In a recent article, Staging a Vacant Home- Why It’s Worth the Money by Anna Martens in Alaska Home Magazine, some of my work and tips were featured on the importance of staging a vacant home.
Some of the key take-aways from the article were:
- In today’s market, where home sellers need to make their homes stand out from the rest, those empty spaces can be a seller’s worst enemy.
- “Vacant homes do not make an emotional connection with buyers and often look a little sad and lonely! A good way to fix this is to have your home staged.
- Staging dramatically improves the marketability of a home.
- Staged homes photograph much better and buyers can more easily remember the home after viewing it.
- Tricky layouts and specialized rooms cause trouble when showing a vacant home
- Staging a moderate-sized home in Alaska can run from $3,000-$4,500 depending on size, layout, accessibility and location.
- Staging always costs much less than your first price reduction, which can be $10,000 or more.
- An increased final sales price, faster closing, and reduced holding costs, will more than cover the staging investment and with a whole lot less stress!”.
This article provides additional insights into why it is so important to not only stage your vacant home, but make sure it is staged right. Staging it the wrong way can be just as ineffective as not staging it at all!
A professionally staged home done right, looks like a real home that people live in, and that buyers dream of and can envision themselves living in. The staging highlights the home’s best features, shows the purpose and possibilities of various rooms, how areas with poor layouts can be used, and feels warm and inviting.
Debra Gould, the Staging Diva, in her article Great Home Staging is Invisible says “I believe that great home staging is invisible. That sounds like a paradox. What I mean is that when you’ve really mastered the art of home staging, few people will realize the house is staged. Potential buyers just know that they love the house. “
Often, I get calls from Realtors that are just price shopping, looking for the cheapest stager. I am often asked if I will just stage a few rooms or lightly stage rooms. This is sometimes called “Vignette staging”, where a few items are put in a room to show scale as shown in the photo below.
Does this room look warm and inviting? Can envision yourself living here, or do you want to? Is it highlighting the best features? Does it show the purpose or possibilities of the room? If this is a bedroom, do you still wonder what size bed can fit here? Does it look like real people live here or like a staged space? If you were a buyer, would you be distracted by a room like this? It would be obvious that the owners do not still live in the home. Would you wonder if they might be desperate to sell and make a lower offer if you made an offer at all?
While this type of staging might appeal to some Realtors or sellers looking for the cheapest way to stage, how effective will this really be in selling the home quickly or for top dollar? Remember, you get what you pay for.
According to Debra Gould, “The point of home staging is that you are romancing the buyer so they fall in love with the house. Silly staging tricks like putting tape on the floor to show the outline of where a bed could go for scale, or putting a few pillows and a piece of art in a room to show scale are like “going on a first date with someone and they take you to the drive in for dinner”.
As a professional stager, I have been asked to stage many homes that had been on the market, sometimes for years without selling because they were poorly staged, partially staged or used vignette staging. After being properly staged, they sold quickly. The house below was on the market vacant for a year and did not sell, partially because it’s poor layout made it hard for buyers to visualize how they could arrange furniture in the room. Then it was poorly staged with limited furniture and vignette staging, and remained on the market for another year. Finally, I did a full staging job throughout the house and it sold within 6 weeks.
Remember, after a home has been on the market for a while, it can be harder to sell as quickly if you wait to invest in professional staging later. All those buyers that have already seen the house previously are not likely to be interested. The longer a house remains on the market, the more people wonder “what is wrong with it”. Better to stage it right the first time.
Susan Atwell, of Atwell Staged Homes mentioned to me recently that selling a home is all about the 4 P’s, Price, Product, Promotion and Place.” To sell a home quickly and for top dollar, it is important to have a reasonable price (your realtor can help with this), a great product (which is where home staging comes in), great marketing (which is where your realtor is important) and a great location. Bad home photos on the MLS reflect more poorly on the Realtor who posted them than on the home that is for sale. They are, after all, the ones who are responsible for marketing your home.
You as the home seller have control over who you select for a Realtor to market your home as well as who you select for a home stager to prepare your home for marketing. Take charge of this and hire a professional who will do the job right for you. Make the calls yourself and learn the value of what you are getting for your money. It’s worth the money in your pocket after the sale is done!
Need help with your home staging project? Get a professional home staging consultation today. We can do it online, so I can help you wherever you live!
AMEN to all of this! I often tell realtors that if they don’t want to stage it right, don’t waste your money on staging at all. Badly staged defeats the purpose as you have so clearly pointed out! And staging absolutely pays for itself! It may be money up front but you will always save yourself money and net more in the end! Preach it, Mary Ann! 🙂
Amen to you too! It is hard to get the message across sometimes to people when price is their only concern. But the COST of not doing it right will only hurt the home seller. Realtors need to look out for their clients best interest! Thanks for spreading the word!
Mary Ann, I love the second room vignette (the one with the angled fireplace) because when I saw the empty space, I thought “what an awkwardly designed room”, but the way you have positioned the furniture is perfect and can really show a potential home buyer how they can place their own furniture in the space! Which is exactly the point! Good post!
Thanks Julie, I know when I staged it my first thought is how am I going to do this…..and I can see why buyers would have a hard time figuring it out. The whole room was windows, doors, traffic patterns etc so it was really poorly designed for furniture placement. It had previously been staged with just 2 chairs in front of the fireplace which looked silly and did nothing to help buyers visualize how to place furniture. So partially staging the place without addressing the problem just did not help. Thanks for reading.
Hi Mary Ann:
These are all such good points but the point I love best is how the initial 3500-4000.00 for staging, completely pays for the initial 10K or more price reduction when the home doesn’t sell right away because buyers can’t envision how they can live in it. That’s the first time I’ve ever heard anyone make that point.
Great post AND the way you staged that awkward room is brilliant. It doesn’t surprise me that the home then sold, after having not sold for so long.
Thank you Leslie! Yes, good staging always costs less than the first price reduction and gives the seller the opportunity to sell fast and make so much more on the final sales price. And every month a house is on the market is also costing the seller money in taxes, mortgage costs, utilities etc. too so there are additional savings when you sell fast. And yes, that room and the whole house actually was awkward, it was designed to show off the views of the lake nearby but not for placing furniture!
I am such a HUGE believer in staging! While some real estate agents are not, I am. I believe people like to be told (in a nice way) how a room can look and feel. Having an open space leaves too much to the imagination of a potential buyer leaving too many questions.
That is awesome Sheri and so glad you are out there spreading the word to other Realtors of how much they can help their clients with home staging. That is a great point about how open space leaves too much to the imagination and questions. Most people can not visualize what to do with an empty space and so they get distracted with questions and you lose the magic that happens when they fall in love with the home because they see themselves living there. Also, empty spaces give them nothing to focus on except the flaws, and no house is perfect! Thanks for reading
Loved this post Mary Ann especially your sharing of the 4 “P”!
Why even bother to stage if it is going to be a distraction versus an enhancement of the property?
Thanks for this side of the stager’s perspective that would be a huge help for so many sellers.
Thanks Mitzi! Many professional stagers I know feel the same way and when asked to do partial staging or vignette staging, tell the Realtors that they should not waste their sellers money if they are not going to do it right so it will get the desired results. In those cases the seller may be better off just spending that budget on professional cleaning or repairs.
I appreciate how you illustrated that staging can help a potential homeowner see how a room can work for them. Especially an awkward room with an angle. The investment is clearly worth avoiding having to reduce your asking price.
Thanks Lisa, yes staging is always important to get your asking price but especially when you have areas that are particularly hard for buyers to visualize if their things will fit and how.
Boy, did an architect I blogged for really need to read this! He did not have time or money to stage. The home was already sold, but I DO think it makes a tremendous difference for future sales and best represents an architects work. This is an important post. Thank you for sharing your expertise!
Thanks Deborah! Feel free to share with your architect for his next project. Staging is all about highlighting the best features of the home to the buyer so it can help him show off his work!
Thanks Mary Ann for the shout out! Great article as always! To reinforce just one more thing about the 4 P’s, all but one can be controlled by the home seller, and that’s place/location. How the home looks (staging and condition), how it is priced (condition and location will be taken into account), and who they choose to promote their home (the Realtor) are all totally up to the home seller! That’s empowering and should help home sellers realize that they are in the driver’s seat when selling their home.
Thanks Susan! Yes they are in the drivers seat. Home sellers everywhere, take charge!
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