Why Stage

Are you making the biggest home selling mistake?

Real estate experts agree that the number one selling mistake is “failing to showcase your home and not making small cosmetic changes.” Like a first date there is only one chance to make a first impression. But unlike a first date the value of what you have to offer goes down over time AND the market interest declines too because there is fresh competition coming on the market all the time. When you hit the market at the right price and you have positioned your home (product) to stomp the competition in the beginning – you will get the results that other sellers only fantasize about. Trying it out for a month or two to see what happens is a huge mistake that ultimately costs you money – often a lot of money.

See, once you decide to sell your home, it becomes a product. A product that is competing with a lot of other products for a sale. You are in a merchandising competition where the best packaging wins. The houses that look the best AND are priced right will sell while the others languish on the market. Also, it is important to note that you will get the most interest in the beginning – this is when the pool of pre-qualified buyers who are waiting for a home like yours will rush to see the new listing. When you do it right, one or more of this first group will write you an offer. Gary Keller, Chairman of Keller Williams Realty, said in a recent interview on ABC’s Good Morning America, “Price gets you interest. Staging gets you offers.”

Good home staging creates an emotional connection with buyers. It makes your house a “must have.” When buyers fall in love with your home, you sell faster and for more money. As Gary Keller, Chairman of Keller Williams Realty says, “Price gets you interest. Staging gets you offers.” This is especially true if you are willing to do some prep work before your home hits the market and you come to terms with its current market value. As Louis Cammarosano, general manager of HomeGain.com says in a December 2010 article entitled Getting Your House Sold in 2011 in the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch, “If you hit the ground running and you’re a fresh listing that has done everything right, you’ve got the best shot.”

Ok, but does home staging really work?

The experts think so. HGTV recently gathered together a bevy of real estate experts to put together The 25 Biggest Real Estate Mistakes. Number One? “Failing to Showcase Your Home and Making Small Cosmetic Changes.” They go on to say “When you are selling your house, you have to really look at it objectively and think about it from the viewpoint of the house hunter. Home staging is designed to increase the potential selling price and reduce the amount of time the house stays on the market.”

Studies back up the benefits of staging. In a 2006 article in USA TODAY entitled Staging Results in Faster Sale, Richer Price, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Los Altos, Calif., looked at nearly 2,800 properties in eight U.S. cities in 2004. They found that the STAGED HOMES, on average, SOLD IN HALF THE TIME that the non-staged homes did. The sellers with staged homes ended up with 6.3% MORE than their asking price, on average, while sellers with non-staged homes sold for 1.6% more than the asking price. Now, 2004 was a few years ago and the real estate market was vastly different but if sellers had those kind of benefits and results in a SELLERS MARKET, imagine how much more important staging is now.

RESA Chart of Home Staging Study Results

Source: RESA 2010 Study

A more recent 2010 study by the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) of 281 homes found that houses staged AFTER being on the market a while sold 67% faster than unstaged homes and homes staged BEFORE listing sold 85% faster. This is an improvement over the 2009 study results which were also impressive. In Boulder County that could have your house under contract in just a few weeks. This study only addresses how fast properties might transact, it does not touch on the price difference received when a house is on the market for several months or longer. Sellers may have to make a price adjustment and may receive offers below asking. “The first 30 days on the market are the most important,” says Norwalk, Conn., realtor Elizabeth Kamar in a May 9, 2011 article in CNN Money entitled Your Home: How to sell in tough times. “That’s when your place attracts the most attention and gets the most showings.

From our own data at Rocky Mountain Home Staging we know that sellers who stage from the very beginning get a higher price and sell nine times faster than homes that stage after being on the market a while. This still exceeds market averages by a lot. The average days to contract in Boulder County is somewhere between 70 and 186 days depending upon which community you are in, if your dwelling is attached or unattached and your price point. Our average days to offer for homes that are staged from the very beginning is 5 days. Our average for homes that are on the market for a while before staging is 32 days. This is still more than twice as fast as the lowest days to contract and many of the homes we stage had previously sat on the market for many months, sometimes years prior to staging.

HomeGain.com surveys thousands of real estate agents each year to find out what DIY home improvements result in the biggest bang for the buck. Recent results based upon a Boulder zipcode show a list of different minor changes and updates and the estimated costs and returns. As an example, kitchen and bath updates would include things like resurfacing cabinets or painting them a neutral color, replacing fixtures and handles. In this example below, their definition of staging is furniture arrangement and accessorizing only. Our definition can cover the entire list when required. All of these items can be addressed by Rocky Mountain Home Staging during a full staging and are covered in exacting detail during our home selling consult.

HomeGain Table of Common Improvements

All of these items are part of a FULL STAGING and are addressed during a CONSULT.

Benefits of Staging Your Home

  • Sell faster
  • Sell for more money
  • Look better than the competition
  • Look better in photos and ads
  • Receive more showings
  • Receive more offers
  • Be a “must see” a “must consider” and a “must buy”
  • Appear well maintained to buyers AND appraisers
  • Appraise at a higher value

A lot of agents and homeowners think that only vacant properties or ugly houses need to be staged. Even perfectly decorated homes will benefit from staging because staging has nothing to do with how good of a decorator you are. Sure, staged properties are always clean, clutter free, neutralized, spacious and inviting AND they are strategically designed to create an emotional response in the right buyer. Because staging is marketing not decorating, principles of design and purchase psychology are used to sell your home quickly for the maximum amount of money. Key staging strategies go way beyond nice décor or interior design.

Still not convinced?

Let’s imagine for a moment that you are a buyer looking for a new house. Like other buyers you are purchasing aspirationally, you are thinking about how much better your life will be in your new home. You review your finances and budget, get pre-approved for a loan, and start scouring the on-line listings and visiting open houses. You see dozens of houses and lots of them don’t work for your specific needs, many of them are ok and they could work but you just aren’t excited about them. Maybe the décor is really dated or taste specific and you can’t imagine how your furniture would look. Maybe the carpet all needs to be replaced. Maybe the house looked good on paper but was so full of clutter you really couldn’t see beyond it. Sadly, this is the experience of most buyers. They will look at house after house after house. Most of the houses aren’t bad and they could work, they just aren’t great either. You might buy one of them if you could get it cheap enough but if someone else beats you to the punch you won’t be disappointed. Meanwhile, you wait for THE ONE.

If you are selling your home and want to give yourself the best chance of selling within 30 days and at the highest price call Rocky Mountain Home Staging today at 720-295-0720 email us or review our list of services for more details.