Have you heard? Home staging pays off. That’s why we regularly advise sellers to work with a stager—at the very, very least for an expert consultation about how to best showcase the home. Still, we wanted to do even better than this for our storage customers. At this point, pretty much everybody knows about putting yellow flowers in the front yard during your spring listing. But what should you do if the house itself is yellow?
We talked to home stagers from around the country to get their best staging tips—and they didn’t disappoint. If you’re preparing to declutter your home to put it on the market, you’re going to want to check out this information. And if you’re a professional stager and you want to add to the conversation, or you see an important piece of advice that we missed altogether, don’t hesitate to tell us.
- Problem-Solving, Big or Small (Portland, OR): Because of the amount of competition, Justin Riordan of Spade & Archer argues that staging is more important now than ever before. In his experience, most sellers already understand that they will get the largest return on investment if they stage. He also made the point that sometimes staging can be about solving problems as much as highlighting strengths. He explained that staging is an effective way to combat inconvenient or unusual housing characteristics: “It sat on the market for too long, it is going to be priced higher than comparable properties, it is on a busy street, or the bedroom layout is confusing and out of the ordinary.”
- Be Sure to Make a Great First Impression (Boston): For Adrian Diorio, CEO of Art of Staging in Boston, professional photography is one of the most important home staging services: “It all starts with the initial first impression—the MLS listing photography. Without stunning photos that draw you in, the average buyer is unlikely to request an appointment to view the home. Sellers lose out on a ton of potential buyers because they’ve already lost interest. Today’s buyers expect to see real estate magazine-worthy [photos].” Not only should your house be clean, but it should look sellable. Home stagers can make that happen.
- Endless Options + Smart Choices = One-of-a-Kind Impressions (Washington, D.C.): Smaller independent stagers have their advantages, but so do the larger companies that offer endless furniture options and a revolving inventory that responds to the latest design and decorating trends. Laurie Ryan of Red House Staging explained, “No two stagings are the same. We have two huge warehouses full of inventory at our disposal, which enables each project to have a unique look and feel. We have a terrific admin team that initiates and fulfills all of our contracts, a talented and varied group of project managers and designers, and a dedicated staff of logistic professionals.”
- Modern Staging for Today’s Buyers (Cincinnati): Jo Potvin, from Design to Market, had no trouble explaining why home staging is, for all intents and purposes, no longer optional. “With HGTV and all the design photos you can find on the Internet, people have a different set of expectations. Instead of looking for a home that they can make their own, more people want to move in, unpack their boxes, and have a party.” How do you do this? Potvin explained that the best staging serves the dual purpose of bringing prospective buyers to the home as well as helping these buyers see themselves living there.
- Know What Story Your Home Wants to Tell (Seattle): Kate Touhill of Seattle Staged to Sell & Design finds the best way to help buyers make a connection with your home is to know what story your home is telling. “When you stage, you immediately create a narrative that greets the potential buyer as they walk into the home. We want to ensure that the design speak to the ‘spirit’ of the home and the targeted buyers.” Moreover, Touhill finds this is a great strategy whether it’s a multimillion-dollar home or a studio condo.
- Everybody has Blind Spots when Looking at Their Own Home (Salt Lake City): If you’ve lived in your home for a while, you probably know what works for you, but it’s often a different story when the time comes to put your home on the market. Sarah Hansen from Red Door Staging reminds us that “People forget their home is their number one asset. You get used to living in your house, and it’s easy to get complacent.” Even homes already in great condition may still benefit from a consultation and supplemental staging. “Maybe the couch isn’t perfect, or maybe the dining room table is dinged up,” Hansen cites as common examples. “Even something like a well-placed throw or fluffed-up pillows can make a difference.”
- Using a Deft Touch for Handling Tighter Spaces (Baltimore): Madeline Capozzi, Project Manager at Domus Design & Staging, explained that effective stagers are willing to invest the time and effort necessary to make your home stand out on the market. In Baltimore, one of the common ways to do this is to make sure prospective buyers can see how each part of the home may be used. “Most properties that we stage are row homes, and whether they are 3,000 square feet or 900 square feet, some buyers just aren’t able to walk into a property and visualize where they should put their sofa or dining room table.”
Find the Strategy that Speaks to Your Home
According to the Real Estate Staging Association, staged properties spend around 73% less time on the market, typically sell for more money, are more frequently viewed, and have fewer concessions requested of the seller. And they’re not the only ones. There’s a growing collection of studies and statistics that show home staging works. We’re not going to quibble with the numbers.
Our thing is to remind sellers that these numbers always reflect a market average and are no guarantee of performance for your individual property. More than just a checklist of stuff to do to your home, it’s often that one signature piece of furniture, that insight to paint a particular area a different color, which ends up being the “difference maker.” This is why it’s best to talk to your realtor about what types of staging services are most important to sell your particular home…in your local market…at any particular time. It’s also why you should take your choice of home stager and their advice seriously.