Buying a home is an emotional endeavor. It’s likely the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, and when you tour a home that feels “just right,” you can’t wait to put in an offer. Of course, savvy sellers in hot housing markets know that appealing to homebuyers’ emotions can help sell homes quickly and at a high price point. And a beautifully staged home makes it easy to woo potential buyers.
Think about it: when you’re touring a home, you’re imagining what the next stage of your life will look like when you move in. Sometimes it’s hard not to get a little swept away. Especially when you’re looking at a home that’s so perfectly decorated it looks like it’s been torn from the page of a magazine. That’s why it’s important to understand the art of staging and how to look past the story a seller is telling you, so you can see the actual home underneath.
Here’s how clever staging can affect the price of a home, and what you need to know when you start shopping:
Why Home Sellers Stage
A main advantage of staging is that it allows potential homebuyers to imagine their own lives in the home. In fact, 77 percent of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home, according to a 2017 study from the National Association of Realtors.
Another advantage of home staging is that it gives the impression that the home has been well-maintained. Once buyers get past the curb appeal, they want to see that the house they’re considering investing in has been well taken care of, so updated light fixtures and furniture that looks like it’s customized for the space can help.
With that said, staging a home can cost the seller thousands of dollars. While stagers will oftentimes incorporate some of the owner’s belongings, they may need to rent artwork, furniture and other home goods to give the house an enviable appeal.
So, what are we getting at? Sellers expect that a well-staged home will net them a good return on their investment in the terms of sale price and how quickly the house moves off the market. This is a good thing for buyers to keep in mind as they shop. You don’t want to come in too high with an offer because you were swept away by impressive staging.
How Staging Works
The first step for stagers is to de-personalize the house: remove family photos, clutter and other personal belongings. A seller’s collection of knick knacks from their global travels might make their home feel lived-in and personal. But, that’s not the goal when it comes to home selling. Rather, more neutral home accessories and furniture will appeal to a broader base of buyers. That way, those touring the home can have a fresh canvas to picture what their daily lives would look like in the home. It’s common for buyers to imagine entertaining for the holidays in the dining room or enjoying family movie nights in the living room.
Staging can also help buyers assign purpose to rooms. Let’s say there’s an odd nook in a house. Simply setting up a desk in the space could resonate with buyers who need a small space to work on the days they telecommute. Again, staging is about creating a story for home shoppers to buy into. The more effectively that story is told, the more likely you’ll be to fall in love with the home and put in a competitive offer.
How Staging Affects Home Sales
You probably know staging a home can help improve its value. But you might be surprised how much it can drive up the selling price. Staged homes, most of the time, sell for 6 to 25 percent more than homes that have not been professionally staged, according to Home Staging Resource, a staging and redesign training company. Let’s do the math: Say you’ve got a $750,000 house on the market. A good staging job could drive up the price by an extra $45,000 to $187,500. This is why sellers pay thousands for quality staging in the first place. No seller would make the investment if they didn’t think it would pay off in the long run.
In addition to potentially netting a higher price, homes that are staged tend to move off the market more quickly. In fact, 62 percent of sellers’ agents say that staging a home shortens the time a home spends on the market, according to the National Association of Realtors® study.
It’s safe to say staging can be the ace in a seller’s pocket. Buyer, beware!
What Buyers Should Look Out For
Buyers, you can expect to see living rooms the most staged. According to the National Association of Realtors study, 55 percent of buyers found staging the living room to be the most important, followed by staging the master bedroom (51 percent) and staging the kitchen (41 percent).
Of course, you don’t want to let a well-staged house overshadow the property’s faults—which 27 percent of buyers in the survey admitted to doing.
A couple staging tricks to be on the lookout for? Mirrors can help light bounce around and create the illusion of a larger space. A tray with coffee mugs or wine glasses in the master bedroom might help you associate the space with relaxation. A well-curated tablescape in the dining room is meant to help you picture the home as a welcoming place.
The takeaway here? Staging is certainly an art form, and while it can help you imagine your life in a new home, you want to be sure your bid reflects what the home is actually worth after the furniture and decor is moved out.
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