To Stage or not to Stage

Many sellers often ask me if they should stage their home. My answer is always a res

ounding, "Yes." Like it or not, none of us live in a model home. Each of us has specific tastes which may or may not resonate with any particular buyer. In 2019, eighty-three percent (83%) of Realtors reported that staged homes better enabled buyers to visualize a house as their future home. For most people, buying a home is an emotional decision as much as anything else. When a buyer is able to see herself living in your home, she has taken the first step towards actually making an offer. If you can establish an emotional connection between the buyer and your home, the chances of closing the sale increase dramatically. Staging and decluttering are the simplest and quickest ways to create an experience for your buyer that will create a great first impression; one that is much more likely to lead to a sale.

The first step in staging a home is decluttering and depersonalizing your home. We live in our homes, we want them to feel comfortable and inviting for us. We decorate them how we like, choose colors we like, put our children's artwork on the refrigerator, and hang pictures of our family on the walls. These things make the house ours, which is great when we're living there and we're not trying to make a stranger feel at home. Remember, though, what you want to do, when selling your home, is create an environment where the buyer can picture themselves living in your house. You want them to feel as if it's their home. Removing personal items and putting mail with your name on it away, for example, allows buyers to visualize themselves living in your home. Studies show that when sellers create a clean, organized, and depersonalized environment for their prospective buyers, it is more likely they will form an attachment to your home. The sooner a buyer starts to think of the home as theirs, the sooner, and more likely, they are to make an offer.

Beyond decluttering and depersonalizing, however, more and more buyers actually expect your house to look like a model home. TV Shows are creating expectations of what a home should look like. According to a 2019 survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors, nearly 40% of respondents reported that the expectations set by TV shows has a significant impact on home sales. These TV programs create high expectations in buyers; they expect every house they view to look like those on TV. Even when a house is in great condition and technically meets all of a buyers' requirements, failure to make a good impression with regard to cleanliness, clutter, and staging will leave a negative impression of your home. Like in all things in life, first impressions are the most important and long lasting. If a buyer comes into your home and it looks like one of the perfect houses they are continually seeing on TV, it leaves them with a positive feeling and they are more likely to remember your home later when narrowing their list and making offers.

Staging your home in a consistent style, enables a pleasant and harmonious experience for the home buyer. This means they are less likely to be distracted from visualizing your house as theirs. A typical buyer spends less than 30 minutes in your home. The decision to buy, or not buy, first begins even sooner than that. The longer you can keep a potential buyer engaged in visualizing your house as theirs, the stronger the bond between them and your home becomes. When they leave your home, the impression they develop in that short 30 minutes is the one that has to last until they get home and decide which houses they want to see again or on which they would like to make an offer. If your home stands out in their minds, your chances of converting them from a stranger looking for a home, into a buyer who wants to buy YOUR home, goes up exponentially.

As you consider whether or not you're going to stage your house, consider the following. Twenty-three percent (23%) of buyers have been found to overlook faults in the property when viewing staged homes vs. those that were not. Additionally, twenty-five percent (25%) of Realtors reported that staged homes received offers which were 1 to 5 percent higher than other homes. Finally, more than half of seller's agents indicated that staging a home decreased the time it took to sell homes. Less time on the market means more money in your pocket.

When asked if staging a home is something a seller should consider, I tell people not only is it a good idea, it is absolutely paramount to getting an optimal offer in the shortest amount of time.

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