Should I stage my home when I list it for sale?

At some point in every listing appointment the topic of staging comes up. Should I stage? Is it worth the money? In a word: absolutely!

There are countless articles and statistics that speak to the return on investment for every staging dollar spent. Professional stagers know how to optimize the home’s layout and visual impact, both in photographs that attract more buyers, and in the “wow factor” you experience when you walk into the home. A well-staged home is often sold before the buyer leaves the main floor. First impressions can mean everything!

What is staging?

Staging is the process of preparing a home for sale, and it can be as simple as decluttering, or full-service professional staging. Staging can also include painting and remodeling – from a little touch-up paint to a new kitchen – it’s all staging! An investment in staging depends on the home’s condition and the means and goals of the sellers.

As a Realtor, bringing up the need for staging can be tricky. In some cases, this is likely the most uncomfortable conversation we will have with you! While we know from past experience that homes staged with fresh paint, neutral furnishings and carefully arranged accessories tend to sell faster and for more money, we know it can feel personal to be told to make these changes to your personal space. (It’s not personal!)

There are many levels and elements to staging.

Often stagers are brought in for a consult when the ink is still wet on the listing agreement to determine if painting, updating, purging, or adding furniture would be recommended. The stagers will walk through your home and make recommendations on colors, furniture placement and what needs to be removed or potentially added.

Sometimes the home furnishings will be used, but stagers might bring in accessories including pillows, lighting, art, or seasonal enhancements like pumpkins in the fall to enhance the home.

A full stage means that the stagers will bring everything into an empty home and stage the rooms that will offer the greatest impact to the sale of the home.

The first two options are relatively inexpensive. The third quickly gets more expensive and it’s easy to understand why – the stagers are decorating and moving a houseful of goods in and then out again.

Can I do my own staging?

Certainly! Agents will always recommend that you remove all personal, religious, and political items from the home. The main idea is to allow the buyer to imagine how they will live in the home (not to showcase how the seller currently lives in the home), and you don’t want to turn off a potential buyer. (Once I unknowingly showed a vegan couple a home with countless animal heads mounted on the wall! No surprise, they didn’t buy it.)

Does the home need any updating?

While new kitchens and baths help to sell houses quickly, that’s not always in the budget. Simple things like paint, fresh towels, clean filters, working light bulbs, weeded gardens can have a big impact. Maybe the bathrooms are very dated, but in good condition. Can the vanity be painted? New faucets? Sometimes a little bit of effort and creativity can improve a space without a large investment.

Time to declutter!

It’s incredible how much we can collect after living in a home for a few years or more. If you’re looking to sell your home, you’ll want to tidy up and declutter! Movers will store your things for you for a small sum or sometimes even for free if you use them to move. Purging extra furniture, seasonal items and trinkets to open up the rooms is very beneficial. Half-full closets look a lot more spacious than one crammed from top to bottom. (This may be the hardest part of the process. But by the time you have finished purging, packing, and storing, the next part of the move will be easy!)

It’s all about the photos!

When it comes down to it, much of the work of staging is to create fantastic photographs. This is especially true in today’s increasingly virtual world where buyers are doing a lot of their searching online. How a home shows online often determines if a buyer chooses to schedule a showing.

It is important to ensure the photographs are capturing what you want to buyer to look at. We want them to see the wainscoting, the moldings, the beautiful windows in the home. If the eye is being drawn to table decor or window treatments, we are “selling” the wrong thing. However, the reverse is true as well: if we want to distract the viewer from a flaw – a dated tile countertop, for example – more pieces will go onto the counter to draw your eye away.

Staging is a honed skill that takes time, experience, and talent to execute.

By professionally staging a home, the seller is creating a picture of what living in the home could look like. Good staging is not decorating, it’s actually marketing. You want the decor to enhance, but not distract. Good staging shows your home in the best possible light and will often get your home sold faster!

McEnearney Associates, “Should I stage my home when I list it for sale?”



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