We are visual creatures and I’ll be the first to admit I love to show a home that is perfectly staged. Consumers get the benefit of seeing the functionality of the living space utilized to its highest and best use. No imagination required. I recently explained the concept of staging to a seller whose last home purchase was over 20 years ago. He bought the vacant home “without a stick of furniture in it” and was appalled at the cost of staging his now vacant property. He saw it as a newfangled way to extract more money from a seller.
Staging is a relatively newcomer to the real estate resale market. Prior to a few years ago we saw furnished model homes at new construction developments, but is was less common for “used” homes. Personally, I base my decision on whether to recommend staging or not, on a case-by-case evaluation. If the location, view, layout and condition are impeccable, the need and value of staging is not as high.
I also consider the other value-added attributes of a property. Horse property buyers are more interested in the equestrian setup, available trails and stable condition than in a perfectly staged house. Prospective buyers seeking a big view may benefit more from having trees trimmed to maximize the view than spending thousands on staging the home. If the seller’s budget is limited, and let’s face it, most sellers want to see the highest return possible on their preparation of sale costs, then staging may not always be the place to spend discretionary funds. The overall property must be considered along with the type of buyer the property will attract. In my experience, there is no blanket rule when it comes to assessing what improvements need to be made to a property prior to sale.
On the other hand, a vacant home with an unusual floor plan will usually benefit from staging. It’s best not to have a client say, “What’s this room ?” A vacant house that needs a little personality added to stand out from the competition is another key candidate. If a home lacks a clear focal point, such as an amazing view or snappy eye-catching remodel, staging can add interest and show the transformation the addition of the right furnishings can add. Staging is certainly capable of adding the Wow Factor, and yes, staged homes often sell faster than vacant houses in the same neighborhood. There is no doubt staging a home adds appeal and that may be its highest and best value, as people want what appeals to them.
Do occupied homes benefit from staging? That’s another post.