Shakespeare said it first, but Realtors® have made it all their own: “all the world’s a stage.” Staging, the art of preparing a home for sale by decluttering, depersonalizing, cleaning, repainting, rearranging, landscaping, and cosmetically improving a home to make it more saleable, has become the norm. The theory is that when a home is properly staged, it will appeal to the largest number of buyers and sell more quickly and sell for more. While “staging” has always been a normal part of getting a home ready to sell, since the 1990’s, staging has become an industry of its own that has emphasized home presentation. Some Realtors® do it themselves, while others put in the hands of professionals.
HomeGain.com confirms that spending $400-600 on staging will bring a whopping 343% return on investment or three to six times their value increased prices, as noted in the chart below.
Step one of staging is cleaning and decluttering. In my years as a real estate agent, I have seen value-priced homes and near-mansions put on the market in filthy condition. Buyers typically do not want to buyer other people’s dirt, even if they are not good housekeepers themselves; if they come into a dirty place, their view of the home’s value immediately drops.
It’s also really important that the house not only be clean but be free of clutter. A house can be cluttered even though it’s clean, but the clutter is distracting to buyers as it makes it harder for them to visualize how their things will look there. Clutter also makes the buyer wonder if the seller is covering up a flaw. Ideally, sellers should prepare for the upcoming sale of their home by selling or donating what they won’t be taking to the new home and by neatly organizing the rest. Since it’s fair game for home seekers to open every closet, purging is a better technique than relocating clutter.
Part of staging is repainting dingy walls before moving, preferably in neutral shades. While there may be a few potential buyers in the world that hate eggshell-colored walls, statistically, there are more who would reject a home because it had a grape living room. Even when paint is in good condition, it tends to yellow with age, so a fresh coat brightens up a room and makes inviting.
Because the yard is what potential buyers will see when first approaching the property, improving the exterior landscaping will add curb appeal. (Some real estate professionals say people are attracted to a home within 8 seconds of seeing it!) At the minimum, lawn and gardens should be neat and appear well tended to. A plant on the porch might be nice touch accomplished by a $10 visit to Home Depot. The rest of the exterior should look pleasing too. A truck full of Home Depot geraniums won’t incite house-love if the siding is falling off or the steps are cracked.
The next level of staging, often done by professional decorators, designers, and real estate agents, concentrates on furniture rearrangement, accessorizing, and depersonalizing the space. The idea is to make the home look more like a new model home. Extra furniture might be put in storage so that a few pieces might be arranged to maximize the space. Family mementos are often tucked away so potential buyers can more easily see their bowling trophies on the mantel in the family room or their mother’s picture in the living room.
This last phase of staging is often replicated in vacant homes by renting furniture, as having furniture in the room gives a better perspective on room size. Furniture also makes a home look more “wanted” and tends to make the home sell more quickly than an empty home.
Some of the staging effort may seem like common sense and some may seem contrived. It’s best to remember that especially in the current market, few homes sell themselves. Proactive marketing effort is necessary to make a nice home an outstanding one on the real estate stage.
For a look at some beautifully staged homes in Raleigh, Cary, Wake Forest, and the surrounding area, check out my Triangle website and meet the Marti Hampton Team.