The Decision to Sell
This time of year, “for sale” and “open house” signs begin to pop up everywhere. The spring and summer months are always a busy time in the real estate market. Many homeowners are eager to sell and relocate during the summer break. Additionally, properties show better in the natural lighting of longer days and with greener yards.
But often, an important step that should be taken by sellers is overlooked. When listing their home, the homeowner must emotionally detach from the home and view it as a house — a marketable asset to be sold. As such, the most important move a seller can make is to properly stage the house. Unfortunately, what is considered a necessity in most parts of the country is sometimes viewed as an extravagance in our area.
Wait and See
Any real estate agent will tell you the first couple of weeks on the market are the most crucial time for a property. After that, excitement and momentum begin to wane. The initial buzz has passed, and it becomes increasingly difficult to sell. Some sellers believe they can “try it for a while” on the market, and then stage it later if it hasn’t sold. This “wait and see” mindset rarely works. Buyers have already seen the property online, and no one will come back to a property they have already viewed and marked off their list.
Today’s buyers are looking to move up in size, in style and in status. Ninety percent of all real estate searches begin online. Statistics show that by the time a buyer contacts their real estate agent, they typically have a Top 10 list of homes they have selected online to view. And by the time they have reached the sixth home on that list, they have made the first offer. Enlisting the services of a professional real estate stager and a professional photographer will give the property the competitive edge it needs to stand out among the other listings. If the property is not visually appealing online, the buyer will never set foot in the house for a showing.
Staging Is Not Decorating
The stager’s job is to accentuate the positives of the property and deflect from any perceived negatives it may have — as in small room size, an awkward floorplan or poor natural lighting. When selling a property, it is not about the décor in the home. The stager is not trying to sell the homeowner’s taste in design; but to stage the house to appeal to the widest audience possible. Professional real estate stagers have been trained to assess what features should be highlighted, what features need to be minimized and how to accomplish that. Therefore, if the overall decor of the home is very taste-specific, a professional stager will edit it drastically. It’s not about the homeowner’s design preferences, it’s about selling the property. Today’s buyer wants a move-in ready home that appears magazine worthy in online photos. They’re just not that into your design.
When a potential buyer views a property, they spend an average of SIX minutes in the house- and form their opinion in the first fifteen seconds! This statistic still gets me every time I read it, but substantiates even further the need for professional staging. First impressions (good of bad) once established are incredibly difficult to adjust to the reality of additional information. In other words, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Therefore, the exterior, the entrance, and foyer are very important — they frame the buyer’s interpretations of what’s to follow.
The Cost of Professional Staging
Homeowners often have the wrong impression of what professional staging is; assuming it is to only sell the property, and reasoning that staging is not needed because houses are selling faster than they can be listed. But while selling the property is the goal, selling for a higher price point as quickly as possible is the specific goal.
- Professionally staged homes sell in one-fourth of the time, and staging costs less than the extra mortgage payment(s) incurred due to longer listing time.
- Staged properties sell for 6-17% more than non-staged properties.
- Agents are more enthusiastic to show move-in ready property to their clients.
- Staging reduces issues used for price negotiation.
The two photos above are from a house we speed staged in Lebanon last year. Imagine you are a buyer scrolling through listings online — would you choose to view this property seeing the before photo or the after photo?