Dear Gail: I’m going to be selling my home and was wondering whether or not I should stage it. I’ve been reading a lot about staging and wanted your thoughts on if I could do it myself or hire a professional stager. Will it really make a difference since our market has improved? — Sam
Dear Sam: In my professional opinion, a home should always be staged, whether by the homeowner or a stager. You only have one chance to make a first impression, and you want it to be the best.
You want your home to shine over all of the other ones that buyers are looking at. Even though the market is better, Zillow reports that in our area there are 10,143 homes on the market, and according to New Home Source, there are 309 new-home communities. That’s a lot of homes to compete with.
Think of staging as a marketing tool. Staging a home for sale is all about making it inviting to the largest number of potential buyers.
People now go online first to look at what’s available, and you want the pictures of your home to make them want to see it in person. I don’t want to take the time to visit a house that has a vacuum in the kitchen and counters so cluttered you can’t see what they even look like. Take a peek online, and you’ll see many of those. Instead, I’d be looking at one down the street that looks as though it has been well-maintained and does not require a lot of work.
Staging increases the showability of a home, making it more likely to sell. We’re all picky when looking for a home, so a well-staged home will stand out in a positive way. On the other hand, an unstaged home could stick out in a negative way. Think of a model home versus a cluttered and disorganized resale. Which one do you want to live in?
Staging your own home can sometimes be difficult as you have to be honest with yourself. It truly is no longer your home but a property for sale. Staging is not focused on your personal taste and everyday comforts but, instead, making it appeal to a broad range of tastes.
I had a client whose feelings were hurt because I wanted to remove some of her plants. I couldn’t see her beautiful fireplace through the plant jungle. This isn’t a time for hurt feelings.
This is also a time to keep it clutter-free, livable or not. Your property needs to shine, and unfortunately, it may feel like living in a bubble.
The National Association of Realtors conducted a survey, and these are a few of the findings from its 2017 Profile of Home Staging (the 2018 report has not been published yet):
n Forty-nine percent of buyers’ agents cited that homes staging had an effect on most buyer’s view of the home. Seventy-seven percent of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home.
n About one-third of buyer’s agents said that staging a home increased the dollar value offered between 1 and 5 percent compared to other similar homes on the market that are not staged.
n Thirty-nine percent of sellers’ agents stated that staging a home greatly decreases the amount of time the home is on the market.
n The most common home improvement items agents recommended to sellers were decluttering the home (93 percent), entire home cleaning (89 percent) and carpet cleaning (81 percent).
Sam, if you do nothing else, I can’t stress enough decluttering and cleaning.
Staging doesn’t have to involve the expense of renting furnishings. When I stage, I first work with what the seller already owns. There’s no need to go out and buy things you won’t be taking to your new home if you already have things that will work. For arrangement, look at pictures online, visit model homes or hire a stager to properly place and design with what you already have.
Most stagers charge an average $100 to $200 per hour, so you have to decide what your time is worth. If you have the time, you can do a lot of the legwork beforehand to save money. Why pay someone else to put away personal items, pick up clutter, clear the counters and clean.
If you want to do it yourself, you can always hire a stager for a consultation. They can be your “buyer’s eye” and provide you with a staging plan that includes suggestions on how to best showcase your home.
I taught with another staging instructor, and she always said, “Most people don’t think twice about spending $350 to detail their car before selling it but hesitate to spend the same amount of money to spruce up their home.”
Gail Mayhugh, owner of GMJ Interiors, is a professional interior designer. Questions may be sent by email to GMJinteriors@gmail.com. Or, mail to 7380 S. Eastern Ave., No. 124-272, Las Vegas, NV 89123. Her web address is www.GMJinteriors.com.