Real Estate Staging / Home Staging Blog


DID OPRAH'S SHOW HELP HOME SELLERS....or was the message mixed and confusing?

 It's no secret how much I admire and am inspired by Oprah. So when I finally watched last week's show on preparing a home for its sale I have to admit I was a bit disappointed. 

While I applaud the shows desire to help home sellers who currently find themselves emotionally and financially burdened with a house that just won't sell... after watching it I felt the show sent a confusing and incomplete message to home seller's about what it takes to ready a house for its sale in a TOUGH buyer's market. The show chronicled the efforts of Oprah's design guru Nate Berkus as he helped a financially strapped couple, Yosef & Zigi Edmond of Redondo Beach CA, repair and prepare their house. The house was a 3 bedroom, 2 ½ bath townhouse listed for $609,999.

The show made it clear that in today's market buyers can be choosy. If a seller wants a buyer to choose to buy their house, then following staging tips like Nate's Top 10 tips to ready a house for its sale, is sound "staging" advice. With out a doubt, exploring and demonstrating these tips was where the show provided to be beneficial and helpful for struggling home sellers.

Unfortunately, my disappointment (#1) with the show has to do with fact that the staging budget for the Edmond's property was a whopping $10,000 for furniture, fixtures and finishes. I believe this "Hollywood" budget is totally unrealistic and fear it will end up discouraging the TYPICAL home sellers who CAN and WOULD benefit from less costly staging solutions.  So while Nate's readied-for-market home looked GREAT... the show NEVER made it clear WHO was paying the $10,000 tab for all the merchandise that was bought for the project. All I know is the bio produced on the Edmonds said they were financially strapped and made it clear they had to sell their home because of grave financial problems.

So my first point of clarification to home sellers interested in staging their own properties is that it typically DOES NOT cost what was spent by Nate on the Oprah Show.

THAT being said it is also important to know and understand that a successful implementation of every "staging" is made up of 3 key dynamics...TIME, TALENT and TREASURE. And while we know the budget for the Edmond's staging included $10k worth of "treasure"... I believe it is unfair and inaccurate not to point out the key staging dynamics of TIME and TALENT were also important factors in achieving the overall beautiful solution. Therefore, regarding TIME & TALENT used in Edmund's staging, I have 2 questions:

  • Who paid for the TIME to perform the physical labor of planting, painting, building, installing, removing old flooring & carpeting, installing new flooring & carpeting, and removing old appliances that was undertaken? (Note: The Edmond's were part of the labor force... but NOT all!)
  • Who paid for the creative know-how/ TALENT of both Nate (Interior Decor) and landscaping master Jamie Durie?

My other major disappointment (#2) with the show has to do with the fact that it was NOT made clear that implementing effective and successful staging requires the seller need to know what to do, how to do it, and have skill and physical ability to do it.  If they do not... those who do know how, need to be hired and paid for the skills and abilities they provide.

BUT... while the show for the typical home seller may have ended up sending a bit of an over simplified message regarding staging a home for its sale... it still exceeded my expectation in a way that only Oprah can do. (So I am NOT throwing the Oprah baby out with the bath water.)

For this show Oprah found a wonderful family that NEEDED a staging jumpstart (a prime "stage it forward" family for sure). Life for the Edmonds has been a very sad course of events. Yosef, who quit his job to pursue his dreams of success being self employed, has not been so... therefore the house MUST be sold for this family of 4 to stay financially afloat. Since January 2006 the family has been trying to sell their home. On top of all the other problems plaguing this family, Zigi is a suffering from a brain tumor. So they needed and see selling their home as an opportunity to get a fresh start.

The good news is as of today... a sale is pending for the Yosef and Zigi's home.

stage it forward...



Comment balloon 37 commentsCraig Schiller • November 25 2006 06:27PM


I hope Thanksgiving Weekend has been good to you Favorite Craig, and it's nice to see you.  Timely topic for me. I would imagine having your home appear on Oprah might give you an advantage to getting your home sold lol.  There was a post over the weekend about all those home shows on cable. $10,000 for staging is definitely up there with high priced plastic surgery jobs to which I can only aspire/fantasize. Designed to Sell uses a $2000 budget and sometimes they are doing things like rebuilding stairs inside and out; demolishilng a patio roof and adding a new one; this in addition to bathroom updating of flooring, etc. While $10,000 is high, I feel the Design to Sell concept portrays it too low. I should have come to the expert (you) first anyway with this question!  Fabulous points about what to NOT expect after that show. 


Posted by Carole Cohen, Realtor, ePRO (Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office) almost 14 years ago
I have to tell you up front, I don't watch Oprah (or Dr. Phil, or any other talk shows) but I sure wish I had seen this one. I find it helps to know what perceptions the public have and where they originate. I know Oprah has tremendous influence on a large segment of the country's population, so I am sure sooner or later we will have to deal with a client influenced by this show. Thanks for this post.
Posted by Michael S. Mackey, REALTOR ABR, CRS, GRI, RSPS (CENTURY 21 All Islands) almost 14 years ago
Gotta love Designed to Sell - if they factored in the value of the labor, their $2,000 budget would self destruct!
Posted by Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers, Haven Express @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty (Serving the Greater Phoenix and Scottsdale Metropolitan Area) almost 14 years ago
Craig, I didn't see the show but your analysis is very good. To a novice, like me, It sounds like they did more rehabbing than staging. Buy hey just getting the term "staging" out here has to be a good thing.
Posted by Bryant Tutas, Selling Florida one home at a time (Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC) almost 14 years ago
Thanks Tony I'm glad I'm not crazy; well, at least not about that!
Posted by Carole Cohen, Realtor, ePRO (Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office) almost 14 years ago

Craig, I was also going to write a blog about this!  I guess great minds think alike!!! Did Oprah and Nate help or hurt us as STAGERS.  Are they going to have everyoine thinking that to get their home staged we charge 10,000?


Posted by Marci Toliver, Anderson SC, Spartanburg,Greenville SC, Home Staging (438-4642) almost 14 years ago

Wow~  $10,000 is a huge budget, but then how much was the house? Did they have significant equity to recoup the costs?  IF they were to realize a significant gain, I could see putting that much into a home.  Upper end homes do that with the blink of an eye.  Average priced homes shouldn't be doing it unless they can get more on sale.

 Didn't see Oprah, I keep forgetting to cue her up in the DVR.

Thanks Craig,


Posted by Kristal Kraft, Selling Metro Denver Real Estate - 303-589-2022 (Novella Real Estate) almost 14 years ago

Hey Craig

I totally have to agree with you, $10K!! Sellers will definitely get turned off for sure. Most homes I deal with would not recoup those costs. While the staging message did get out by the Queen of TV herself, I am afraid that once a seller hears Staging offered from the realtor they will run scared. Back to the drawing board on educating all.  

Phyllis Pafumi

Posted by Phyllis Pafumi, ReStyled to Sell Staging Homes NJ (ReStyled to Sell Home Staging New Jersey) almost 14 years ago
10K is alot of moneey to spend to get a house sold depending on the price. I am curious how much staging actually costs.. I have heard numbers thrown out, percentages of sales prices.. Does it depend on the size, scope, actual furniture you have? As having never hired a stager I am curious anout this.
Posted by Carl Guild, Central Connecticut Real Estate (Carl Guild & Associates) almost 14 years ago
I watched the second run of the show at 12:30 AM because I saw the clips where Oprah talked about having twice the eye candy with both guys aboard.  Ten grand is way beyond the budget of most sellers.  Stainless steel appliances and then painted cabinets did not work for me.  For me the paint cheapens the wood rather than "updating".  Painting out the purple wall in the MBR was definitely an improvement.  But, I'm in agreement with you Craig, it was confusing to the general public.  Almost as bad as the portrayal of REALTORS on that home buying show whose name presently escapes me!
Posted by Bonnie Erickson (Tangletown Realty) almost 14 years ago
You nailed it.  These shows can be a tremendous help, but show the average Joe what they can really do on the average Joe (Joann) budget.
Posted by Adam Tarr, PC -GRI, ABR, CDPE, RSPS, ePro - Designated Broker (MavRealty) almost 14 years ago

Craig.....  I didn't see the show either and someone else on AR did write a blog on this. I can't remember who and she did state the $10,000 cost. And there were some comments brought up about this, but in your blog, you are stressing this point a lot more.... stronger... and I would have to agree. Even though I am not a stager, the average person needs to know the facts...and reality. I hope more people notice this...I am sure it would help you out more if they understood or weren't scared now to even check into this, because of that price tag mentioned on tv.

Craig... by the way, you never mentioned it... but I did mention Stagers in my one blog, about Shopping til you drop...... lol   Good post...

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


I saw it, but I thought that it was fine, now that you are writing about this, I am thinking over, I believe that it is still in my DVR.

Ray Saenz

Posted by Ray Saenz, Homes for Sale in Laredo, TX - Texas, Realtor (Exit Realty Laredo) almost 14 years ago
Okay, the house is in Redondo Beach. Unless it's an absolute dump, there are many other much more challenging markets where it's more difficult to sell a home. Craig, I appreciate your analysis here. I'm not a huge Oprah fan. I respect all that she has done to get where she is, but I think we're just much too inundated with all things Oprah.
Posted by Rich Jacobson, Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker (Fathom Realty West Sound) almost 14 years ago

Good Post Craig

It is likely the Oprah show footed the bill to prove her point and help the family. Given their circumstances, they could not afford it themselves. 10K is a VERY unrealistic figure for the avergae homeowner, and they will not stand in line at that price. We are lucky to get them to spring for paint and carpet! Makes the staging job a lot harder.  Then again...if you saw Oprah's Raod trip she had NEVER been to a garage sale-oh please! Stagers (myself included) are recycling experts and with just a little ingenuity can breathe new life into an old room for WAAAAY less than 10K!  Good post!

Posted by Allison Stewart, St. Cloud Fl Realtor, Osceola County Real Estate 407-616-9904 (St.Cloud Homes ) almost 14 years ago
There are many people who might spend $1,000 and need some help with rearranging furniture, getting rid of junk, emphasizing some areas, with just a little paint or decoration. Time would be better spent on Oprah focusing on these things.
Posted by Sharon Simms, St. Petersburg FL - CRS CIPS CLHMS RSPS (Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International) almost 14 years ago

"Craig The Reala Stager"

Well this post really helps with my nickname for you...

The Reala part of that comes to mind. I didn't see O but I wish I had.

I don't watch very much tele. Blogging and reading are much more fun to me.

I certainly hope O's audience understands that the rehabbing is not part of the staging?

Have a God Blessed Sunday Buddy. :))

My human test was Passion. Very nice on this comment and it's  Sunday.

TLW "The Lovely Wife"...Real Estate Staging Has Nothing To Do With Rehabbing...ROAR!

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

Hi - I think Oprah did a service to the staging community.  If Oprah is talking about staging - it has finally hit the mainstream.  I am still encountering people - homeowners and Realtors that never heard of staging. I think that people understand that Oprah is Oprah and her budget and the average homeowner is a very different thing. 

Like Tony mentioned - I have a bigger problem with HGTV's Designed to Sell.  I think that show gives people the false impression that for $2000 you can transform your home.  That is $2000 for raw materials.  No design or contractor fees included. 

Posted by Maureen Maureen almost 14 years ago
I ~like~ the sign image.  May I borrow it? 
Posted by Cheryl Johnson almost 14 years ago

Okay, I looked, but didn't see anywhere in the comments or the blog. 

Given the usual caveats of every home is different and the needs are different and probably every market is different, what is a reasonable price range for staging an average home?  Clearly $10,000 is over the top, most of you think, but is a typical range $1,000-$3,000, say?  Or $3,000-$5,000?  Am I even warm?  (I've not used a professional stager before but done what staging there was to be done in vacant homes myself, so I don't have anything to go by in order to, as a Realtor, help educate the sellers I encounter on what reality, as opposed to Oprah, is.) 

Posted by Tricia Jumonville, Texas REALTOR , Agent With Horse Sense (Bradfield Properties) almost 14 years ago
Wonderful post Craig. I completely agree with you. 10k is a lot for sellers to have to invest to get their home ready for sale and I think this may have concerned some sellers who are already thinking "I do not want to spend $$ to sell my home"  I thank Oprah for doing a show on preparing homes for sale but what I think the public missed is that there are professional property marketers and real estate stagers that can change the way buyers perceive your home for much less than 10k. I find that you can dramatically change a home often for just the investment of the home sellers' time and energy decluttering and rearranging the space they are selling. Any coverage is good for the industry and hopefully we will gain more media expoure from this. Thankfully the seller's house is pending sale and they can focus on their health and family. Happy Thanksgiving to you and stage it forward! kh
Posted by Kate Hart (Hart & Associates Staging and Design) almost 14 years ago

Craig, while the $10k might have been a negative, I like to look for the positive in things.  The positive that I see in this is that a huge number of people that might not have ever heard of Staging before, now know about it. So when it is suggested in the course of selling a house it might not be foreign to the person that it is being suggested to.

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) almost 14 years ago
I did not watch the show but sounds like one of Oprah's charity cases which really does not help the regular "struggling seller" to get a grasp on what to do.
Posted by Rick & Ines - Miami Beach Real Estate (Majestic Properties) almost 14 years ago

You hit on the points that always frustrate me with the design shows on TV...budget!  They never take into account, as you say, Time and Talent.  I can't tell you how many times I had clients want to have their entire house staged for $1,000 (thanks to Trading Spaces).  While $1,000 is a reasonable price tag for an occupied home, I was never able to do a whole house vacant staging for that!   Let's just hope Oprah put the term "staging" will be in everyone's vocabulary and homeowner's start asking more about it!

Posted by Judy Heinrich almost 14 years ago

Hi Craig,

Thank you for your comment on my post about photos and what to shoot....I didn't see the Oprah Show but as you describe it, I too would have been disappointed.  I most often stage with what the homeowners already own and use it as most stagers do to celebrate the space for sale.  I think that would have been a more eye-opening transformation to find a home that could have had a Wow Factor created using what the family already owns.  If they had done that, showing the before and afters and then sharing only the cost of the "time and talent" then I think it would have gone a long way to showing just how valuable it is to have someone in who knows what to do with the home to get it ready for showings.  Thank you for preparing us for comments made in the field so to speak!   Mary

Posted by Mary Blanchard, Broker, CRS, E-PRO, ABR, ASP (Mary Blanchard, Broker) almost 14 years ago

Thanks for the synopsis Craig.

I didn't see the show.  Does Oprah actually talk about 'staging'; does that term/concept come up in the show?  Is it explained what staging is all about?  Thanks!

Posted by Jessica Hughes (Ambiance Staging) almost 14 years ago
Craig, I watched the Show and came away with the same feeling you did. I love Oprah, but in this case she and the "experts" missed the mark. The problem was the "experts" were not Real Estate experts, just design experts. The designs were fine, the rest left me wanting.
Posted by Jeff Turner (RealSatisfied) almost 14 years ago

I try to reamin ever the optimist...I rely on the fact that Oprah's audience understands that "budget" is a word that no longer fits in her vocabulary.

I was also wondering that why after all the work the house still took time to sell. What didn't they tell us? Often other factors can impact a sale such as a junk yard located beside the home or hhaving a freeway running through the back yard.

My thinking is that just by "introducing" the topic, her audience will explore the topic further. We then have the job of educating people about the true expenses and benefits of staging. 

Posted by Lucie Quigley (HOLT modern Home Staging) almost 14 years ago

Hi Craig,

I have had so much fun with Active Rain since your invite that I did not address your question about Oprah's staging show. I missed it somehow but I did log onto her website and had a big reaction of my own.

The plant guy from down under...I have several members from down under so I hesitate to say what I am about to say...but the placement of his plants drove me crazy...Did you see the front door? It reminds me (and I am dating myself here) of the TV show Laugh-in where the little German would peer through the tundra and say something funny. Was there enought room for 2 people to stand side by side? I would have moved those 2 plants before I even entered the home for a consultation.

2nd: Again, the plants hanging on the patio blocking the seating area. They would be have been removed by any home stager. They stopped the eye and traffic flow to an otherwise spectacular vantage point.

3rd: Nate did spend the money in the right places to maximize the value of the home but home sellers need to be informed by the stager where they can get money like that for upgrading and I don't think it comes from the Oprah Finance Co. 

Posted by Sheron Cardin, ARTIST - A Home Stager/Sellers Best Friend! (California Moods Inc) almost 14 years ago

Craig...I am glad you blogged on this subject because you said it much more eloquently than I would have.

Sheron---It is nice to know I am not the only one that was irritated by the placement of those plants at the front door.  The $179 they spent took the focus away from the pretty front door and made the space look overcrowded.  As a potential buyer entering that home, I would be afraid of a bug or caterpillar falling on me as I brushed by those trees.

Posted by Judy Kincaid almost 14 years ago


The bug that is hysterical but ever so true! Nate is not a home stager nor his friend. Shall we all rise up and email Oprah?

Posted by Sheron Cardin, ARTIST - A Home Stager/Sellers Best Friend! (California Moods Inc) almost 14 years ago

Sheron---Boy, was I ever tempted to write Oprah when that show viewed.  You hit the nail right on the head....Nate and his friend are NOT they should not have been doing a show about home staging. 

Another thing that bothered me about that show was when Nate was viewing the cluttered garage and said "That's disgusting!"  How professional was that???  Oprah wouldn't do a show about weight loss with a doctor saying "Ewww....gross" upon viewing someone morbidly obese so why did she allow Nate to disgrace our profession with that uncouth comment.  A true stager would have explained the importance of relocating all the excess items to a storage facility so potential buyers could see the true function of the garage...namely, parking a car in it. 

Posted by Judy Kincaid almost 14 years ago

Are we ready to take on Oprah? Shivers!

Posted by Sheron Cardin, ARTIST - A Home Stager/Sellers Best Friend! (California Moods Inc) almost 14 years ago
I have a great idea!!! Let's send Craig to take on Oprah...move over Nate!!! What do ya say Craig? I know you're reading this...
Posted by Sheron Cardin, ARTIST - A Home Stager/Sellers Best Friend! (California Moods Inc) almost 14 years ago

Craig---Since you and Oprah are neighbors, maybe you can you use your charm, wit, and good looks to put the wheels in motion to introduce Oprah to some real stagers that will help educate her on the true magic of staging!  As of today, there are 231 stagers on Active Rain....more than enough to make a good showing in her studio audience.

Posted by Judy Kincaid almost 14 years ago
I'm in!
Posted by Sheron Cardin, ARTIST - A Home Stager/Sellers Best Friend! (California Moods Inc) almost 14 years ago

Judy and Sheron... from the "read" of it you 2 are new "best friends!"

Love the ideas.... and the enthusiam. BUT things will unfold on the OPRAH path when the do and if they should.

BUT a big sincere thank you for such nice complimenets and trust. I am humbled.

I promise to do my best to move our industry forward.

stage it forward...



Posted by Craig Schiller almost 14 years ago