Selling your home? To stage or not to stage

A recent member survey by the National Association of Realtors found 48% of agents reported that staging a home decreased the property’s time on the market. And 20% of both buyer and seller agents said home staging increases the dollar value offered by 1% to 5% compared to similar homes on the market not staged.

But if you’re selling your home, and your real estate agent says you need to stage it with different furniture and artwork, isn’t that an insult to your own furniture and taste?

Not necessarily, says Jessica Lautz, deputy chief economist and vice president of research at NAR.

“We have to remember that a home is incredibly customized to the person who lives there,” she said. “So all you are trying to do is attract the widest swath of buyers to the home,”

NAR suggests avoiding over-the-top furniture designs, and use neutral colors if the walls are being repainted.

Sellers do not have to stage the entire condo or house. But should focus on key rooms.

“The rooms that everybody loves,” Lautz said. “Thinking about the kitchen, thinking about the living room. The first step when you walk into the home. How does that look?”

Four out of five buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home. About a quarter of sellers’ agents said they staged all sellers’ homes prior to listing them, while 10% said they only staged homes that were difficult to sell.

As to who pays for the pre-sale staging, that varies.

“Is that staged by the Realtor and are they bringing in their own furniture that perhaps they transition from house to house and hold in a storage unit?” Lautz said. “Do they bring in a professional stager? Will the Realtor pay for that or are you going to pay for that out of the proceeds of your home sale.”

Staging does not have to be expensive. Lautz said it can be done for as little as a few hundred dollars. Furniture rental companies often rent out furniture for home sale staging, take it back, and either rent it out again or sell it to furniture shoppers, often at a discount.

Virtual staging has also become more common for online listings, with computer generated furniture and wall hangings superimposed on images of empty rooms, so buyers can visualize furniture placement.

The National Association of Realtors has just completed a Profile in Home Staging report, which is available online.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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