Should I Stage My Home Before Putting it on the Market?
Does Staging a Home Really Work and How Much Does it Cost?
The majority of buyers are unable to see past your design choices. If a buyer doesn’t like your French traditional or hippie-chic look, chances are he or she won’t find your home appealing, even though decor is an easy thing to change.
The goal of staging is to design your home so it appeals to the greatest number of potential buyers. Homes that have been staged tend to sell faster and for high prices. Staging never involves a complete redesign - any good stager will work with what you have and suggest inexpensive changes that offer the biggest bang for the buck.
Staging typically involves some or all of the following:
- Cleaning the home from top to bottom
- Reducing clutter to make the home appear more spacious
- Removing many personal items (i.e. your children’s artwork on the fridge or that huge collage of family photos in the living room). Buyers can more easily picture themselves in a place if it’s less personalized.
- Rearranging and/or removing furniture to create a layout that flows and accentuates focal points
- Neutralizing especially bright or bold spaces (painting that orange accent wall a shade of beige, for example)
- Painting walls that are dirty, dingy or peeling
- Repairing anything that’s obviously broken, such as cracked baseboards, broken cabinet doors and holes in the wall
- Choosing the right props and decorative pieces to make the home look stylish, inviting and comfortable
Some people struggle with the idea of a stranger completely changing the space. They wonder what’s wrong with their style and personal items. Try not to take any of the suggestions personally. A stager is not implying that there’s anything wrong with your personal style; they’re just revamping the home to appeal to the masses.
Who Does the Work?
Staging is part advice; part action. A stager will do some of the work, such as rearranging furniture, but he or she will also ask you to handle some tasks. For example, it’s not the stager’s job to clean your home - you’ll have to do that yourself or hire a cleaning service. And many stagers ask you to do much of the decluttering so you can choose how you want the items packed and stored. Even if the designer is willing to do this work, tackling it yourself will save money.
When it comes to tasks such as painting and repairing, the stager can hire a contractor handyman for you. But if you’d rather hire your own or do the work yourself, that’s OK, too. Any good stager will chat with you about all of your options.
Evidence that staging works is more than just anecdotal. Here are some facts:
- Ninety five percent of homes staged by Accredited Staging Professionals (ASP) sell in an average of 11 days and for 17 percent more than non-staged homes.
- By comparison, non-staged homes spend an average of 90 days on the market, according to ASP. And we all know that the longer a home stays on the market, the lower the selling price is likely to be.
- According to a 2009 Home Gain survey of more than 2,000 Realtors, the average staging project produces a 586 percent return on investment (you’ll actually make money in the long run).
- According to the National Association of Realtors, more than 90 percent of buyers search online for homes before visiting them. If the pictures are not appealing, chances are they’ll never walk through the door.
How Much Does It Cost?
According to the National Association of Realtors, the average investment in staging is 1 to 3 percent of the home’s asking price. That works out to $1,500 to $4,500 for a $150,000 home; $3,000 to $9,000 for a $300,000 home; and $6,000 to $18,000 for a $600,000 home.
However, NAR data also shows that the average return on investment is between 8 and 10 percent of the asking price. Let’s say you spend 3 percent, or $9,000, staging your $300,000 home but the staging produces a return on investment of 9 percent, or $27,000: That’s a net profit of $18,000.
Choosing a Stager
Staging services are offered by interior design companies, professional organizers and even some real estate agents. And, of course, there are companies that focus solely on home staging. Here are some tips for finding the right professional for the job:
- Ask for referrals. Talk to real estate agents or friends and neighbors. Who have they used and what did they think of the service?
- For any company you’re considering, ask to see before and after photos of previous jobs. Find out the selling price of each home and how long it stayed on the market. This will tell you a lot about the stager’s abilities.
- Set up a face-to-face meeting. This will tell you a lot about whether you and stager are on the same page. Do you get along? Is it easy to communicate with him or her? Do you like his or her initial ideas?
- Check credentials. Find out if the stager is certified by a professional organization such as the International Association of Home Staging Professionals or the Real Estate Staging Association.
- Be clear on budget. Work with the stager to set a maximum amount, and be sure to talk about what that includes.
- Get a written proposal before agreeing to any work. Make sure it is itemized, detailing every expense.
- Seek quotes from multiple stagers. Typically, it’s a good idea to disregard those that are unusually high or low and choose from those in the middle.