Home buying is an all-inclusive experience. It is a serious financial transaction that requires the management of personal finances and assets. It is also an experience that draws on emotion and the senses. The saying that the key to home sales is "location, location, and location" is equally matched by "atmosphere, atmosphere, and atmosphere". When the potential buyer makes an emotional connection to the home, all else follows swiftly. Home staging enable buyers to make the "connection" quickly, and moves the sale to a rewarding closing for all concerned.
Great First Impressions Sell Homes ... Fast Sometimes
First impressions are important. In the Puget Sound market, with high demand and sometimes low inventory, a great first impression can sell a house quickly. Prospective buyers have been looking at homes for sale, most homes with ordinary presentation. But then when they set eyes on a home that has been properly staged for curb appeal and even more than that, it can be an emotional cue that "this place is special" and it may go fast. Just like that the prospective buyer is already leaning toward wanting to make an offer.
Staging a Home Can Help Seal the Deal
A great impression that results from staging a home can be what seals the deal; bad impressions can mean a tough sell.
In real estate what appeals to the eye and senses opens the door to a house closing. Selling a furnished house is often times a gamble, the seller's tastes may not coincide with the potential buyers and they will have to work hard to mentally place their belongings and lifestyle in the house they are viewing. Empty houses are an even greater challenge. The visible and audible void can deter positive reactions. The answer to these issues is working with a home staging company.
What do Home Stagers Do?
Home stagers are interior design professionals skilled in their field and in marketing to homebuyers. They know how to present a house in the most favorable and tasteful way to buyers who seek to identify with their new home and feel comfortable. They create the environment for a bonding experience. Home staging companies work with realtors and sellers to target an audience, furnish and decorate to create an atmosphere where the buyer immediately identifies with the sense of place and decides to purchase. Realtors work with sellers and staging companies to decide how to market the home and to whom. Builders work with staging companies to develop a mood and character that potential buyers see as being theirs. Either through their own inventory, or though partnership with rental businesses, the right furnishings to create the right atmosphere are selected. There is a professional association, RESA that lists and promotes home stagers. Its website has a Find a Stager page and can help you find a local professional.
Is Home Staging Worth the Expense?
The first question for those who would be thinking about working with a home staging company is whether or not the expense is worth the investment. The answer in most cases is a definite "yes". This practice might not be best for low-price "DIY" or "fixer-uppers" where the seller is more concerned with moving the house on than someone who had made a significant investment and seeks to recover it with a profit as well. Many experts suggest a three month rental for accessories and that only the most important rooms are furnished. These areas include the more public rooms, such as living room, dining area, kitchen and master bedroom. This also depends on the target audience (a media room or home office space might be a draw). The general average is that the cost will be 1% of the selling price invested in the staging and this could average $250 per room setting. Costs will of course vary on the style of the home, audience and getting estimates from staging companies.
No less an authority than Bob Vila has recommended home staging as a sales tool. Homes, old or new build have a personality in their architecture and style and appropriate interior furnishings give continuity to the mood the exterior establishes.
Benefits of Home Staging
The benefits of home staging are numerous. Many homes have both white walls and interior trim. An empty home immediately causes a momentary hesitation in the viewer as they adjust to the obvious emptiness and sense of sterility. Furnishings directed at the lifestyle of the viewer eliminate that distance and allow a comfortable mental transition to replacing the furnishings with their own. For an onsite home visit, the coldness and echo effect of an empty dwelling are replaced by a warmth and softness of sound; this is where the senses are drawn into the process.
A fairly recent development in real estate marketing has been the 360 video tours. These features for realtors websites enable searchers to select homes in which they have enough interest to take an in- person tour. Realtors also wind up with a potential buyer who already has an interest in the home and can devote more time to the transaction instead of the previous time consuming commitment involved in introducing the interested persons to the property. Everyone is already on the same page. A furnished home is more visually attractive and involving than an empty one. Skilled video makers know how to focus on saleable features more effectively and a home decorated in a familiar style for the targeted audience is more likely to sell more quickly.
Home Stagers Help Give the House a Web Presence
Combined with Google Maps and Google Earth today's buyer can see not only the home but its interior, surrounding homes and neighborhoods, added to this are natural features that can offer recreational opportunities (and selling points). Realtors also need to remember that a mobile site and phone app are as essential as a website. The number of smartphones has overtaken the number of laptop and desk computers and consumers are very savvy on their use. Realtors should also remember to respond swiftly to online inquiries and reviews.
Still Photographs and Print Publications are Still a Viable Realtor's Tool
Home staging is also very valuable for still photos for real estate publications and brochures. Print advertising is still a serious factor in sales. Many publications are available at venues such as grocery stores, big box merchants and coffee shops. These publications fill a gap for the times when home buyers have "techno-down time" and look at newspapers, magazines and other print items. Remember that not everyone uses online materials and this audience still needs to be courted. Professional photographs of homes and interiors staged by home stagers still are a major sales tool.
Home Staging Can Boost Your Home's Selling Price
Home staging can make a difference in selling price. Presentation is part of the process and getting the buyer's positive attention will get them enthused and involved.
A warm welcome from a tastefully furnished and decorated house creates a mood that opens to a sale. Home staging welcomes the buyer to a comfortable, personalized home not just a dwelling to be filled by imagination. A staged setting makes the buyer feel at ease and ready to close. Savvy realtors and brokers will seriously consider working with a home staging company to enhance the selling price of their property.