Is Staging Worth It?

This debate is still going on…a post from a few years ago that needs repeating:

 

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.

Is Staging Worth It?

 

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.

The Value of Staging-2010

Once upon a time staging took place in darn near every listing there was out there. It always seemed to make sense and since every home sold in the first week or so it sure seemed to pay for itself too. Well, the economic downturn changed that to a great degree. Suddenly paying 2 to 3 thousand dollars to stage a home seemed a little frightening. Making it even more complicated was the possibility that the home won’t sell right away and keeping all that furniture in the place could actually mean additional fees. Consequently staging was done a little less frequently than it was in the past or sellers made attempts to stage using their own stuff…not always with the desired result!

I staged a listing in San Carlos earlier this year that didn’t sell after 3 months and we ended up renting it. Needless to say, it kind of bummed me out to have wasted that time and money on improving that home’s appearance. Honestly though, that was the only property that I was involved with staging this year that didn’t work out. When I look at how many homes have been listed for, seemingly, forever… it’s pretty clear to me that giving a property an edge from a marketing standpoint is maybe more important in 2010 than it ever was.

I had this experience recently at a listing at 3408 Leafwood in San Mateo. It’s a really great attached home that possibly has the most square footage of any property in that area,  but it was a tad concerning that the last unit to sell up there happened in March! My inclination was actually to wait until January, but the sellers really wanted to take the shot now rather than wait since the home is vacant. First of all, we were priced right but I really think that we were aided enormously by a terrific staging job. You can see it by hitting that link up there as well as in the pic above. The home showed fantastically well. Much to my surprise and pleasure, I had handed out 4 disclosure packets within the first 10 days and we sold it before 2 weeks was up.

To me…the staging was invaluable. Even if it’s a great property like this one is, the staging improves it….particularly since it was vacant. The sellers did a great job preparing it by painting and adding granite counter tops in the kitchen and the staging was simply icing on the cake. Needless to say…I’m a believer. Again!

Staging Anew

1260ribbs

That photo above is from my listing last December on Ribbon in Foster City. It shows a real live staged living room. This whole house was staged at a cost of about $3000.00 Fortunately, the house sold quickly and we didn’t have to worry about paying for additional months. Most of the homes I sell have some degree of staging done to them. Many of them, especially if they are vacant desperately need staging. Without it, the house will undoubtedly take longer to sell and will sell for far less money. Even if you have an immaculate home it’s worth having a stager come out and give you tips on maximizing your home before you put it on the market.

Well, in 2009, there’s a new kid in town. That kid is the virtual stager. Several websites have sprung up that will stage your vacant home…virtually. For far less money, these sites will make your place look like they have real furniture in them. Here’s a couple of links for your viewing pleasure.

 VirtuallyStagingProperties.com and VirtualStagingSolutions.com.

Interesting, aren’t they? For a few hundred dollars you have a virtual tour showing a fully staged home. Now, whether or not that helps sell the house…who knows. I suspect the buyers who preview these homes online will be a little surprised to see a vacant house upon actually going into these places, but hey! I’ve seen one of these in action at a house in Redwood City recently. I do think they are a good opportunity for many properties…particularly in 2009 when everyone seems to be conscious of saving money.

Staging has proven itself to me over the years. It’s undoubtedly worked, and this new addition is an interesting idea. I’ll be anxious to see if it really does work.

Is Staging worth it?

Staged Family room
In the past 5 to 7 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, Claudia Connor with Casa Bella Lifestyles, 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. Here’s a link, the living room, dining room and master suite are Monroe Bisque and Shaker Beige (my good luck colors!):

LurlineVirtualTour