What is “Home Staging” and How Does it Help Sell My House?

(I wrote this article for http://www.realestateabc.com many, many moons ago! It was quite literally THE FIRST article on Home Staging available on most search engines, at the time. I thought it was worth re-posting!)

“Home staging” is not a new term, but for many homeowners and real estate agents the concept of “professional home staging” is shedding new light on how to promote a home in the real estate marketplace. In past years, homeowners were left to their own discretion as far as preparing for home showings. Though they could occasionally rely on an agent for instructions, more often than not real estate agents were just as perplexed at working out the details as the homeowner.

While agents are experts in the field of selling and closing, many are not design savvy. Agents usually know exactly what factors can help sell a home. It’s just not always easy to get a home into selling condition in a timely manner without some sort of experienced assistance.

Professional home stagers are practiced in the art of preparing a home for resale. They work with the “flow” of a home, eliminate clutter, edit and arrange furniture, and even assist in enhancing curb-appeal. With the aid of a professional home stager, your house can make a notable first impression on potential homebuyers.

First Impressions
As the real estate industry often stresses, the first impression is the key factor in selling your home. Typically,” says Jan Van Horne of Coldwell Banker Burnet Realty in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, “a potential buyer has made up their mind ten seconds after they step in the front door. They were already forming an opinion as they pulled into your driveway!” That really doesn’t leave too much room for fault.

“To achieve the greatest possible outcome,” Jan adds, “a home should always be presented at its best the first time around.”

Finding a Professional
You find and select a professional home stager much like you would find any other professional service. Ask around and get referrals. Check with your real estate agent. A number of larger real estate companies offer access to a listing of professional home services in your area. These individuals and companies have often already been pre-screened by the real estate agencies or their agents.

How Much Does it Cost?
When you contact a home stager, ask for an estimate. Most home staging businesses will be happy to give you a free estimate and it is usually a quick process. Keep in mind that this is only an estimate and estimates can be a bit off. However, unless something unforeseen takes place between the estimate and the actual job itself, an estimate should be fairly accurate.

Get several free estimates and make some calculations. Just like any service, pricing in the home staging industry can vary over a wide range. Some charge an hourly rate and some will charge you a set fee for the entire job. Be sure to ask how they determine their fee so that you can make an educated decision. Also, factor in the condition of your home, the average amount of time homes have been on the market in your area, and the asking price of your home.

Asking price can play a huge factor in what a homeowner should be willing to pay for staging services. Some professional home stagers bring in rented furnishings, driving the price up considerably. Some simply charge too much to make it pay off. A lot of home stagers seem to forget that their clients are planning on moving out of the house very soon. Most home sellers are not willing to invest a huge amount of cash in a house they are planning on leaving behind.

Find out up front what the stager is planning to bring in and at what cost. Though expert services do come at a price, the cost should balance with the expected benefit of a higher selling price. As a rule, the higher the asking price of the home, the more one can spend to have it professionally staged.

Agent Participation
In some instances, it makes sense for a real estate agent to contribute to the cost of professionally staging a home. “As a real estate agent,” says Tony Cirelli, a Minnesota Re/Max agent from Apple Valley, “I have to look at profit margins. I analyze current market trends and what will be spent on advertising before dropping any cash into staging.”

Pat Cirelli, Tony’s wife and partner, agrees. “For the most part, an agent should be able to determine if a home is in need of this type of service, and if it would be of benefit or not. If you know it would be in the homeowner’s best interest and if you know that something will need to be done before the home is listed, it might be wise to set aside an amount of your marketing budget for staging. If it’s a reasonable fee, it is usually a worthwhile investment. It could certainly make all the difference in your showing.”

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Vacant Homes are a BUMMER!

They make a house feel small!

Attention will ALWAYS focus on the negative!

And potential buyers start to wonder what’s wrong with the house and why it’s been abandoned!

Whether you are a Home Staging Professional or a Real Estate Agent, if you want to compete, providing homeowners with a cost-effective and easy-to-implement option is the solution. With a market currently overflowing with sad, empty houses, the fact that you are able to offer this value-added service is definitely going to place you ahead of the pack! Not to mention, potential buyers need a frame of reference, and let’s face it…all vacant homes kind of start to look alike.

When I started staging homes in 1999…long before all the Home Staging hype began…I couldn’t give my services away! As a result, I seriously considered breaking into the business myself. Yes, it’s true! For a brief moment in time…a very breif moment… I almost got in to real estate. And THIS was going to be my secret weapon!

As the years passed, I was sure both Staging Pros and Realtors alike would figure it out and I would just be one of the many. But so far…no one else is doing it. So why not become an expert at the ‘Partial Vacant Staging?’ It’s actually quite easy to implement if you know what you’re doing and how to do it. And for the record, I have NEVER lost money on this, NEVER had to pay for storage, and NEVER had an unhappy homeowner! i don’t even require a helper to set up, tear down, or unload.

If you knew you could walk into a presentation with this secret weapon up your sleeve…why wouldn’t you use it?

For the Staging Pro - Agents aren’t always that willing to nudge their client into a big-ticket investment, which is often the case when renting full furnishings. While I totally believe that furnishing a vacant home gives that house an edge, I am also aware as a Home Staging Expert myself, not every homeowner can afford this luxury, nor are they always convinced of the payback.

For the Realtor – Can you imagine what a mark you would make if you could actually provide this service to your clients FOR FREE? You would quite literally find yourself leaping ahead of all the other agents vying for that same listing…for the simple fact that you can provide this highly desireable, vacant-house-transforming service!

This is an easy, easy way to add furnishings without the major overhead. And we have just added this course to our Home Staging Expert curriculum. Quite literally…for the cost of a one-hour home staging consultation, you will pay for this class! Our first workshop kicks off on August 10, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. For other cities along our route, please contact me directly at lori@centerstagehome.com for details.

Vacant homes are a BUMMER! But fear not…we have the solution, and you can, too!

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IS STAGING FOR EVERYONE?

In 1999, when I got into the Home Staging Industry, no one even knew what home staging was. There were no T.V. shows, no books, no articles, and no websites to boast the benefits of staging your home. As a newbie stager in a newbie staging industry, I opted to market my services to high-end homes only, assuming that only people with so much to gain would be interested. But it didn’t take long for experience to prove me wrong.

What I realized fairly early on is that it wasn’t just a certain clientele that would benefit from home staging… every home owner and realtor would reap the rewards, no matter the price point! Buying a home is probably the biggest investment anyone will ever make. Likewise, selling that home is often the biggest opportunity a home owner will ever be handed to turn a profit! Where else can the average home owner earn a big , fat bonus of $5K, $20K, or even more in one lump sum? There too, since the economy has turned and the housing market has been in a flux, making your house as appealing as possible to stand out in a market now flooded with options is also to the home owner’s advantage.

But still, I have to admit, I do find it a bit startling that I still see so many homes sitting on the market looking quite tragic. When I hear a home owner and/or real estate agent remark… “I don’t believe in home staging!” I wonder if these same people would ever declare, “I don’t believe in preparing for a job interview!” Because really, it’s the same thing. The entire goal is to make your home as appealing as possible for potential buyers so they can see for themselves, this is the right house for them. Anything you can do to meet or beat their expectations will only work to your advantage.

Unfortunately, even in this day and age, when 80% or more of potential buyers start their search for a new home on the internet, there are many, many owners and agents out there leaving their listing to chance. Yes, it’s true. You might get lucky and the perfect buyer who can see past all that dated wallpaper and clutter might come along and snap it up. (Though they are far and few between.) And yes, it’s equally true, if you slash your price, you might get a few offers. (If you don’t mind giving your house away.) But wouldn’t it be smarter to make your home as appealing as possible? Wouldn’t your chances of selling faster for more $$ increase if your house looked the part? Wouldn’t you prefer to at least have some control over your destiny? Common sense says it would.

I am frequently asked, “Is staging a worthwhile investment?” And the answer is a resounding, “YES one hundred times over!” How often do you get the kind of financial opportunity in life that selling a home might offer? And if you MUST sell your home, why would you leave it to chance? In my world, staging is not only a worthwhile investment, but an absolute necessity! By giving the buyer what they want…a home they can be proud of…you will get exactly what you desire, in return.

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Welcome to the Home Staging Expert Blog

Welcome to the Home Staging Expert Blog.  We are going to be providing home staging tips, information on training and workshop opportunities for home stagers, and other items of interest to home stagers here.

Feel free to send us info that you would like to see discussed here.  We are always looking for new ideas.

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