All I did was....Home Staging Success Stories


HGTV phoned me...would you like to provide Staged properties for our show?

The call came out of the blue. I was driving in heavy traffic, gearing up and down, cursing the downtown core traffic and my phone rang. Someone saying they were from HGTV, The Unsellables.

They were looking at my website, liked my style and wondered if I would like to provide the benchmark property in the neighbourhood for their show. I figured that this had to be a Staging friend of mine that was pulling a  prank on me so I calmly said... "I'll have to think about it, could I call them back?"

Turns out it's for real. The properties were filmed last June and July and are just appearing now on HGTV. Last weeks episode entitled "Carmelina" and the episode coming up entitled "Steve".

The premise of the show is that they have a property that has been on the market for months, lots of viewings but no offers. What could be wrong? They visit another property in the neighbourhood with the property owner in tow and then they visit a second one which has been Staged and has sold very recently or is for sale to show them what their competition looks like. It doesn't take long for the homeowner to see why their home is not getting offers. There is truth in the saying... seeing is believing.

The hosts then do what is necessary to get their property up to the neighbourhood expectation. This all comes back to why Professional Staging is not decorating or designing. Professional Home Staging is the marketing of your property for sale. There is only one reason to Stage it. To get the most equity possible out of the property to move on with your life and to have fewer days on market.

It doesn't matter what the market is, slow or fast- Staging is the one investment that you can make that will speed up the whole process. Investing in Home Staging is always less than the first price reduction.

Here are a couple of photos from the first property. It was a simple war time, red brick bungalow about 1,200 square feet backing onto a ravine. This property sold for the highest price the neighbourhood had seen, $20,000 over list.

I Staged it with unique features that no other comparable listing in the neighbourhood had. It's own tee off box out to the ravine in the rear - who could resist that? Even the videographer from HGTV put down his camera to take a few practice shots over the rear fence. A Pilates area in a wide basement hallway that was only being used as a pass through to the family room. The Realtor said 4 or 5 buyers actually sat down and tried out the exercise area. Even the laundry room which had the same 1960's dark, wood panelling as the basement hallway was given a face lift with up to date baskets to hold the soap supplies.

So if you are you still wondering, if Advantage Staging is worth the investment to save time on the market and get the most equity out of your property. The answer is plain to see... YES, EVERY TIME!


staged dining room staged dining room staged family room staged rec room staged backyard


Comment balloon 39 commentsMichelle Finnamore • January 14 2009 01:32PM


This is great!  Staging is very crucial to the sale of the home.  I'm glad HGTV is showing this concept so hopefully our sellers will be more inclined to participate.

Posted by Troy Ott (Coldwell Banker United, REALTORS) over 11 years ago

Hi Troy, I'm glad you raised the issue of getting your clients to participate in the marketing of their homes.

What is it that I as a Stager could offer to a Realtor to make his presentation easier to their client? I really want to know as that is my job, to make it easier for the Realtor to communicate what needs to be done to market the property.

Presently I guide the Realtors with how to raise the subject of Home Staging, how to have the homeowner willingly pay for the initial consultation or how to make it part of their maketing plan for the property.

I provide them with a link to my website for their website ( and I do the same for them on my site). This way the client can go to my site from the Realtors and see my most recent work of before and afters. The best way for a Realtor to get their client to see what comparables look like is to take them to actual listings so they can see for themselves. Another way is to show them before and afters. I wrote a post about the slide show that I send Realtors for this purpose.


Posted by Michelle Finnamore, Preparing your property for sale (Toronto GTA, Alliston, Newmarket) over 11 years ago

We use stagers for each home that we list, regardless of price range.  I hadn't heard of the new HGTV show - I'll be on the lookout for it.

Posted by Rob and Camille Di Maio (San Antonio Real Estate - Keller Williams Legacy) over 11 years ago
Great. Another HGTV related story. I love it. I also think staging is important. Glad that HGTV folks also think the sameway.
Posted by real estate real estate over 11 years ago

Congrats!!! I am so excited for you! It looks great, and the close-up rocks!!

Posted by Wendy Timmons, Temecula Realtor (Move Home Realty ) over 11 years ago

Wow Michelle, that's great!  Congratulations!  Did you get a mention? : )  I would have thought it was a joke too, but I think you handled it well with the "can I call you back".

Posted by Kathy Passarette, L.I. Staging/Decorating (Creative Home Expressions) over 11 years ago

clean, simple, classic, beautiful. Well done and congrats! KH

Posted by Kate Hart (Hart & Associates Staging and Design) over 11 years ago

Cool deal Michelle F.! What a great opportunity-congratulations!  Regards-Kathleen G

Posted by Kathleen Garvey, Denver's Neighborhood Expert - Listings & Sales (HomeSmart Cherry Creek - Denver) over 11 years ago

Congrats on the call!  I have often thought that I should call HGTV and ask if they want to come to Omaha and tape a Staging with one of my client' homes; I have a feeling they don't have any camera crews in the middle of our country :-)  Best wishes!!!!

Posted by Tori Lynn Wallitsch (Prudential Ambassador / Ross Designs, LLC) over 11 years ago

Michelle!  This is Awesome!   That is too funny that you thought it was a joke and asked to think about it.  Good thing you didn't think too long!   It's also cool that HGTV IS looking at our websites depending where they are doing a show.   I'm hopeful that some of us will get an opportunity like yours one of these days.  

The staging is beautiful!  I am so in love with the art in the dining room!!  You did an excellent job!

Posted by Teresa Meyer, Home Staging Cincinnati-OH. (Cincinnati Home Stager) over 11 years ago

Hi Rob and Camille, You'll like the show. It is low key in comparison to many others. Appeals to the intellectual side of why you should home stage. Not so much the drama.

Hi Huiting, you are so right. HGTV is the number one promoter and motivator in the media for the public to hire a Professional Home Stager. Their help in this area is immeasurable and greatly appreciated. Every show they do makes the job of the Realtor that much easier. The client gets a clearer understanding of what it takes to market their property for sale. Now if we could just convince the homeowners that it applies to their home too!

Hi Vivian, nothing like 1960's dark brown panelling is there? LOL!!! The bane of every Stagers existence. Always looks better painted a light colour if it is not being replaced. But then again, this property sold with it still there and for over list.

Hi Wendy, the close up photography is by my magical photographer. She specializes in product photography and it shows. Who better to photograph your property for you than someone that knows how to market a product. Anyone taking Real Estate listing photographs needs someone like this in their back pocket. Talk about making your listing photos stand out from the crowd and initiate action on the part of the buyer. All of a sudden your listings are on the buyers must see list. Sell the buyer their dream and they will come to your door!

Hi Kathy, Usually the show uploads the "where they sourced items" on the website once they have shown the episode. I am still waiting for them to do this so I can print it off for my portfolio. It really was a stroke of incredibly good luck that they found me online and called.

HI Kate, that's what HGTV liked about my style- clean,simple and classic. It fit their show profile and I was able to provide them with current listings to meet their shooting schedule. It was Kismet.

Hi Kathleen, my motto is- there is a train going by every hour, are you getting on? You just never know where it will take you. You won't believe the next thing I am going to be involved with. Will post about it once it is public.

HI Tori Lynn, you are absolutely right. You have to be in the right place at the right time. They were not interested in coming up to where I live (an hour north of Toronto) to film. It had to be within 30 minutes of their office or the shoot location. Talk about tight parameters. That is why they use several Staging companies to fulfill their requirements. It all happens so fast.

Hi Teresa, It was so totally unexpected. I still can't believe it some days. If I hadn't have been there I wouldn't have believed that they can pluck you out of all the websites and call you up. I don't know if you read my other post, but HGTV isn't the only business looking at our websites. The taxation department is as well. They visited me last month as an "information" session. I invited them out to our local Stage It Forward meeting as guest speaker.

Thank you to everyone for your kind comments and congratulations. It was something I was very privileged to be able to do and I say thank you to whoever is up there looking out for me. 2009 is going to be an interesting year. Think outside the box when marketing your properties. The smart Realtors will find a local Professional Home Stager to make their goals come true this year.


Posted by Michelle Finnamore, Preparing your property for sale (Toronto GTA, Alliston, Newmarket) over 11 years ago

Michelle - Good for you and great job on all the rooms posted.  I love the little exercise mat...very zen.

Posted by Debbie Wheeler, Chandler, AZ Rooms Rearranged RESA, IRIS (Real Estate Staging/Rooms Rearranged, LLC) over 11 years ago

I thought you did a fantastic job & am very excited for you!!! 

Ok, that said, were your photos professionally taken or did you take them?  If you took them, what camera do you use?  Some of the photos are really amazing!

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) over 11 years ago


Congratulations!  It's so nice to see your work recognized... and featured on HGTV, WOW!...just the icing on the cake!  I hope to catch one of the two episodes. ;)

Posted by Michelle Pimentel, ASP, IAHSP Empire Home Staging (Empire Home Staging Solutions) over 11 years ago

Michelle, Wow that's fabulous news. I'm echoing Melissa's comment above great staging & photos!

Posted by Cynthia Bartch over 11 years ago

Love the idea of sellers actually having to see what their competition is like. Before I became a stager, when I was getting ready to sell our home, our realtor showed me a photo of another house on the market a few blocks away that was exactly the same floor plan, but was looking so much better. You can bet I got off my behind to make my place look great. Happy ending was that our home sold faster and for more money than any other home in the neighborhood ... and within the year I began my career as a stager.

Congratulations on the wonderful opportunity that came your way!

Posted by Pangaea Interior Design Kitchen & Bath Design, Remodeling (Portland Oregon) over 11 years ago

I just found "The Unsellables" and watched for the first time the other day.  I really like the feel of the show.  It seemed so much more like how a real consultation would go than some of the other staging shows.  What a great opportunity for you!

Posted by Marianne Sweet, Home Sweet Home Staging, LLC Rochester Hills, MI (Home Sweet Home Staging) over 11 years ago

Michelle that is fantastic! What a great story.  I will have to find it and watch! Kym

Posted by Kym Hough, Staged to Sell East Bay - Danville, CA (www.Staged-to-Sell ) over 11 years ago

Hi Michelle!

Congratulations, your work is worht of a TV show. Can't wait to watch the episodes.


Posted by Monica Stanciu, Staged 2 Sell Solutions, Markham, ON (Staged 2 Sell Solutions Inc.) over 11 years ago

Congratulations Michelle, that's awesome!  I can certainly understand how you might think it was a prank when you got the call, I know I would.  I've watched the show, I think it's really good.  Your photos are beautiful.  You go girl!

Posted by Charlene Storozuk, Home Stager - Burlington Ontario (Dezigner Digz) over 11 years ago

Hi Debbie, the idea for the exercise spot popped into my head immediately when I first saw this dark hallway. I knew my artwork would reflect light from the overhead fixture into the room making it feel more open. The mirror acted in the same way. The mat has come in handy on numerous occasisons. It sends just the right zen message being made of bamboo.

Hi Melissa, the photos are taken by my trusty sidekick Natalie Caron, product photographer extraordinaire!Natalie takes photos of my work for my portfolio and some of the before and afters. I wish all my Realtors would work with Natalie and she knows how to capture the selling points in a room and get people to put a listing on their must see list.

Hi Cynthia, so true. In Staging you live and die by your photographs. Everyone should take a close look at their portfolio and web presence to see where they are in their timeline to hire a professional photographer for at least two houses that they are staging.

Hi Pangaea, That's a great personal story and one that you can relay with heart felt passion to your clients whether they be the  homeowner or the Realtor. That's your unique selling point. That and the fact that you do outstanding work! :)

Hi Marianne, That's why I like the show too and felt it would be a good fit for me. The consultation is conducted in a similar way to the way I do mine. Cut to the chase and very clearly define why something has to change and give the homeowner motivating reasons to carry out the work.

Hi Kym, let me know your thoughts after you see the show. The episode coming up entitled "Steve" is my next one. They were mostly interested in how I staged the back yard and the view. Here is a photo of it so you know it when you see it. I took these photos of Wes the videographer while he was working. The homeowner is the man in the pink shirt. He was "tickled pink" with excitement that HGTV was at his home.



Hi Monica, glad you stopped in to see my latest adventure. It was soooo much fun. I will be contacting you soon to see if you want to be part of my next adventure.

Hi Charlene, Thanks for the encourgement and the good wishes. It was so surreal when that call came. That's a lesson to all of us. Be prepared. You just never know who might come knocking. I was taught a long time ago that when you don't know what to say when you are caught off gaurd, always ask for time to think.

Posted by Michelle Finnamore, Preparing your property for sale (Toronto GTA, Alliston, Newmarket) over 11 years ago

Michelle, I'm so glad that you posted this with more of the details of your experience!  My goodness it would be fun to be able to say that you did work with HGTV and you could refer people to specific episodes.  Is there anyplace on the HGTV website where potential clients could find you? 

Posted by Ginger Foust, Home Stager Oakhurst CA, Dream Interior Redesign & Staging (Certified Staging Professional) over 11 years ago

HI Ginger, It was super easy during the process of filming. Wes made everyone feel like this was just another day at the office (oh yeah!) set up in a few minutes and started filming.

The website for the Unsellables usually posts the information in regards to sources for items bought and which companies worked on the episode. It doesn't seem to be working at present. I will be watching for it as I would like to post that as well.

Posted by Michelle Finnamore, Preparing your property for sale (Toronto GTA, Alliston, Newmarket) over 11 years ago fun!  I wish they'd come to Houston!

Posted by Cindy Bryant, "Houston Home Staging Pros" (Redesign Etc. Home Staging) over 11 years ago

Congrats, what a beautiful shot of the deck.  Here's to many more!

Posted by Ana Hitzel, Professional Home Stager Inland Empire ( AccentPositives Home Staging ) over 11 years ago

Congratulations Michelle!  What exciting news.  I am so happy for you and your work looks awesome as usual.

Posted by Michele Hess, Home Stager Rockford - Simply Staged Inc (Simply Staged Inc.) over 11 years ago

HI Cindy, they are filming the show in Brittain now. Maybe you should think about writing to the show and offering to arrange something there in your home town of Houston. You never know! You  have to put it out there to get it back. :)

Hi Ana, the view off the deck was awesome. I don't think I mention this before but it is in the downtown core of Toronto. There is a a very deep ravine called the Don Valley and it runs from the north of the city right down town to Lake Ontario. Their parents owned this property since the 60's and they were staging the house to get it ready for market. When you look out the back their is a pool down below about 100 feet away and the view goes on forever. The day we were there rabbits and deer were at the edge of the property. They have seen fox there on numerous occasions.

I did a post about this property way back in the summer when I Staged the exterior. Here are some photos.

Posted by Michelle Finnamore, Preparing your property for sale (Toronto GTA, Alliston, Newmarket) over 11 years ago

Hi Michele, thanks for stopping in to see this amazing property. As you can see by the photos above it was a real adventure staging the outside. I swapped their white patio table set to be placed down by the pool. The white was set off nicely by the blue of the pool. I rented the black patio set to them for the upper deck as they did not want to refinish the deck. I rearrranged their pots of plants, purchased huge cascading pots of pink petunias for the poolside, removed bird feeders etc from the deck rail so the view was exposed.

Going up and down those steps to the pool on a day that was over 30 degrees ( I think that is 92 in your part of the world) and heavy with humidity it was a real test of the condition of my asthma. I started very early in the morning to beat the heat and humidity but I swear I lost 5 lbs. just slugging those tables, chairs and heavy ceramic plant pots down to that pool.

Posted by Michelle Finnamore, Preparing your property for sale (Toronto GTA, Alliston, Newmarket) over 11 years ago

Hi Michelle:

Can't wait for your call:)


Posted by Monica Stanciu, Staged 2 Sell Solutions, Markham, ON (Staged 2 Sell Solutions Inc.) over 11 years ago

Your success and experience with HGTV is so exciting.  I'll look for the show and watch with enthusiasm.

Posted by Sharon Tara, New Hampshire Home Stager (Sharon Tara Transformations) over 11 years ago

congradulations, they called me for a different show, looking for a real specific property that sold within the last month. I didn't have it and couldn't take advantage.

Posted by Johnathan Mullaney, Broker, Flagstaff Real Estate (Village Land Shoppe) over 11 years ago

Hi Monica, thanks for your support! :)

Hi Sharon, thanks for stopping in and your good wishes. It should happen to all of us!

Hi Johnathan, I know what you mean. Their parameters for the job are so tight and the time frame is so condensed it really is a miracle when you get a match. Hope they call you again in the near future. It does wonders for your business.

Posted by Michelle Finnamore, Preparing your property for sale (Toronto GTA, Alliston, Newmarket) over 11 years ago

I have never seen outdated dark paneling look so fabulous.  The professional photos really make the difference, don't they.  Congrats on your success!

Posted by Lori Donegan (Ready 2 Stage) over 11 years ago

Hi Lori, Absolutely! Professional photographers will get your listing noticed every time. How do we convince the Realtors of this?  It is a case of one by one for now.

The one other  thing the homeowner did to enhance the dark wood panelling was to use a shining oil product on it. Plus he refinished all the  wood trim and door thresholds with urethan to make them shine. It was positively glowing in there. It looked like a brand new home. Well worth the effort on his part as the listing sold for over list.


Posted by Michelle Finnamore, Preparing your property for sale (Toronto GTA, Alliston, Newmarket) over 11 years ago

Michelle, this is absolutely wonderful work! Creative touches such as the Pilates area and the tee off box are exactly what can create that emotional connection with a potential buyer. Also I love your artwork - where did you get it (esp the piece in the pilates area)?

Posted by Annie Pinsker-Brown, Stage to Sell, Los Angeles Home Stager (Stage to Sell - LA Home Staging) over 11 years ago

Hi Michelle -- Your photography skills match your staging skills as well, both which are beyond exceptional!  How did you learn to take such incredible photographs?

Posted by Chris Olsen, Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate (Olsen Ziegler Realty) over 11 years ago

Hi Annie, the Pilates area was one of my favourites too. The artwork is from Ikea of all places. The golf tee off box was inspried by the stories the seller was recalling about his youth at the family home. As soon as he told the story I knew what I had to do.

Hi Chris, The photography for this post was done by my professional photographer for my portfolio. I knew that HGTV was filming this for The Unsellables so I drove my photographer to take the winning shots. She is actually a product photographer so she understands how to get the money shots of what you are trying to sell. In this case, a simple war time house in Toronto. I use this series of photos to show that Staging is for every price point. This house set the benchmark price in the neighbourhood.

Posted by Michelle Finnamore, Preparing your property for sale (Toronto GTA, Alliston, Newmarket) over 11 years ago

Very cool idea for the wide hallway.  My associate and I had a "wide hallway" where the homeowner had put a very oversized table.  It actually covered a portion of the doorway.  We removed that, and replaced it with a dropleaf secretary, with a few books and plant on top.  With a chair angled beside it, the wide hallway became a "mini-study" to sit and pay bills, or write a letter.  SOLD! 

Posted by c m over 11 years ago

HI Cheryl,

That's what Stagers are good at...seeing possibilities where others only see brick walls to reaching to goals.

Posted by Michelle Finnamore, Preparing your property for sale (Toronto GTA, Alliston, Newmarket) over 11 years ago

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