Tuesday, February 19, 2008

To Stage... or Not to Stage

That is a question that many sellers will ask. After reviewing television shows that tout that staging can make all the difference, they believe that this is always the way to go. But, here are a few thoughts I want to share with you on the topic.

A furnished house can be cleaned, de-cluttered and “spruced up” with plants, new matching towels, a few well-placed accessories, etc. Similarly, curb appeal can be made more attractive adding a few new flowering plants, mulch over dirt areas, and even a color bowl and new door mat on the front porch after, of course, taking care of the yard by trimming trees and bushes, mowing and edging the lawn, and yes, even power-washing the walkway and driveway to remove dirt, stains and moss.

An empty house is not very appealing to anyone unless a person has great visualization skills and can picture their belongings placed in the home. This is where staging can be helpful. However, it is not cost effective to stage every empty home. Staging may make sense for larger, more expensive homes because they can be filled with furniture and accessories without making it look too crowded. I’ve observed that smaller homes and condos that are staged are frequently done so with smaller furniture pieces, smaller beds as well as fewer pieces of it. These situations look like people would not or could not live with only the furniture used in staging (smaller beds, downsized hard-case furniture like small desks, dressers and the like). An experienced agent will point this out to their buyers and ask them to visualize their furnishings in the space. I suggest to my buyer clients that they even measure room sizes to make sure they’re not committing themselves to a major replacement of furniture for their new home.

As an advisor, it comes down to return – whether or not the projected increase in selling price will at least offset the cost of the staging. It makes more sense to either stage or partially stage a more expense home or condo than sinking some big bucks in a lower priced home. I’ve seen many homes where the amount of staging was “over the top” and cost would have, in my opinion, been a waste.

While partial or full staging can be quite expensive, I offer my clients a sensible, complimentary way to take the edge off of their empty home and that is to accessorize key areas: kitchen, baths, fireplace mantel, etc. This, in addition to a thorough cleaning, can help to make an appealing difference and help prospective buyers project themselves into the home. Conversely, accessorizing a large home is meaningless as the house just overwhelms the accessories and the accessories are lost in the space.

If you are thinking of selling and have not made a decision to work with a certain agent and would like an assessment of what things are necessary to prep the home for the market, please give me a call. I’ll arrange to stop by and offer my suggestions and advice on a complimentary basis. If we later end up working together, that’s fine. If not, that’s OK too because either way, you’ll end up with information that will help you sell your home faster.

To illustrate some of my concepts, I have included before and after photos of a master bath in a Gilroy townhouse that I sold last year.

Thanks for reading!

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