In a strong sellers' market it can be tempting for homeowners and investors (and, unfortunately, a few agents) to skip going the extra mile in preparing a home for sale. After all, the home will likely get offers with or without things like staging, professional photos and a strategic marketing plan. The difference, though is in how strong those offers are and how quickly they come in. That difference can equate to tens of thousands of dollars and more.
Buyers tend to develop feelings for a property, either positive or negative, very quickly after seeing the first photos or stepping through the front door. The way a home is styled and furnished has a huge impact on this first reaction, and ultimately the offers that buyers will make.
With an occupied or already furnished home, a professional home stager or knowledgeable seller's agent can provide the owner with room-by-room suggestions on exactly what to clear out, rearrange, and specific items to add. Cleaning and decluttering alone makes a major difference but it's almost always worth going a step further and making some minimal investments in a few key up-to-date accent items in the right places or repainting a certain room in a more neutral color.
Vacant properties can see an even more substantial impact on the bottom line when they're at least partially staged. We recommend staging at least a living room, dining room and primary bedroom and adding a few accessories or accent pieces to the kitchen and bathrooms. Good agents will have recommendations for home stagers who can supply and install everything needed and remove it in time for closing. Some investors choose to purchase inexpensive furniture and resell it just before closing or offer it to the buyers of the home. Others, especially those who build or renovate several properties per year, find that it's worth keeping their own inventory of staging supplies. This of course does require some design expertise and knowledge of current trends.
The investment in staging (usually between $1,000-$7,000) can really pay off. According to research by the IAHSP, staged properties sell between 5-11 times faster than others. Not only is a faster sale far less stressful for sellers than spending months on the market, early offers tend to be much higher in price than those that come in after a property has been listed for a while. An NAR study found that staging equated to a 1-5% increase in sales price; definitely a solid return on investment.