The Insider’s Guide to Real Estate / Getting Ready / What parts of staging are worth it for home sellers


Staged furniture doesn't change a homes value

Skip the hassle, price right, and get it sold

Do you really need to bring in new furniture as part of a staging process to sell a home at the best possible price? As a home seller, you are continually trying to determine the best investment of your time and money to get the most money possible during your home sale. In other words, you want to maximize your net proceeds. One of the most common ways to improve the number of interested buyers is to stage your house. However, how do you know how much time and money you should invest in staging and what should you do?

Staging involves three types of work: deep cleaning, small improvements, and moving temporary furniture into your house.

Deep cleaning your home is the least expensive and biggest bang for your buck method of the staging process. This stage involves cleaning your floors and decluttering rooms to create the sense of a bigger space. The goal of deep cleaning is to ensure that you get a presentable view of your home for the photographer and so that buyers don’t think about the dirt when they tour. It is very rare to find a dirty house in the multiple listing service (MLS), and there is never any reason to skip this process.

Making light improvements as part of your staging process involves decluttering and improving superficial aspects of the home which should also be done. This process requires a bit more planning and can be time intensive, but the idea is to usually move things out of the home for the duration of the listing and make cheap visual fixes. Successful decluttering means to remove personal items so the home appeals to the broadest possible audience. That nude Greek statue? Get it out. The 35 family photos in the hallway, best removed. Next, other superficial improvements that can make your home 'move-in' ready include touching up paint, refinishing your floors, and cleaning up your landscape. The key thing is not to go overboard and step across the threshold of unprofitable remodeling.

The third type of staging involves hiring a professional staging company which can be expensive, invasive, and of dubious value. Professional stagers bring in their furniture and art to create a specific updated look for the home. The update is made prior to photographs and remains in place often for home tours. Owners usually pay up front for the service and then pay monthly during the life of the listing, although some listing agents or brokers may include it as part of a package.

The idea behind staging with furniture and art is that buyers will pay more for your house, because the appeal of the furnishings will impact perceptions of price. It sounds like a smart financial decision, especially when you hear from agents or stagers that they can add anywhere from 2 to 50% to the price. However, these claims have been reviewed in academic research, and the anecdotal benefit does not hold up to scrutiny. In a 2015 issue of the Journal of Housing Research, the findings were pretty clear: staging does not affect the final sales price.

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There isn’t any evidence that spending thousands of dollars to bring in new furniture will net you a higher price for your home sale so that means net proceeds are negatively effected. However it is in your best interest to make the home look clean, livable, and ideally move in ready which should be included as part of any listing strategy. These conditions will absolutely appeal to the largest group of buyers looking for inventory in the MLS. Doing the right type and amount of staging-- namely deep cleaning and small improvements-- will give you all the benefits possible from staging without compromising your net proceeds.

Focus on the things that help you sell

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