Imagine this. You’re selling your home and moving on to bigger and better things. Excited for the next chapter of your life, the last thing you want to spend your hard-earned cash and precious time on is getting the home you’re selling ready to show. Besides, you like your home the way it is. You love the paint colors you chose, your cabinets are perfect, and any potential buyer would be lucky to live there. Why spend money changing things if you don’t even get to enjoy the results? You are moving away, after all. Why not let the next owner take care of it?
Changing and updating your home is a lot of work, and it’s not always easy. It can take time and money that many people aren’t willing to spend. But if your goal is to sell your luxury home for top dollar, then you need to make sure it’s in top condition. Besides obvious fixes (like scuffed paint or leaky plumbing) and general maintenance, preparing your home for selling often requires the help of a professional home stager — someone who knows how to make an empty or cluttered house feel like a livable home.
Besides financial barriers, there are also emotional blocks to consider. Sellers get nostalgic about the home where they raised their kids, where they have so many memories, and they take it personally when an agent asks them to change the way it looks.
It’s not personal, though, and it doesn’t need to be a scary process. For the homes that need staging, sometimes only minimal changes are necessary. Once you understand the art behind home staging, the process of hiring a stager, and the benefits of curating your home’s attributes, you’ll be able to make an educated decision on whether staging is the right choice for your luxury home sale.
What is a Professional Home Stager?
Your first interaction with a professional home stager will likely be during a walkthrough of your home. At the Rob Jensen Company, we enlist the help of Certified Home Stager and Interior Designer Saundra Carson to get our luxury listings in selling condition. After Saundra introduces herself to a new client, she always asks the same question: “Do you know of anything that needs to be repaired or replaced?”
Once the holes in the drywall are filled, the paint is touched up, and all other minor repairs are made, it’s time for the true artist to step forward. Professional stagers are just that…professionals. While they may be responsible for some of the mechanical stuff, their true usefulness lies in their artistry, their ability to see the potential of a home and to communicate it through the senses.
Certified stagers like Saundra are trained in interior design. They make sure that colors blend, and that the eyes of potential buyers are aimed where they should be. They curate and rearrange furniture to create obstruction-free pathways throughout the home. With an eye for beauty, they pay close attention to lighting, furnishing, and design elements, and prescribe changes based on their experience.
The best stagers keep themselves informed about design trends. They suggest simple fixes that provide low cost impact — like updating light fixtures and making sure the drawer pulls aren’t out of date. Stagers are the first to tell you that your paint colors don’t quite match or that your furniture is interrupting the flow of the room. Combining design experience with professional training, stagers know how to make a home feel not only livable, but as beautiful as possible.
What is the goal of Professional Home Staging?
Home staging should inspire potential buyers by creating dramatic scenery that leaves an emotional mark. Not everyone has the imagination to fill an empty home. They need some guidance, something visual to help them envision living there. Likewise, buyers don’t have X-ray vision. They can’t see through the clutter.
By displaying the true potential of the home, professional home stagers aim to maximize its appeal to the largest number of potential buyers. Saundra always attempts to “eliminate negatives by changing them into positives.” She anticipates issues that buyers might have and finds creative solutions to fix them.
Ultimately, inspiring buyers and appealing to their aesthetic nature leads to the true goal of home staging: getting the highest final sales price possible while maximizing your net proceeds. Any recommendations made by your stager should be done with your bottom line in mind.
Is staging necessary for all homes?
Some sellers have beautiful homes and new furniture, so the staging process might be minimal, only requiring the removal of clutter, a few rearrangements, or perhaps a splash of color. Others have homes with a unique architectural interest that speaks for itself, where their agent might just suggest the removal of some furniture to highlight the home’s interesting design. A large investment in staging is not always necessary. Cases that require absolutely no staging, however, are usually rare.
They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but sellers are often blinded by an emotional attachment to their home. They have beautiful memories there, so it’s hard for them to see their home through the critical eye of the buyer. The best way to find out if you need professional home staging is to talk to an objective party with your best interests in mind — your real estate agent. Your agent knows what buyers want. They’ll tell you the truth about what needs to be done. It could be as simple as throwing a few pillows on the couch or as difficult as renovating an entire bathroom or kitchen.
How do I find a professional stager?
The best way to find a professional home stager is through a referral. Real estate agents often employ them, so ask your agent first. For example, Jamie Tian, the number one top producing agent at Rodeo Realty’s Sunset Strip Office, keeps a list of stagers at various price points so she can help her clients find the best match for their scenario.
Some stagers, like Saundra, are professionally trained and certified. Others aren’t. Some have years of experience that newer stagers only dream of having. Your agent will know who’s a true artist and who’s a fraud. He or she can also refer contractors to make all the changes prescribed by your stager.
Because all homes are different, staging costs vary greatly. One money-saving option is to only stage the most noteworthy parts of your home: the living room, the master bedroom, etc. Smaller rooms, such as guest rooms, can often be skipped. Don’t skimp too much, though. Think of staging as an investment. Without going overboard, the more you invest, the greater the payoff. This is another case where the expertise of your agent can only help.
Is it worth the investment?
Buying a home is an emotional decision. First impressions matter. Many buyers know within the first minute of entering a house if they’ll even consider it as an option. It’s the feeling of “home” that professional stagers are trained to impart. Spend the money to have a stronger first impression, and more potential buyers will remember the positive beauty and function of the home they just walked through.
Studies show that homes sell much faster when they’re staged. Saundra has hands-on experience with this. She even recalls a home that sold the day before hitting the market because it was staged so perfectly.
Staging can also save sellers from costly price reductions. If a house has been on the market for a long time, and no one has corrected its problems, the price is bound to drop. Professional staging can do wonders in scenarios like this. If you take that same house off the market, stage it, and re-list it, then it usually gets a substantially better response.
The cost of staging is often recouped by a higher selling price, especially when inventory is low. It’s an effective way to increase your net earnings on a home sale. According to the National Association of Realtors, staging has a potential return of four times your investment.
Here in Las Vegas, the Rob Jensen Company picked up a home listed by a different agent after the price had dropped all the way to $575,000 with no sale. After working with Saundra and investing $14,000 to update the seller’s kitchen and master bedroom, we were able to sell their home for $635,000 in just 28 days. In this case, the investment paid off, but it’s just one success story.
Staging a home is like putting on makeup. Sometimes it makes a big difference, sometimes a little bit goes a long way, and sometimes it’s not necessary at all. But staging a home is also like wearing a fitted suit. Sure, you might look good in jeans and a t-shirt, but you can look great in a tuxedo. Why not show your home in its best light?
If you want to make top dollar on your luxury home sale, then consider hiring a professional stager to give your home an edge over your competition. The Rob Jensen Company always offers a free staging consultation to our clients.