To stage or not to stage
It’s home selling season in Florida. Those cold Northern state homeowners get several months of reprieve before they have to get their houses in shape to put on the market, but here in Florida the curtain is going up, and you better be ready.
Real estate professionals have always promoted the idea that staging your home properly before putting it on the market can make the difference between a sale or no sale. In fact the National Association of Realtors says that properly staged homes sell 80 percent quicker and for up to 11 percent more money than non-staged properties. Since I’ve been involved in the real estate industry this was always the position the industry took. Years ago we even employed house managers to live in vacant properties that we were having a particularly difficult time selling with the hope that potential buyers could relate better to a lived in home.
Now, however, this entire theory could be blown to bits based on a study conducted by professors at the College of William and Mary, Old Dominion University and Johns Hopkins University. The study called “The Impact of Staging Conditions on Residential Real Estate Demand” will be published sometime this year by the Journal of Housing Research and may make a lot of real estate agents pretty upset and confuse a lot of home sellers.
The findings of this study conclude that home buyers would pay the same amount of money for a house regardless of the quality of furnishings or paint colors. However, these same buyers believe that other buyers would pay less for a house with unattractive wall color or poor furnishings. Naturally, neutral and attractive options appealed to the most to the home buyers participating in the study. Essentially everyone’s perception is that someone else will pay less for an ugly home, but they would not, go figure.
The researchers based this on a study of 820 buyers viewing six virtual tours. However, there is one little problem with the study, it does not address if a home will sell faster, which we all know is almost as important as sale price when marketing real estate.
The premise of home staging is to make an ordinary home look extraordinary to the point where potential buyers can envision themselves in the house. Unfortunately, homeowners confuse staging with decorating and resist suggestions from their realtors and/or staging professionals.
Sellers need to remember that their homes are personal to them, but do not represent other people’s lifestyles. The object of staging is to keep the picture of your beautiful moldings or high end kitchen and bath finishes, not your son’s rock band posters or your miniature unicorn collection, in the memory of the buyer.
Stagers typically work with what you have by rearranging furniture and reallocating collections and personal belongings so buyers can just see the best assets of the house. They are the ones who are objective and may be able to place your artwork and accent pieces where they will not detract from the overall appearance of the home.
Whether you think hiring a stager will help your home sell faster and for more money or you agree with the new study that is about to come out, you still need to get your home squeaky clean, de-cluttered and be ready for prime time. If all the world’s a stage, then your home is front and center on that stage, so make sure it’s ready to move into the spotlight.