With the coming of spring, potential Bay Area homebuyers will begin pounding the pavement, and homes that make a good first impression are the most likely to make the biggest impressions on eager buyers in what could be a crowd of open houses.
That’s where home staging can help.
A recent survey by National Association of Realtors’ 2015 Profile of Home Staging showed that 81 percent of homebuyers found professionally decorated properties easier to visualize as a future home. Staged homes typically sell within 30 days, according to research by The International Association of Home Staging Professionals and HomeStaging.com. Additionally, staging usually leads to a higher final sales price.
“Staging isn’t about decorating your home,” says Laney Nelson, Accredited Staging Professional stager for Walnut Creek-based East Bay Staging. “It’s about selling.”
THE BASICS AND BENEFITS OF STAGING
Stagers conduct a home assessment, examining items to be removed and refurbished, neutralizing decor to appeal to a majority of buyers, and maximizing both indoor and outdoor space to generate positive impressions of the home’s features. Replacing carpeting and flooring, painting, cleaning, landscaping, changing furniture, and even simple fixture replacements can help a property connect with buyers.
But mixing conflicting styles and accessories can put off homebuyers, according to Kelly Wood, a buyer’s specialist and a former stager. “The extremes don’t really work,” she says.
Additionally, staging and repairs offers the appearance of home upkeep, both in the real world and online, says Danielle Cirelli, owner of Walnut Creek-based staging company Designed to Sell. “Photos are an essential part of marketing because over 90 percent of the buyers will preview a property online,” she says.
Millennials, who currently make up the largest share of homebuyers, are even more likely to peruse online listings before visiting a home. Pacific Union CEO Mark A. McLaughlin stressed the importance of technology on the real estate industry in his recent Inman Select Live presentation, saying that digital strategies are geared toward users likely to “give you eight seconds.”
CONNECTING WITH A STAGING PRO
Sellers who decide that staging is the way to go will likely want to employ the services of a pro. Many expert real estate professionals offer their clients a list of recommended contacts – including architects, general contractors, and interior designers – who can help enhance a home’s appeal. Some real estate professionals provide staging services as a part of their service package. Sellers can also find a staging company through online resources such as Yelp and Angie’s List or referrals from friends and family.
Though some sellers might fret over staging expenses, it actually costs less — an average of $675, according to NAR’s study — than the first price reduction – typically at least 10 percent of asking price. And a lingering home on the market sans staging can incur additional price cuts, according to Nelson.
“Every month a home is on the market, there is a price reduction of usually 5 percent,” she says.