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.