In any housing market, especially a competitive one like we're seeing now, home staging is an important tool in preparing a home for sale. Over the last five years, the amount of homeowners that use staging to more effectively market their homes for sale has grown over 100%!
We still have a long way to go in educating consumers about the reality and benefits of staging, but it seems that we're on our way. In my experience, I've found that there are some questions and misconceptions about staging that may be holding back sellers and even Realtors from taking advantage of the services of a professional home stager to help to market a property.
Here are some things I've come across:
1. What exactly is staging anyway? Home staging is a marketing tool that is designed to show a property in its best possible light, accentuating the positives, exuding a clean, well-maintained, comfortable setting to the widest audience possible. Think model home or hotel room.
2. I've cleaned and de-cluttered, so it's all ready for the market. That's a great start and it is part of the staging process. But it's only the beginning. It is difficult to be objective about our own home. What may be lovely or comfortable to us may not be as buyer-friendly as we think. We stagers work to de-personalize the home while keeping in mind the target buyer in order to subtlely appeal to that group through an emotional connection.
3. Staging is expensive. I understand that sellers do not want to spend lots of money on a house they're going to leave. Staging in and of itself is not expensive. Most home stagers charge a flat fee for their service, which typically includes a service package of a number of hours. If committing to a hands-on staging package seems to be too much, even a staging consultation would provide lots of information and suggestions on updates or repairs that would bring a high return on investment (ROI).
HomeGain, a leader in the real estate industry, listed the Top 10 D-I-Y Home Improvements for Sellers and the ROI for each (see chart, inset). Home staging is #3 on the list, only to be topped by lightening/brightening and cleaning and de-cluttering the home.
The way I think of it, with the competition in the industry, it becomes a HUGE benefit to dress up your house and ensure that it is clean, well-maintained, aethetically pleasing and offers emotional connections to buyers. If a home doesn't "speak" to a buyer, they will just move on to the next property--and there are plenty of others to see!
You wouldn't go to a job interview unshowered and in old, wrinkled clothing, would you? A house should be dressed to impress as well. It is essentially being interviewed by buyers.
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