Does it Pay to Stage?

By Andrew Roth
Roth Real Estate

Should you consider staging your home before selling?

The answer to this question depends on a number of variables. Foremost to remember, however, is that a buyer’s initial impression of your home, and often the decision to buy, is made in the first 90 seconds. What’s more, studies indicate that only 10% of buyers can envision what an empty house will look like when decorated.

Another aspect to think about when considering staging your home is whether most homes in your area are staged. In markets like San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland, staging tends to be the norm. With so many homes getting the beauty treatment, a non-staged home may seem shabby by comparison. Remember, home buying decisions are often emotional ones, and can be driven by gut feelings, initial impressions, and even by the way a home smells. Worn furniture, unusual colors, and dated accessories can detract from that initial impression.

An empty house can also appear to lack soul, vitality, and warmth, while a well-staged home can give the appearance of sophistication, brightness, and homey-ness. It’s all about creating a mood, and moods definitely influence buyers’ decisions. As much as we’d love for buyers to have the ability to envision a house when it’s fixed up, it’s infinitely better to serve that vision on a platter.

While not inexpensive – typically running between $1000 for a very light pass to $10,000 or more for a large, luxury house – staging can generally increase the selling price anywhere from 2 to 10%. Staged homes also tend to sell more quickly than non-staged ones, in part because they draw more people to the open house. These days, before deciding to make the trip to an open house, most buyers peruse photos on the Internet. If your home isn’t staged, it may not make the open-house cut.

How Staging Works

Technically, staging is anything you do to improve the appearance of your home prior to selling it. Staging can run the gamut – from cleaning and minor changes in furniture and accessories, to a full-scale remodeling, with new sinks, tiles, paint colors and gardens. Prior to making any changes, a professional stager will typically come out to your house for a consultation and run-through. Some of the items stagers may suggest include the following:

– Remove clutter

– Remove old/excess furniture and replace with new

– Replace existing artwork

– Replace ceiling lights with brighter, energy-efficient ones

– Stain kitchen cabinets

– Install new door pulls

– Replace kitchen and bathroom countertops and tiles

– Reface tubs and sinks

– Bring in new plants

– Install mirrors

– Change wall paint

– Plant outdoor flowers

– Wash windows

– Install skylights

– Pressure wash exterior of house

– Repair wall cracks

– Place new books on shelves and magazines on tables

– Bring in new bathroom accessories, such as towels, moisturizers, and soap

– Place new pillows, carpets, and drapes in living room

Following the initial staging consultation, you will receive an itemized list of upgrades/changes recommended for your home. You may choose to make as many or as few alterations as you choose. A good stager will never pressure you to make changes with which you feel uncomfortable.

All in all, staging your home does make sense, both in terms of the speed of sale, and the amount of the selling price. Moreover, in today’s housing market, where in many areas, there is more supply than typical, buyers tend to be drawn to the houses that have been beautifully redone. So unless your home already boasts an impeccable décor, staging could very well bring higher offers and faster selling times than you had envisioned – a definite plus when it comes to investing your money!

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