Is Staging Worth It?
November 22, 2018
Staging has become an umbrella term to describe how to get a home ready for sale, but each home requires a different level of preparation. In this blog post, I’d like to go a little deeper into how staging works using a couple of recent listings as examples of how different the process can be.
Setting The Stage
The main purpose of staging is to show a home to its best advantage. A good staging job can accurately show how furniture can be placed and how rooms can be used to their maximum potential. It’s about setting the stage for someone who will be living there. When a room is empty, the eyes can play tricks. For instance, without furniture, it may appear that you could never fit a queen size bed in a room, when it’s often more than possible. Furniture helps create perspective and guides a buyer to make comparisons with their own furnishings and how they might use the space differently or otherwise.
Sometimes in a condo there’s an odd bump-out on the wall or a column that can present a challenge. When the room is bare, it’s those odd architectural details that stand out. When a professional designer arranges furniture, it becomes easy to visualize what the room could look like.
An unstaged home tends to allow potential buyers to focus on the negatives, which are often quite minor, like a nick in the floor or a paint job that isn’t wonderful. What staging does is help pull focus back to the bones of the house.
In the past, I’ve listed homes that have had more damage than the traditional wear and tear. From the floors to the walls to the ceiling, the homes would not have presented well if put on MLS in that state. The owners most often take care of small repairs, but having a home properly furnished always distracts from the flaws. It’s important to emphasize that staging is not meant to cover up or hide flaws or defects, but only to accentuate positive aspects of a home such as room size and flow. The staging makes a substantial difference in how homes are perceived by the market.
Some property listings require new furniture to be brought in. Often key pieces like sofas, side tables, beds and bedside tables are rented at a minimal rental cost. Everybody wants to think that they can look past an old oversized sofa, a room full of clutter or an empty room for that matter but the truth is, as a general rule very few of us actually have the ability to visualize how a room can look all dressed up. That’s one of the reasons the first step in preparing a home for sale is decluttering – too many personal effects can draw attention away from the room itself.
In one home in particular, we replaced and reconfigured much of the old damaged furniture on the main level and basement family room with items that were more in scale with the spaces. We decluttered the bedrooms and also rearranged some of the existing pieces. The total cost for staging was about $5000 and between the removal of debris, personal items collected over the years that needed to be thrown out, repairs, painting and the staging, the owners spent approximately 1% of the total asking price. I have no doubt that without doing this, they would have received significantly less.
Is It Worth the Investment?
The National Association of Realtors estimates that a staged home sells for 5-10% more than if it hadn’t been staged in the first place and that it greatly decreases the amount of time the home spends on the market.
The cost of staging is listing specific and depends on how extensive the job is. Sometimes it’s just editing and using someone’s own pieces to highlight the home’s potential, so it’s a sliding scale as to the cost and as to how much or how little needs to be done. A typical invoice for staging would include a flat fee for project management, the actual moving of furniture, storage, staging and time and a second portion of the bill would be attributed to the cost of the rental items that would be brought in to set the stage.
Some jobs can be done in a very short time – a solid staging professional can have people lined up including movers, painters, organizers and packers, saving time. Some sellers prefer to take care of a lot of the items on the staging list themselves, which can take a lot longer… especially when you also take into consideration everything happening in real life. The process can take from days to weeks and that’s a good reason to bring in your realtor and staging professional early into the process so that a plan can be created to make sure everything gets done.
One hidden value of bringing in a good staging professional (and a good agent for that matter) is that people often think more needs to be done to improve their space than actually needs to be completed. This can save you money… and lots of it.
For example, the new listing I’m representing at Radio City. The seller thought we needed do a full paint job, from walls to baseboards. The staging professional and I disagreed – the paint was a nice neutral colour, in good condition and didn’t necessitate a paint job because any new buyer would likely repaint the unit after they bought it.
With this listing, I was able to help reduce the costs of staging by not only recommending not painting but also providing furnishings that I have in my personal storage locker and that I use specifically for this purpose. Some agents hate the idea of personally staging a home but I love design and décor so, it’s right up my alley. Carolyn Switzer from Carolyn Switzer Designs brought in some rental items and she supplied all the accessories and bedding and completed the staging.
Who pays for the staging?
More often than not, it’s the sellers as it really benefits them the most. The home sells faster, saving them on carrying costs and the need to constantly maintain the home in a perfect state and it’s a proven fact that the investment nets them more at the end of the transaction.
For example, the home I mentioned above where the asking price is just under $1M; even if you use the lower figure from the NAR, 5% of the asking price is over $48,000. I’d say that’s a pretty good investment. For the unit at Radio City, 5% of the asking price is $40,950 so investing $2,000 in staging is an amazing investment.
Do you have questions about staging? Toronto’s real estate market? Please give me a call!