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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

To Stage or Not to Stage...I've got the ANSWER!

Are you trying to sell a home but haven’t been lucky enough to sell it? Has your real estate agent mentioned using a professional home stager? Do you even know what a home stager does and why they are beneficial to selling your home? Before we get into these answers and specific questions you should ask a potential home staging professional, let us go over what exactly goes into staging a home and why you should enlist the help.

First, staging a home itself is not a new concept, but hiring someone to do it for you is a fairly new phenomenon that is catching on in the real estate world. We all know how to make good first impressions and now there are professionals that know how to do this effectively for your home. These professionals are trained in the art of making your home look brighter, bigger, organized, warm and loving, and best of all, it makes the home more appealing to those wanting to buy it.   A good stager researches the neighborhood and the demographics of the market most likely to purchase your home, and will stage the property targeting this group.

A recent Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) study showed that a group of vacant homes in their study, marketed through traditional methods, sat on the market an average of 120 days without selling. They took these same homes, staged them, used the same marketing techniques, and noticed that they sold on average in 26 days!! They also included occupied homes that were not professionally staged and saw that these homes took an average of 102 days to sell. Once they sent in the professional stagers, it only took on average 45 days to sell.[i]  What a difference staging makes!!!

Take at these before and after pictures and see the difference:

So now that you have an idea of what a professional home stager does, and how the service MAKES YOU MONEY, how do you go about finding the right one? Well, let us dive into a little more detail into the process and give you a good idea of what is provided and the cost associated with staging a home.

What services does a staging professional offer?
  • Consultations: This consists of coming into the home to give recommendations on assisting you stage your home, as well as giving advice on other issues to consider changing or modifying to help with the selling process.
  • Occupied home staging: A professional stager will come into your home, use your current furniture and decor and will redesign the layout of the most commonly used rooms. The stager may also use furniture or décor they have to help enhance the look of each room. There are instances where the homeowner may purchase décor or furniture if they are willing to keep the items after the sale of the home, either from retail stores or the stager themselves.
  • Vacant home staging: Like the title says, this is for vacant, unoccupied homes. The stager will bring in furniture and décor from their own inventory, a rental company’s inventory, or possibly the homeowners furniture brought back into the home. They will then create a design that should be specific to the property and may or may not include all rooms in the house.
  • Organization:  Professional stagers are skillful at making a home more effective and organized to appeal to potential home buyers. They can use these skills to help a homeowner get organized and rid themselves of items not used or needed anymore as well as creating effectively used space within a home.
Some stagers even go above and beyond and offer other services, such as design, to help make any house a home. Ask each professional about every service they offer to see if they will take the time and effort to offer more than just basic staging services.

What does a staging professional usually charge?

It is important to keep in mind that each home is different; therefore, the cost will vary due to staging needs, market, square footage to be staged, and price point of your home.
Here are a few general pricing practices among professional home stagers:

  • Hourly pricing:  Based on number of staging professionals needed and is usually between $50-$150+ an hour.
  • By the job:  Some professional stagers will give you a price based on the price point of the home and is anywhere from .5% - 1.5% of the list price. This usually includes delivery, design of furniture and décor, set up, and possible furniture rental fees for a certain time period (usually 90 days). If furniture is rented, this price usually includes coming back to the home to move out any furniture and décor.
  • By square footage of rooms to be staged:  This can vary from $.50 - $1.50 per square foot.
So now that we have the basics covered, let’s go over some helpful questions that you should ask any home staging professional.

  • How long have you been a professional home stager?
  • What services do you offer?
  • Are you insured?
  • Do you take credit cards?
  • Do you use your own furniture or do you use a rental company?
  • How long from consultation to set up does it usually take?
  • Do you have a website or a portfolio with sample work that I can look at?
  • Do you require a contract?
  • What are your prices and what is included in the price?
  • Are there delivery fees or any other fees associated to staging a home?
  • What is your availability?
  • Do you have any references?
Staging and selling a home can be an overwhelming thing to tackle.  Asking some, if not all, of these questions will give you a good, overall idea of what a stager can do and if he or she is qualified and trustworthy. And don’t base your decision on price alone…you get what you pay for and by hiring the professional stager who designs the staging plan specifically to the property being discussed (and doesn’t leave your home looking like the other two listings they staged in the same demographic). YOU will get the best offer in the shortest amount of time. Good luck and remember, a house is built with boards and beams but a home is built with love and dreams.

If you aren't fully convinced, look at these before and after pictures:

[i]  Free Press Release:  Home Staging Statistics Released

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