Home Staging: A Necessity for Success

Many real estate agents have a keen eye for  detail  and  home  décor,  and  believe they  know  how  to  get  a  home  ready  for market.  The  typical  process  goes  something like this: agent provides client with a tip sheet outlining how to get the home ready to show and spends about an hour going from room to room with the client making suggested changes. Then, it’s up to the seller to make the changes, which may or may not happen. And once the sign is posted in the front lawn, the agent and seller  begin  to  wait.  And  wait  and  wait and wait while the agent progressively lays blame on the economy, the asking price or  generally  poor  timing,  and  the  seller blames the agent.

All of this could have been avoided had a professional home stager been involved at the outset. Although hiring a home-stag – ing  professional  does  add  to  the  bottom line expense of selling a home, research proves  that  staged  homes  almost  always sell far more quickly and closer to asking price than homes that are not staged. The primary benefits home staging brings to agents  are  time,  money  and  a  lock-tight relationship with the client.

Take The Time

Proper  home  staging  requires  at least  three  to  four  hours  for  an  initial  consultation,  which  first  involves walking  the  exterior  of  the  property and making note of which plants to cut back,  where  to  plant  new  things  and how  best  to  utilize  outdoor  furniture.  Next, the stager carefully examines the entire house — including the attic and basement  —  to  determine  what  stays, what  goes  and  how  things  should  be rearranged.  The  goal  of  home  staging is to depersonalize a home to appeal to the broadest range of buyer tastes possible, which takes a trained eye — and time — to do effectively.

After  the  initial  consultation,  many sellers elect to make t he changes themselves,  while  others  have  the  home stager  handle  the  installation.  Either way, the process requires a significant amount of time, but certainly time that is well spent.

Sell it Faster for More

A  2007-’08  study  conducted  by  Real  Estate  Staging  Association  helps prove  that  staging  can  sell  a  home  remarkably  faster.  Results  of  the  study show that, upon staging, vacant homes sold in 40 days on average (versus 120 days  without  staging )  and  occupied homes  sold  in  38  days  on  average (versus  102  days  without  staging ) .  Additional  research  conducted  by StagedHomes.com  shows  that  staging a home brings sellers an average equity gain of about $17,000.

Barbara Corcoran, founder and President of The Corcoran Group, New York City’s largest real estate company with  $5  billion  in  annual  sales,  is  an ardent  supporter  of  home  staging.  She says,  “People  who  don’t  spend  a  few dollars to prepare their homes, whether it is $5,000, $10,000 or even $30,000, depending on the price point, are out of their minds. Staging a house used to be an option but now it’s a necessity.”

Valerie  Miller is a residential real estate  agent  in  Greenville,  SC,  who follows  Corcoran’s  advice  because she,  too,  has  experienced  the  benefits a  home-staging  professional  brings  to her and her clients. “When I work with sellers,  I  tell  them  this  is  a  product  for sale,  not  your  home,”  Miller  says.  “It’s a  product  to  be  marketed.  If  the  home doesn’t  have  colors  that  are  inviting, or  has  way  too  many  accessories,  it doesn’t have the same draw as a staged home. I always recommend staging, and it’s  a  part  of  what  I  do  when  I  go  on  a listing appointment.”

Ideally,  that’s  when  a  home  stager should cross the seller’s threshold. Too often,  agents  and  sellers  will  consider home staging only if the home isn’t selling,  but  once  a  potential  buyer  has been  through  a  property,  the  odds  are slim  that  they  will  revisit  if  they  had  a negative  first  impression.  Rather  than viewing  home  staging  as  a  tool  of  last resort, it is much more advantageous to invest  in  home  staging  before  the  first prospect  visits  the  property.  Ideally, you  want  every  potential  buyer  to experience the property when it is staged and placed in showcase condition.

An objective Perspective

The  third  benefit  to  working  with professional  home  stagers  is  the  unbiased  point  of  view  they  bring  to  the table. Miller says she likes to bring in a home-staging professional to provide an objective  perspective,  because  getting a home ready for market often requires having difficult conversations with the seller. You know how tough it is to tell a seller her home has a foul odor due to smoking or pets. Rather than risk jeopardizing  the  agent/seller  relationship, agents  can  enlist  a  trained,  successful staging  professional  to  be  the  “bad guy.”  Exceptional  staging  professionals  not  only  engage  in  extraordinarily difficult  conversations  with  ease,  they also have an innate ability to give your client a feeling of self-confidence when the conversation is over.  In today’s highly competitive real estate market with extremely demanding buyers,  hiring  a  certified  staging  professional should be every bit as integral to  the  seller’s  program  as  getting  an inspection and an appraisal. It not only helps sell a home faster and at maximum price, it saves agents time and can ultimately  enhance  their  relationship  with the seller.