If you're planning to sell your home, home staging is an indispensable tool in the housing market. Home staging has grown significantly in recent years, so we spoke to several home staging and real estate professionals to learn just how big of an impact home staging has on the real estate market.
"At the very least, it can help a home hold its value at the listed price when prices are dipping, but more often it helps the seller make thousands more than the staging cost," says Linda Graveline, owner of Eleven Interiors, a Los Angeles-based home staging company. "Every home I’ve staged this year has sold for $115,000 or more over the asking price."
We also wanted to learn some of the best practices for staging your home for the biggest lift in selling price. There's a lot to learn about this fascinating aspect of real estate.
What is Home Staging Anyway?
In simple terms, home staging is the act of preparing a private residence for sale. It’s a method that uses design and conceptualization principles to make a home as attractive as possible to prospective buyers. Stagers often utilize furniture, color schemes, lighting, and accessory placement to highlight a home's strengths and downplay its weaknesses.
The primary objective is to help buyers visualize themselves living in the property, thus promoting a quicker and potentially more profitable sale. Home Stager and Interior Designer Joe Cangelosi points out, "This is not about facts and figures, this is about emotions. They need to make the decision to purchase this particular home with their whole heart."
The Influence of Home Staging on the Housing Market
"I like to think of staging in terms of its ability to generate more offers, rather than its ability to boost your home's sale price," says Martin Orefice, CEO of Rent To Own Labs. "It's reasonable to expect around 50% more offers for a staged home versus an unstaged one."
Boosts Property Appeal
The majority of house hunting starts online. The first impression is crucial to get a potential buyer to consider yours over another nearby property. Home staging, when done right, has the power to transform a space into an enticing online listing. High-quality, staged photos can grab the attention of potential buyers, prompting them to take the next step towards a walk-through or an open house visit.
As Neha Gharpande, Realtor at Elite Properties NY, states, "Professionally staged homes tend to present better in listing photos, attracting more potential buyers and generating increased interest." In essence, a well-staged home stands out from the crowd, thereby enhancing its appeal in a competitive market.
Accelerates Sales Turnaround
Many reports and studies, as well as every pro we spoke to indicate that a properly staged home will spend a reduced time on the market. "Homes that are empty tend to stay on the market longer," says Brett Rosenthal, Realtor and team leader of the Revolve Philly Group at COMPASS. A well-staged home can help buyers visualize themselves living in the space, making it more comfortable for them to make an offer.
Increases Perceived Value
Home staging has a psychological effect on buyers. It can make a property feel more valuable, allowing sellers to command a higher selling price. When potential buyers see a well-staged home, they perceive it as well-maintained and move-in ready. This perception can lead to a higher willingness to pay, positively impacting the overall housing market by helping to elevate property values. Our pros agree, this is also true for rental properties.
Inspires Confidence in Buyers
Home staging allows buyers to see the property's potential, eliminating any guesswork that might have existed otherwise. It gives a clear picture of how different spaces within the home can be utilized, reducing uncertainty and building confidence in buyers. This increased buyer confidence can stimulate more activity and dynamism in the housing market.
"Put yourself in the buyers' shoes," recommends Interior Designer Nikki Klugh. She continues, "They are probably looking at several empty rooms during their home search, which means they will start to blend together. Giving your rooms purpose and style will make your home more memorable compared to the others they see."
Best Practices for Staging Your Home for Sale
While staging your home for sale is an important step to make it appealing and inviting to potential buyers, it has to be done right in order to get the best results. When done effectively, it can not only reduce the time a home spends on the market but also significantly increase its final selling price.
Audra Slinkey, President of the Home Staging Resource, highly recommends using a professional stager rather than doing it yourself. "Using a certified, professional home stager who is highly skilled in the art of design makes a huge difference in the sale of the home! Not only do sellers typically make quite a bit more money on the sale of their home statistically, the stress levels drop, the online photos stand-out, it sells quickly and the move is organized and smooth." She adds, "Home sellers can have piece of mind that they did not 'leave any money on the table' in the sale of their biggest asset."
Deep clean and declutter
First and foremost, staging shouldn't be a thought until you have deep cleaned and decluttered the home. You can do this yourself for free or hire a professional service. According to Charlotte Granville, home remodeling specialist at Fixr.com, "Professionally decluttering and cleaning the home are usually the most recommended projects and have the biggest impact in terms of selling." When decluttering, don't forget the storage areas like closets, attics and garages.
Start with a plan
If you're not going to hire a professional to help with the staging, look for inspiration on Pinterest or in other open houses in your area. Then choose a theme and stick with it. "I suggest asking your realtor what the buyers in your area gravitate towards," advises Interior Designer Nikki Klugh. "Keep in mind that it may not be your style, but the end goal is to sell the home."
Choose colors wisely
"Neutral colors are generally recommended for staging since they can help potential buyers or renters envision themselves living in the home," says Denis Smykalov, real estate broker at Wolsen Real Estate. "However, this doesn't mean that bold colors can't be used. If used correctly, bolder colors can add personality and warmth to a space and make it stand out from other properties being marketed."
Pick the right places
Nearly every professional we spoke to agrees, staging the entire home is beneficial but not necessary if budget constraints exist. About 95% of the pros suggested the living room, kitchen and primary bedroom are the top three areas to focus your staging efforts and budget. "You see, the living room is where they envision themselves entertaining guests and the kitchen is where they imagine cooking meals with their family," points out Jonathan Faccone, Managing Member & Founder of Halo Homebuyers.
Beyond these spaces, if you have additional budget, focus on the dining room, secondary bedrooms, bathrooms and laundry room.
Save wherever you can
If you aren't hiring a professional home stager and instead opt to stage the home yourself, the pros we spoke to had some useful tips for saving money. After all, the less you spend, the better your return on investment. Some suggested creating mood boards to visualize exactly what goes in the room and to avoid making unnecessary purchases. Others recommended adding fresh flowers to each room. You can also rent the larger items like furniture and artwork rather than having to purchase them.
Don't forget outdoor spaces
As George Beatty, founder of Problem Property Pals, points out, "The exterior design is an extremely important feature in listing photos. This is why you should direct your finances toward improving curb appeal." If you have a yard or a patio, make sure it is clean and tidy. Outdoor living spaces can be a significant selling point for many buyers.
While home staging requires an upfront investment, the payoff can be substantial in terms of faster turnaround, better selling prices, and increased buyer interest. It has proven to be more than just a trend in the real estate industry -- it's a strategic tool that has a profound impact on the housing market.