"You should stage no matter what the economy has brought, but I can say that more stagers have jumped on the bandwagon [in the economic downturn] because sellers have become more serious about selling fast and for the price they need," says Annette Jordan, owner of Memphis Staging in Tennessee. "With foreclosures still on the rise, staging a home before it goes to foreclosure and getting it sold quickly certainly has become advantageous for the weary homeowner."
Here, experts answer vital questions about home staging:
"Staging entails the obvious [in an empty house] adding furniture, art, plants, accessories, linens, kitchen accessories that will all make a house look as if someone could live in it," says Stephanie Decker, principal designer, Staged Homes LLC in Mill Valley, California.
If a home is occupied, then the staging is more about working with existing items in the home, she says.
Good stagers will always begin working with what they have, says Marie Graham, founder and owner of the refreshed home, based in White Plains, New York. This can include editing and repositioning furnishings, then de-cluttering and depersonalizing so buyers can envision themselves in the home. Deep cleaning and project completion is also vital, Graham says. Home stagers can also bring in gardeners, painters, carpet installers and more, Decker adds.
Staging a house gets it sold faster in a cold market ( the current market), and for more money in a warm market, says Theresa Vallier Minichiello, CEO, founder and principal home stager of Stage Right! Home Staging LLC in Wilmington and Hockessin, Delaware.
When buyers walk into a home, Decker says they ask themselves two questions: First, can they imaging living there? And secondly, would it be easy to live there?
"As a stager, it is my job to leave an impression that the home feels like a breeze -- no dishes, no mess, no clutter, no laundry, no trash containers -- nothing in sight that reminds you of work," Decker says. "A buyer can see parties, kids playing, creative spaces to relax and enjoy life. This is a first impression. It only takes a minute but it lasts."
Prices obviously vary per stager, but Jordan estimates the investment to stage could start as low as $200 and could go as high as $4,000.
The cost depends on the difficulty of staging the home, i.e. how much furniture needs to be moved out, how much clutter has accumulated, how heavy the furniture is that needs to be moved and re-staged, how large the home is, and whether or not the homeowners are going to continue living in the home.
With all things to consider, Jordan says an estimate must be given like any other process that goes with selling and moving. Staging a vacant home is also different, as items must be purchased or rented before staging. Renting furniture is an added monthly expense on top of the staging fee.
Make sure the stager has at least $1 million insurance, Jordan suggests. Also check to see if the stager is affiliated with a professional staging association, has a portfolio with photos of
previous work, a web site, and training from a creditable home-staging organization, she adds.
On a budget? The good news is that home-staging deals can definitely be had in the current economic climate -- particularly given the soft market and the fact that many homesellers don't realize the value of a well-staged home.
According to Decker, one current trend is for the real estate to pay a portion of the staging costs, or for the home seller to pay half down when the home is staged, and the other half when -- and if -- it sells. That kind of financial incentive might just be the best way to get the biggest bang for your buck.
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