Staging a home could be your ticket to a fast sales transaction. A new survey by the National Association of Realtors shows that putting in the time and effort to pretty up your home could pay off with a quicker sale “and” a higher selling price.
There’s always the home that will sell no matter what, but this new survey shows that staging a home can make it easier for buyers to make a decision, so the process is faster. According to the survey, almost two-thirds of seller agents say that staging will decrease the time a home is on the market. More than half of them say it “greatly” reduces the time while the others say is slightly decreases the time.
The survey also shows that 77% of agents believe that staging helps buyers visualize a home as one they could live in. That’s an important part of the process according to NAR President William E. Brown. He says: “Realtors know how important it is for buyers to be able to picture themselves living in a home.”
Staging also increases the chance that a potential buyer will come see the home, according to 40% of the responses. But, about the same number say that staging will affect buyers positively “if” the home is decorated to the buyer’s taste. The take-away here is that staging must appeal to the largest audience possible.
Boost the Sale Price with Staging
Staged homes can also increase the value of the home, according to this survey, but agents for the sellers believe it adds more value than agents for the buyers. On the buyer’s side, 31% of those agents say that staging increases the dollar value by 1 to 5% and 13% say it can add another 6 to 10% to the value. On the seller’s side, just 29% say you can add 1 to 5% to the value while 21% say 8 to 10%. So the sellers’ agents feel you can add a higher dollar amount to the price if you stage. Another 5% of sellers’ agents say you can increase the value by a substantial 11 to 15%. Agents from both sides of the transaction are seeing results, with more compelling reports from the seller’s side.
The survey also shows that a quarter of the buyers agents say that staging had “no” effect at all on the price while a few say it had a negative affect. That must apply to buyers who prefer to see a home completely empty. None of the sellers’ agents reported a negative impact.
Here’s something to consider: 21% of the sellers’ agents say they will “pay” for the staging. According to Realtor.com, staging can cost around $2,000 to $2,400 so it might be worth finding an agent who offers to do that if you are selling a home. But, there’s another option that isn’t covered by the NAR survey, and it’s cheaper.
Virtually Stage Your Home
With the help of a computer program or a design service, you can stage your home “virtually”. That’s when the seller or a home staging company takes photos of an empty home or one that’s poorly decorated and furnished, and uses photo-editing software to change the look of the home. A virtual stager can add furniture, rugs, and other embellishments to make the home look like it is perfectly staged. Realtor.com says it can cost as little as $100 per room.
If the home is empty, the virtual staging can show “before” and “after” photos of empty versus furnished rooms. It could also show different design themes or different uses for a room. For example, a bedroom could be decorated as a child’s room in one photo and an office in a second photo of the same room. The combinations are endless without the need for moving heavy furniture, and they can be tweaked for specific buyers.
Realtor.com cites the CEO of VHT Studios, Brian Balduf, as saying: “You don’t always know what the buyer wants. Maybe it’s a Victorian on the exterior and they want a Victorian interior instead of contemporary.”
If the home is filled with the personal belongings of the owner, virtual staging can eliminate those items, especially ones that might be more controversial, like “fur coats” or a “gun rack”. And the virtual staging can extend to the exterior of the home as well, providing photos with different landscaping or at different times of the year.
Balduf said in the Realtor.com article that virtual staging can also help buyers who haven’t been able to do upgrades or to clean out their home. Photos can show what the home would look like with new paint and rugs or flooring. However, there’s also concern that doctored photos could result in false advertising, especially if the photos show home improvements or eliminate some sort of neighborhood eyesore like power lines or a water tower. Balduf says: “Removing a water tower crosses the line.”
Realtor.com says “when in doubt, just note in our listing that the photos have been virtually enhanced and ask your real estate agent to give buyers a heads-up that it won’t look the same in reality.” Sellers’ agents need to make sure that buyers know that the virtual staging shows how a home “could” look.
Many agents take the staging part of a home sale seriously. The NAR survey said that 38% of them stage “all” of their homes before they are listed. Others say they only stage the ones that might be difficult to sell, or the ones with higher price tags.
Homes Need Decluttering and Cleaning
Sellers’ agents that do not stage homes say they advise their clients to “declutter” and most also recommend a top to bottom house cleaning, including a thorough carpet cleaning. They say it’s important to “depersonalize” the home before a showing meaning that the house should be free of people, pets, and possessions that would make the home seem like it belongs to another family.