Despite the popularity of the home makeover genre of television programming, or perhaps because of it, there continue to be issues of fear, uncertainty and doubt that arise when home owners and realtors consider employing the services of a Home Staging Professional.
Firstly, there is the misguided perception that staging a home for sale requires extensive renovations, the purchase of new furniture, accessories and art and thus the expenditure of thousands of dollars. I think many people associate stagers with designers and assume that the cost will be high. Stagers come from a practical background with a "work with what you have" attitude while a designer might have a more idealistic (and more expensive) approach for making the home over. In fact, incredible changes CAN be made on a small budget. Initial assessment costs can range from about $100 to $375 depending on the extent of the service, and sometimes this is all that is required. Beyond the cost of the initial assessment I'm always able to work within the homeowner's budget no matter what that is. Many of the most dramatic changes cost nothing more than some time and elbow grease and most home owners are certainly willing and able to do this. Additional services that a Home Staging Professional can provide include creating furniture flow, redesigning art placement and dramatizing key spaces with the addition of sensory impact items such as candles, towels, pillows etc. This can easily be achieved in a few hours at a reasonable cost.
Secondly, many home owners and realtors wonder about the return on dollars spent during the process of readying a home for market. Now the reality of this is very simple - a staged home sells faster and for more money than a comparable un-staged home. In a study done by Coldwell Banker Realty it was found that the average home was on the market for 31 days as opposed to 14 for a staged home - that's 50% faster - and the staged home sold for 6.9% more than the un-staged home. It really is all about the packaging. I can take any home, in any price range, and in any real estate market, and turn it into a product that will sell more quickly and for more money without spending a lot of money. Author of The Automatic Millionaire, David Bach, recommends in his newest book that Home Staging be used to get the most dollars from the sale of a home.
(P.S. Home Staging always costs far less that your first price reduction!!)
Thirdly, there is fear of judgement. The average home owner hates it when the neighbour, Ms. Perfect Designer Home, shows up unexpectedly for a visit to the modest, eclectically dysfunctional, somewhat cluttered home that most modern families live in. Is this what it will be like to have a Home Staging Professional do a Home Assessment? Please take a breath and let me assure you that a Home Staging Professional is trained to assist in deciding what must happen in a home so that it sells quickly and for top dollar - no judgement involved! Helping home owners realize that the house is now a product for sale and must be prepared as such will enable them to let go of emotional attachments and therefore neutralize spaces so the home appeals to the greatest number of buyers. The way we live in our homes and the way we market them are two totally different things and a competent Home Staging Professional is always able to address these sensitive issues in a caring manner.
Finally, it has been suggested somewhere that home staging is an immoral ploy to disguise the faults of a home and deceive the buyer. How ridiculous! When you sell your car you clean it and shine it up so that it is presented in the best possible manner. When you attend a job interview, you buy a new suit or a new dress and take special care with grooming and appearance. Home Staging applies the same idea to selling a home. What could make more sense?
All real estate professionals know that buyers only know what they see, not what it's gonna be. It's estimated that only 10% of buyers can actually "see the house" and if they can't envision themselves living in the space they don't move in, they move on. Sellers can't see the minor flaws in their home, or sometimes even the major ones, but you know the buyers see them and buyers will make a lower offer as a result or move on to the next house. The intention of Home Staging is never to perform a "cover-up" on the major defects of a home but to allow its positive attributes to shine and to help home shoppers visualize the full potential of the home. The "use what you have" approach ensures that potential buyers will not be intimidated by fancy furnishing and unachievable designer spaces.
The bottom line? There are two things that determine whether or not a home will sell - how it shows and how it is priced. Home staging should not be feared - it should be embraced! So get those homes staged, price them right and they WILL sell.