In the last 15 years, home staging has become an integral part of selling homes in our market. While necessary, staging is also not inexpensive. In order to evaluate and justify the expense, it is important to understand how buyers make their decisions.
Today’s buyers are tech savvy. They are also busy. Buyers make their initial evaluation of a home by looking at the photos online and if they like what they see, only then will they make the effort to visit the home in person. If the photos are uninspiring, they reject it and move on to the next. So, what makes the type of photo that will stop a buyer in their tracks? First, a quality professional photographer who knows how to compose a photo that tells a story. Second, perfect exposure. But that is not enough.
Photographs of a vacant home are like an unfinished painting. The photos are uninteresting and lack vitality. A great stager, like an artist, comes in to finish painting the picture. Professional stagers are experts in marketing and understand how to create emotion through interior design. Together, the photographer and stager can craft a story that compels the buyer to act. Thus, a listing that is not generating traffic does not mean that buyers aren’t seeing it; it means they are viewing the photos and rejecting the home sight unseen.
Staging is also important when buyers come to the home. If you have ever been to a model home within a new construction development, you have experienced the way that furnishing and design results in a “Wow!” effect that creates emotion and influences buyers. This is what staging does for your home. We want buyers to visit your home, fall in love, and make an offer to purchase it.
In the super-heated market we experienced over the past few years, the more buyers that came to see a home meant that there were more buyers making offers to purchase, which drove up the sales price to levels that in many cases were previously unimaginable. Two years ago, we listed a vacant condominium with awkward spaces that seemed like it would never sell. Rather than lower the price, the owner made the decision to stage the home. We had new photos taken and the home sold within a week.
During market slow downs when inventory increases, staging is equally as important. Fewer homes are being sold—you want your home to stand out and look better than the competition. That greatly increases your chances of being successful.
As stated earlier, staging is not inexpensive. A fully staged 2,000 square foot home might cost $3,500 to $4,000. That might seem like a lot, but consider this: an effective price reduction is typically within the 5 percent range, which equates to a value of $35,000 on a home priced at $700,000. Staging seems like a bargain when looking at it from this reality. Of course, staging does not guarantee you will not have a price reduction but in my mind, it does guarantee you will get the highest price the market will bear. No traffic, no sale.
To better understand the process and goals of staging, I asked Maren Harrington, owner of Backdrop Staging, to tell give us some insight.
“When we stage a house, there are several things that we focus on to help the house show beautifully to potential buyers. First, we look at the style of the house and the demographic of the likely buyer to ensure that the furniture and accessories we choose create the feeling of the lifestyle likely to appeal to that buyer. For example, if it is primarily families in the neighborhood, we will often set up one of the rooms as a child’s bedroom. We also want to highlight the features of the home, both in the photos and as buyers walk through the house. We think about the best way to arrange the spaces to bring attention to the home’s unique details such as a cozy fireplace or beautiful windows. As we put the finishing touches on the project and review all of the staging details, we make sure that everything is well lit with lots of lamps and open curtains as buyers love houses that feel light and bright.”
From experience, I know Backdrop Staging does a great job. The SeattlebyDesign team has had tremendous successes with clients that have made the decision to stage their homes. I had one recent client that jokingly claimed she no longer wanted to sell her home after it was staged. If and when the time comes to sell your home, we strongly recommend you consider staging.
-Written by Barry Bergner