Sell faster. And for more money. This is what every home seller (and agent) wants. And according to the Real Estate Staging Association, staged homes sell 73% faster with an average 297% return on investment.
With so many differing opinions on home staging, we turned to James Hart, a co-principal at Sold with Style, a pre-sale consulting and home staging service for clients in and around NYC, to give us his best intelligence on staging. Hart’s staging advice is often featured in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, as well as a spotlight on HGTV’s “Selling NY.”
1. Home staging is all about making more money. Staging is a business move, not just making things look pretty. In many markets, you should be able to get a three to ten-time return on your staging investment.
“I recently worked with a client who debated spending $5,000 on flooring. In the end, we convinced him to invest in the flooring and it resulted in a $150,000 price increase,” says Hart.
2. Your best offers will come in the first 40 days. This means the house needs to be in order and staged by the time you take listing photos, so that the very first day on the market, it can sell.
“We see many sellers who decide they won’t make any changes to their home until it’s on the market for a while. They create if-then lists, which are never good: If the property doesn’t sell, then I’ll invest in some new paint,” says Hart. “The thing is, buyers don’t want to do the things on your if-then list. They don’t want to have to take down all of the wallpaper the seller put up 30 years ago. They see the amount of time or money they would have to put into the property and decide to move on.”
And unfortunately, if you don’t get to your if-then list in the first 40 days, your sellers are going to lose a lot of potential buyers.
3. Buyers really don’t want to choose their own style. Many sellers or real estate agents abstain from making updates to a property because they think a buyer will want to choose their own style.
“This is the single worst piece of advice a real estate agent can give a seller,” says Hart. “Only 10% of the people on the market are looking for a fixer-upper, and those people want a really great deal on a house. You’re losing 90% of your potential market by not making any updates,” says Hart.
4. If you don’t make the updates, that money is already gone. Oftentimes sellers are concerned that the updates they make on their home won’t be worth it financially. But Hart says that if they don’t make the improvements, that money is already gone. They can fix it now, or the buyer will just end up deducting it from their offer price. If sellers have many updates to make to the home, they can prioritize by making small bathroom or kitchen improvements first, which will get the most return. This includes things such as painting, re-glazing a blue bathtub, installing a new toilet, updating lighting, and so forth.
5. Stay true to the architecture. When staging a home, it’s important your clients stay consistent with the architecture of the home. This means staying away from ultra-modern designs in a Tudor, and so forth.
6. Perceived space is worth money, too. Whether the home you are selling is 500 square feet or 5,000 square feet, squeeze every inch of perceived space out of it. This means de-cluttering both horizontally and vertically. Hart says that another area to look for perceived space is a deck, patio, or outdoor living area. “While this isn’t counted toward the square footage of a home, it’s perceived as an extra room to homebuyers, and buyers value that.”
7. Don’t forget who your market is. It’s important a home is staged to capture the attention of the largest market demographic who might be interested in that house. Is the house in a young, cool, hip area where you might have a lot of single buyers? Make sure design choices reflect that. Is your target market 30-50-year-old couples with young children? Then you’ll want to ensure the house reflects what type of lifestyle their family can have while living there.
8. Encourage your clients to disconnect from their home. The way they are using their space now might not be the most appealing to potential buyers. They should know who the target market is that you’re going after, and make sure all spaces in their house reflect that.
McKissock Learning is the nation’s premier online real estate school, providing continuing education courses and professional development to hundreds of thousands of real estate agents across the country. As part of the Colibri Real Estate family of premier education brands, McKissock Learning, along with its sister schools Real Estate Express, Superior School of Real Estate, Allied Schools, The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, Gold Coast Schools, The Rockwell Institute and Hondros Education Group, helps real estate professionals achieve sustainable success throughout each stage of their real estate career. Learn more at mckissock.com/real-estate.