Should You Pay to Stage Your Home?
A house furnished, decorated and polished within an inch of its life will sell more quickly, and for more money – or so the theory goes. It's called staging, and a small army of professional home stagers stands at the ready to transform your humble abode before the For Sale sign goes up.
Houzz.com lists 24 home stagers in Colorado Springs, Colo. alone.
It sounds simple, and for years it's been accepted as gospel. But it may not be true.
A study finding that home staging does not guarantee a higher selling price has caused a dust-up in the real estate world.
"People think that staging makes a difference. What we found out was that from a price perspective, it doesn't have an impact," says Michael Seiler, professor of real estate and finance at the College of William and Mary and co-author of the study, "The Impact of Staging Conditions on Residential Real Estate Demand."
The study presented 820 homebuyers with six virtual tours of a single home presented in various states: with no furniture; with ugly furniture; with nicer furniture; with jarring color or neutral color on the walls. The buyers said they would be willing to pay about the same, $204,000, no matter what the house looked like.
"Staging took off years back when the housing bubble burst and some sellers went to great lengths to try to impress and entice buyers," says Kerry Brill, president and CEO of Merit Co. Real Estate, Colorado Springs, the oldest and largest independent full-service real estate company in the Pikes Peak region.
"But it was really nothing new: make the most of a home's good points. Play down its weak points.
"Staging is not magic. And it's not a silver bullet," says Brill.
"The single most important step in selling your house is not the right color on the wall or the most interesting placement of furniture," he says. "It's working with a great real estate agent who understands your home's value and will present it in the best light to the right buyers."
A homeowner can play an important role in creating a great first impression for their home. A DIY home staging doesn't have to cost much. Brill considers these steps essential:
Get rid of clutter. If you have to, rent storage space. Pare down to your best furniture and the least amount possible in closets. Store the rest.
Make a punch list. Repair or replace anything that's broken, cracked, unsightly, past its prime or not working. Hire a handyman if necessary.
Go for a fresh coat of paint. Choose a fresh, neutral color. It doesn't have to be beige, but the hue should be inviting and warm.
Add light. Up the power of bulbs throughout the house. Add lights to dimly lit living spaces.
Clean from top to bottom. Consider hiring a cleaning service, but understand that it's your job to keep the house immaculate throughout the time it's on the market.
Tidy the yard. Be sure to maintain the outside of your home: cut the grass, trim shrubs, buy a new welcome mat.
Be a good partner. Ask your real estate agent if there's anything else you could do to improve the look of your home. And listen to what he or she says.
"Smart sellers seek out professional advice and follow it," says Brill. "Your agent sees a lot of houses. They're paid to understand the market, the buyers and the sellers. You might be surprised at what you learn."
Get a free valuation of what your home is worth at Merit Co.'s website.
With four offices in the Pikes Peak region, Merit Co. offers exceptional expertise as a highly regarded hometown real estate agency in Colorado Springs. In addition to serving homebuyers and sellers, Merit owns a mortgage company and offers property management services.