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Most home sellers are reluctant to stage their home for a variety of reasons, not least of which is cost. But, still others feel offended that their taste just doesn’t cut it or feel like the process of editing, decluttering and bringing in a team is overly burdensome. It’s no surprise that in our view, the benefits far outweigh the costs and most of the above objections can be contextualized or outright answered for the wary home seller. Indeed, nearly all homes benefit from some elements of staging no matter how well appointed they are.
An Investment, Not An Expense
The three main benefits of home staging are to sell the home faster, for more money and to take advantage of potential tax savings. In this post, we’ll focus on using home staging to sell the home faster; look out for future posts on the data that shows staged homes sell for more money than comparables and for info on tax deductibility.
According to a 2017 Survey by the National Association of Realtors, 62% of real estate agents said staging a home decreases the amount of time a property stays on the market. This is in large part due to the fact that staging helps potential buyers visualize the space and to present a luxury lifestyle that romances buyers.
Get in The Buyer's Mind
Think about the full sales cycle. It begins with the online experience! Over 90% of buyers report saying that they searched for listings online before visiting locations with a broker, that means that great photos should translate into higher foot traffic. Indeed, a good professional stager will stage a home with an eye towards both the visuals in-person and online. A staged home will produce better photos and drive more demand.
Avoid Double Carrying Costs
And, there are tangible benefits to selling a home faster, including lower carrying costs on the current property, such as utilities, taxes and any amenities or board fees associated with higher end communities. Lowering the carrying costs helps defray the expense of home staging. Also, the reality is that the longer a property stays on the market, buyer demand weakens, hurting the seller’s bargaining power. Having strong demand from the start usually translates in a better sale price, less stress and a quicker close.
In our next blog, we’ll tackle the data showing that staged homes seller for a higher price than non-staged comparables, which is just one more reason to stage the property before listing it.
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When we think of staging, we often imagine a vacant space where professional stagers bring in furniture to make it look lived in at a minimum and present a lifestyle at best. But, in the majority of staging work, professional stagers work with an owner’s existing belongings, and perhaps bringing in some new accents, to present the space in the best possible light to prospective buyers. That’s what we did in one of our very first stagings: a large 4-bedroom home on a prime street in the swank NYC suburb of Rye Brook, NY.
Here’s how it works.
Step 1: Define Function
Every space should have a clearly defined function or purpose—entertaining, eating, reading, sleeping and, of course, watching Netflix—are a few of the basics. And, each room should have a focal point. In a living room it might be a fireplace or a TV; in a bedroom, it’s almost always the bed. Failing to create a focal point leaves a void in the house, creating dead or unused space.
The project that we tackled in Rye Brook had a 400 square foot bonus room above the garage that was open to the rest of the house. Over the years it had become a storage unit of old toys, kids’ school work and two old beds. It wasn’t ready to sell to a prospective buyer and left the impression that there wasn’t enough storage in the house (as it happened there was a nearly empty storage space just
a few feet away).
Our team removed about 75% of the belongings in the storage unit and took the old toys and beds to
create a kids play paradise. By spreading out the toys across the space we gave function to the room and actually made it look bigger.
Step 2: Edit
Over time, the average home seller accumulates a lot of belongings many of which haven’t been used in years. We don’t have to be card carrying members of the US Hoarders Association to require some time to step back and assess our space with a fresh pair of eyes. For big jobs, professional organizers can help home owners make the tough calls on whether to show, store or stuff in the trash. Many pieces can be sold on eBay or other furniture resale sites like Viyet for high-end wares and Apartment Deco for more mass-market offerings, helping to defray the cost of staging.
Book shelves are one area that can go wrong in a hurry: No one wants to see an overflowing book shelf or a closet door that’s busting open. These immediately create a sense that there’s not enough storage space. A handful of books on each shelf bound by elegant book ends, complemented by a shelf or two with a high-end accent piece is far preferable to books from end to end on every shelf.
Pick hardcover books with the dust-jacket removed and always use uncontroversial titles.
Step 3: Style
A well-decorated space has lots of little touches that look great, but are hard to execute on your own. These might be decorative orbs, a throw blanket or a great centerpiece. Black accents add an element of sophistication and we advise using three in each room no matter the color palette.
Spaces without accent pieces either look incomplete or they are the tell-tale sign of a poor staging
where the stagers or the owner were cutting costs. We don’t recommend overly personal accent pieces, such as family photos; you’re marketing a property and you want the buyer to envision themselves in the space, not your family.
Obviously each space is different; here we provide a high-level how-to in staging an occupied property for sale. You would be amazed by the transformation that defining function, editing and styling can have on a property.
In just the past 4 months, we've staged two properties--one listed for a year and the second listed for nine months--that had accepted offers for at and over ask on the very first day it was shown. And, we used almost all of the owner's belongings, but bringing in accents to finish the space. You can see some examples below.
Guest Bedroom (Before & After)
This large guest bedroom in a huge New York City penthouse lacked personality and warmth. We love to use white in staging, but this lacked style and a luxury lifestyle.
We added a mint accent wall from one of our favorite style houses, Tempaper. We complemented it with green pillows and a mint throw blanket. Finally, every bed needs a rug under it for warmth; the right size rug makes every room look bigger.
Master Bedroom (Before & After) 
The Master Bedroom of this large New York City penthouse lacked color and function. Despite it's size there's no seating aside for the bench. And the white bedding fades against the white wall. 
We added large faux fur pillows from Restoration Hardware, pulled the rug deeper into the room, relocated the owner's artwork of a horse and a cowhide chair. A simple, beautiful orchid completes the look.
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