Does Staging help sell your home?                                                                                        July 2008 Edition
Small PicWith the real estate shifting toward a buyers market, it is essential to present your home in such a way that enhance its best features and minimizes or rectifies problem areas. Many surveys have proven the importance of home staging as a powerful real estate marking tool that helps sell your home faster and for top dollars.

What’s Staging?
Staging involves dressing-up your home to be presented for sale in its best possible state. It is about merchandising your property.

Professional home stagers work with the traffic flow of a home, eliminate or reduce clutter, rearrange the furniture, add decorative accessories, and create the illusion of space to enhance the best features of your home and minimize or rectify problem areas.

Another often overlooked, but equally important, part of the staging process is addressing the exterior of the property. Often times, a prospective buyer forms their opinion about a property based on the curb appeal. This means a property’s exterior is very important. For this reason, stagers will also make recommendations based on the property’s landscaping, driveway, and exterior look.

Good staging considers the style of the home and ensures that the staging is done with moderate taste to appeal to a wide range of people. When done properly, your house can make a memorable first impression on potential home buyers. Staging can be accomplished with a minimal amount of time, money, and effort.

How Much Does Staging Cost?
Usually home stagers can and will work within the seller’s budget, with an average cost of $1,000 to $4,000. This is dependent on the home’s requirements and the amount the seller can afford to spend.

The initial investment starts with a consultation, lasting one to two hours. During this time, your home will be closely examined with the critical eye of potential buyer. After that, a home stager will usually provide you with a list of recommendations. You may do all of the work yourself, hire out some of it, or perhaps leave the entire process to the staging professional.

Market Advantage
As a seller, two considerations are of most importance: time (how long it takes to sell the home?) and money (how much money the home sells for?).

Staging provides advantages on both fronts. Many surveys have proven, quite powerfully, that there are many benefits to staging. Indeed, one of the most important benefits of staging is that it can allow sellers to obtain top dollars for their property. Often times, the seller will obtain a 200% to 300% return on their investment in staging.

  • A staged home shows better than the competing homes on the market
  • Staged homes sell for more money than un-staged homes
  • A staged home sells faster than an un-staged home
  • The listing of a staged home looks superior in print advertising and appeals to more people.
  • Realtors recognize staged homes as the best properties to show their clients

Before and after photos of staged homes

These pictures tell the story: In the hands of professional stagers, homes go from downright dowdy to updated and inviting. 

Before: A dining room in hiding

This homeowner had turned the dining room into a home office. This was the first thing you saw when you walked in the house. And that’s not what you want to see. It’s not a ‘welcome home’ feeling, to be greeted by an office.

After: A dining room in all its glory

The room was transformed back into the formal dining room. Because the homeowner didn’t have formal dining furniture, a dining room table was brought in, as were accessories.  Table was placed at an angle to draw would-be home buyers in. This also makes the room feel spacious, and plenty big for their bigger table. The room has been thoroughly decluttered, and just a few well-placed accessories remain to catch the eye. Also, the dated border wallpaper has been removed by the homeowner and the room repainted.

Before: Make your bed, superhero

Besides being messy, this master bedroom had a superhero theme, which would not appeal to many home buyers. Potential buyers need to picture themselves in an adult atmosphere. The room looks very lived in — unappealingly cluttered with personal effects and clothing.

After: A room for grown-ups

The room was cleaned and decluttered and the rug shampooed. The dresser and bed were retained, but the room was given a new, neutral theme that would appeal to more buyers. Some money was also spent on new bedding, curtains and accessories to enhance the room.

Before: Chaos reigns

The entire scene is too busy and implies a chaotic life — and lots of work for future homeowners. Kitchen carpeting is also unpopular. The counters are too crowded, and personal effects such as children’s drawings are everywhere. The entire room needed to be decluttered, depersonalized, pre-packed and professionally cleaned.

After: Clean and bright

Carpet in the kitchen was replaced with new flooring, and the room was professionally cleaned. Curtains have been pushed back to allow more sunlight to shine. A few accessories are left on the table and counter. Ideally, some staging professionals say, the wallpaper would come down, since wallpaper is a personal choice.

Before: Crammed full

Buyers want storage. But this closet, packed to the gills, gives the impression that the house doesn’t have enough room for the homeowners’ stuff — and by implication, the would-be buyer’s stuff.

After: Room to breathe

The impression of space is crucial. A homeowner can show how much room is in the closets by removing all but a few articles of clothing. Clearing out the bottom of closets is important, too. Some stagers advise removing almost everything from a closet, and just leaving a decorative hanger or two.

Before: Uninviting

This room, with its stone fireplace, has nice possibilities, yet feels empty and uninviting, and the colors don’t particularly match.

After: Warm, updated

The room was staged by replacing the dated furniture and adding specific accessories — a coffee table is always a must. The fireplace was kept the focal point of the room. Knickknacks were removed from the mantel, and a single elegant painting put in their, and a single elegant painting put in their place. A healthy green plant helps brighten the room, too — stagers say it brings the outside in.

Before: No focal point

This room has too much going on. It’s also darker than it needs to be, and it looks cramped. Also, there’s stuff on the floor and stuff under the coffee table.

After: Featuring the fireplace

This staging involved removing clutter; removing about half the books, furniture and other material in this room actually made it much more handsome. Note how airy and bright the room looks with the curtains open. Also, the chairs have been pulled back to emphasize the fireplace as the room’s focal point. But this photo also shows how excellent photography really helps to make a staged room look even better, which is key now that so many people hunt for houses online.

Before: Gaudy, awful

This immaculate home wasn’t selling, and the sellers and stagers didn’t know why — until they saw this master bath. Green marble in small doses is beautiful. And Victorian wallpaper can be an excellent accent. But both together?! The space looks jumbled and vulgar, and the buyer can’t tell what size the space really is.

After: A $3,500 face-lift

You might think a major renovation was done. It wasn’t. The green marble tub and countertop were resurfaced, and a painter painted directly over the wallpaper. What could have easily turned into a $20,000 project was approximately a $3,500 investment. Afterward, the home sold in one-third of the time it had previously been on the market.

Before: Dark and distracting

In the library of this high-end home, there are so many rugs and power cords that you can’t even tell where the floor is. Bookshelves are overflowing. A visitor’s eye jumps around, which distracts the buyer from focusing on the house: “Buyers will look at everything; they’re nosy,” says a certified master stager. The wall has a random assortment of stuff, including a piece of paper tacked to it. Also, it’s dark in here.

After: Brightened and simplified

A good portion of the homeowners’ belongings were packed up for staging, but the stager kept the desk, the rug and the chair. Some of the matching books were kept in a bookcase, and three pieces of art were chosen to draw the buyer’s attention into the room. The floor space was accented with a centered rug. A green plant brings the outside inside. Note the open blinds.

Before: Where are the counters?

In the kitchen, counter space sells. But this galley-style kitchen looks too busy. Appliances are left out. There’s a hodgepodge of dishes in the glass-front cabinets. The desk is a mess. Also, knives are left, which can be dangerous. (A Texas real-estate agent was once fatally stabbed in a house with a kitchen)

After: A sense of spaciousness

The kitchen was staged using a majority of the homeowners’ belongings, and a few accessories brought in. A buyer’s eye now travels more easily through the space, with occasional pops of color such as the blue bottles or fruit in a basket. The glass-front cabinets were cleared out, then re-accessorized with a fraction of the dish ware, to emphasize the amount of space in them. The desk is clear, to give a sense of a viable workspace. And notice how almost no item — the bread, the canisters — is shoved back against the walls. Instead, they’re pulled out a few inches. Doing so allows the eye to travel around the objects and gives a sense of spaciousness.

It’s Never Too Late To Stage…
If your house is already on the market, you may feel that you are reading this too late in the game. Rest assured, this is not true. While it’s ideal to have your home staged before it’s listed, the benefits of staging can certainly also be achieved after it’s been sitting as well.

If your home is currently sitting with no reasonable offers, and it’s not overpriced, you need to have it staged. Once the work is completed, your real estate agent can just change the marketing plan. Instead of advertising it as “reduced”, it can now be advertised as “recently staged”, which is actually much less costly than a price reduction as well as the obvious benefit of generating a new interest in your property.

There is no question that staging plays an important role in today’s real estate market. Consult your realtor to assess the viability for you of staging your home.