Setting the Stage

BY JIM PARKER ON SEPTEMBER 29TH, 2017

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Prospective homebuyers touring a vacant house, or residence shown “as is” with a lived-in appearance might find it hard to imagine how the property would look with their own stuff.

That’s why sellers and agents often stage homes in an open and organized way to allow viewers to grasp designs and features, and consider how their furniture and belongings would fit in.

A recent survey from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) backs up the importance of home staging. Notably, 62 percent of sellers' agents say staging a home decreases the amount of time the listing spends on the market. The finding is one of a host of discoveries in the NAR's "2017 Profile of Home Staging" released earlier this summer.

"Realtors know how important it is for buyers to be able to picture themselves living in a home and staging a home makes that process much easier for potential buyers," says William E. Brown, 2017 NAR president.

For the study, NAR randomly sampled 53,760 active Realtor members in the spring in an online survey. The response rate was 3.5 percent.

"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," says Brown, a Realtor from Alamo, California, and founder of Investment Properties.

The Realtors association report, in its second version, notes that 39 percent of seller agents believe home staging greatly decreases the time a home's on the market and 23 percent say it slightly decreases the wait time. Conversely, 16 percent of agents contend that staging either greatly or slightly increases a home's time on the market, while 8 percent believe there's no impact.

From the shoppers' perspective, 77 percent of buyers' agents agree that staging a home makes it easier for buyers to visualize the property as their future home. At the same time, 40 percent are more willing to walk through a staged home they first saw online. Still, 38 percent of buyers' agents said that staging positively affects a home's value if the home is decorated to the buyer's taste. According to the NAR, the idea that shoppers personalize homes' looks means that a property's staging should be designed to appeal to the largest number of potential buyers.

Staging has an impact on "most" buyers, 49 percent of buyers' agents concur. Another 48 percent believe staging effects some buyers' opinions, but not always. Just 4 percent conclude it has no impact on buyers.

Among other findings:

• Realtors representing both buyers and sellers agreed the living room is the most important room in a home to stage followed by the master bedroom, kitchen and yard or outdoor space. The guest bedroom is considered the least critical to mock up.

• Staging a home increases its dollar value by 1 to 5 percent, close to one third of buyers' agents say. One in four buyers' agents believe it has no impact on price, but 13 percent contend that staging increases the dollar value 6 to 10 percent. Just 1 percent of buyers' agents believe staging would knock down the price. Sellers' agents are even more bullish, with 29 percent reporting a 1 to 5 percent dollar-value increase on what's offered by buyers, 21 percent seeing an 8 to 10 percent increase and 5 percent eyeing increase of 11 to 15 percent. No sellers' agents foresee a negative impact.

• Overall, 38 percent of sellers' agents say they would stage all homes before listing them, 14 percent would only stage properties that are difficult to sell and 7 percent would only stage homes in higher price brackets. Another 37 percent say they they do not stage homes before listing them but believe that sellers de-clutter their homes and fix property faults.

• One in four sellers pay for the home's listing when staging is involved, 21 percent of sellers' agents would kick in the money to stage the home and 14 percent of agents would offer home staging services to sellers.

Outside of staging, agents list certain home improvement projects as their top recommendations for sellers. Notably, 93 percent support ridding the home of clutter, 89 percent recommend a home cleaning and 81 percent favor carpet cleaning. Other suggested projects are depersonalizing the home, removing pets during showings and making minor repairs.

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