To stage or leave empty? That is the question all listing real estate agents must ask when considering how to best market their vacant properties. Once the owner has departed what is left behind is a residence in flux. The personal touches that make a house feel like home depart with the resident. All that remains are nail holes and various pieces of furniture that didn't make the cut for the big move. The space doesn't look or feel like a home. It feels like an extended stay hotel that forgot to stock the kitchen with utensils.
What is an agent to do with such a conundrum of a listing? In my case, a conundrum of a condo? Should the agent enlist an interior decorator to bring in new furnishings and appealing accents to create a home "experience" for buyers? This option isn't cheap but it can do wonders for pictures. Or maybe the agent should hire movers and rent a storage unit. Left empty, buyers would have a clean slate to imagine their dream home in the unfilled, unencumbered space. And of course, there is the option of doing nothing. The agent could leave the listing as is and hope for the best. Maybe buyers will like the Residence Inn look?
The "right" way to handle such a listing is the subject of debate and disagreement among agents. Some swear by their go-to home stager while others have a mover on speed dial. I'm new to this business and as of yet, I don't have either a home stager or mover at the ready. Nor do I have enough experience to claim one approach is more effective than another. All I know is the Bible and it doesn't speak to the most effective way to stage a home in the world of real estate. It does, on the other hand, know the most effective way to stage the home in the heart.
In Revelations 3:16 the Bible speaks to a different kind of home staging - one far more important than any real estate listing and far less confusing, too. It's simple. Don't be lukewarm. In other words, don't be half-staged with random assortments of furnishings. Be hot or cold. Be staged with the best of the best or be a blank slate. God rejects half-way efforts. He doesn't look fondly on hearts with one foot in His kingdom and one foot in the world. He wants His followers to be all in or all out.
Just like buyers on the hunt for a home, God isn't buying into a sparsely, oddly furnished life. He doesn't want our random nick-nacs and old, beat up chairs. God wants to open the door of each heart and see either a home already furnished with His goodness or an empty, vacant, surrendered spirit ready to be made beautiful by the Master Stager. God wants to be all in. He doesn't reside in hearts that want a new look without getting rid of the old couch. He wants to decorate every square inch of hearts with His righteousness.
The principle of heart staging is simple. Give God the keys and let Him get to work. But what does this mean for real estate? I'm not an expert but I have yet to meet a buyer who wants to live in the Residence Inn full time. So I have a recommendation and it is based on the best kind of experience - Biblical experience. If you can't do the staging up right don't do it at all. Give the master - the person you hope to be the new buyer - an empty space and let their mind's eye get to work.
Your buyer may or may not buy your listing but in the end that isn't the most important sales transaction. What matters most is whether or not you signed over the deed of your heart to your Master in Heaven and gave Him your surrendered spirit.