Home Staging: Instant ROI When You’re Selling a Dream
We’ve all been there—you walk into a home and the gorgeous simplicity of the design and decoration brings visions of you and your family lounging in the comfort of the den, cooking in the spotless kitchen, entertaining in the bright living room, and relaxing into the fluffy pillows of the master bed to read a book. And that’s “the one”—the house that you can imagine yourself not just living in, but thriving in!
As a seller in the current market, you may consider yourself set. It’s true, you might make a bit more of a return on investment simply because of the lack of inventory. You might even sell your house in record time. However, if no one has that, “This is the one!” moment when they tour your home, then you’re stalled at the starting line.
The desire of the seller is always to make the greatest ROI and sell your house quickly and painlessly. If we were to tell you there’s one very simple choice that could increase your resale value by 5-10% and get it off the market faster—would you take advantage of it? We’re talking about creating an environment that allows the buyer to envision the possibilities of their lives in the home you’re selling. It’s called “home staging”, and it’s one of the most obvious investments you can make when putting your house on the market.
Benefits of Home Staging
According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), “Eighty-two percent of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home.” The goal of home staging isn’t just to make your home look beautiful, more importantly, it’s to make your home look livable. When a potential buyer can see themselves living, happily, in the space, they’re going to do whatever they can to purchase that space. Including, put in a higher offer.
We talked recently with home staging stylist and interior designer Carlo LaCuesta for the scoop on home staging. LaCuesta styles for Odin + Friday in Los Angeles, California. In addition, he moonlights as an interior designer with his partner at Johnny & Carlo Projects. He was happy to help us understand the importance of a well-staged home.
LaCuesta agrees, “100%. A prospective buyer is going to have more interest in a well-staged home.” He continues, “People need to see the room to envision their lives in it.” Often, people have trouble imagining themselves in someone else’s space. In that regard, the room needs to be clean and beautiful, yet clear of any personal touches that will remind the buyer that someone else lives there. The house should look like a fresh canvas, alluding to future possibilities.
NAR found in their 2021 Profile of Home Staging that among people who staged their homes, 23% could attribute a 1-5% increase in the dollar value offered by buyers and a further 18% could attribute a 6-10% increase. In addition, 53% of seller’s agents noticed a decrease in the amount of time the home was on the market. And don’t forget that nearly all prospective buyers are seeing your home for the first time online. Staging adds to the professional look in the first photos these buyers will see, and first impressions are everything.
Why Use a Professional Staging Company?
When staging offers you the opportunity to take home an additional 5% on the sale of your home, the fee to hire professionals seems nominal. However, in case you have your doubts, consider the ease and expertise that you gain when you go with a specialist.
1. Eye for Design
We may all think that our particular brand of home design is the tops...but we’re probably wrong. Home stagers are educated and experienced. They have an eye for design, oftentimes either coming from a design background or practicing in addition to staging. They’ve done their research and know all the trends so that you don’t have to bother.
2. Objective Viewpoint
When we look at our homes, we see beauty in the personal touches. Perhaps you bought that lamp on your honeymoon in Italy. Maybe your daughter painted that landscape in her art class at college. A professional stager is objective and can see your home with fresh eyes. They’ll be able to spot the things that need to be covered, fixed, accentuated, or eliminated without feeling torn by the emotional attachment.
3. Access to Beautiful Furniture and Decor
A home stager is going to use as much of your own furniture and decor as they possibly can. However, they also have access to stunning pieces that will give your home a dazzling makeover. And you don’t have to pay for them! There are many different options, depending on the stager you use, from full installs, to partial, from using some of your own furnishings to supplying it all.
4. This is What They Do!
They’ve done this thousands of times! There is so much to be said for the experience of someone who studies and designs for a living, and it can take all the pressure off you, offering only benefits.
What to Expect When Using a Staging Company
Depending on the staging company that you decide to go with, there are different options. Here, we’d like to give you an idea of the process. With the help of LaCuesta, we’ve assembled a quick guide to home staging.
Levels of Staging
Don’t worry about the cost yet, just sit down with a home staging stylist and see what they have to offer. Most companies will provide a variety of options and prices.
A partial install often involves only staging specific areas. For instance, NAR found that 46% of buyers found the staging of the living room to be “very important”, whereas 46% of buyers thought that of the primary bedroom, and 35% of the kitchen. You don’t necessarily need to stage the whole house, just the principal areas. This option saves you a little money and, speaking from experience, still sets the foundation for the imagination. With a partial, the professional stager will use as much of your own furniture and decor as is suitable.
Whole House Install
This installation will occupy every room and even outdoor areas, if desired. This option is mostly used when a seller has already moved out of the house, but if the seller’s furniture remains, the stager will use what they can and ask the rest be put into storage. Often in the case of a whole house install, much to all of the staged furnishings will be supplied by the staging company. If you have the ability to invest, this is a stellar option. A full install allows the experts to display all of the positives of your home, while working a designer’s magic on any shortcomings. They set the scene for the buyer’s mind’s eye to get to work.
If you have the ability and want to appropriately highlight your gorgeous space, a luxury install would cover all indoor and outdoor areas. In fact, the staging stylists might even acquire brand new furniture (not included in your cost) to fill your home the right way. This is certainly the crème de la crème of staging options and is best for those who are looking to sell their homes for top dollar and tout suite.
What Goes Into a Quote?
According to LaCuesta, a quote is usually assembled based on four factors:
1. Amount of rooms being staged
2. Amount of furniture that will need to be used from stagers collection or purchased new
3. Choice of 60 or 90 day term for the life of the install (extensions are available, but not often used in the current market)
4. Predicted length of installation and removal
What to Expect
If you are no longer living in the home, the process is simply to choose your install option and walk through with a stylist before and after they stage the home to make sure it jibes. However, there are a few requests the staging company may have for you before they begin their installation.
- Fix any glaring defects like holes in the walls from removal of appliances or dents and dings
- Change the light fixtures because “they date easily and are an easy fix.”
- Give the interior a fresh coat of white paint to brighten things up
What If You’re Still Living There?
Owner occupied installs are not unusual, but they do take a little bit more work. In this case, the home staging company will most likely be doing a partial install as they will use as much of your own furniture as they can. As a little bonus, you’ll get to live in a professionally designed home while you’re selling!
- First, your staging stylist will do a walk through
- They will ask you to leave your bed and bedding, but will probably want about 80% of your things to be placed into storage for the duration of the staging
- Once the install is complete, the stager will take pictures of all of their inventory
- The stylist will encourage you to take photos as well, for a “reference book”
- You’ll need to return everything to the condition noted in the reference book before each showing
- Any personal items should be put away in advance of viewings, but know that prospective buyers are probably going to look in all the closets and cupboards
Most Important When It Comes to Hiring a Staging Stylist
“Don’t think about it as your house anymore,” LaCuesta asserts. “The comment that’s most challenging is, ‘I don’t like that because of xyz’. We aren’t doing this for you to live in it, we’re doing it so you get more money.” So, get that money! It’s difficult to say goodbye to your home, but that is the goal here. Try to step aside and let the professionals earn their expense.
The main reason people stage their properties themselves, LaCuesta tells us, is because they “can’t afford or don’t want to spend.” Don’t worry! We’re going to outline a staging DIY for you.
1. Don’t forget to
- Fix or cover up any blemishes, dents, dings, or ugly scrapes and holes
- Change out light fixtures
- Give everything a fresh coat of white paint
2. “Remove all personal items and anything that looks remotely like clutter.”
This is the number one priority. Clutter and personal items dredge up buyer’s negative memories, they don’t guide them to exciting possibilities.
3. Anything unnecessary, move it to storage
Less is more when it comes to staging. When in doubt, move it to the storage locker.
4. Always go lighter and brighter
Light wakes us up, brings us joy, keeps us active and alive! We want our home to inspire the hope of all of those things in prospective buyers.
5. Focus on the living room and primary bedroom
These two spaces are what take the brunt of a household. If a buyer feels excited over these areas, they are already living there in their minds!
6. “Keep it tidy, clean, and pretty”
Don’t overcomplicate. Stay minimal, simple, and sleek. And remember to take photos and return things to the appropriate place before showings.
7. Get a second pair of eyes on it
Have a friend come in with a more objective outlook. You are personally tied to your home, even though you’re leaving it. It is always valuable to get a second opinion.
Did we mention “remove all personal items” and “declutter”?! Because even if we did, it deserves saying again. That is the absolute most important step of staging your home!
Moving on (get it?!)
We hope you’ve found this helpful in deciding how you’d like to present your home when putting it on the market. And if you end up loving the job that the staging stylist does, ask them if they do interior design as well. Most staging companies either offer those services or know someone that is closely aligned with their style!
If you are considering buying or selling your home in Colorado or need the line on a terrific local staging company, Code of the West Real Estate is your trusted real estate broker/agency. For Pueblo, Canon City, Westcliffe, La Veta, Trinidad, or Walsenburg real estate, contact us today!
Research and Resources
Lots of home staging information here: