Real Estate Staging / Home Staging Blog


Working with Seniors... requires some flexibility!

 Well I finally had my opportunity to talk about real estate staging to the group of seniors selling their homes. The auditorium was PACKED with an overflow crowd... to a point that there were those that needed to be turned away. To be honest I did NOT expect so many.

Upset and anxiety filled the room. You could feel that the folks attending were searching for help and answers. ANY answers on how to sell their homes. Boy was I glad I prapared my "staging" case.

The idea of staging a houses for its sale is still for most people a new concept. And... it has been my expirience that the SENIOR market is a little less accepting of new ideas. THAT, coupled with the facts that they have strong emotional ties to the homes they are selling, make seniors a tough "sell" for a stager.

To appreciate the benifits of staging, I knew I had to FIRST get them to accept the idea that their homes can no longer be THEIR "homes". I had to get them to understand the HOUSE vs. HOME concept. How did I do that... easy.  I started my talk from a place THEY knew and moved them to a place they never considered. You might say I bent their minds.

So we began with the common phrases:

  • - House sweet House.
  • - Be it ever so humble, there's no place like house.
  • - House is were the heart is.
  • - Welcome house.

A few chuckles later, and a quick discussion about how love created an emotional bond to THEIR house ultimatley making it THIER home, the audience began to see what I was saying.

So then to make a statement "YEARS AGO, you bought a HOUSE and turned it into your HOME" and then flip it "TODAY, to sell your HOME you must return it to being a HOUSE" was a concept they could get AND be open to.

Their new understanding helped to then move into my 7 Basic Principles of Staging and understainding of the neccessitiy of the 7 Tips I associate with each principal. The tips are...

  • TIP: Buyers infer a clean house has been kept in good repair.
  • TIP: Buyers are looking to buy a house that fits THEIR needs, lifestyle and personality... don't distract them with yours.
  • TIP: Store it, Sell it, or Trash it.
  • TIP: Bring a home inspector in PRIOR to listing, and fix problems before a buyer's inspector finds them.
  • TIP: Neutralize it... think beige thoughts.
  • TIP: Remove beautiful distractions.
  • TIP: The front doorway MUST be clean and welcoming.

Now the crowd of seniors could accept my closing statement: "Staging creates a blanker canvas for a buyer to start painting the picture of their own lives and make your HOUSE their HOME."

It took some flexing and bending... but in 25 minutes I got this group of seniors to wrap thier minds around the new concept of staging and how it CAN help them sell their HOUSES. (BOY, do THEIR realtors owe me... LOL).

stage it forward...

PS: The talk went SOOO well, I've been asked to do it ALL over in January 2007.

Here is a graphic I created to help TELL the story... you are all more than welcome to use it or adapt it.

Comment balloon 48 commentsCraig Schiller • November 20 2006 06:49AM


ALL good advice, I'm sure---but more importantly, has your fugitive nose been captured?
Posted by Boomer Jack Boardman & Carl McIntyre, the Codgers (Noted Curmudgeons) almost 14 years ago

Seniors are a tough crowd.  I've had a few opportunities to speak to seniors when I've run for office and Wow, do  I admire the fact you did it voluntarily!  Your realtors should give you an award!

And the photo is a classic. 

Posted by Linda Davis (RE/MAX Home Team) almost 14 years ago

  Has anyone seen the Lion Queen's AKA TLW's Crown?

The nose was recovered..... however it appears TLW's Crown has been reported missing!  We must search the Active Rain Kingdom and return it to Tutas-ville promptly before the Lion Queen realizes it is missing!

Posted by Allison Stewart, St. Cloud Fl Realtor, Osceola County Real Estate 407-616-9904 (St.Cloud Homes ) almost 14 years ago

Good Morning Craig-

Good job with the Seniors - not an easy group to pitch to!

Also -

Wait - I just saw 'the fugitive nose' heading south on I-95!


Posted by Marc Blasi almost 14 years ago
what a great story!  i bet there will be a lot more saleable homes because of you.  i might just steal that list of phrases you used to get things going-it's a good start to the thought process.
Posted by Leigh Brown, CEO, Dream Maker - Charlotte, NC (Leigh Brown & Associates, RE/MAX Executive) almost 14 years ago
Craig, You are the man. Your passion for, and knowledge of staging is inspirering.
Posted by Bryant Tutas, Selling Florida one home at a time (Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC) almost 14 years ago
"Remove beautiful distractions".......I love that phrase because it is a gentle and effective way to say "start packing up your knick knacks."
Posted by Judy Kincaid almost 14 years ago

Great post Craig.  Love the photo....

Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) almost 14 years ago
Ditto on the photo comment - and the elephant from the last one.  Excellent thoughts in the post, but not just for senior - for all sellers.
Posted by Gabriel Silverstein, SIOR (Angelic Real Estate, LLC) almost 14 years ago

I had to come back and look...I believe I took an exercise class with that woman about 6 or 7 years ago... 

30+ years younger than her and no way near as flexible. 

WAH !!!   

Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) almost 14 years ago
My Favorite Craig: You brilliantly wrote:

So then to make a statement "YEARS AGO, you bought a HOUSE and turned it into your HOME" and then flip it "TODAY, to sell your HOME you must return it to being a HOUSE" was a concept they could get AND be open to. 

That is huge. What a gentle but clear way to do it! And not just for seniors.....still smile at the visual in my head of you talking to the fine folks at that retirement center- before and after pictures like Bonnie just put on her rehabbed rental unit when it's all done in January?

Posted by Carole Cohen, Realtor, ePRO (Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office) almost 14 years ago
Craig, Good job...precise and to the point. I bet you even had fun...admit it, now...I bet they just loved you and what a head start they got so that when the Realtor does begin their job, hopefully your talk will echo in their mind and help reinforce what the Realtor explains.
Posted by Gena Riede, Real Estate Broker - Sacramento CA Real Estate (916) 417-2699 (Riede Real Estate, Lic. 01310792) almost 14 years ago

Craig excellent points.   I think that seniors most especially benefit from our services as I find so many of their homes very cluttered and with much deferred maintenance.  

It is often hard for seniors to make changes but as home staging concepts become more well known, they will feel more comfortable with it and reap the rewards that the investment of staging brings.

Posted by Gina Dougherty, Home Staging Redondo Beach, CA- (Fusion Design Consulting) almost 14 years ago

Craig, Yes strong emotional ties are the toughest to deal with.  Particularly when they still remember what they paid for something and how dear it is to  them.

I know I do!


Posted by Kristal Kraft, Selling Metro Denver Real Estate - 303-589-2022 (Novella Real Estate) almost 14 years ago
Craig-  Great Blog !!  I love the photo !!
Posted by Lauren Corna, Broker (Archway Realty, LLC) almost 14 years ago

"Craig The Reala Stager"

Hey, I have been looking for that...Someone hijacked it. Looks cute on you! Did you know Allison wants to interview you? She has a job for you...

Great post you know. The seniors are resistant to change and that's a fact of life. Hell I'm not even a Senior and I resist change...

I love your approach take the home away from a house and you got yourself a SALE. Speaking of SALES...Never mind, I will do you the favor of at least trying to stay on topic!

TLW "The Lovely Wife"...I Was Mostly On Topic...ROAR!

Posted by "The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW. (President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc.) almost 14 years ago

Craig.... looks like I am late to the party. Sounds like you had some great ideas for the them and that you were able to soothe their questions and concerns.

In regards that lady and her picture.... wow....  I am only 39 and I can't do half of that.  lol Great Blog..

Posted by Jeff Belonger, The FHA Expert - FHA Loans - FHA mortgages - USDA loans - VA Loans ( Social Media - Infinity Home Mortgage Company, Inc) almost 14 years ago

Craig, You better copyright that phrase.  It's going to spread like wildfire!  I think your talk is important for more than seniors.  We all need that talk when we are selling.  Saying good-bye to our last home was an actual ceremony for my family.  The lesson each learned is that when our "stuff" was gone the house lost its soul.

Posted by Bonnie Erickson (Tangletown Realty) almost 14 years ago

Thanks for the tips and the great picture!  Just spent the last 3 days helping a senior from our church move.  She got it right from the start, did exactly what we told her, and it sold in a week!  Your ideas are right on track with mine, your sayings are better.  Thanks for permission to use them!


Posted by Lucky Lang, Marco Island & Naples Florida Real Estate (Premiere Plus Realty Marco Island) almost 14 years ago
Hi Craig... all joking aside, you have written (as usual) a great post. Change does not come easy, but you have managed to find the right words to ease them into transition and preparation for selling and moving.  Well Done!  A new jewel for your crown!
Posted by Allison Stewart, St. Cloud Fl Realtor, Osceola County Real Estate 407-616-9904 (St.Cloud Homes ) almost 14 years ago
I know a guy that knows a guy that can that nose back from his friend for a "small" fee lol jk
Posted by Eddy Martinez (Nationwide Funding Group) almost 14 years ago
 Craig you prolific poster, great info as always. The concept of "Buyers infer a clean house has been kept in good repair."... reminds me of people who believe that websites that appear at the top of search engine results are the "best websites" in that category. True or not, its what they believe that counts.
Posted by marti garaughty, a highly caffeinated creative type... ( almost 14 years ago
That picture just makes me say "wow!" And what is up with that other picture of the woman stretching?  Just kidding.  Good post.  It is always a pleasure to hear another way to look at things.  Thanks.
Posted by Jason Price (Mortgage Financial Group, Inc) almost 14 years ago

Craig, this may be your most brilliant post yet.  It works on all levels. 

It makes for an amazing blog, the content is informative and truly unique; as always you freely sharing content that others would guard with their lives, the photo is humorous and captivating as always; and your marketing brilliance and charisma shines through! 

To know that you are making such a positive change in these people's lives must feel pretty good! 

It has been a pleasure for me to read it!

Posted by Jessica Hughes (Ambiance Staging) almost 14 years ago
Craig, thanks for this blog. I am relatively new to AR, but it is quality shared information like this that has me hooked! I know that I will be using some of your phrasing when talking with my prospects. Thanks in advance for the help and inspiration.
Posted by Michael S. Mackey, REALTOR ABR, CRS, GRI, RSPS (CENTURY 21 All Islands) almost 14 years ago


You showed them that you cared for them and what they needed to do. You gotta love it. You won their heats over. Great Job.

Posted by Susan Trombley, Broker/Realtor, Raleigh, Cary, Wake Forest, Youngs (Trombley Real Estate) almost 14 years ago
If you can convince a group of seniors of this, then you should be able to convince most anybody!  No, seriously, it sounds as if you were clear, concise and just a tad bit charming!
Posted by Kaushik Sirkar (Call Realty, Inc.) almost 14 years ago
I'm gonna bet they all thought you were a cute young man with some bright ideas???  Did anyone pinch your cheek??  Kidding aside, this is a great post for all sellers.  
Posted by joanne Douglas (Terrie O'Connor Realtors) almost 14 years ago

Craig - loved it, loved it, loved it!  And those seniors must have loved you!  Who better to bring them up to date as to what is happening in the current real estate market!

I do have a question or two, however...

If you were staging for a senior and their furniture was terribly outdated, would you use some of your own 'rental' furniture and props to 'enhance' and make the house look more 'current'?  And, if so, did you broach that subject with them at all?

Did you give this informative seminar for a builder or senior housing company?

Staging It Forward,



Posted by Val Allocco, HSE; ASHSR - Home Stager, for Manhattan, Brooklyn & Long Island (Staged 2 Sell New York & Long Island) almost 14 years ago

Oops - almost forgot...LOVE the picture!  How DO you do it?!!!

Posted by Val Allocco, HSE; ASHSR - Home Stager, for Manhattan, Brooklyn & Long Island (Staged 2 Sell New York & Long Island) almost 14 years ago
Craig-I'd just suggest reminding the seniors to move first if they's just easier on them, and I'm sure, easier to stage the house (afterall the shag green carpet is easily pulled out once all the stuff is out!
Posted by Lisa Dunn, (Edina Realty) almost 14 years ago
I'm with Lisa on that one.  My dad will not let me put even the slightest hint of beige on the walls.  Everything has to be stark white . . . and there's rose carpet in the living room which my mom liked and he doesn't want to change because she's gone . . . The house is so stark and boring it will never sell.  Since it's free and clear, I'm going to suggest he move first and then we'll change the wall color and carpet and stage it up nice so it sells.  Hopefully, he'll never see it after the color goes in!
Posted by Bonnie Erickson (Tangletown Realty) almost 14 years ago

WOW! I did NOT expect this little blog idea to generate so much dialogue... THANK YOU!

Jay/Med: The schnoozola... still a mystery. Who NOSE where it will turn up next!

Linda: I am still "crafting my verbal message. I knew this would be a GREAT opportunity and practice... I really know this staging thing works, so I loved doing it.

Allison: Ahhhhhh shucks, thanks!

Marc: I followed my own marketing advice... I spoke into their listing.

Leigh: Steal away... but give back by "staging it forward..."

Bryant: Your words in the above comments they just is so respected and welcome.

Judy: I love "staging" words... it helps people HEAR them.

Maureen: Ya the challenge is making the blog topic, head line and pix all work. THIS one took some word flexing for sure.

Gabriel: (or is it Gabe?) You are RIGHT... works on many levels. I just happened to "see it clearly" preparing for my talk to seniors. OH I  WILL be using it for the regular Joe.

ThreeCee: (aka Carole) Believe it or not I take the same approach to blogging as I do to staging. You first have to see what I am saying (in Headlines and Pix) if you are intersted you will buy into the rest.

Gena: My hope is that the REALTOR does benifit. And if they ask the senior seller WHERE they learned to think in such a manner... I hope they say they heard a Real Estate Stager give a talk.  This can ONLY be good PR for ANY stager.

Gina: Did you ever HIT the nail on the head. Seniors CAN benifit financially... and quite often THEY more than any other segment of the population NEED to benifits staging brings.

Kristal: We all are attached to our stuff. I actually touched on that... but I followed up with the point that a stager looks at a property with "buyer eyes" and we are NOT attached.

Lauren: Glad you liked the photo... I do enjoy searching for just the right one.

Caron: Hey I say if something happens once... it can happen twice. Now you are prepared.

Misty: Fiesty Fiesty Misty... oh how I pity the home that takes you in in your Golden Years. YOU will be ONE handful... fun but a handful.

Jeff: Hmmm soothe... I never thought of that. I do like to connect with them on a personal level.

Bonnie: NO NEED FOR A COPYWRITE! I am telling you I have so many more ideas in my head...  By sharing some of it, my hope is that stagers DO use what I say... to get business and GROW this industry. THIS STAGING STUFF WORKS!

Lucky: I LOVE that name... what a gift you were given. PLEASE tell me you have a VERY positive attitude!

Allison: Ahhhhhh shucks, AGAIN! Thanks, AGAIN!

Eddy: Meet me in the alley at 8PM... lets talk.

Marti: I believe to best tell a new story one needs to paint a picture with words. Drawing parallel mages to life makes that task so much easier.

Jason: Learning from others... THAT is the reason why Acitive Rain is SO AWESOME. It inspires me to share and help my collegues in the real estate industry... regardless of what role they play.

Jessica: Thank you! But know that YOU have an amazing voice too... so let'er rip!

Michael: Active Rain is all about Sharing, Challenging, and Thinking. WELCOME and start splashing us with your thoughts.

Susan: I just want people to see what is possible and benifit. It is easy when you BELIEVE in what you do.

Kaushik: ME! CHARMING? No I am really a ruthless jerk!

Joanne: Cute? Young? Ok now I am suspicious... what do you want from me?

Val: Good question... BUT each house, motivation, market, is different. I would have to see it to evaluate it. OH and how do I "DO" the pixes... I have my minions searching the world for images.

Lisa: Um... hate to tell you shag and green is back.

Bonnie: Oh... one point I did make when I said "Think beige thoughts" was WHITE is NOT beige! I knew THAT one would come up in the future too.

Posted by Craig Schiller almost 14 years ago
Very nice.  Seniors can be challenging when they have lived in the house for 40 years and bought it when it was built.  It still looks new to them and it is hard to explain the 20 somethings will be looking at it and might not like the decor.
Posted by Teresa Boardman (Boardman Realty) almost 14 years ago
I loved the graphic and appreciated your comments, etc.  This will be very helpful for use with all listings!
Posted by Russ Perlowski, Tampa Real Estate (People's Choice Realty Services LLC) almost 14 years ago

Teresa: YOU sent me an email last week when I was preparing my talk. THAT EMAIL helped me get focus and clarity as to what I needed to say at this workshop and how to say it.

In your email you wrote.."It really is important to respect that the property is still the sellers home while it is on the market if they still live in it and yet at the same time help them to understand that they are selling a house that someone else will one day own and turn into their own home. With seniors and people who have lived a their home for a long time it can be a big challenge."

THANK-YOU THANK-YOU THANK-YOU... you really did put the words in my mouth.

Posted by Craig Schiller almost 14 years ago

Gabriel, not Gabe, but thanks for asking, Craig!

Posted by Gabriel Silverstein, SIOR (Angelic Real Estate, LLC) almost 14 years ago

Nicely put as always Craig!

Great information for all of us to consider when working with this segment of our market. Their agents owe you big time!  

Posted by Lucie Quigley (HOLT modern Home Staging) almost 14 years ago
done!!! i cant guarantee that the crew might be joining me ha ha
Posted by Eddy Martinez (Nationwide Funding Group) almost 14 years ago

Hey Craig

I love seniors, but boy they certainly do have very strong attachments to their STUFF. I did a house once and by the end of the day the client would close her eyes give me her junk and tell me to throw it out.

Phyllis Pafumi 

Posted by Phyllis Pafumi, ReStyled to Sell Staging Homes NJ (ReStyled to Sell Home Staging New Jersey) almost 14 years ago
Ooops almost forgot, Love the pose. I can do that NOT!!!
Phyllis pafumi
Posted by Phyllis Pafumi, ReStyled to Sell Staging Homes NJ (ReStyled to Sell Home Staging New Jersey) almost 14 years ago
Craig - I love the house or home graphic.  I can't believe you are willing to share it!  Most people would be trying to copyright it.  Your generosity is an inspiration!
Posted by Maureen Maureen almost 14 years ago

LOVE LOVE LOVE the graphic. very genius! Wished I was there to hear your presentation! I am always interested in hearing what other stagers talk about when they present.



i stage & redeisgn to sell, live and work in san francisco bay area!  


Posted by Cindy Lin, Host, The Home Staging Show podcast (Staged4more School of Home Staging) almost 14 years ago
Excellent post!
Posted by Jim Crawford, Jim Crawford Atlanta Best Listing Agents & REALTOR (Maximum One Executive REALTORS®) over 13 years ago
This is one of Craig's post that I thought should be revived!
Posted by Marci Toliver, Anderson SC, Spartanburg,Greenville SC, Home Staging (438-4642) over 12 years ago

I am so interested in speaking with Realtors as of late about senior move management.  After reading some of the comments, I am certain even a few years later that the same sentiment exists - it is a challenge! But just as it was then, it is now - Craig's mantra rings true! "YEARS AGO, you bought a HOUSE and turned it into your HOME" and then flip it "TODAY, to sell your HOME you must return it to being a HOUSE" No matter the market, the year, the audience, this is what staging is all about!

Marci - you definitely revived a great one - you'd have to "revive" me if I tried that leg move! Maggie

Posted by Maggie Kent (Front Door Interiors) over 12 years ago

Marci, Thank you for reviving this post, since I am new to the Rain and missed it the first time around. 

Craig  This is still such valuable information today.  I will take you up on your offer to use this in my business.  Thank you!

Posted by Sharon Tara, New Hampshire Home Stager (Sharon Tara Transformations) over 12 years ago

lol, I like how the blog name and picture are connected:) Yep, I agree with your statement.

I'm working with 85ish client right now. I really enjoy this experience, yet, it can be very challenging at times....:) No emails, or any internet, no text messages or even voice-mails...everything takes longer.  Yet, I really appreciate such clients. They are 'old school', very good quality people.

Posted by Inna Ivchenko, Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA (Barcode Properties) almost 7 years ago