California real estate agent Dick Gaylord knows well the ka-ching factor when it comes to staging a home for sale.
"I looked at a home once in a very hot market. It
was an older home that had not been upgraded in quite a long time.
I figured it would sell quickly for about $1 million whether they
fixed it up or not. But the owners staged it and sold it for $1.4
million," he says. "Staging in preparation for sale, done properly,
can really increase the sales price."
If your idea of preparing for a showing consists of
lighting a scented candle, baking a batch of cookies and sweeping
the front porch, listen up. Today, home staging can involve elaborate
redesigns, extensive renovations, and the addition of rental flora,
furniture and even a housesitter to give a home that lived-in feel.
Not every staged home can expect to bump its asking
price by 40 percent, of course. "What I've noticed in the past
is about a 20-percent difference," Gaylord says.
But Barb Schwarz, founder and president of the International
Association of Home Staging Professionals, or IAHSP, says staging
can boost the selling price 6 percent to 20 percent in a moderately
priced neighborhood and as high as 20 percent to 50 percent for
luxury homes or in a particularly hot market. And she should know:
She's staged and sold some 1,600 homes since 1972.
"The average sales time for staged homes is six-and-a-half
days right now, and homes that are not staged are at 45 days nationally,"
says Schwarz. "The average fee for staging is running anywhere
between $500 and $5,000, with $1,800 being the average. The public
is getting it that staging is the way."
Here's how the growing home-staging industry can separate
your house from the crowd.
Real estate agents traditionally tread lightly when suggesting changes
to a seller's home for fear of offending them and losing the listing.
Beyond the standard bland advice (neutral tones are least likely
to offend prospective buyers, etc.), most agents have neither the
time nor the inclination to worry about the color of your foyer
or the condition of your floors.
But Carla Seely says that's changing. Two years ago,
she and her partner started Redesign Realty LLC in Toledo, Ohio,
and its staging subsidiary, Redesign
to Sell, specifically to advise sellers on how to profit from
a staging makeover. After all, who knows what buyers want better
than a real estate agent?
"You have to take your personal tastes out of
it. Once you put a sign in the yard, it's a product for sale. What
you've done over the years, improvements you've made, really mean
nothing to the buyer coming in. They don't see it through your eyes;
they see it through their eyes," she says.
When Seely takes a listing, she includes a redesign
in the package. It might be as simple as rearranging furniture,
organizing clutter and employing tricks-of-the-trade staging techniques.
She often rescues "money rooms" such as the dining room
that have been invaded by computer stations or big-screen TVs.