To Stage or Not to Stage? That is the Question!

I must admit that when it comes to staging I'm a skeptic. I don't use staging on my properties and I'm often confronted by students as to why I don't. I approached this article expecting to discount staging and prove that it's not worth the time or money. I researched this hoping to find flaws, but came out really not finding any downsides to the effort and cost of staging. By not staging your property, you could actually be helping your competition sell their homes! HGTV recently listed not staging a property the number one of 25 selling mistakes.

Home staging has become increasingly popular due to the home renovation and "house flipping" shows airing on TV. But in fact, professional staging has been around since the 1970's, and is a proven success. It is not just for high-end homes it increases the profit in any market. Statistics and surveys show a staged home can generate 10-15 percent more profit. In one 2009 survey, it showed staging provided a 586% return on the investment cost. And of course, the cost is deductible.

There are many reasons as to why you would stage a property. When you go to a professional job interview, you should "Dress for Success" to stand out and make a great first impression. Well, you might want to consider dressing the property for success! A bland empty space is not very appealing. Potential buyers lack the imagination to see themselves in a home. Empty rooms can often look too dark and much smaller than they really are. As we all know in this business, the longer a home stays on the market, the lower the price it generates and the more it cuts into your profit! Professionally staged homes on average sell approximately 50 percent faster. Staging transforms a home into a larger, brighter and more inviting atmosphere. Most buyers form and opinion of a home within fifteen seconds upon entering!

Home staging is not home decorating. It is a strategic design approach to appeal to a wide array of potential buyers. Many investors make critical mistakes in staging a property themselves to cut costs, using their own ideas and style choices. My advice is, if your going to pay the money to stage, leave it to the Pros. The professional stagers are well versed in what the market wants to see. The professional stager understands lighting, color and the flow of a layout. When a buyer leaves a staged residence, they remember it! An average customer spends 6-9 minutes in an empty home, versus and average of 40 minutes in a "staged" home. They connect with the home, mentally moving in. They generate an "emotional response", and the buyer lingers. There is a science behind professional home staging.

Statistics show that 9 out of 10 people cannot visualize a furnished home. Also, 80 to 90 percent of buyers see a potential home online first, and then decide whether to visit it. If budget is an issue, virtual staging is another option that can be just as effective as actual staging. Virtual staging is a fairly new concept and new companies are popping up on the web to offer this service. It's about 10 percent the cost of actual staging. The potential downside to going virtual over real staging is that once the potential buyer sees the home in person, they might not have the same emotional response with the home empty of furnishings. The virtual staging websites that I visited still claim great success despite this downside.

To sum this up I touched base with Andy Hubba of Exit Realty. Andy has sold a lot of homes for me, and he's certainly an expert on the subject of selling homes. Here is Andy's take on staging; "Statistically staged homes sell faster and for more money. The investors that I work with buy, fix and sell properties that target the first time homebuyers in an affordable market. These types of properties definitely benefit from staging but more so from the lack of real competition in the same price points. Marc's properties are finished with extreme attention to detail and he uses high end finishes. His end product has always been any easy sell despite the fact that he hasn't used staging. In a more competitive market with a tougher home to sell, I believe 100% that staging is essential to stand out in the crowd." There you have it! I might become a staging convert.

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