To Stage or NOT to Stage? How Much has NOT Staging Really Cost You?

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Should we stage our home or not? This is always a huge dilemma for sellers. It is an investment and an expense in getting your home ready for sale. Is staging really necessary? Some of the most common hurdles we face are sellers who “already have furniture” or believe “it shows the space better vacant”. However, study after study (including one done here in Manitoba a number of years ago) shows us that staged homes DO sell faster and often for a higher selling price than non-staged homes!!!

Staging is all about customizing a design plan to your particular space to BEST showcase that space to potential buyers. You may have furniture, but how much furniture do you have, are there too many pieces? Is it the right scale for the room? Does the furniture layout showcase the room properly, making it appealing to buyers? What subconscious message does your furniture placement send to buyers? How we live in a space is very different from how we show a space for sale! 

When showing a space for sale, we want to optimize room size and function. How you place your furniture and what furniture you have makes a huge impact on both the function and perceived size of a room. Too many pieces of furniture in any space will make that space appear smaller. Having a welcome open and welcome furniture placement with adequate room for natural “traffic flow” through the room will leave buyers impressed and interested. Having a closed furniture placement often turns buyers off and gives the impression there isn’t enough room for their “stuff”. Does your furniture placement invite or turn away buyers?

Using a bedroom or dining room for a dual purpose by placing a desk in one corner has now changed the function of the room and made it appear smaller just by having the additional furniture pieces required for the “office” space to function. Add the clutter and computer lines and wires and suddenly it simply doesn’t look too appealing any more. An in home staging consult will take between 1-2 hours and usually costs in the range of $150 – $250 and will give you a complete step by step guide for how to get your home ready for sale, including furniture placement and suggestions on everything from basic repairs to updated light fixtures and where to buy the necessary items to best showcase your home yourself! Complete value for a few hours of your time and a few hundred dollars!

When it comes to vacant spaces, I cannot count the number of times a client has decided to “try” to sell without staging it first, only to have no luck and then stage a few months later. There is only one problem with this approach. Real estate is very much a timing game. When you list, what competition do you have? How many other homes are on the market in your neighborhood in your price range? Are those homes staged? If average DOM (Days on the Market) are 34 and you list in mid-May, then wait 5 weeks or so and realize you may need to stage, by the time you book and furniture is moved in and pictures are taken and the home is re-marketed you’ve lost an additional 2 weeks. You are now in July and all your buyers have either purchased or are leaving on vacation! The Winnipeg market always picks up in March, April, May, June and then slows down over the summer and picks up again September and into the fall. If you are gambling that buyers will be able to “see the space” the reality is that most buyers CANNOT visualize rooms in their head. Most people have a very hard time determining if their furniture will fit in a space. This is the single most important reason that staging has become such a prominent and permanent part of the Real Estate Industry! It’s also the same reason most restaurants have photos of their main menu selections on most menus! Buyers want to SEE what they are buying! No they are not buying the furniture but they are buying the space and want to SEE how they can use the space! 

I cannot count how many times someone has decided to sell a vacant home only to come back a few months later and stage. What they don’t consider is how much those few months cost them…mortgage costs, utilities, taxes, insurance – all these add up. If you try to sell vacant wait for a few months, then stage, are you really ahead financially or did you just cost yourself a few more months of expenses? Add to the mix the time of the year you are listing, and Presentation and timing are critical in getting those offers. It’s the typical law of supply and demand, if you are part of the excess supply and there are simply not enough buyers (demand) and your home doesn’t make the short list, how much has NOT staging really cost you? Then when you finally stage the buyers have slowed down and you are left trying to appeal to a much smaller pool of buyers because you chose NOT to make the effort when there were more buyers, what has it cost you? 

Finally, although we do not see bidding wars as frequently as in past years, a number of our staged properties have sold in bidding wars already in 2015! In all these cases, timing and presentation were critical in getting those OVER list offers in a matter of days! So, the question becomes, what will NOT staging cost you?