A Q&A with Barb Schwarz, the creator of Home Staging® and CEO of Stagedhomes.com.
What’s new in the world of home staging? How has it changed in the last two years?
The pendulum is swinging; the public is now becoming the driving force to make sure their home gets staged for sale. Real estate professionals are still crucial in driving the world of home staging but many real estate agents hang back to the point where now the seller is the one asking, “Aren’t you going to tell me to get my house staged?”
The down economy also has driven the need for home staging more than ever before. With short sales, bank-owned properties, and the traditional sellers--all of these entities are in fierce competition to get the house sold. We are now seeing even short sales and bank-owned properties being staged. So for any traditional seller to compete they must have their home staged to have any chance to sell in today’s market.
Why is it important for staging and real estate professionals to team up to sell houses, especially in this economy?
Home stagers and real estate professionals are teaming up more and more to give turnkey service to the seller. The agent's job is to get the property priced and to do the marketing to get it sold. The home stager merchandizes the property so that the marketing pays off. They are working hand in hand. In today’s economy, the home stager is making money for the agent because without the house staged it sits and in the end the real estate agent either gets little commission or none. Therefore, working together, the seller wins, the agent wins, and the stager wins.
Is staging then being considered part of the real estate professional's marketing plan? Who pays for it?
Sellers are now demanding more and more that the real estate professional pays a part or all of the stager fee in the beginning or at the close of sale. The agent that makes staging a part of their marketing plan will lead the market and obtain more listings because of it.
Describe why the real estate mantra is no longer "location, location, location." It is now "staging, staging, staging."
Now more than ever location is included in the price. That said, regardless of square footage, location or the number of bedrooms and baths, if the house is not staged it simply cannot compete. You can have a small house or a mansion in a prime location or out in the hinter land, but today’s buyers are comparing how the house, which is now a product, looks compared to all of the other houses. So no matter how many bedrooms or baths, if the property is dirty, cluttered, or has the wrong colors, it doesn’t have a chance in today’s market.
Selling your house is like selling a car. There are a lot of cars for sale and a lot of houses for sale too. Today’s car buyers are going to buy the car that meets their needs and that looks the best; the same is true for a house. Staging is today’s answer and will be even more effective in the future. It is all about presentation. So, as I have always said to this day: “Buyers only know what they see, not the way it’s going to be” and “detail your house like you detail your car” if you want to get it sold.
Do you expect the home staging industry to grow larger?
Yes, the home staging industry continues to grow larger every year. This is because of the public is seeing more about it on TV, reading more about it in newspapers, magazines, and articles and are comprehending the huge difference that it makes in the sale of properties all over North America. Five years ago the approximate statistics that we had at StagedHomes.com were that 10 percent of the public was preparing their home for sale; this figure has now topped over 20 percent.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barb Schwarz, ASP, ASPM, AB, IAHSP, is the creator of Home Staging® and the CEO of www.Stagedhomes.com. She is the IAHSP founder and chairwoman of The Board of The International Association of Home Staging Professionals® and Foundation.