Staging is to real estate what the first date is to a relationship.
The purpose of a first date is to familiarize ourselves with all that is wonderful, unique, and well-maintained about a person so we might begin to imagine our future unfolding with them. Heading out for a first date armed with all the trappings of our lives may not prove seductive. Better to show up with our best features accentuated to allow our counterpart to see qualities and traits that might fit with theirs.
Everyone appreciates when you put your best foot forward. Should that foot happen to look particularly sassy, sexy or enticing, even better. We want our date’s take-away to be that they like us and that they do not have to break the bank or spend too much time getting us into shape. If we are unsuccessful and ineffective in appealing to them, they simply move on.
It is much is the same with home staging. The idea is for the prospective buyer to begin to imagine their life unfolding in the home. If this buyer is wandering around rooms experiencing the current owner’s unusual decorative choices, collection of Super Balls, and hilarious photos of unfortunate family vacations, then chances are they are imagining the current owner’s life in that home—not their own.
Home staging is getting down to the attractive, minimalistic basics. Too many homebuyers walk away from properties they consider aesthetically unappealing, even if that home has met all of their “must have” criteria.
Appealing to the masses is key when staging a home. A well-staged room makes it difficult for many to imagine it being used any other way. Eliminating clutter, signs of wear and tear, and the personality of the current owner goes a long way in allowing the buyer’s vision to take over.
Cleaning, painting, landscaping and decorating to showcase the most attractive qualities in a property are elemental to achieving fewer days on the market and better offers. If a buyer has to walk around the property making a to-do list, you can bet the first item on that list is to lower the asking price or worse, to simply walk away.
There are costs involved in home staging. However, it is important to keep in mind the added expenses of not selling your home. The extra time a non-staged home stays on the market means additional utility, taxes, mortgage, and insurance payments—likely a much larger sum than what it would cost to stage the same home. In Staging to Sell: The Secret to Selling Homes in a Down Market, Barb Schwarz states that, in an average housing market, 95 percent of staged homes sell in 35 days or less. This is in stark contrast to un-staged homes, which take 172 days or more to sell, if they sell at all.
According to Kiplinger.com, nearly 90% of home buyers start their search on the Internet so staging is a good way to make sure photos pop online. Home sellers spend an average of $1,800 to stage a home, but costs can range from a couple of hundred dollars to $5,000, or more. Here are six ways to stage your home for less than $1,000:
You can expect to pay more or less than that amount based on how much work your home needs. The end goal is to create a home that grabs buyers by the heart and invites them to feel at home. The good news is that statistics show the return on investment is bountiful. The NAR reports that for every $100 invested in staging, the potential return is $400. A recent home staging profile conducted by NAR shows that 71 percent of realtors representing sellers believe that staging a home yields between 1–20 percent increase in the dollar value of a home. With the current national home price reduction averaging between 10–20 percent for a house on the market, home staging could save you from a costly price reduction.
All in all, the effort put into home staging, like the effort put into that first date, will open to the door to the next step. For home sellers that next step is getting to the closing table with the fewest days on the market and the highest home dollar value.
Staging is different than decorating. Decorating is about adding personality to a home; staging is about depersonalizing your home, removing the current personality and creating a neutral tone so that others will be able to see their personality in the home.