Ballpark Estimate: $100 for basic recommendations up to $3,000+ for in-depth staging services
In today’s challenging real estate market, every detail matters when it comes to trying to sell your home. That’s why hiring a home stager, also known as an Accredited Staging Professional or ASPs, can be a strategic way to position your home to make it stand out from the competition. This can often speed up the sale and help you get the best price.
Playing Dress Up
If you are a female going to a wedding or other special event, you might go to great lengths to have your hair, clothing and makeup all perfected to help you look your very best. The same premise should hold when you list your house for sale. This is a special occasion that warrants lots of grooming and tweaking to get the most pleasing effect. Of course for your personal image, you may rely on the help of a hair stylist, tailor and makeup artist to help you hone your presentation. For your home, you can hire similar help in the form of a professional stager. This is a decorator who specializes in showing off your home in its very best light so that potential buyers will be able to picture themselves living there.
Get the Most Buck for Your Bang
In on optimum real estate market, there are unlimited examples of homes that have undergone staging and as a result, have sold sooner – and for a higher price – than their less polished counterparts. In the slower market that exists today, you may not be able to capture a higher price with staging, but the fact is that you can still position your home to attract a seller in the most efficient way. In addition, staging your home is a great way to avoid having to lower your price over time. That’s why many realtors strongly urge their clients to invest in the services of a home stager right up front. In most cases, everyone benefits from this decision in the long run.
The Scope of the Work
Home staging can be anything from decluttering your rooms and closets to make them look more spacious to adding more modern furniture and decorating to bring an outdated home’s look forward a few decades. In addition, people who have already moved out of their homes often used stagers to make the vacant place look warm and inviting with rented furniture and accessories. No matter how much, or how little, help you need, the overall goal of staging is to make your home look its best and to make it possible for people to picture the setting with their own personal items moved in. Staging can also include painting, new cabinet fronts, landscaping and just overall grooming inside and out.
Recent U.S. Housing and Urban Development statistics illustrate the importance of investing in your home’s image in this way. HUD estimates that a home that has been appropriately staged can sell for about 17 percent more than a home that has not undergone such efforts. In addition, the 2007 Home Gain Survey, which included results from more than 2,000 realtors, found that a home that was staged sold in less than half the time as its counterparts. (The findings were that it took 13.9 days on the market for a staged home to sell, while an unstaged home could be listed for 30.9 days before selling.) Just keep in mind that since this survey was conducted, the real market has experienced great declines and houses are taking much longer to sell overall, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t reach this goal even with the help of a professional image setter.
Home Staging Differs Versus Decorating
While a well-decorated home has aesthetic appeal and interest, the idea of staging is a bit different. Instead of being as reflection of your tastes and experiences, it needs to resonate with a wide audience and have universal appeal. As one realtor explains, when you stage your home it is no longer a place to live but a product to market to your target audience. This means that you need to let go of any ego and personal preferences and be able to show the home to its full potential. This may mean storing some of your furniture, knick knacks and photos away until you move. Toys, pet accessories and even extra utensils and kitchen items often are best out of sight, as well.
If you aren’t quite sold on this premise of streamlining your possessions, some experts advise going to look at your staged competition and seeing how well they present to prospective buyers. This may help you to visualize how your home could look with some extra effort.
Clean, Clean and Clean Again
In addition to downsizing your possessions and perhaps upgrading some of your key pieces (such as a well placed armoire, nice bedspread and new towels for the best presentation), staging is also about making your house shine down to every last corner. This means that you will need to clean everything you can see, and many parts you can’t even see, such as between grout lines, in the recesses of your cabinets and in the dark corners of your closet. When viewing a potential new home, buyers will look at everything and the cleaner your home is, the better it will look to them. Just realize that you will need to be prepared to do daily maintenance once your home is staged in order to keep up the fresh façade. (Or, you may want to invest in the help of a regular cleaner until your home sells.)
Homes at All Price Levels Benefit
You may think it is only homes in either very low, or very high, price ranges that benefit from the expert eye of a staging professional. In reality, home in all categories will find advantages to undergoing such a strategic facelift.
If you are selling a small, starter homes in the lower price range, you may have lots of competition and may need to convince buyers that every inch of your space is used to the ultimate advantage. On the flip side, if you have a very high-end home, you will want to make sure you can convince buyers that your home is worthy of its hefty price tag. A very modern kitchen with stainless steel appliance and luxury furniture and fixtures will help to reinforce that image.
What to Look For
If you want to hire a staging professional, one of the best places to start is by asking your real estate agent for a recommendation. You can also find your own stager in the newspaper, Yellow Pages, home real estate booklets, through Craigslist.org or by doing an Internet search for home stagers in your area. When you find someone you are interested in, always ask what experience the person brings and how he or she works and the fees you can expect. Also keep in mind that the education and certification a home stager brings to your job is much less important than their ability to effectively position your home for your target audience. Therefore, when you find someone you like, ask for several references and find out what former clients have to say about his or her services. Many realtors recommend hiring a self-taught home stager with a long track record over one who has taken many classes in the field but hasn’t yet had much success.
What It Costs
Hiring a home staging professional can be an investment. Just keep in mind that what you put into the process should come back to you when you sell your home, so you are not throwing away money blindly but are getting a worthwhile return on this endeavour.
What you spend will depend on how much help you need and what kind of changes you plan to make your home look great. On the low end of the spectrum, you may want to hire a home stager just to walk through your home and make some general suggestions you can then implement on your own. This most basic service can cost anywhere from $100 on up to about $300 and can be a great way to strategically help a home already in good shape.
If you need more help than this, you can pay a stager to redecorate one or more rooms for you. Sometimes this will involve buying new accessories and furniture or renting some items to use. (Some well-established home stagers may even have key pieces they can lend to you.)
The price for this more-in depth staging varies a great deal depending on whom you use and what you need. You can expect to pay anywhere up to about $2,500 to $3,000 for some thorough staging for your property. Just keep in mind that the size of the house will also affect the bottom line, as will the price range in which your home falls. (Less expensive homes can have less expensive furniture while multi-million dollar homes need the highest quality furniture.) If you have a vacant home and need a stager to make it looked lived in, you can expect to pay up to $1,000 each month or even more for furniture and accessories to fill your space. In addition, some stages charge by the hour (starting at $50 to $100 an hour), while other stagers will be willing to work on a set project fee. Find out about front how your stager will charge you. If you have a set budget to spend, many stagers will be willing to work within your constraints.
So you can spend anywhere from $100 for some basic recommendations on up to $3,000 or more for more in-depth help with staging your home to show it to its full advantage.
A Less Expensive Option
You may be sold on the importance of staging your home and the value it brings, but if money is tight, you may not be able to make this work within your finances. This doesn’t mean you can’t still you’re your home in its best light, though. Many real estate agents can offer staging advice and help and they don’t charge for this service if you list your home with them. In fact, staging your home can help them get a faster sale and at a higher price, so they will come out ahead in their commission check. This can be a win-win scenario for both of you, then.
One goal of staging your home is to give it a warm and welcoming feel. An easy – and inexpensive – tip to help you accomplish this mission is by baking fresh cookies when perspective buyers come to visit. The smell of the food will add an appealing edge and leaving a delicious treat for people to sample just may tempt them to stay a bit longer and see all your home has to offer for them.