Leslie Eicher is obsessed with home design. Home staging is a proven marketing technique designed to help your home sell more quickly. At Staging That Sells, we offer personalized consultation for your property and provide the most current styles in home decor for every room, with results that are guaranteed to wow potential buyers.
While I’ve been staging my and my friend’s homes since the 1990s, I didn’t hang my professional shingle until 16 months ago when I earned my Certified Staging Professional accreditation. In that short time, Staging That Sells has showcased occupied and vacant properties ranging from starter homes to luxury homes, everywhere from downtown St. Louis to Eureka to O’Fallon. We’ve helped solve challenges for Realtors and home sellers, and along the way we’ve amassed an impressive inventory of beautiful furniture, rugs, lamps, art, and other décor items that help transform empty buildings into the home of someone’s dreams.
It’s been a pretty fast ride with lots of long days and aching muscles, but two bits of news make me think that we’re doing something right:
First, I’m delighted to announce that Staging That Sells has been named one of 10 finalists from across North America for the “Best Rising Star Home Stager of the Year” award in the 2018 RESA Awards. Celebrating their tenth year, the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) is an association of professionals who work together to provide resources, set industry standards, and promote excellence in real estate home staging, with 40 chapters throughout North America. These awards recognize those who are showcasing the very best in home staging and design, and we are incredibly excited and flattered to be considered among the top 10 “Rising Stars.”
Second, and perhaps more important:
We just did the math and despite one very stubborn listing on an exceptionally busy street in the city, the average number of days on market for our stagings is only 12 days! I like to think that’s just one of the reasons we’re seeing a steady increase in the number of Realtors who call upon us to help market their listings!
Our sincere thanks to all the home sellers and Realtors who’ve helped us get this far in such a short amount of time! We will continue to work hard to make your property stand out among the competition, and to provide the best home staging service possible in the greater St. Louis area!
One of the most popular housing destinations in St. Louis, Tower Grove is a hot market for developers and flippers looking to rehab houses. The neighborhoods near Tower Grove Park have seen an enormous increase in homes being purchased by millennials and young families looking for a charming place to live in close proximity to downtown. From Tower Grove Heights to Tower Grove East, and nearby Shaw, it’s no surprise that Tower Grove Park homes have helped St. Louis has become a top 10 city for millennial home ownership, according to a 2017 study by apartment listing company ADOBO.
Homes in this area are often more than 100 years old and can require significant work to become move-in ready. One of the trickiest challenges is balancing the desire of millennials, who are looking for a turn-key property that’s been updated to reflect today’s décor style and trends. That’s where professional home staging comes in.
Consider this recent scenario: a developer purchases a Tower Grove-area house built in 1917 that needs a great deal of work. He spends months and untold thousands renovating it from top to bottom. But while he knows the changes and updates – new wiring, plumbing, HVAC, adding a second bathroom and completely re-doing the kitchen – are necessary, the developer still wants the house to reflect its history and adorns it with velvet drapes, swags, and antique furniture pieces reminiscent of the era.
The living room prior to staging.
Historic and Antique Are Two Very Different Qualities
As a Certified Staging Professional, I’ve been trained to review and examine the local market of every home we stage, in order to understand the demographics and desires of prospects most likely to look in that area. In this case, homebuyers attracted to this area are, by and large, millennials — young professionals in their late 20s and early 30s, singles and couples looking to buy their first home. Houses that look like their grandparents’ homes are NOT what these buyers are looking for. Millennials want the experience of having a property that may present history or character from the outside, but with very modern amenities and livability on the inside. If a property feels like it has been filled with relics inherited from their grandparents, it may leave them feeling like they’re visiting a museum rather than their new home.
Dining room prior to staging.
It took time and patience to convince the well-meaning developer that we needed to stage this home with on-trend colors, styles and décor that would appeal to today’s buyers and help them make an immediate emotional connection with the home. Once he bought into our vision we set to work and transformed the property into something prospective buyers could see themselves living in. Gone were the red-wine drapes and old rug seen above, along with the antiques scattered about the home, replaced by stylish, modern furniture and accents throughout.
The Tower Grove living room after we finished staging it!
Staging Is Essential For Tower Grove Park Homes
The end result? All of the hard work above paid off dramatically.. The house sold less than one week after going on the market. In January. In the Midwest. A traditionally “slow” time for real estate sales, if you’ve followed our recent post on selling your home in the winter.
We morphed the entire aesthetic of the dining room to fit a modern, stylish design.
If you’re a realtor, a flipper, or just relocating and selling your home in an older neighborhood, appealing to the buying demographics of the area will give you the best possible return on your investment. Give us a call and set up a home staging consultation to see how we can help you transform your property into a home that prospects will flock to.
If you ask around about the best time to list a home for sale, you’re likely to hear that you should avoid selling your house in the winter (December, January, and February). After all, in parts of the country like St. Louis, winter weather means leafless trees, browning grass and a lack of blooms, all of which decrease a property’s curb appeal. Plus, few parents want to move their kids to another school halfway through the academic year. And let’s face it, a lot of people just don’t want to house hunt, let alone move, in the cold!
Conventional wisdom holds that the housing market is most active during the spring, stays pretty active during the summer, starts to peter out in the fall, and is almost dead in the winter. Data gathered by St. Louis REALTORS® for the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County supports this trend:
In our area, single family homes sold for a median price of $164,767 in the fall of 2016, and dipped to an average $155,000 in the winter. Active listings dropped from an average of about 6,905 to 5,428 from fall to winter, and the length of time that houses stayed on the market rose from approximately 110 days, on average, in the fall to about 119 days in the winter.
By contrast, home prices began to recover right off the bat in March 2017, with the median selling price starting at $159,900 (up almost $5,000 from the winter average) and rising to a summer average of $184,267. Active listings rose to 6,250 in March and continued that upward trajectory to reach a summer average of 7,001 listings. The length of time that houses stayed on the market dropped significantly from the winter average to 92 days in March and hovered around that number for the summer.
Using Inventory to Your Benefit
So, the question remains, are there any advantages to listing a house in the winter? One thing to consider is that while many house hunters do sit out the cold months, those who brave the weather tend to have very pressing reasons for needing to make a purchase, for example, relocating to the area for work.
However, those motivated buyers may not find much inventory on the market since most home sellers will stick to conventional wisdom and avoid the winter months. That situation puts selling your house in the winter at an advantage. Hermann London, a St. Louis area real estate agency, points out that when more homes are up for sale in the spring and summer, it becomes a buyer’s market where “buyers can be more selective, and sellers typically can’t be as aggressive in negotiation.” If you’re a winter seller, you are a rarity and even normally hard-to-please buyers are likely to see your property in a favorable light, especially if it is staged and showcased by a Certified Staging Professional.
Real estate website Trulia noted two other factors that can lead to positive winter sales: “Motivated buyers might also submit a price that’s too good to refuse. …[and] a fear of rising mortgage rates — rates tend to go up in the spring — might cause a buyer to be more willing to pay a higher price upfront. Whatever the reason, it’s a happy discovery for many people who finalize a home sale when the weather outside is frightful.”
Of course, circumstances change often in the housing market and those changes can be considerable. Knowing this, are there any indications that area listings are a good idea this winter? The St. Louis area has been experiencing a tight housing market with buyers scrambling to lock down a deal. That tight market should be good news for selling your house in the winter. . If there’s been a shortage of houses all year, then it’s likely that people will still be looking during the winter months.
Location and First Impressions Are Still Key in the Real Estate Off Season
A tight housing market does not automatically mean that your list price can remain at warm-weather levels. In September, Dennis Norman of St. Louis Real Estate News, noted that home prices in the St Louis real estate market were beginning their usual seasonal dip and would not recover until spring. But it should be noted that he said there were exceptions to this seasonal drop: one was St. Louis County, which he said was still a “hot seller’s market.”
While those assertions were made months ago, it’s possible that more people than usual will continue looking for a home through this winter. And that may mean list pricings in those areas may not have to go as low as they did in previous years. For September and October of this year, the median selling price was $174,625 … a significant increase over last fall!
But whether or not you can list high, obtain multiple offers, or even spark a bidding war will depend on the level of demand in your particular area AND how you present the property. Today’s buyers are demanding homes that won’t require a great deal of work, indeed, a Maritz Research poll showed that 63 percent of buyers are willing to pay more for move-in ready homes. Certified Staging Professionals are trained to identify what (if any) updates or upgrades should be made to help make the property appeal to today’s demanding home-buyers, and to help present it in a way that helps home buyers make an immediate emotional connection with the home. A well-staged home creates more buyer interest, and with more interest comes more offers, which often results in above-asking price offers…even during colder months!
Norman points out that when selling your house in the winter, the longer winter sellers wait to lower their price to a level that will attract buyers, the lower they will most likely have to go. Trulia echoes the concept of pricing a property just right in order to make a sale during the winter: “If a property price reflects both the current market and the surrounding neighborhood, that home is more likely to go under agreement at a favorable price.”
Keep these seasonal considerations in mind, and you can be the maverick who begins the year out in front of all the sellers sticking to conventional wisdom.
Home staging is well-established as an effective tool for selling a house quickly and at maximum price, but many sellers overlook this option or dismiss it as ‘too expensive’, particularly those with smaller or less-expensive homes. There is a notion that staging your home to sell is only beneficial for larger, more luxurious homes. However, smaller homes are often those that may have the most to gain from professional staging, and even just a staging consultation can be beneficial to those who are preparing a smaller home for sale.
Why Should I Stage My Smaller Home?
Don’t leave it to the buyer’s imagination.
Smaller homes often benefit from staging the most, since buyers often underestimate the potential of what they perceive as a small space. Buyers are usually pressed for time and may be viewing multiple properties, so providing an easy way to imagine themselves living in a home is crucial. By providing visual points of reference like sofas and dining room tables, the perception flips from “this room is really small” to “wow, this room really has a lot of space!”
Home Stagers are trained to evaluate the flow of the space and have many furniture options to choose from to get just the right balance, a resource that homeowners typically do not have.
Realtor Leah Myers, of Wood Brothers Realty in St. Louis, concurs. “Certain furniture placements can actually help a room seem larger. I actually had a very small bedroom in my previous home that if left empty, may have seemed too small to function as a bedroom,” says Myers. She adds that once the room was properly staged, “it showed how livable it actually was.”
A small bedroom is transformed into a spacious home office
Moving is expensive!
As many buyers’ agents can attest, the idea of a “move-in ready home” is particularly desirable, especially in markets where starter homes are common or price points tend to be lower. First-time homebuyers may not have the capital to invest into making immediate home updates, so a home that needs little to no updating is really appealing. Plus, it’s much easier to add $5000 to a mortgage, where the cost will barely affect the monthly payment, than to pay that same amount out of pocket, so cash-strapped homebuyers will often prefer a higher sale price for an updated home to a lower-priced ‘fixer upper’.
Isn’t staging only for vacant homes?
Whether the house you’re selling is vacant or occupied, staging your home to sell using a Certified Home Stager can help you optimize the first impression that a buyer has, and provide a look and feel that will appeal to the largest segment of buyers in your market. Many people rely on their Realtor to make recommendations for staging a home to sell, but while Realtors do indeed have experience from a buyer perspective, they may not have the decorating expertise or arsenal of furniture and decor that helps maximize the buyer experience.
Susan Brand, a Realtor with Keller Williams Realty Southwest, always recommends a staging consultation to sellers living in their home. In her view, Home Stagers are the best option to help sellers “get their homes decluttered, ready with some minor repairs and painting, and staged with their furniture to get their homes show ready. This always pays off. I remind them we are in a beauty contest and need to shine!” says Brand.
For vacant homes, the stakes are equally high. “It is always better to show a home with furniture in it. If it is vacant, every little imperfection, like small dings in paint or woodwork, is amplified,” says Linda Lawrence, Broker-Associate at Leo Lawrence Real Estate.
The Real Cost of Home Staging
Isn’t home staging expensive?
An experienced Home Stager should be able to work within your budget to get the best possible result when staging your home to sell. An in-home consultation costs as little as $200―a fraction of the sale price for any home. Staging that Sells provides a detailed checklist and specific suggestions after our detailed consultation, many of which you can implement yourself. It’s a great start toward making your home showcase-ready.
Time is money, and reduced time on the market is money in your pocket. While your home is on the market, you are paying your mortgage, utilities, insurance, etc. Especially if your home is vacant, even an additional month on the market means a lot of out-of-pocket expenses.
In one study, StagedHomes.com reviewed the sales history of 200 properties staged by its members. Homes listed for sale prior to staging averaged four and a half months on the market, but sold within just over a week after staging. Homes listed for sale after staging sold within 32 to 42 days!
Is Home Staging a Good Investment? Will I Recoup the Money I Spend on Staging?
If your home is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make, selling that investment should be done with careful consideration and due diligence. Investing in home staging is one way to really increase the return on your investment in your home.
Jennifer Wilton, a web developer and part-time Realtor, used Staging that Sells to prepare an 1,100 square foot, vacant investment property for sale in St. Louis earlier this year. Wilton spent about $1,900 to stage five rooms and make recommended paint and lighting changes.
The results were impressive, Wilton says. “The house sold within 24 hours, with multiple offers and significantly over asking price. We had nearly 100 people come to our open house. There is no doubt in my mind that our experience would have been totally different without staging services.”
Want to see our staging in action? Visit our Gallery for plenty of before and after photos!
In college, I was a communications major, a decision driven in equal parts by a natural strength in language arts, and an utter lack of mathematical skills!
Despite this, I have come to love math when it pertains to helping my clients make more money. Consider this: would you rather spend an average of $4,500 a month for two months or more waiting for your home to sell, in order to save an average one time cost of $3,200? It simply doesn’t make sense! Let me explain.
A homeowner recently called me to inquire about staging her vacant three-bedroom home, one that had been on the market for six weeks with no offers. The listing price was just over $320,000. Assuming market averages in our area for mortgage payments, insurance, taxes, utilities, and other household maintenance costs, that vacant property costs her $4,500 a month to maintain.
Now, also assuming that the average cost to stage a home is one to three percent of list price, and knowing that this particular property was in excellent condition (e.g., didn’t require physical upgrades such as new fixtures or flooring) let’s say the cost to stage it would have been $3,200.00, which is one percent.
As all-too-often happens, the homeowner in this scenario responded that she couldn’t afford to stage her property.
The True Cost To Stage a Home
I’m no math major, but this equation simply doesn’t add up! Let’s take a quick look at what staging costs, and what one can expect as a return on their investment.
According to the National Association of Realtors, for every $100 invested in staging the potential return is $400. Further, staged homes sell for 17 percent more on average than a non-staged home, and 95 percent of staged homes sell in 11 days or less.
In the example above, the homeowner’s property had already been on the market for six weeks, meaning that the owner had already paid two months worth of expenses simply to own and maintain the home, totaling around $9,000. Had she invested in staging upfront, she would have saved nearly two-thirds of the amount she spent. The home would have sold within the first month, and the owner wouldn’t be facing a costly price drop that would further cut into her profits.
Even if math isn’t your strong suit, it really is a simple calculation. Staging “adds” up to selling.
One of the key strategies used by Certified Staging Professionals is to give prospective buyers an immediate emotional response and connection to the home. We look at demographic data, recent buying and selling statistics for the neighborhood, and culture and lifestyle trends for the area. Then we look at the home itself and envision how the most likely buyers would live in it. This personalized approach is key, and in neighborhoods that are attracting young and growing families, it is perhaps most important in “family room” spaces.
Today, we’re going to look at a family room in a St. Louis home that we recently staged, and the thought process that went into the changes we implemented.
This lower level “family room” in a split level home presented quite a challenge! Not only was it unusually long (22 x 15 – to put this into perspective, the average family room is about 14 x 20!) one of the 15’ walls also included an off-center fireplace and was completely bricked over. To further complicate things, there was a support pole in the middle of the room, and a very visible sump pump had been installed on the floor in the left corner of the brick wall. In terms of offering first impressions, this room wasn’t doing much to please the eye!
The walls also included an outdated chair rail and paint color that we advised the homeowner to remove (the chair rail) and update (the paint color), but they had depleted their limited budget on kitchen upgrades. Staging this family room would definitely require some creative thought!
We set out to create an environment that immediately captured prospects’ imaginations and thus diverted their attention away from the flaws.
Because the house and neighborhood would definitely attract young families, we chose a “movie time” theme and staged the room as a fun, comfortable place for family time. We first placed a TV above the fireplace and then flanked it with themed artwork that balanced the off-center fireplace. A neutral colored couch with colorful pillows was placed next to the support pole and angled toward the fireplace and television (the focal points) to minimize the pole’s appearance. Two modern-patterned chairs filled out the seating areas, one of them strategically placed (with a tall plant) to hide the sump pump. We then utilized movie-themed art, books, and other décor items throughout the room to complete our theme and make the space thoroughly enticing. In the opposite end of the room we created a play space that had something for younger kids – a book rack and reading chairs for elementary aged kids, a train table and toys for pre-schoolers, and a study-area/craft desk for all ages. Truely a space for the entire family to enjoy.
With this solution, we helped minimize the room’s flaws and at the same time created the narrative that potential home buyers could immediately connect with themselves doing!
The End Result:
Despite some tough endeavors (the seller did not have the budget to update their older bathrooms, and the property was lacking garage space) this home ended up selling in just 8 days! This is truly a great example of how staging your house can help it sell faster.
Staging a Family Room Doesn’t Have to Be an Impossible Challenge – Let Us Help!
If you’re selling your home and working with a problem room that could use a make-over, we can help. Contact us to set up a consultation and discover the best strategies for staging your property and making it more enticing for potential buyers!
Putting your best foot forward and aiming to impress has always been one of the best ways to succeed, whether you’re positioning yourself or selling something (such as your house).
Consider this: Have you ever heard stories of job seekers showing up to interviews wearing clothing far too casual, such as a tube top or shorts? In most cases, they won’t fit the image of what the prospective employer is looking for, and that judgment can cost them the job. The same can be said of your home when you’re trying to sell it! A potential buyer is going to judge your property the moment they set eyes on it, and if it doesn’t look and feel like a place they could call home, they aren’t going to place an offer.
This is where professional home staging comes into play. It is a marketing technique that helps create an immediate emotional connection with buyers by drawing the eye to the home’s most attractive features, while minimizing its flaws. Most importantly, staging can help you sell your home faster – and for a higher price!
According to the National Association of Realtors® 2017 Profile of Home Staging, when asked “Do staged homes sell faster?”, 62 percent of seller’s agents confirmed that staged homes spend less time on the market. Many factors play into a home’s perceived value, and one of the most important is the ability for the buyer to visualize themselves living in your space. Discussing the 2017 Profile, NAR President William E. Brown agrees, saying “While all real estate is local, and many factors play into what a home is worth and how much buyers are will to pay for it, staging can be the extra step sellers take to help sell their home more quickly and for a higher dollar value.”
On the flip side, buyer’s agents also say there is a noticeable difference when comparing staged homes to non staged homes. 77 percent of buyer’s agents agree that a staged home makes viewing a property easier to visualize for the potential buyer. Those buyers are also more eager to want to take a tour through a home after viewing it online, if they can see professionally staged photos of the listing. Most importantly: home staging can have a positive effect on the emotion of the buyer, generating more interest and simultaneously improving their ability to overlook other the property’s flaws!
What are the most important rooms that create the greatest amount of impact? Realtors pinpointed three key rooms that most impact a buyer’s first impression: the living room, master bedroom, and kitchen. Not surprisingly, these rooms all happen to be the ones in which homeowners tend to spend the most time in. Getting a buyer to feel “at-home” when viewing your property not only helps make the difference between selling or not selling, it can also influence their offer. A home that looks to be of higher quality will attract better offers, and 44 percent of the realtors surveyed agreed that a staged home can help increase the offer by 1 to 10 percent.
Staging Your Home in St. Louis vs Other Markets
While these statistics all sound fantastic, there is one big caveat to successfully staging a home: Ensuring that the changes being made are ones that buyers in your area will appreciate! Real estate is a very local affair, and what works in one neighborhood or market may not necessarily be the best strategy for another. Home buyers in California are not going to have the exact same interests and needs as those in Missouri. Knowing your local market and what buyers in your area are looking for is a key strength of a Certified Staging Professional—you’re getting far more than de-cluttering advice and suggestions for updating fixtures and décor. Rather, you’ll get a complete , strategically designed game plan of how to present your home in a way that will appeal to the most buyers in your area.
Much like snowflakes, no two homes are exactly alike—even in the same neighborhood—and what works for one home may not be the best approach for another. At Staging That Sells, we walk through your home and provide a thorough consultation to assess your home’s best selling points as well as its flaws, your ideal buyer, and the specific strategies necessary to give your living space the greatest amount of visual appeal. Whether your property is in St. Louis City, the metro east, St. Charles County, or anywhere in-between—you’ll get a professional assessment tailored to your specific home and neighborhood. Best of all, staging can be done whether your home is a vacant property or an occupied property.
Staged homes do sell faster, and if you’re looking for a proven technique to gain on edge on other sellers in your area, consider arranging a consultation and seeing what staging can do for you.
Whether you’re selling a vacant home or an occupied home, there’s a lot more to it than simply placing a “for sale” sign in your yard and hoping for the best! Even in a particularly hot seller’s market, as we’ve seen in St. Louis and cities around the country, savyy sellers know that offers might be forthcoming —but they’ll likely be way below asking price To maximize the dollar amount of offers and sell a property faster, you need to help potential buyers fall in love with it at first sight. The way to do this is through professional home staging, one of the most popular and proven methods of increasing property value.
How Home Staging Works
So what do home stagers do?
Certified home stagers are trained professionals who provide personalized, room-by-room consulting for home sellers and realtors, instructing them on what needs to be done to create the best first impression possible for their prospective buyers. Stagers understand the local Real Estate market, the psychology of buyers, and design/lifestyle trends. They objectively identify a home’s strengths and weaknesses, remove distractions, highlight its best features and enhance the space being presented. The goal of home staging is to present an idealized version of a home that generates more offers from buyers, and for higher amounts.
I will almost always tell a prospective client that home staging is the process of converting their personalized living space into a home that the largest number of prospective buyers could imagine themselves living in. If you think of a house as a professional actor in Hollywood getting ready for the Oscars (where they are going to be on display for many to see!) chances are, they’ve got a personalized team advising them on their attire, makeup, and which way to present themselves to the camera. Staging is very similar – you want to showcase your house in the best light possible, making it stand above the rest of your competitors in terms of presentation and arrangement.
Home staging is often misunderstood as decluttering or decorating, but in fact, staging is designed to help you look far more deeply at how your house and the elements inside it are presented. These include:
Repairing or replacing worn or outdated elements (e.g., carpet and light fixtures) that will immediately catch a buyers eye…and not in a good way!
Repurposing space from something that might have worked for you – such as using a dining room space as an office – to what will work and appeal to buyers.
Spotlight the best features of a room, enhancing the visible space while downplaying any flaws.
Re-arranging or supplementing existing furniture and decor to make your house appear up-to-date, on-trend, and to mirror the lifestyle of prospects.
And yes. de-cluttering and de-personalizing items to create a broad appeal that opens the imagination
What Do Home Stagers Do? A Brief Note On What Home Staging Isn’t
Every house is different, and home staging involves a personal consultation and strategy development for every home. Home stagers do not simply provide general redecorating advice, or recommend you paint a room or make a change for the sake of doing so. Recommendations for adjusting furniture, fixtures, colors, or space are tailored specifically for your property, knowing what will work best with the resources you have available. Home staging is not renovation – it is a marketing tactic that helps you to take your home from being a personalized, lived in asset to an attraction, the version of this house that you want your buyers to imagine when they step in for the first time.
The Monetary Benefits
The goal of a skilled stager is to help you make more money on your property sale, not recommend costly improvements that will waste your time and resources. When we’re making determinations about what to do, and whether that couch or TV should stay and where it should go, a keen focus is placed on your potential buyers. Our mind is always thinking about what we can do to truly make your property the best looking one on the block, giving you the competitive advantage over other home sellers. At the end of the day, we want to help you gain a noticeable increase in the final sale price – sometimes as much as 10%!
Thus, the next time a friend or colleague looking to sell their property asks, “what do home stagers do?” you can confidently answer: a lot more than just cleaning and redecorating!