Melissa Marro is one of the best known stagers in the US. She is an annual featured speaker at the Real Estate Staging Industry’s Convention held in Las Vegas and currently holds the position of President for the Board of Directors in the trade organization.
Let me guess. You did the thing you are supposed to do and got 3 quotes for home staging services. Now, you are ready to pick the lowest one because, after all, margins are tight. Why should you spend money you don’t need to spend. All stagers are equal. Well, in the same way that all Realtors are equal, all Flippers are equal, and all Contractors are equal.
Oh, it’s not about the cheapest quote, it’s about the fact that your rehab went over budget and now you just don’t have enough money left in it for the whole staging package. You are going to go with “light staging” or perhaps “vignette staging”. Maybe you’ll still splurge for “partial staging”, where they stage a few rooms in the house.
Let’s define staging, so we can get on the same page.
Home Staging creates a measurable, marketable, change in the perceived value of the property.
Understanding this concept means that you understand that staging is more like marketing than interior design. We create value by controlling the buyer’s eye as they walk through the house. We not only create an emotion, a feeling of home, but we also lead the buyer to a trail of the property’s features and selling points.
Recently, I saw a post on Instagram where the home staging company boasted about offering “light staging” because the real estate investor went over budget on the rehab. I tried to comment on the point of the concept that offering something that is incomplete is not only putting your customer at a disservice, but your own reputation and value.
Beware the stager who will simply accommodate your budget.
Let’s pretend that you want to build a house. Your budget is $200,000, but the builder says to build the house properly, the budget needs to be $225,000. You tell the builder that you don’t have the money in the budget. Perhaps you thought you could get a better deal on the land, but that cost more than you thought. Maybe you didn’t realize how much it would cost to get power out to the lot. There were a lot of expenses you simply didn’t account for. You only have $200,000 to build the house. The builder understands and agrees to build the house, at your defined budget, but in order to do so, he will have to make a few cut backs. Perhaps we could choose not to do insulation. After all, that’s not all that noticeable when you look at the surface. Maybe we could cut back on the flooring. You can certainly put your furniture on concrete or plywood. How many other things would you be willing to cut back on, and still believe you have an acceptable home from a builder?
The same is true with home staging. Let’s discuss a couple of scenarios and see how they could affect potential home buyers.
Standard Staging Guideline: Seating:
You should have at least enough seating at dining tables and in living spaces as the number of bedrooms + one. This means that in a 4 bedroom house, you should have seating for 5.
The purpose of home staging is to create perceived value. When the stager begins to sidestep the basic guidelines, and shortchanges the room by adding a round table and four chairs vs a rectangular table and seating for at least six, they leave potential buyers with the impression that the room may not comfortably accommodate their family, not their just table. Buyers don’t see potential, they see what’s their, which is why home staging is an effective tool, when done properly.
This is the same issue in the family room. The family room needs to be large enough to accommodate the entire family, plus friends and guests. By short changing the space, you also short change the seller, and the value our industry brings to real estate.
Create the lifestyle for the home buyer in your staging.
The furnishings and items put into the house should express the lifestyle and taste of the specific buyer most likely to want to live in this house. In this example, the four bedroom home, in a young family neighborhood showcases trends appropriate for the age group, and family style most likely to live here. There is appropriate seating, and the appropriate amount of furnishings, art, and accessories, to create an aspirational lifestyle.
Additionally, staging should reflect the way today’s buyer lives. In the photo above, we added a TV and console, opposite the fireplace, because the area over the fireplace is too narrow to accommodate most of the 65″ TV’s for this demographic. This allows for potential buyers to see alternatives that will actually fit their lifestyle. There is ample seating for everyone in the house (number of bedrooms + at least one).
When paying a minimal amount for ‘light staging’, you may find that there is negligible difference in change to buyer perception. If the questions aren’t answered, consistently throughout the entire house, then it won’t answer questions about balance, flow, and lifestyle (luxury), then they aren’t likely to believe the house is worth more than when it was empty. Making an investment, in quality staging, where the stager understands and utilizes market data, you are likely to get up to $3000 – $5000, in return, for every $1000 you investment.
Selling a house is serious business. Small things make a BIG difference.
I know that when you start reading this, you may think I’m making a joke. You may believe this is click bait, but I promise you that when you understand what I mean that you’ll thank me for making this known to you. It’s a common item, often used for making a room, or piece of furniture look better, especially for photos, but it’s actually often the biggest detractor from showcasing the room.
Never use a tablecloth in MLS photographs.
WHAT? Really? That’s what this is about? I know. It sounds crazy, but don’t stop reading yet. Just hang with me. Table cloths are great for living in a home and entertaining. They can be beautiful, and provide texture for a holiday table setting, or protection for the table itself. All of that said, They are terrible options for selling your house. Let’s take a look.
Photo by http://janicereyesphotography.com
Let’s just take a quick look at the image above. Tell me. Where do your eyes go first? What’s the first thing that catches your attention in the photo? I’ll just bet it was the table cloth. This light and airy, neutral piece of linen takes up an enormous amount of space in the photo. We call that “visually heavy”.
Photo by https://www.houseandgarden.co.uk
“But my table is in bad condition!” I understand. I really do. What I also understand is that no matter how bad the condition, adding a table cloth only makes it worse, given our purpose is to sell the house, not the stuff. Even rustic tables, or others in really rough condition will look better in photos, allowing potential buyers to focus on the house, rather than the stuff, or in this case, the giant table cloth in the room. After all, I bet the tablecloth is, once again, the main place your eye goes in this image, despite the amazing flooring, and high beautiful ceilings.
Photo by https://www.spade-archer.com
Even when everything else in the room should be the focal point, your eye will gravitate toward the table cloth. OK. In this last photo, maybe that is an exception to the rule. That’s really the only safe place to look!
Photos are the reason that buyers show up to the house.
The MLS photos drive potential home buyers to view the house. If they are good, they will come. If they are not, they will just click onto the next house. It’s a good idea to be sure that buyers are paying attention to the focal points of the house. Generally speaking, table cloths are not supposed to be what you want them to notice.
Interested in becoming a home stager? Take our classes here in Jacksonville, FL. Visit StagingAndRedesign.com for more information.
What is home staging? Let’s create a clearly defined process.
I routinely hear from potential Realtor customers that they already stage their listings. When I hear this, I usually understand this to be what is often referred to, by other stagers, as vignette staging. This is where the agent, or a “stager” brings in a couple of boxes of accessories, artwork, and maybe a couple of fake trees. For the team at Rave Home Staging, we understand that while they are calling it staging, it rarely meets the requirements necessary for staging.
So what are the requirements for home staging?
Let’s give a basic, clear, definition of home staging.
Staging creates a measurable, marketable, change in the perceived value to the potential buyer.
The home staging process. What's a staging day like? - YouTube
While there have traditionally been three levels of recognized staging in our industry, today there are actually four.
Vignette Staging. The lowest and least effective type of staging.
This is what I mentioned earlier as a technique often done by Realtors. It’s usually a few items brought in to soften the kitchens and bathrooms. It includes a shower curtain, towels, small plants, and a few accessories, then similar types of items brought into the kitchen. It rarely includes anything larger than an individual can fit in any small or compact car and carry by themselves.
Now, let’s apply our definition (rule) to this type of staging. Does adding a couple of boxes of Home Goods decor to a house create a measurable, marketable, change in perceived value of the property? Are buyers emotionally inspired? Do they believe the value of the house has gone up? Do these things make the house feel aspirational? Sadly, the answer is, “NO!”. Vignette staging can add character and life to an otherwise empty, cold space. It does NOT create an addition in perceived value. Never has a buyer walked in and thought that the house was worth more money because of a few kitchen canisters and kitchen island set with place settings, including fancy napkin folding in the wine glasses.
With this said. While vignette staging has always been viewed as a low-end category of staging, it’s actually just decorating.
BTC Start to Finish Staging | Rave Home Staging - YouTube
Partial or key room Staging. Frequently considered the “standard” of staging.
This is where only a few rooms of the house are staged, usually including the living room, dining room, eat-in kitchen, master bedroom, and master bath. Sometimes it will include few rooms, or more rooms, depending on both the house, and the staging company.
So, does partial staging meet the definition? Can it create measurable, marketable changes in perceived value? Yes. Yes, it can. While there are many spaces left out, possibly leaving opportunity, and money, out of the equation, partial staging is often a low cost way to make the most out of a vacant property.
Why you should stage all of the rooms in your home, not just a few. - YouTube
Full Home Staging. The Best Return on Investment for Vacant Homes.
This is where all of the interior rooms of the house are staged. While usually the most expensive method of staging, if combined with cutting edge techniques like utilizing demographics and psychographics along with architecture understanding, then this is actually where you will earn your highest return on investment in selling your property.
Hands down this is the best use of the criteria of home staging, as it clearly identifies each space, within the house, showcasing lifestyle and luxury, often creating spaces that buyers believe to be worth tens of thousands of dollars more, than if they were left empty. The illusion is held throughout the house, unlike partial staging, and any awkward layouts are usually unrecognizable.
Virtual Staging – A fourth category has snuck into real estate recently.
Virtual staging – Unlike any of the three previous staging techniques, is completely digital. There isn’t even a single box brought out to the house, and frequently it’s being done by someone who isn’t even in the state, or country. In this case, virtual staging only provides enhanced photos of what a room could potentially be.
According to the HAR (Houston Association of Realtors) website, the overwhelming assertion is that Realtors MUST disclose that the photos are virtual and the furniture is approximate in size. This is because, in a virtual world, you can easily manipulate a sofa to suddenly become a 72″ 3-seater sofa, when it started off as an 84″ long one. This could falsely indicate what will realistically comfortably fit into a space. You can also digitally add larger pieces of furniture than can physically be moved into a space. Ex: some older properties don’t have the ability to move king box springs through hallways or windows, allowing only queen size beds or smaller. This is not something that may even be considered when virtual staging.
So, now let’s break into our definition. Does virtual staging meet the requirement of creating a measurable, marketable change in perceived value. It absolutely brings more people through the door. This means that it meets the criteria of measurable and marketable. However, when a buyer gets to the house, it is still empty. There is no lifestyle represented. There is no warmth, no flow, or floor plan layout. The house no longer feels aspirational. So, for this, I would have to rank it as “maybe”. Simply by getting more people to the house, the odds are increased that an offer will be placed. It’s also possible that buyers will be incredibly let down when they get there. A common phrase we hear with virtual staging is, bait and switch.
Are you thinking of staging your house, your investment property, or your listing?
Consider that the cost of each of these techniques varies, both by the amount of stuff brought in, the reputation of the staging company, and the length of contract. When deciding what kind of staging is right for you, be sure not to judge based just on cost, but also on return on investment. Which type of staging will provide the best bang for your buck? Which will bring in more potential buyers, in the shortest time possible, and which will overcome the most objections? Finally, which staging company, and service, creates the best aspirational lifestyle to the buyer most likely to purchase the property. The most a buyer loves the property, the more they pay, regardless of actual comps.
Rave Home Staging only offers full home staging because we know it has the highest level of ROI. We use a proprietary system of staging based on architecture, demographics, and psychographics (thinks & lives) of the most likely buyer. For questions, or to schedule a staging appointment, please call 904-379-5523.
Have you ever wanted to have your home look just like those in Rave Home Staging’s project portfolio? Well, now you can! Owner, Melissa Marro, explains to other stagers how to get the best pieces and pricing from her favorite retail stores, in her new video series.
Building your home staging inventory, using RETAIL sources: Part 1 - YouTube
The At Home Store is one of the best places to get a great deal on artwork, rugs, dining chairs, and many other home decor pieces. The next Shopping Retail video will feature local, #shopsmall places that Marro loves to shop! You are sure to recognize the overall style that you’ve grown to love in Rave’s staging styling.
If you love real estate and home decor, have you considered home staging as a career? Did you know that Rave offers certification courses right here in Jacksonville? There has never been a better time to start your own business in this fast growing field. Visit Stagingandredesign.com/3dayclass for more information!
Queens Harbor Yacht club sets trends in real estate.
It’s not uncommon for luxury home owners to take a look at what has value, and what’s simply a passing fad. One of the ways that homeowners, who can afford to live in one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Jacksonville, FL, manage their money is by spending it in places where they are likely to get a high rate of return. This leads us to home staging.
While it’s possible that the slow down in the real estate market is only seasonal, most economic indicators show that the once seller’s market, is becoming more bearish, and less bullish. This is good news for home buyers, but less favorable to some sellers. Because of this, and the increasing inventory in certain communities, like Queens Harbor, home staging has become even more important. Interviewing and choosing the right staging company, rather than just the cheapest, is also an important part of the equation. While there are other staging companies in Jacksonville that can stage for much less money, it’s typically because they do less in the home. They cut corners by using ‘what’s available’ instead of strategically determining what the most likely home buyer wants to see. They stage only a few rooms of the property, leaving the rest to the imagination. The problem is that the imagination is usually with a much lower price tag.
Wealthy, luxury minded home owners understand that cost isn’t what’s important when choosing a home staging company, return on investment, and final net proceeds, at the closing table are.
What’s available in Queens Harbor Yacht Club right now?
At the time of writing this, there are currently 13 Active Properties in Queen’s Harbor, 4 properties in Pending Status, and there have been ZERO closings in the last 30 days.
Queens Harbor home ready for debut on Jacksonville Real Estate Market - YouTube
This property located at 13689 Longs Landing has not even hit the market yet, but will be any day now. With stunning water views, an enclosed pool and outdoor kitchen, it’s sure to be a popular attraction for potential home buyers. (And just wait until they see that master bedroom closet!)
Queens Harbor homeowners invest in home staging for ROI - YouTube
1632 Sheffield Park Ct, this home has a stunning screened in outdoor living area. This ranch style home, with master bedroom and other bedrooms on other ends of the house, is perfect for almost anyone with, or without kids.
An investment in staging creates better buyer perception.
In our various CE classes, blog posts, and conversations with Realtors and homeowners, Rave Home Staging educates on the value of staging your home in order to maximize the amount of money you’ll receive at the closing table. Thanks to an experiment provided by retailer giant, Payless Shoes, we get a clear indication just how this works.
The Payless Experiment - Part 2 - YouTube
Buyer Perception is what determines what someone is willing to pay for anything
Whether it is shoes or a house, buyer perception is what determines what someone is willing to pay. The Paylessi experiment outlines that when the stage is properly set, buyers can easily be swayed into increasing their perception of the quality and value of a given item.
One of the key reasons that new construction is the go-to shopping point for so many home buyers is because they know they aren’t buying someone else’s problems (leaky roofs, stained carpets, etc) and because they fall in love with the model home. While the buyers typically aren’t getting all the features of the model, the stage has been set to create an emotional appeal and provide the belief that there is a higher value in new construction, even when existing homes often have more upgrades and benefits for the same money.
Are you trying to sell your home? If you’re looking for ways to make it more appealing to
buyers, then you’ve probably realized by now that there are lots of ways to do this. For
example, certain color schemes, smells, or furniture layouts can improve your chances
of achieving a fast sale. But, according to most surveys, the most important factor when
it comes to selling your home is actually something much more simple: cleanliness.
Having a thoroughly cleaned home has been ranked as the most effective way of
making your home appealing to buyers. It’s considered by buyers to be more important
than decor, odors, furnishings, and architecture. And, it’s also one of the quickest and
cheapest methods to add value. You might be wondering: what exactly is it about
cleaning that makes it so important for selling homes?
To answer this question, you need to put yourself in your buyer’s shoes. If you were
buying a house, one of the most important aspects of the viewing would be to visualize
yourself living in that property. For someone to do this, you need to provide a blank
canvas. They need to be able to see their own possessions, furniture, and lifestyle fitting
into this blank canvas you’ve created. And in order to to this, your home needs to be
clutter-free, thoroughly cleaned, and ready to move into.
As well as this, a clean home gives the right first impression to a buyer. It shows that
your home is well cared for, loved, and has been maintained properly. This means that
first, you need to declutter all the rooms in your house, including surfaces, worktops,
and storage spaces. This will make it appear cleaner and will give the illusion of more
Then, you need to make sure the property itself is as clean as possible. For this, you
could hire professional cleaners. Or, you can use a cleaning checklist, like the one
below provided by Highlands Ranch Maid Service, to make sure that you clean every
room in your house properly and you don’t miss a thing. This covers all aspects of
cleaning to help make your home as appealing as possible to potential buyers.
The question of “How long does it take to stage our home in Jacksonville?” is pretty common. Regardless of whether the house is vacant (empty) or occupied (using your stuff), the answer is generally about the same. Rave Home Staging will have your Jacksonville home staged in one day. Here’s what you can typically expect from us.
The staging process. What it really takes to stage your home in Jacksonville.
Let’s start with the occupied home, since it often has more questions than the vacant home.
Step 1: The consultation.
Occupied homes are completely unique from each other. Even if two sellers lived on the same street, in the same exact floor plan, the needs inside their occupied homes would likely be very different, as each family usually owns different items, has different tastes, and a different level of “stuff” and lifestyle. The consultation is the only real way to start assessing the situation.
After you have contacted our team, we will schedule you for a consultation. This usually takes about an hour, though may be shorter or longer based on a variety of factors. Our Occupied Sales Representative will create a report, specific to your property, giving you room by room recommendations to make your home as “market ready” as possible.
You’ll be given enough information, in the report, to do all of the work by yourself, without any further assistance from our team. If, however, you would like to keep us engaged in the process with you, we’ll provide quotes for that as well. If you need additional items, to enhance the overall finished product, we’ll also quote you for those.
Staging Consultations start at $225 and go up based on sqft
Half day staging fees are $495, full day $995
Enhancement services vary depending on needs.
Step 2: Staging Day.
On staging day, if you have elected to hire us for the enhancement services, we’ll have one, or more, stagers arrive at your house, with any necessary additions, that were already agreed upon from the quote. The stager, and possibly an assistant, or movers, will begin diligently working on getting the home photo-ready, and market ready. Our team will do everything possible within the agreed upon timing.
The time between consultation and staging day varies based on many factors, including, but not limited to scope of work needing to be done, market timing, calendar availability, etc. What is always consistent is that the work will be completed on the day of staging.
And, NO, you get to keep your stuff. Rarely do we ask homeowners to remove all, or most of their belongings. If we do, rest assured, it’s because we understand the market will pay more for your house with different stuff, more updated stuff, in it.
What about Vacant homes? That seems like a lot more “stuff”.
Yes. Even fully vacant homes, usually regardless of square-footage, can be done in one day. We may need to increase how many stagers, movers, and assistants are working on the house that day, but our goal is always to complete each project in a single day.
Step 1: The Contract.
Once we have a signed contract, we will add your project to our staging schedule. Typically, we can stage each property within one week.
Step 2: The Preview.
A day, or so, before the property is staged, one of our stagers will come to the house to preview the property, take measurements, and begin the plan for the stage. They will work within our proprietary system to ensure that each house meets the needs and desires for the most likely buyer to purchase the house.
Step 3: The Stage.
Rave Home Staging typically manages four projects per day, per moving truck. This means that we have morning houses and afternoon houses. Regardless of whether the project is a morning or afternoon project, it should be completed by the end of the working day, of the stager. Occasionally, something doesn’t work out exactly perfect, or we need to purchase something specific for the house, in which case we may need to come back the next day. This should not happen often, and will always be completed prior to the photography session.
Step 4: Professional Photos.
The next working day after the staging is scheduled, Rave’s professional photographer will arrive at the property and take a wide array of photos. We use an HDR Merge technology, that allows for stunning photography, in virtually all lighting. You can learn more about our photography here.
Because we outsource the post processing part overseas, photos arrive the following business day. These will be provided in both high resolution and web size images.
The cost of vacant staging is simple. We charge 1% of the list price of the house, with a $2250 minimum*. Our service agreement covers 90 days. It includes all interior spaces and professional photography. Last year (2017) our average days on market from list to close was only 59 days, so 90 days, is generally 30 days more than we anticipate is necessary.
If you have any questions about any of our processes, what we use, or how we help you market your property, please contact us at 904.379.5523.