Written by Christine Rae, CSP
1) I can’t afford to stage!
A: In today’s market, you can’t afford not to stage! Every seller we talk to wants to get the most for the property when selling, not capitalizing on the opportunity to maximize your equity return is shortsighted. Buyers today want move-in ready and are willing to pay for it. They don’t want a list of deferred maintenance items without compromising what they are willing to pay.
Before you say no to staging consider the cost of NOT staging. Additional mortgage payments, utilities, property taxes, and household expenses while your house sits waiting for a buyer who can’t see past your life. According to research by the National Association of Realtors® the longer a property sits, the lower the sale price will be. If you don’t have the money you need to get the house ready for sale, turn to another source. Perhaps borrow it from a friend, family member, or neighbor. Secure a home equity loan, use a credit card, have a garage sale, or sell something on eBay. PayPal offers a wonderful Bill Me Later service, which offers zero interest over six months. The world is full of money—you just have to find some. It is in your best interest to do so, and you can repay your debt when your house sells for more money.
2) Staging is JUST decluttering and cleaning. I can do that myself.
A: This is one of the biggest myths about staging. Pre-packing personal belongings and cleaning are only part of the recipe for successful selling. Fully preparing property for sale involves commitment to three vital steps. The first step identifies areas throughout the property which may adversely affect offers and produces suggestions to maximize equity. Step two is the fulfillment of those recommendations, and step three is the truly amazing component we call showcasing. This step ensures fabulous photos, impactful open houses, and memorable first impressions. Many people think of this as decorating, but it isn’t. There is nothing personal about showcasing; it involves research of the targeted buyer demographic and a scientific approach to furniture placement and accessory arrangement, using a subtle color strategy. You might think it isn’t necessary, or you can do it alone; the question to ask is why would you potentially risk thousands of dollars in equity by not working with a professional?
3) I get compliments all the time about how great my house looks! Why do I need to stage?
A: Again, this is the myth that staging is about decorating; decorating is a personal expression of how we live. The buyer of property isn’t interested in that—they want to envision how they will live. Decorating for living and staging for selling are two very different disciplines, and anyone who tells you differently is misinformed. Selling your houses is not about you, your tastes, or your decorating style; it is all about what the buyer wants and what we want the buyer to see in your property. We are selling what they inherit when your things move out.
4) My agent said I don’t need to stage my house; it will sell itself.
A: I am sure your agent believes that, and that she/he is giving you good advice because it is what you want to hear. The question to ask yourself is: at what price will it sell and when? Staging is a proven and sound marketing method to sell property around the world. Staging works. Sometimes we can’t see opportunity because our perception filter is through what has been before. Staging has radically changed the way real estate is sold. Not doing it puts the sale in jeopardy one way or the other—no matter what the economy is doing! A common cry from agents during hot markets is, “We don’t have any inventory, and the house will sell regardless of condition.” This is true, and if you don’t mind gambling with your equity then go ahead and sell without staging; however, if you are a savvy seller/investor and want to realize the most equity from the sale of your property, stage it before contacting an agent. More than 40% of stagers’ work comes directly from property owners. Those listings get referred to agents working with stagers. When the market is slower or softer, properties need staging to generate interested buyers. You may not stage your listing, but someone else who is selling at the same time and competing for the same buyer will, and they will be selected by the buyer as the property to purchase. Even in a hot market, not staging means leaving money on the table!