the seventy percent of sow’s ears into the thirty percent of silk purses, will never work in the public interest, in the wannabes’ interests, nor in the thirty percenters’ interests. This formula works only in the OREcrats’ interests.

      My apologies to you John, on behalf of the true professional Realtors, who also have to work with the seventy percenters.


  4. As someone currently looking to sell and buy a house, I can certainly see the value in the easy low cost improvements to make a house presentable and attractive (decluttering, cleaning, painting). But costly improvements such as countertop, cabinets, windows, etc are a definite turnoff. Even if I didn’t like the current countertop (for example), I’d rather pay to replace it with my own choice after I move in, instead of being stuck with someone’s cheap cosmetic fix-up. Particularly an issue with a “same owner 50 years” house, where the kids figure a few cheap fixes will help get a higher price from mom&dads old house.

    • (Prior post to PED, Meg)

      PED – ABSOLUTELY CORRECT! A case in point, would-be sellers were very seriously discussing updating their twenty year old kitchen and figured if they invested 40-50k they would get more for their house and recover the cost plus.

      They were mortified when I very strongly advised against it. Suggested using some old-fashioned ‘spit and polish,’ arranged for a spectacular cleaning crew, although the house was generally tidy. Light bulbs got polished – lol – or changed. Drapes cleaned. Windows sparkled… toilets looked like new, no more rust stains.

      Wow! House sold pronto for highest price in the subdivision at the time, in a down market with multiple offers. I still recall one of the offer-makers literally leaving rubber on the road/street when his agent informed him that even over list price, he didn’t get the property.

      Owners of course were thrilled with the (priceless) advice. However, having saved all the kitchen money, they were in a fine advantageous position to offer extra to the co-op brokerage. It worked fantastically well in their favour. No staging required – AND no reno’s.

      I’m not against stagers at all… but rarely have suggested, truthfully. But I do recognize they have a place in the industry. Some are more skilled than others, just like within our own industry.

      Cordially as always,
      Carolyne L

  5. OK Here are the REAL Myths that the licensed REALTORS above legally cannot tell the public.

    #1 -All REALTORS are the same and will get you the same results no matter who you choose.

    #2- Partial Representation is the same as Full Representation

    #3- Unlicensed and Unregulated businesses assisting in the sale of real estate are held to the same Legal accountability as those who are licensed and regulated.

    #4- The Listing Agent or any Agent working at the Listing Brokerage can get you the lowest price and the best terms.

    #5-Statistics and Market Trends that are released by MLS Associations or any non-profit serving them, have a legal requirement to protect Buyers as a fiduciary duty and not Sellers ONLY.

    #6-National, Provinical, Regional, Local, Real Estate Pricing and Market Trends are valid for individual sub-divisions, home styles and price points, within a 2 minute walk of your own home.

    Finally, I would like to add #7 as in 2013 it really cures all the problems above.

    #7-Listing Agents are able to negotiate Buyer Agent Fees for Buyers Agents without having any impact on the salability of the home.

    • Ross some good point. A couple of more myths –

      Signing a buyer agency agreement guarantees the very best in real estate service for buyers.

      As your buyer’s agent there is NO cost to you for my services. They are FREE.

      It doesn’t cost more to list with the best.

      • All I can say to all of that is LOL. ON what basis do you say any of that? Are we just supposed to believe you the same way we believe in leprecauns and unicorns?

  6. Actually, there is a huge difference between a full service (or as you put it traditional) Realtor, and a Realtor who sells a mere posting, and yes these differences can usually be reflected in the price…but not always.
    For starters, if you are simply providing a mere posting, you are not representing the seller, and should not be acting as such. If you want to provide that type of service, then legally and ethically you should put it in writing and be legally accountable for the advice and representation you provide…it’s totally up to you what you charge. You could be doing it for a commission, or a flat fee, or free if you like, but it needs to be a documented and fully disclosed listing/representation agreement.
    Generally, I think that Realtor animosity against mere posters is warranted. I have seen way too many unsuspecting FSBO sellers hoodwinked into a huge upfront fee just to throw a listing up on the public mls website without being educated about how organized real estate really works, and are led to believe that the value is in being on a website as opposed to being a part of the mls system and network of agents with buyers. It’s dishonest and reflects badly on the whole industry.

    I do agree with the rest of your comment about staging though…well said.

  7. Here is my staging advice:

    If it’s dirty… clean it.

    If it’s really worn out… replace it.

    If it’s broken… fix it.

    If it smells… deodorize it.

    If the paint’s cracked, faded or ghastly… repaint it… with a neutral colour. It will be painted over again by the buyer anyway.

    If you have to walk around it… move it.

    Leave every single light on in the house, day or night, when showings occur.

    If the grass is longer than 2 1/2 inches… cut it.

    If the snow has turned to ice on the walk… salt it… chop it… get rid of it.

    Cars in the driveway?… move them to the street… another street.

    Plant flowers across the front of the house… preferably flowers in full bloom (summer).

    If you have a pet pig… send it to a farm (I had a listing whereby the sellers had a pet pot-bellied pig living with them… like a cat or dog).

    If you have chrome chains attached to the posts of your four-poster bed… undo them and hide them until the showing is over (I showed a home wherein the tenant had chains attached to her four bed posts. The inspecting buyer wife spotted them and abruptly walked out while the husband an I tittered as we examined the locks).

    Finally, the most important staging advice in the whole wide world:

    If you have done all of the above, can’t afford to spend any more money up front, and after six weeks you have experienced numerous showings, but no offers, or only one lowball offer… lower your asking price. Your house has been/is being shown to sell the buyer agent’s own listing which will be the next showing after yours… for effect.

    Everything/anything will sell within a reasonable amount of time if the price is right. Just remember Bob Barker.

    There is a buyer for everything out there…as is… without speculative up front spending on the item for sale.

    Brian… about to be upstaged… again… methinks.

    • No question about it. Best advice on REM, in general, in ages, Brian.

      New agents: copy and print and post it over your desk. I’m certain Brian would not be offended if you shared it with your clients (well – some of it – lol)… not sure about the chains story, but Brian always has a memorable addition within posts.

      Back in the Tuesday morning Royal LePage office meetings in the 80’s, followed by tours of new listings, more than once, the sellers forgot we were coming en masse, and found agents in their bedrooms, complete with sellers in various states of undress, still at home, some snoring loudly.

      I was a contributing writer at the American online industry news, RealtyTimes, for several years, and one of my most read articles was titled: “First Impressions” wherein a few of the items in Brian’s post appeared also. The Editor at the time, Blanche Evans out of then Grapevine, TX kindly asked permission to reprint it in her first real estate textbook. Useful info for all sellers and buyers, too.

      A visiting relative of a seller, here from Montreal, who had her own home on the market there, asked if she could take the copy found in my seller’s home, back home with her to show her agent. Brian is right, as he often is: re-read his post. Experienced agents as well as newbies…

      Carolyne L

    • Great advice Brian. That’s bang on. See! Another thing we agree on. So what do you typically charge for that advice?

      • HWR:

        Re your very interesting question: “What do you typically charge for that advice?”

        I have never charged anything for unsolicited advice at any time throughout my life to date. The only times that I was compensated up front/after-the-fact for solicited advice were when I was being paid for services rendered on a salaried basis, for example: when I was a paid hockey referee during my teens; when I was a conciliator with a provincial government agency; when I was a licensed steamfitter being paid by the hour by customers whilst repairing their old systems or installing their new systems; when I was a fee-for-services real estate appraiser giving advice to clients whilst in the process of inspecting their properties etc.

        A Realtor, who is compensated via commissioned contractual obligation ‘only’ vis a vis a listing agreement whereupon monies are forthcoming to the Realtor’s brokerage ‘only’ if the subject property is ‘sold’ in accordance with the listing contract’s stipulations, either via pre arranged or via agreed upon contractual change ups, as the case may be, inevitably gives any and all advice “free”ly to his/her seller before, during, and after a successful, or unsuccessful, carrying out of the terms of the listing agreement. Being paid by way of an agreed upon commission rate ‘only’ upon successful ‘completion’ of the terms of said agreement implies that everything that a Realtor does under the terms of a listing contract is done for free… including the giving of advice. If the subject property does not sell, no money is forthcoming. That is the risk that a traditional Realtor undertakes. If the property does sell, the Realtor in question then, and ‘only’ then, gets paid, whether the seller heeded and acted positively upon the Realtor’s pre-closing categories of advice or not.

        Contrast the above payment-for-success-only compensation plan to that of a FSBO/mere posting outfit’s, which charges folks up-front fees for such things as: an upload of one’s listing on someone else’s privately owned/paid-for MLS via a federal government-agency-backed highjacking maneuvered tactic; for a couple of $10.00 “For Sale” signs, for some forms that can be downloaded from the internet for free; for “advice” at the end of a telephone line from generic sales people who have no vested interest in whether or not the already-paid-for advice, for better or worse, actually results, if heeded and acted upon, in the sale of the subject property, or not. In the former construct, advice is always free. In the latter construct, advice is never free.

        I trust that my long-winded (as usual) reply answers your question.

        My advice, as it most always has been, as it is now, and likely mostly will be going forward, has, is, and will be, free for the asking… or, free, just for the hell of giving it unsolicited.

        Good question HWR.

        May the floodgates of disagreement now open.


  8. Relax people! Mrs Hannah doesn’t need to provide. She made a general statement. Staging can come in many forms from a simple clean and declutter, to rearanging the home owners furniture, or removing some unwanted furniture to a complete stage. Rarely do I need to suggest a complete staging.

    And don’t listen to guys like Ross km who love to use fear and exageration to stir the pot. General advice and opinion doesn’t require anything as he might suggest. The truth is there’s a time to bring in a stager and times when you don’t have to and an experienced, honest and ethical Realtor will help you with that…oh but only if they charge full fees! Because good advice is limited only to a “traditional Realtor” charging “traditional fees”. :))))) ahh Ross you kill me!

  9. As Ross K suggested, Ms.Hannah should simply just release all her evidence and proof on this statement so everyone could see the facts supporting her statement.

    Also, There are many realtors who don’t believe in staging, and that’s their personal choice. However, as a business person wouldn’t they want to believe in partnerships? The reality is traditional real estate is more competitive than ever; FSBO’s and discount brokerages are able to offer more value to sellers than ever before.

    Realtors working in traditional real estate are thinking outside the box are ramping up their value in more ways now than ever. A Stagers job adds tremendous value for both the realtor and the homeowner. “Longtimer” has apparently been staging and offering advice to sellers for years, with success. Take it from a long timer in the industry, staging works. The question is who should the advice come from?

    Realtors can take their own photos as well and can choose not to hire a photographer, but what end result it better?

  10. Ross K, do you have “supporting documentation and proof to support your comments before you post them here”… “An action against mere posters and FSBO providers.”

    :)))) Really?

  11. Myth #7: Ethics are not important. Quite the contrary, says Martin Brainfail, who unequivocally believes that “ethics are the only things that matter”.

    • Great point ross k. if you are an agent… give me your info, i will work with you. Ethics should be the only thing that matter, but when dealing with two agents who offer you the results of a home inspection from another client of there’s who just completed it but could only offer asking… You realize not all have ethics. However when they then telling you. Do not worry we are the selling agent and always have the last kick at the can for offering on the house if there are multiples.,. Disappointing! But when your ethics are strong and let them know you are going with a different agent, from there own office, because your not comfortable and want protection and there response is… Well now you stand no chance and your not getting your dream house… I can totally understand why the perception in the world that real estate agents are bottom feeders! This article should have started with myth #1 – all agents are ethical. And if it followed up to say there are bad ones and we should fight for a consistent method of collecting offers when the selling agent has a buyer that is truly transparent, them I would start to believe some agents do care… Otherwise… Bottom feeders and ambulance chaser… Forget myth, that is reality!

      • 36,000 realt estate agents in the GTA, 90,000 transactions in the GTA. Clearly not all agents are active or professional. Do your homework and make sure when you hire an agent you are hiring a full time, professional (they earn a living at their craft) agent. With these kinds of stats it’s obvious starving agents will lower the bar to get a meal.

      • Ross will do well by you. You would never have to fear being misrepresented. A kudo from a colleague in the same trading area. I would do business with him personally and refer clients to him, myself, knowing he stands behind everything he says and does.

        In fact when I leave the area completely eventually, he will take care of my clients then, too.

        Sincerely and unsolicited.
        Carolyne L

  12. Myth # 1 ~ It is clearly evident that my fellow staging colleagues have made valid points based on experience, their business statistics and those of our professional organization – RESA. In regards to comments referring that agents provide stagers with business, I would like to stipulate that current home sellers are very savvy and I have been approached by home sellers directly prior to listing with any agent and before an agent is selected. In these scenarios, the agent reaps the awards of such listings where the home is ‘move-in ready’. Should this be a growing trend where home sellers seek professional stagers initially, it may be advantageous if more professional real estate sales representatives reconsidered the benefits of home staging and include professional stagers within the team. There is no ‘I’ in the word TEAM.

  13. I think home staging could work either way, it really adds to the wow affect when the potential buyers first visit the home and if they are of an impetuous nature the staging may help in fetching a higher purchase price for the property but if the buyers are of a frugal nature it could go the other way.
    The myth that all Realtors are created equal is exactly just that. Experience, Education, and Accreditations vary among Real Estate Agents and does everyone always get their monies worth ? The answer to that varies with every closing. How many times have you worked on a deal with another agent and have had them say to you….” my dad was a realtor for twenty years” !
    I have heard something to that affect enough times to make the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up !
    I am an independent first generation completely self taught agent who has met and worked with agents from all walks of life, some good, some not so good and so Are All REALTORS { insert trademark here } created equal ?
    I say MYTH !

  14. I find reading all about “a staging'” most entertaining. I’m now into my 60th year as anactive agent and have never used or recommended a “professional home stager”. Any serious competent real estate agent worth his/her salt should KNOW how to have a house prepared for the market without invobing the Seller in even more expense. Replacing kitchen counters. cupboards, flooring, can be risky. The Stager might suggest something that he/she (the Stager) likes and it will be totally counter-productive. You are trying to guess what a”typical”buyer would like.
    Well really! How do you know a buyer wants granite counters, or corian or whether they wanty pastel or vivid colours. Furthermore Sellers don’t LIKE being told what to do! (It can make them look as though they are themselves way out of date and that there house is horrible. I speak from experience – one case long time ago I told a Seller (very delicately and diplomatically) that the plywood panelling in the family room was a real negative to buyers and that the kitchen cupboards in pine were no longer popular. HIs reply? “Well we’ve loved this house the way it is and we’ll find someone else who does and we’ll just wait. This is a good house and there is nothing wrong with it etc. etc.Let the buyers do their own changing if they want to”. So what am I supposed to do-argue with him??. He was actually insulted!! I since have learned how to handle “functional obsolescence”. I tell the proposed buyers (or the selling agents) that I have some price estimates from reliable contractors to install drywall on the family room; to re-do the kitchen- and samples of countertops etc.. Then the buyers recognize that we acknowledge that the house may need some upgrading and offer assistance to them in checking it out.
    Sellers are like husbands -they don’t like “being told what to do!”

    • Longtimer,
      You are entitled to your opinion;however sellers are relying on the advice of the realtor.

      If the house is dated, I think realtors have a professional responsibility to advise the sellers of this and the fact that this will affect the listing price & the offers they receive. If they don’t accept this advice, that is their prerogative, and the realtor has done their due diligence.

      If the sellers know their house is dated & may be willing to consider services like home staging, then it is in a realtor’s best interest to have business cards of professional stagers in the area who can advise the seller & make recommendations. Again, the seller has the option of not accepting the advice; however they cannot claim they were not given all of the facts by the realtor whose advice they are relying on to make one of the largest financial transactions.

  15. Before the comments get too far one way let me say Stagers being defensive is a knee jerk reaction to comments in Myth #1; people who have worked very hard to get recognition a) as an industry, b) as a value add service and c) as a collaborative service for selling property. As the leader in this industry ‘s growth and as a as a professional staging training company we teach a) stagers to collaborate with agents to partner in their business bringing a comprehensive supportive service to the seller b) we educate agents of the value complete staging work brings to the sale c) we educate stagers of the value real estate professionals provide d) we educate sellers of the value of real estate professionals often swaying a FSBO to use a professional. I would never write an article deterring sellers from using a real estate professional or a home inspector, mortgage broker etc- we are all vital to the service of selling property. Mutual respect is important. I have received several emails from real estate professionals who can not believe the initial comments have been made. What is at stake is the seller’s equity. When stagers work with sellers they are 100% focused on improving the property to secure the most equity at a price the buyer is willing to pay. Buyers willingly pay more money for move in ready property; – sometimes tens of thousands of dollars more and that is a fact. Buyers are influenced by TV more than ever before in history and what they see are old homes made new. In a world where service is being edged out by “lower price mania” and the growth of FSBO explodes let us support each other and recommend each other and provide a unified front to the seller.

    • Excellent response Christine Rae.

      Ms. Hannah is obviously not familiar with the work of the many talented home stagers in her area, or even what home stagers are capable of doing to a “tired” house.

      Education is key, as is professionals working together to ensure sellers get the best possible advice & service from all available resources as listed above.

      No professional realtor should close their mind to any service which will assist their sellers.

      • I would suggest that any ‘stager’ who recommends such extreme measures as a kitchen make-over is a RENOVATOR and not a stager.

    • Hey Jim, aren’t all REALTORS required to perpetuate that myth as required by the code of ethics and local MLS board regulations?

      Really no wonder the consumer believes you can actually pick an agent by the way they smile or how low of a fee they will charge and still get the same results of that highest price generating agent who works 24/7 for their clients.

      About time an independent body, which is not confined by the rules and regulations of ORE to start breaking that myth. Just like the Used Car Dealers associations that started to separate their dealerships from the Curbsiding thieves, maybe an action against mere posters and FSBO providers could be launched?

      Now ORE could not legally act in such a manner but an independent body could. Hmmmmmm……….

  16. Stagers should refrain from taking a defensive posture and attacking the professionals you rely upon for the future of your business. Any agent who has minimally listed and sold over 100 homes, held 100 Open Houses, garnered feedback from Over 1000 potential home buyers and who is able to share and learn from 10000’s of similarly qualified professionals, certainly has a level of credibility and expertise that is impossible for anyone else to possess.

    When Ms. Hannah makes the comments she has above, she is required by law to have supporting documentation and proof to support those comments before it ever appears in print.

    Professional Agents counsel their sellers on Renovation, Preparation and Staging of any home they list. Confusing Renovation or Preparation or Staging with one another can cause serious harm to a seller. There is also a cost/reward discussion that must take place when these items are rationally discussed by professional agents with sellers to ensure the Financial RISK associated with any Renovation, Preparation or Staging, has been correctly communicated and fully disclosed.

    The “evidence” supported by over 500,000 MLS posted listings yearly by Professional Agents in Canada, is that the home seller needs a professional agent to act as an intermediary when considering the comments and advice of others who have NO LEGAL requirement to communicate all the facts to them or make appropriate disclosures to them.

    Current Stagers should never forget that Professional Agents are the ones who first started the Staging phenomenon. Most Professional Agents are more than qualified to “Stage” a home as they are the ONLY ONES to deal with 1000’s of Buyers. Yes, some now choose to “outsource” that part of their service, as they have with photography, sign placement, marketing materials, etc., for whatever reason they have decided is prudent to their business.

    Another comment, is that Professional Agents acting in the capacity of a licensed sales professional, are not able to take “kickbacks” or referral fees that are common in the Staging industry. Be careful when you criticize a professional that is so governed by provincial and national legislation.

    Ms. Hannah’s statements above are 100% accurate and could be supported with evidence from millions of SOLD homes results in Ontario alone.

    What Home Stagers are missing is the opportunity to act intermediary as an impartial consultant to the Professional Agent. It is difficult for a Professional Agent who is required to build rapport and confidence in their Seller Clients, to tell the “Lady of the Home” that those expensive wall and window treatments she is so proud of, need to be torn down and replaced with “dreary and plain” treatments current for 2013. Agents, by outsourcing this part of their service, can allow an “outsider” to make often “hurtful” comments about a persons most personal space, and allow the Agent to remain separate from one of the most emotional interactions that is required during a sales process.

    • Outstanding!

      Stagers should not be determining (advising) a seller what updates and renovations are needed the most , why they need to do it or evaluating all aspects of the home.

      A stager’s job is to advise the seller as to the best way to showcase all features of the home so as to appeal to the most buyers possible under the guidance of the Realtor. Too often sellers will sink money into renos or upgrades that are not only unnecessary but will not return a profit on their costs or net them anymore than had the renos and upgrades not been done.

      • PED – ABSOLUTELY CORRECT! A case in point, would-be sellers were very seriously discussing updating their twenty year old kitchen and figured if they invested 40-50k they would get more for their house and recover the cost plus.

        They were mortified when I very strongly advised against it. Suggested using some old-fashioned ‘spit and polish,’ arranged for a spectacular cleaning crew, although the house was generally tidy. Light bulbs got polished – lol – or changed. Drapes cleaned. Windows sparkled… toilets looked like new, no more rust stains.

        Wow! House sold pronto for highest price in the subdivision at the time, in a down market with multiple offers. I still recall one of the offer-makers literally leaving rubber on the road/street when his agent informed him that even over list price, he didn’t get the property.

        Owners of course were thrilled with the (priceless) advice. However, having saved all the kitchen money, they were in a fine advantageous position to offer extra to the co-op brokerage. It worked fantastically well in their favour. No staging required – AND no reno’s.

        I’m not against stagers at all… but rarely have suggested, truthfully. But I do recognize they have a place in the industry. Some are more skilled than others, just like within our own industry.

        Cordially as always,
        Carolyne L

  17. It is unfortunate that the very first myth listed here referring to home staging includes a statement that clearly shows that agent’s lack of understanding of what real estate staging actually is. As a professional home stager, I can assure you that it is not about simply decorating a home for sale, but preparing it. In fact, a common myth in home staging is that it is simply decorating. Home staging is about viewing a home from a buyer’s perspective and determining where updates and repairs are needed most, in addition to furniture placement to optimize the space in a room. Not only do we advise sellers what updates we recommend for selling their home, but why they need to do it. We then address setting their home up properly through a thorough evaluation of all aspects of the home. A home can have all of the recommended updates but be buried by oversized appliances, accessories and over-furnished rooms. Upgrades are great, but if the buyers can’t see them past the homeowner’s personal effects, then the return on this investment is lost. I am shocked that the President of the Real Estate Board in Toronto does not understand this industry better. Home Staging has been helping homeowners to sell their homes for decades and I am disappointed that a real estate “expert” would have such a gross misunderstanding of what home staging is really about. For a better understand of what home staging is, I encourage you to visit my Frequently Asked Questions, where you will find all of your home staging questions answered, and myths debunked.

  18. I thoroughly enjoyed this article and fully support both Erin and Christine Rae.
    I believe that the Real Estate industry would largely benefit from getting to know and understand just exactly what Home Staging is about. Further, I would like to recommend that each agent attend an educational seminar on Home Staging.

    Christine Rae’s International Business Training Academy can do that for you.

    We’re in the same industry, let’s work together as a team and all parties, home owners, agents and stages alike will all reap the benefits.

    Team work, what a great way to work.


    Thanks for reading and have a great day!

      • Hi Mike,

        I’m sorry if I’ve offended you as that was not my intent.
        Nor was I being patronizing…not at all.

        My intentions were quite sincerely to encourage team work and some research or edification on Home Staging.

        Again, I apologize for any misunderstandings.

  19. I find it interesting that the top item (that of staging) gives a clear example of something a stager would recommend that would increase the value of the home. it’s obvious that the ‘expert’ clearly has no idea what a professional stager does or the overall process staging takes. A professional home stager knows it’s not all about ‘adding pretty furniture’ – it’s about adding value to a home so that the most buyers possible want to buy it. Staging is also a multi step process that first includes preparing the home properly for sale (otherwise it’s lipstick on a pig) and then setting up each key selling area to showcase function, appeal and flow throughout the home.

    In terms of how much more a staged home can sell for, I recommend using the statistics from RESA and CSP as they will give you a very clear idea of just how much $$’s staging can add to the sale of a home.

    It would have been helpful if you had actually gotten information from professional stagers in the area who would have given you a clearer picture rather than using the advice of someone who obviously has no idea what home staging is all about.

    For more information on home staging, visit us at

  20. As a Professional Home Stager, I would like to address “Myth” #1.

    During a Home Staging consultation, we address countertops, painting, cleaning and much much more. Many homeowners cannot view their homes objectively and without the guidance of a professional stager, do not even consider these necessary changes. They don’t realize that they should replace their kitchen countertop or paint the walls a more desirable colour. And beyond that, they don’t know what type or colour of countertop to get or how to pick a paint colour properly. So to list these items as if they have nothing to do with staging, under the topic that states staging does not always help a home sell for more money, is incorrect and ignorant. Before writing about what Home Staging is and isn’t worth, it would be best to actually research what is all involved.

    A professional Home Stager will always discuss with home sellers what their top recommendations are and which have the best return on investment. We usually have many solutions for sellers that are achieved with little to no money put out, but still result in positive changes throughout the home. We do a lot more than just add throw pillows to a couch.

    I think the President of the Toronto Real Estate Board should perhaps meet with the President of the Real Estate Staging Associations’ Toronto chapter and educated herself as to what all is involved when hiring the services of a Professional Home Stager. Especially before she provides quotes for articles in which she is misinforming readers about one of the most necessary Real Estate services out there.

  21. I couldn’t agree more with Ann Hannah regarding Myth #1 that the most important thing in selling a property is that its features and functions show well, and this is precisely the objective of home staging. As a home stager, providing recommendations on what the home owner can do to increase the value of the home is part of the staging process, rather than a separate piece. So recommending to paint (and which colours), recommending to change a counter-top, declutter, clean, etc., is all a part of the staging process and can be addressed through the consultation. Staging also involves working with the home’s furniture and decor to best show off and highlight the features of the home, and eliminate anything that may distract from these great features. Sometimes this involves changing out some of the furniture, or bringing in accessories. So while I disagree that staging does not help to increase the value of a property, I wholeheartedly agree that showing off a home’s best features is most important, and staging can do just that.

    Erin Lazer
    SpaceStyle Home Staging
    [email protected]

  22. Myth number one: real estate agents know what staging is! Staging is about CONDITION not decor. A great stager will recommend a home seller to upgrade kitchens and bathrooms, flooring, lighting etc BEFORE tackling placement of furniture etc. There is documented evidence time and time again of a FULLY prepared property bringing thousands of dollars over asking! Working with a professional who knows how to best use a budget, what buyers desire…AND the main problem we have is are real estate professionals telling sellers that staging isn’t necessary; when in deed it is vital to secure the highest return on their investment in the shortest time.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here