In the past 5 to 10 years the phenomenon of staging has become a big part of selling a house in this area and as the market softens the question of it’s value will inevitably come up. My answer to this question is, yes…if you want top dollar for your home.
The concept of staging came from developers who wisely created environments in new model homes that really showed off the possibilities of their product…and sold a bunch of them as a result. As a response to that success several entrepreneurs began to offer the same services to Realtors and sellers to enhance the look of their homes prior to marketing them. It’s really an art and often includes things as small as towels, dishes and even a random negligee strewn suggestively over the corner of a bed. The idea being to create an emotional appeal to a property that, hopefully, would subtly make someone want to buy it. The cost for a full staging will typically run from between $3000-$5000 and, naturally, a really big property would be more expensive than that. That doesn’t include expenses for things like fresh paint, or upgrades that may be useful like new light fixtures or kitchen counter tops.
I’ve read in other blog posts the suggestion that buyers are smart enough to be able to see through staging and that it is an unnecessary expense and I used to believe that myself for quite awhile. Here’s two stories that changed my thinking.
I was competing for a listing in San Mateo once and when asked about staging I said I thought it was not that important and if we just cleaned the place up a bit we would do just fine. I told them I thought they could get $900,000 if they did what I said. My competition recommended staging…he won and got the listing. They both painted the house, inside and out, and fully staged it. It got 15 offers and went well over $1,000,000…the first house in that area to do so! I was amazed…and I also began a relationship with a stager that week. The stager I use, is really outstanding with both design and color implementation. She really understands what creates a mood and how that mood inspires action.It’s an impressive talent!
My second story was a short time later. I had a listing on a busy street in South San Francisco and my clients were going to paint the interior, as well as do some other upgrades and eventually we were going to stage it prior to listing it. Myself, Mr. Seller and our painter all thought we should use off white with white trim…Mrs. Seller wanted more color. I had Claudia come over and she immediately recommended “Monroe Bisque” for the base and “Shaker Beige” for the trim. (She has this thing about color memory, go figure!). All the guys shut up and listened to her. At the first open house three people said to me “What color is this? I love it!” There were four houses on the market in that neighborhood at that time and we had the worst location on that busy street…yet we were the only listing that got multiple offers. The house went $31,000 over asking.
I think there’s a very real question about the expense of staging right now since it is possible that a home could take more than a month to sell but I’m a firm believer in creating a plan to sell a listing…and staging is part of that plan. Even in the slower market of 2007 I had several listings sell quickly that were staged. My listing on Lurline in Foster City was a good example. The sellers painted everything inside and out, including the kitchen cabinets and put a new granite counter top on and of course we staged. The end result was 11 offers and $129,000 over asking.