Is Staging Worth the Cost?

Which of the two images below make you feel better?

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 9.42.20 AM


In Real Estate all your clients are in a major life change.  When our life is in flux, we use emotional perception to respond and navigate the transition, and all sellers and buyers are in a transition.   We are by nature nesters and herders, so we search for a soft place to land (home) and a group to engage with once we’re there (family.)  If you think about it this way, clients are outlining the next chapter of their life’s story, and Staging is about telling a story that allows a buyer to recognize themselves, and to see their life as it could be.  Good staging lulls the eye, and offers assurance that there’s something solid ahead.   It makes you feel good without thinking about it.  Great staging does it in an emotional platform that feels ideal, and hits a sweet spot.

Look at the images once more.

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 9.42.20 AM

The image on the Left shows a railed fence, and implies some kind of livestock.  The bushes say birds, and berries.  A circle of hay (as in make it ’cause the sun is shining) aprons the house, and in the foreground tall wild flowers grace the edge of the road.

The image on the Right is vague, and austere, and a bit haunting.

Our minds register details.

Tara Maestrioni has a blog called Freshome, and explains the aspect upon entering a home very well.

“The first time that we step into a new interior, our brains automatically process two things: Aesthetics and Function. The best design projects will mix both in a way that is so subtle and integrated that you’ll have trouble distinguishing the two.”


Form and Function

And this is a good thing, because then buyers can enter a room and pay attention to their gut and feel that indescribable sense of – This is my house.   Every decision and pursuit begins with a gut reaction, doesn’t it?  It’s a feeling that becomes desire, and this is the aim when you’ve put a home on the market.  The aim is a relentless supply of buyers in that mode.  You want ’em to walk in, loosen the mental gears, and get down to that click.   Because the whisper of I’m home is what closes an escrow.  And Staging is how you get that whisper.

No one goes through the laborious process of escrow unless they truly want the prize.  When you hold an Open House you want to get through the neighbors and looky loos and get to the contenders, in other words you are sifting for strong offers, people who are emotionally affected by the house. So let’s be smart, let’s get them settled fast, let’s get them into the vision of what it will be like to read a book in that corner; watch the Oscars in this room; read the paper on Sunday morning right over there, and fall asleep each night in a plush bedroom like the one they happen to be standing in.

Now, let’s say you’re the client, and you are about to list your home with a realtor who’s urging you to Stage your home, but you don’t want to spend the money on staging.  I get it.  But they’re urging you because Stagers are stealthy.  Stagers know how to cut and flow a space in all the right places.  They frost over a home’s flaws, and bring a buyer’s eye to the charming nooks, and chattery places.


Asymmetrical space makes us pause, think.












Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 9.47.49 AM
Both symmetry and asymmetry

Real Estate agents don’t get a kick back from stagers, they have relationships with them – yes.  But they promote their ability, and bring them into a deal because statistically Staging works.

Were I you, my next question would be – prove it, and  I’ll try.   I looked into statistics on the N.A.R. (National Association of Realtors) website.  Here’s what I found.

Buyer’s agents  believe that staging comes up in two ways.  81 percent said staging helps buyers visualize the property as a future home, while 46 percent said it makes prospective buyers more willing to walk through a home they saw online.  45 percent said a home decorated to a buyer’s tastes positively impacts its value.  And on the other side of this 10 percent of buyer’s agents said, ugly staging could turn their buyers off.

Get a good stager!

What about the return on investment?   Purchase Price increased 1-5 %: 37 percent of Listing Agents – Yes.  And 32 percent of Buyer’s Agents – Yes.

Purchase Price increased 6-10%: : 22 percent of listing agents – Yes.  16 percent of buyer’s agents – Yes.

This is in terms of the number amount buyer’s came in at.  This is what the buyer’s agents experience when they walk a client up to the amount of their offer, and listing agents experience when a home is not staged and sits, and when it is then staged, and sells quickly.

There’s a saying I’ve heard from someone in this business –  you always want to be the first wife, second son, and third realtor.  Because the first realtor can’t sell it.  The second gets the listing, and lowers the price.  But the third comes in, get the price right, and convinces them to stage it, too.  Boom!

Don’t underestimate the effects of – I’m Home.  

In this market buyers are battle weary.  The circumstances vary, but the pitch is always high.  The baby’s coming.  The new job already started six weeks ago.  There’s a domineering father-in-law in tow.  A couple with college age children, and the old house is empty and expensive.  These buyers are tired of spending every weekend in a hazy post-brunch Redfin treasure hunt.  Not only do you want a buyer to loosen the mental gears, the ideal scenario is that they forget the transition, and begin to tell their own story by stepping into a life that seems to be just ahead.

Buyers and Sellers are saying both goodbye to an old way of life, and hello to a new one.   When you list a home, the story is what’s for sale.  Imagine a great play with thoughtful and seamless staging, verses a great play reading.  Too raw, a few pieces and props can finesse the story.  The story is the way we recognize ourselves, and our lives, and all of this is emotional.  How we perceive a space upon entering is immediate.  We are looking for our lives within the story of a house.  Landscapers cut trees, Hairdressers cut hair, and Stagers sell the story.

Help buyers complete that picture.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s