By Patti Stern, Principal PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating
Staging is no longer optional for sellers who want to get the most value from their home. Many sellers are still reluctant to stage, making it a tough sell for their real estate agent. Several key points can help overcome skepticism and convince sellers to stage first if they want to sell.
1. Explain the difference between decorating and staging.
The saying -- "Your Home is Your Castle" -- often rings true with today's sellers. Most believe their home is decorated beautifully, usually with their favorite colors and personal décor. But there is a big difference between decorating and staging to appeal to a large pool of buyers.
Décor choices are personal and most buyers can’t envision how a home may look if the seller doesn't remove their personality.
Sotheby's Julia B Fee REALTOR®, Megan Stilwell-Posner, a recent PJ & Co. client, often walks buyers through a property and they’ll comment that they don’t like an area rug or paint color, which even influences their decision on whether to purchase the home. “Explaining how we market your property versus how you decorate your property is very important,” she says.
2. Talk staging versus a possible price reduction.
Staging sets a home apart from the competition. Updating decor, particularly in key rooms such as kitchens and baths, can mean the difference between selling quickly and for top dollar or facing a price reduction if a home sits on the market for too long.
Busy, cluttered decor or outdated styles will distract buyers who won’t be able to envision living in the home. For many sellers, staging and low-cost renovations preserve valuable equity and can even boost a home’s selling price. For example, after PJ & Co. staged a property for real estate agent Rich Walker with Century 21, he decided to list the property for $20,000 higher than he originally planned. The property sold in 15 days at the asking price.
3. NOT selling a home is stressful.
We’ve all heard it – sellers who want to “test the market before staging” but months later haven’t received an offer.
Selling a home is difficult both emotionally and physically. Each day without an offer is stressful. Ultimately, I believe staging brings offers in quicker and makes the entire process easier.
In controlled tests conducted by the Real Estate Staging Association that compared identical homes, the non-staged houses sold in 102 days, while the professionally staged properties sold in 45 days.
4. The stager is going to do the dirty work.
Many real estate professionals we talk to are hesitant to discuss staging with their clients, unsure of how to tactfully approach necessary updates without offending their client. Enlisting a professional stager as a third-party expert and part of the selling plan provides tremendous value to both the real estate agent and seller. A professional stager takes the burden off of you, and can make recommendations without treading on the real estate agent/client relationship.
5. Execution will be key.
Hiring a stager who has a full team on standby to manage the entire process and deliver the home ready for market is key.
Some staging companies can be hired to just offer recommendations. For example, one client received a seven- page recommendation from a stager, but shopping for updated décor and managing the updates were up to the seller. It became overwhelming for the couple. They weren’t comfortable choosing the paint colors, picking lighting fixtures, or incorporating the right style trends to make a space vibrant and engaging to today’s younger buyer.
Other staging companies can offer the client one-stop shopping, from selecting the paint colors to coordinating the painter, carpenter, and selecting all of the materials needed to stage the property.