With home sales in the Triangle declining 13% from June 2008 to June 2009 (according to the North Carolina Association of Realtors), the key to selling your home is making it stand out to potential buyers. There are many ways to do this, and it’s always difficult to choose which path will reward you with the most return.
Home staging has become a popular topic in today’s market. Staging is one of the foremost proven methods for receiving more offers on your home, selling it faster, and getting closer to your asking price. Through strategic design, home stagers move, replace, update, and rearrange items inside and outside the house to transform it into a welcoming, appealing, and attractive product for sale.
“Home staging is about appealing to buyers’ emotions – the splendor they are looking for in their life. Staging makes a home feel more inviting and ready for a family to move as. It offers buyers something they don’t see in every house – beauty.
According to the Accredited Staging Professionals Society (ASP), on average, 94.8% of ASP staged homes sell in 37 days or less. This is a huge difference in comparison to un-staged homes, which can sit on the market for upwards of 182 days.
Return on staging investment – A recent national survey done by HomeGain.com of over 2,000 real estate agents furthered the argument that home staging is the best way to improve your ROI when getting your home ready to sell. According to the study, home staging – this includes de-cluttering, landscaping, and prepping the home for sale – costs between $190-$584 and has a return of 319%-578%. Home repair – which includes updating kitchens/baths, replacing/cleaning carpets or flooring, and electrical – can cost between $436-$1,828 but only yields returns between 121%-164%.
It’s apparent how important home staging is from the prominent position it’s taken in home selling. You even see entire television series dedicated to it. Sellers are seeing a huge difference, and that’s what really matters. Staging a home is an important investment that can increase your chance of not having to reduce the asking price.
Despite what you may think, staging is actually affordable, both on the hourly rate and the net profit. Some real estate agents will include the cost of staging in with their fees, because they truly see the value of it. For those who don’t include it, the cost is minimal as opposed to what you’d lose by having your home sit on the market. I’ve compiled a list of the top reasons why staging is worth the investment.
1. Online Presence – A large majority of buyers are going online for their initial search. Through web profiles, potential buyers are able to refine their search in a fraction of the time it takes to search in person. Having show-ready pictures of your home could make the difference between moving to the next step in a prospective buyer’s search.
2. Value – The cost that home staging can save you is immense. By having your home professionally staged, you can save thousands. Every day that your home sits on the market, you lose money. Staged homes are proven to sell faster and at closer to their asking price than un-staged homes.
3. Measurable – Staging has proven, measurable results. Staged homes sell two to three times faster and for an average of 6% more than un-staged homes. Recent staging statistics from the Real Estate Staging Association confirm that professionally staged, occupied homes sold 89% faster in 2008.
4. More Energy Required than Money – Sellers don’t always have a great deal of money to invest in their home before they sell it. New cabinets and flooring can be cost prohibitive, especially in this market. A lot of what a staging consultant offers is completely feasible to do yourself. If you’re willing to put in the energy, you’ll see the benefits.
5. It Works Inside-Out – Home staging not only works inside the home, but with outside curb appeal as well. A professional home stager can help you design the exterior of your home so that when you do get prospective buyers coming to view it, they are immediately wowed and ready to make your home theirs.
The bottom line is that when you are ready to sell your home, there will inevitably be things you need to update, change, buy, and replace. Home staging offers the fastest, most reliable, and effective means of selling your home in the least amount of time. But, the key to this is you. The most successful staging projects are those with which the home owner is completely on board. The hardest part of this is getting the owners to agree to things they may not have done when they lived in the house. Remember, you’re working with a professional… you hired this person to help sell your house, so take the suggestions, implement them, and get ready to move into your new home.
Recently, two of its listings went under contract in just four days. One was a 4,200-square-foot home in Cary on Roland Glen Drive listed at $410,000 and the other a 2,000-square-foot home listed for $200,000 on Creek Haven Drive in Holly Springs. Both got rave reviews after showings, and both are currently pending closing. The common denominator of these two listings may surprise you: staging.
Staging a home is not a new idea. HGTV dedicates an entire show, “The Stagers,” to the subject. But in a market such as this one – with tons of inventory, fewer buyers, tougher lending and builders eager to get out from under mortgages – more sellers are realizing staging is a good way to reel in buyers.
“I’m busier now than I was two years ago,” says Laurie Preston, a home stager and owner of Preston Interiors LLC. Preston often stages homes for Sue Montpetit, a real estate stager and consultant for Town & Country Realty. Like many real estate agents, instead of trying to convince sellers to pay for staging, Town & Country includes it as part of their service.
“Price gets the buyers in the door and condition sells it,” Montpetit says. “Time is not our friend in a declining market; this is where staging is critical. The better the first impression, the quicker it will sell.”
Mike Montpetit, Sue’s husband and broker-in-charge at Town & Country, helped the sellers of the Cary home understand the current market. “He showed the owners the specifics of what was going on in the past 60 days in their price range and what the competition was doing, not only with re-sale but also new construction since most buyers consider both options. Knowing what we had to compete against, we then knew how to correctly position the house, which included prepping and pricing,” Montpetit says.
The sellers’ flexibility was critical. “They were great clients,” Preston says. “They did whatever we asked them to do. Some people take offense when you suggest staging, but when you put your house on the market, it’s no longer your home; it’s a house for sale. It’s a product. If you were going to sell your car, you would clean it and detail it and make it look the best you can. That’s pretty much what we do with a house.”
Preston and Montpetit don’t rent furniture to stage homes. Instead, they use the homeowner’s items. They also have an arsenal of accessories, including wall hangings, occasional tables and furniture, three carloads of which they brought in for the Roland Glen home. They repainted rooms, re-arranged furniture, upgraded light fixtures and repurposed some rooms.
“The third floor was their prayer room and that’s a very sensitive area,” Preston says. “They cleared everything out, and we ended up making it a game room. We found a bookcase and some games, and put a table in the corner. You just have to get people’s imaginations going.”
Preston seems to have the golden touch. Soon after the Roland Glen home went under contract, she arrived at the Creek Haven Drive home in Holly Springs to work a little magic. Sellers Kim and Brian Walker were eager to see what she would do.
“It was incredibly important that I be open-minded to her changes,” Kim Walker says. “Many people are so attached to the way they have things that I can see how they’d be offended, but I was certainly not.”
Preston got to work rearranging furniture, hanging pictures and organizing – right down to the closets, cabinets and pantries (which people do look in, she says). After doing a fair share of work, Preston recommended the couple paint the banisters black to go with the coloring and decor of the home, and stain the deck, among other things.
“It was a fun house; they had great stuff,” Preston says. “We told them to spray-paint some of their chandeliers. Gold and brass is so ’70s, ’80s and ’90s; it really says ‘dated.’ Spray paint is just a wonderful thing.” The Walker home sold for $3,000 less than the listing price, and now the couple is free to move back home to Louisiana. Walker credits staging with the quick turnaround. “In addition to the hours of hard work and preparation Brian and I did, the staging, I believe, played a major role in the quick sale of our home,” she says. “Laurie arranged items in our home so that when buyers entered, it may have felt like home to them. That’s how the house sold so fast, I believe, because Laurie made it feel like home to everyone.”
And, really, that’s what staging is all about – creating an environment that feels like home to the buyer. “Buying a house is an emotional process. You have to fall in love with the house,” Preston says. “It’s a psychological game with prospective buyers because you want them to walk in and feel peace and calmness. They might not be able to articulate why they feel that in a house, but it could be because everything is in its place and it just looks appealing.”
Many real estate agents might be reluctant to take on the added expense of staging in the current market, but Montpetit says it’s a no-brainer. “Most sellers see it as added value and understand that it helps sell their homes faster and for more money. Staging has contributed to both our clients and our company reaching set goals, despite the declining economy.”
The reason Preston is so busy lately is that buyers understand now that staging is not just for million-dollar homes, but homes in all price ranges. “They get that the cost of staging is nothing,” Preston says. “It’s like pennies in a bucket compared to the first price reduction a client’s going to have to take, or the longer your house stays on the market.”