Will staging a house really help to sell it?

We had a really great seminar today at TD Emerald Plaza on downsizing. It was hosted by senior financial planner, Sylvia Manning who was kind enough to supply sliders and chocolate cookies for lunch. York Polk (a mortgage broker,)and I talked about what to do when you’re getting ready to sell.

The boardroom was packed with couples trying to decide what to do with their empty nests. Surprisingly, since so many of my clients these days are looking at condos for their lifestyle change, most in today’s group wanted to downsize from larger homes to bungalows or townhouses. One was even thinking about renting. But most questions were around staging.

Do we really need a professional stager? one asked. Why fix things up if you are going to sell, anyway? Why not reduce the price, and leave repairs for the new owners?

Well, first of all, there is a difference between staging a home in the sense of dressing it up with new linens, rearranging furniture, bringing in some art and pillows, maybe installing a new kitchen faucet, and the type of staging we see on television — with all new furniture and art, rooms painted, etc.

The first kind of staging is cosmetic and relatively inexpensive.  For example, I have all kinds of cushions and linens that I can bring out to stage a client’s home for sale, but I don’t have a warehouse full of couches, lamps, and dining room tables. The pros do. 

You may not need a professional stager, but you do need to make sure your home is clean, uncluttered, and arranged to be visually appealing. (You can look at posts here on Kiss and Sell to get some ideas.) If you don’t have an eye for that yourself, ask your realtor to take a walk-through and offer suggestions.

Personally, I don’t use a professional stager because I spent years doing displays in my antique/art store, Country Roads, and I’m a visual artist. I do my own staging, but many realtors do work with stagers and some include that service in their commission.

I don’t think anyone has kept statistics but I can tell you from my own experience that a  home that shows well will sell faster than one that doesn’t. 

Sometimes staging goes further than a few pillows. I saw a professional stager used to amazing effect in a house for sale on Island Park some years ago. It had bright red carpet, some empty rooms and furniture placed oddly: with their eye drawn to those things, the buyers were missing the great bones.

I went to an Open House held after it had languished on the market for a while, and found a house completely transformed. The red carpet was gone: the floors were gleaming hardwood, all the rooms had been dressed and in some cases, painted. The furniture was gorgeous; the decor to die for. The Open House was packed, and the house sold within a few days.

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