Complimentary Staging: Why it’s worth my investment (and yours)
In last month’s blog post I wrote about why I believe it’s critical to my seller’s bottom line to stage a home in today’s market and why I offer this service to all my sellers; it comes down to getting the highest return on what is usually your most valuable asset - and that price exceeds- in some cases by hundreds of thousands of dollars- any cost spent on preparation. Simply put: I will sell your house faster and for more money when it’s staged.
Still, the staging process can be disruptive and the reaction of most sellers range from emotional to logistical. Having been through this myself, I am very empathetic. I know that in addition to selling and moving this feels like another huge undertaking. I also understand that sellers love their homes which hold their many treasures and memories and the process of changing the home they’ve lived in, often for years or decades, is overwhelming and difficult. They may be apprehensive about what feels chaotic and of course any upfront costs. But I also know that today’s buyer can’t see beyond the old wallpaper or dark cabinets and needs to be able to envision themselves living there from day one.
I thought staging was complimentary- what are the costs to the seller?
My staging service is complimentary- we have all the furniture and accessories to transform each home and we pay for the movers. However, we may make recommendations for other improvements we think necessary and ask the seller to have the work done at their expense. But it’s very important to remember that the increase in sales price will typically far outweigh any costs spent in the staging process.
From Anxiety to Action: Lean on me
My staging director Lynn and I will have a conversation with the sellers about the staging process and walk through to take notes and pictures. We then suggest they pick out what they really want to keep and help them decide what they will need and want in their new home. This can be very liberating- especially if they will be downsizing and ultimately decide they want a whole new look going forward. There will usually be things that need to be removed- and decisions can be made about giving things away to family or friends. We also have options for donations and have compiled an extensive directory for sellers which answers most of the “What am I going to do with this or that” questions: from furniture to pianos, books, etc.
From there we give each seller a breakdown of every step of the process beginning with an itemized list of general improvements- removing what would distract a potential buyer from seeing what it is they would love about the home, to a very detailed, room-by-room breakdown of “to-do’s” (the seller’s and our’s) so it becomes a simple matter of checking off completed tasks. Often this “punch list” helps sellers focus on the result and is very reassuring. We are always here for advice and guidance every step of the way.
One Seller’s Story: Stress to Success
Recently I listed and sold a house in Waban. The house was very cute- just what buyers would want: great floor plan, the right number of rooms, small-scale. There was an unfinished attic used for storage. In my initial walk-through I thought the house would sell for about $849-$869,000. I took a lot of pictures, thought about it and came up with a plan.
I called the seller to tell them, “You may be shocked, but I think we will be able to get you several hundred thousand dollars more than I thought for your house” and I asked if I could bring in a contractor. They were initially opposed to staging finding it hard to believe that their lovely home wouldn’t sell “as is” – why should they do the work? Wasn’t that what new buyer’s do? (and the answer to that is, that’s what buyer’s used to do, but not in today’s market). But eventually they agreed- if reluctantly. They were of course interested in a better price return but the word “contractor” stirred up visions of disruption and chaos. We recommended removal of wallpaper- in nearly every room-, painting, some plumbing to restore an unused 3rd floor bathroom and cosmetic work in the kitchen- painting the cabinets, changing hardware, a new floor and a granite counter top (purchased on sale at an excellent price). The sellers were nervous about the work and the cost outlay which amounted to a little over $30,000.
I sold the house for $1.2 million- $300,000 over my initial estimate of its value. The sellers were thrilled and had to admit the house looked spectacular.
Next month I will address the specifics of the Staging Action Plan. Please stay tuned!