Staging Sense Makes Real Estate Cents

by Chicago Agent

Rachel Lopez and Amy BissonetteBy Rachel Lopez and Amy Bissonette

In these challenging economic times, most consumers are holding on so tight to their purse strings they can barely loosen their grip. Needless to say, money-saving strategies and financial savvy are more important than ever – especially in the competitive world of real estate. For this reason, many Realtors are learning more about the benefits of staging.

Staging homes has grown wildly popular over the last few years due to a sagging market and a captivated HGTV audience. But what was once considered a luxury has now become a required investment. And staging is not just for the million-dollar home budget anymore. Realtors and their clients are realizing that staging not only pays for itself, but usually results in many extra benefits.

First and foremost, people don’t buy houses, they buy homes. Buyers purchase properties when they feel an emotional connection. Staging creates this connection. According to a study conducted by the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA), from December 2007 through February 2008, vacant, un-staged homes stayed on the market an average of 120 days. Those same homes were then professionally staged and sold on average in 26 days. In the same study, un-staged occupied homes were on the market an average of 102 days compared to an average of 45 days once they were staged. The investment of staging is generally less than 1 percent of the listing price and results in a quicker sale. This avoids the typical $10,000 to $15,000 price reduction, which means more money in less time. A HomeGain survey of over 2,000 Realtors revealed that sellers who spent up to $1,000 on staging recovered almost 200 percent of the cost in the sale of their home.

Still, some sellers can be hesitant about the out-of-pocket investment that comes with staging. In order to accommodate these clients, many staging companies provide several affordable options. One of these is a do it yourself (DIY) report, which provides sellers with a detailed checklist of how to prepare their home for sale. This report covers all interior and exterior problem areas and advises the seller on how to remedy them. A DIY report is the exceptionally low-cost alternative with a price tag averaging between $150.00 to $350.00, depending on the size of the property. Some companies will also include a follow-up visit from the stagers and a CD of “after” photographs as part of that package. Another cost-saving tool is tiered pricing, which gives the home seller the option to stage only the most “emotionally evocative” rooms — the living room and the master bedroom. These are the rooms where most buyers make a strong connection with the property. Once the stage is set, now we attract an audience!

Marketing can be a stressful, costly and time-consuming aspect of selling a listing. Most sellers have a hard time viewing their home objectively and therefore cannot package it effectively. An experienced stager understands the importance of marketing and works with the Realtor to present the best product. The most essential step in achieving this goal is having strong photographs. According to a 2007 survey by the National Association of Realtors, 81 percent of homebuyers do their shopping online before deciding to walk through a property. There are staging companies that will provide a CD of professional “after” photographs, eliminating the expense of hiring an outside photographer. Staged homes photograph better, leading to more potential buyers, which equals quicker sales. Using a staging company that offers this service can save you time, money and stress.

Staging is the sensible, cost-effective solution in today’s market. Realtors benefit by educating their clients on the importance and affordability of staging. Sellers benefit by listening to their Realtor and realizing that loosening that grip on the purse strings will actually fatten their wallet!

Rachel Lopez and Amy Bissonette are partners in StageHands Home Staging Services, L.L.C. Contact them at 773.930.3500, or visit stagehandshs.com for more information.

Copyright 2009 Agent Publishing LLC

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