Home Staging - A Short Overview

What is staging?

If you think about your last trip to the shopping mall, it’s likely you were in stores that were well staged to promote an enjoyable and effective shopping experience. The stores’ traffic pattern, how product was merchandised, the colour of walls, the music being played (and its volume), and even smells are all taken into consideration when staging a store. These are amongst the items that impact the consumer’s propensity to purchase and retailers have invested heavily in the science and art of store staging.

From a real estate perspective, home staging is designed to make a house appealing to the highest number of potential buyers by using professional design and psychology to present the property in its best light. This may involve highlighting architectural features, decluttering spaces, neutralizing colors, and conveying a sense of comfort through furnishings and other means.

Should you stage your home?

There was a time when staging your home was a novelty. However, today it is one of many well-accepted tools designed to shorten the sales cycle and maximize the selling price, while differentiating your home from the competition. The converse is also true… since many homes in the area will be staged as part of the selling process, an unstaged house may very well stand out in a negative sense.

The question of staging starts with an objective dialogue between you and your real estate professional. I believe there are 3 areas to discuss….

         1. Transformation from home to market ready house

A perspective buyer wants to see a space they can identify with… a space that is clean and inviting, clutter free, and nicely decorated. When you decided to sell, your home changed back to a house, and it now needs to compete with other houses for sale in the neighbourhood. Buyers are picky, so you are going to want to show your house in its’ best possible light (making it more appealing than the competition down the street). Be brutally honest as you walk from room to room…do you have oversized furniture, an incongruent colour scheme, dark rooms, or other negatives?

2. What’s the market like?

In a ‘buyer’s market’ where there are traditionally more homes for sale than buyers available, there is a greater need to differentiate your property. Conversely, there would be less competition in a ‘seller’s market’. You should have a conversation with your real estate sales representative around market dynamics, and how they may impact your decision about investing in staging. Please also discuss the expectations of potential buyers because in some markets, and at certain price points, potential buyers will simply expect a well-presented house regardless of market dynamics.

3. Does it pay to stage your home; what should I expect?

The Canadian Real Estate Staging Association states that staged properties are seen as ‘well-maintained’, receive more showings and offers, sell faster and often for more money. US research states that home staging can reduce a listing's time on the market by one third to half, and could fetch as much as 6% to 20% more than an empty home or a home not properly staged. Professional home stagers in Sweden claim around a 10 % higher price compared to just cleaning the home. While the numbers seem impressive, practically speaking the market and competitive pressure will largely determine price, while home staging will play a key role to increase showings and shape buyer perception.

What Home Stagers Do

A home stager brings expertise in picking colors, fabrics, and furnishings, and arranging them to make your house inviting to a broad range of potential buyers. Sometimes it involves making suggestions to help buyers see things differently. For example, staging a spare bedroom as an office will appeal to many buyers and set your house apart from the one for sale down the street.

  • As a starting point, a stager should review your property to identify strong and weak points and then develop a list of recommendations (preferably in writing).
  • Home staging phases commonly include cleaning and decluttering, neutralizing rooms, and rearranging furniture. Be prepared to move or store items to de-clutter and depersonalize your house.
  • Sometimes significant changes are recommended, and you should discuss the cost/ benefit of changes with your team, including your REALTOR®, and together agree on an action plan.
  • Major changes could include repairs, painting, and other services… would you want to manage these yourself, or have the stager line up contractors? You may choose to do some or all of the work yourself, or hire the stager as you see fit.
  • The stager may also recommend bringing in a variety of furnishings ranging from chairs to drapes, pillows to towels. Many stagers keep an inventory of items designed to make your house feel like a place where people can live their dream.

The cost of home staging varies with the amount of work involved. However, an initial consultation, at a cost of around $250, is highly recommended as a way to identify your options. Remember, we only get one chance to make a first impression, and want potential buyers to immediately think: WOW!

If you would like a referral to a local home staging company, feel free to contact me at john.slauenwhite@century21.com, or 905-467-0830.

PS – Lots of interesting articles on the web regarding staging; follow me on Twitter (@JohnSlauenwhite) for links and updates. 

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