A seller recently asked this question: In this market, do I really need to pay to stage my home?
The answer is…yes! Specialists recommend staging for two reasons: The first is that a staged home results in better photos. Photos are your home’s currency online, and the more appealing they are, the more views your listing will receive. A new listing gets three times more views in its first week on the market than at any time after that, so first impressions really matter. This is why we recommend launching your home fully staged, rather than waiting to “see how it goes” and investing in staging if the home doesn’t sell.
Justin Riordan, founder of Spade and Archer, a staging firm based in Seattle, Portland and Palm Springs, says, “Staging is visual merchandising for your house so that you can sell it for more money.” Another way to look at it: if you were headed on a job interview or a first date, you’d make sure your hair was brushed and your outfit was just right, wouldn’t you? The same reasoning applies here.
Secondly, staging allows buyers to understand how they would actually live in the home. The typical person shopping for a home isn’t a trained designer and won’t naturally envision how an empty space could function.
Staging can also help overcome challenges such as odd angles or demonstrate how creating “zones” within a small space make it more functional than it may appear when vacant.
Ok, but what’s it going to cost me?
Staging professionals generally break fees into two parts: the design and move-in/out services and furniture rental. You’ll pay for a full month up front, which in many markets is sufficient time for a home to go under contract. Riordan suggests estimating about 1 percent of the price of your home for staging, though this will vary based on the market and the staging company you select. Ultimately, staging is part of a collaborative effort between you, your listing agent and your staging company.
How long does it take?
A staging professional will come to your home for a consultation (usually the consultation is complimentary) and develop an estimate. A move-in date is secured with a deposit. In the busier spring and summer months, stagers may book out 2-3 weeks, so ask your agent for their recommendations early in the process. Staging can be removed once the appraisal report is complete and the transaction is moving forward to closing.
Show me the money
So you probably want to know…if I’m going to invest all this extra money in staging, what do I get? Riordan says his company’s staged homes typically sell for 10 to 20 percent over list price. This is consistent with my own findings as a real estate agent: professionally staged homes sold for an average of 10 percent over list price in a set of 12 of my listings in Seattle sold between September 2017 and January 2018, compared to 8 percent over list price for vacant or owner occupied homes. All in all, there’s a significant potential return for an investment in staging.