With the average time on the market in Texas at just 55 days — in a normal market, not the frenzied one we’re in now — most sellers can look forward to a relatively quick sale. But even with today’s high demand for limited inventory, making a strong first impression definitely matters. What’s more, the growing popularity of virtual tours online has raised the bar, so well-staged rooms can help close the deal. Find out the main benefits of staging your home and why it can be a return on investment, not an additional cost. Your first step? Talk to your real estate agent. They are the experts.
Does staging help sell a home faster?
Sellers who are weighing the staging-versus-not-staging argument should consider that, on average, staged homes sell 88 percent faster and for 20 percent more. There are solid financial incentives for staging a home, but it’s also a question of responding to a changing market. In the post-pandemic landscape, buyers will be increasingly looking for dedicated office space, earth tones and eco-friendly features, as well as a satisfying, realistic online viewing experience. Staging a home with on-trend furniture, art and accessories allows sellers to highlight the strongest features and present a vision for what a home can be in the future.
Why staging an empty home matters
The paradox that sellers have to address is that buyers often respond to the lived-in look — without anyone at home when they’re looking. This is where professional stagers come into their own. By bringing in rented furniture, artwork, textiles and more, then arranging them in a tasteful, modern fashion that shows off the attributes of each room, stagers can seduce the buyer into a quicker decision and a higher offer. Most stagers will start by taking photos of the empty home for reference, so that they have the option of rolling back to a walkthrough of the unfurnished property. There are cases when buyers will want to reimagine areas for different uses, so staging has to strike a balance between nudging and limiting the imagination.
The key staging-versus–not-staging considerations
Given that house prices for single-family homes enjoyed double digit growth in North Texas, Austin, San Antonio and other highly desirable Texas areas in 2020, many sellers are already in a strong-enough position without the need for staging. A no-frills approach with no staging is feasible, while competition for inventory is so strong. One benefit is that an empty house allows some buyers to project their imaginations onto a blank canvas, ready for them to apply their own style following the sale.
Usually, however, most buyers need a nudge. Staging a home will highlight its best features, hide its flaws and even create a stronger emotional connection through the use of curated furnishings and interior design. Even in a robust housing market, staging can increase the value of your home further, as well as the speed at which it sells.
Which approach makes a better first impression?
It’s important to remember the context in which most buyers today are viewing homes. According to the National Association of REALTORS, 95 percent of buyers use online search to view properties, with virtual tours becoming standard, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic. That requires an extra layer of visual merchandising. Empty homes with no staging can appear stark and characterless on a virtual tour, whereas staging will bring a home alive onscreen. Our fellow experts agree: Seventy-seven percent of agents see staging as an essential step in helping buyers visualize a property as a future home. It doesn’t have to be an expensive, complicated undertaking, either. Simple touches can deliver dramatic effects:
Simple staging tricks:
- Hanging large mirrors to make a small room look bigger.
- Fitting floor-to-ceiling curtains to make a room seem taller.
- Repainting walls with neutral tones to set a sophisticated vibe, which you can then accent with more colorful rugs or throws.
Staging when you’re still living in the home
Although you might hire a professional stager to bring character to an empty home, their skills are also useful in toning down your presence in a home that you still occupy. If buyers can’t get past your current stamp on a property, it’s harder to get their signature on a sale agreement. In occupied properties, staging can speed up the sale thanks to decluttering and depersonalizing.
Staging an occupied home:
- Pack away any family photos and personal belongings. They could make a visitor to your home feel a bit like an intruder.
- Clear out any junk or send it to a storage facility. Not only does it take up valuable space, but it could imply a lack of care overall for the property.
- Apply a fresh coat of neutral paint (a great idea for the exterior, too) and upgrade any tired light fixtures, faucets and finishes, particularly worn carpets.
- Replace mismatched furniture with stylish-looking contemporary or transitional sets, which can be rented.
- Invigorate spaces with accent lighting and natural touches, such as plants or fresh flowers.
- Pay attention to curb appeal by freshening up the yard, fixing exterior trim and removing any clutter, such as hoses and toys.
Is this going to come with a formidable price tag? Not necessarily. Your agent and any professional stager will be able to give you a clear picture of the expected return on investment and how staging will likely increase your home’s value and decrease its time on market. The median cost for a professional stager is $675, but that’s for the initial consultation and staging. There may be monthly costs thereafter and they typically apply on a room-by-room basis, so staging can quite possibly become a four-figure expense to factor in — though almost always a more-than-fully recovered expense once your home sells.
With the current trend of steadily rising house prices in Texas, sellers can be confident of recouping the initial costs of staging through a quicker sale and a higher sales price. Once committed, it’s important to take a professional approach and seek expert advice — especially from your real estate agent. They know that an experienced stager will not just delight potential buyers, but surprise you, too, with their fresh and appealing interpretation of your home.