New Study Indicates Staging Does Not Influence Selling Price

| December 30, 2013 | 6 Comments More

Proponents of staging say that it saves homeowners thousands in carrying costs regardless of how buyers claim to feel about it.

We all know how important it is to make a good first impression, but new research indicates that when it comes to selling real estate, that first impression is not particularly likely to convince buyers to pay more. According to College of William and Mary real estate and finance professor Michael Seiler, simply staging a property well is unlikely to affect the end price of the property. Seiler and his research team use professional rendering software to create six different virtual home tours with “varying degrees of attractive or neutral design and furnishings, ugly furniture and design elements, or no furniture at all.” They then showed more than 800 potential home buyers the tours and asked what they would pay for the listing. The buyers responded that they would pay $204,000 regardless of what tour they took[1]. Interestingly, although the respondents in the study said that staging did not matter to them – and appeared to be telling the truth – they did believe that the staging would affect how much others would pay for the property[2].

Of course, the study is certainly not the last word on staging. Critics of Seiler’s research point out that staging can affect whether or not a buyer is ever interested in a property or becomes emotionally invested enough in the property to raise an offer later in the buying process. Furthermore, although staging may not conclusively affect the sales price of a home, other research indicates that it definitely could speed the sales process. According to the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA), admittedly not the most objective of research groups, unstaged homes remain on the market for an average of 166 days longer than staged homes. Homes that are staged, at least according to RESA’s 2012 data, receive their first offer within 32 days[3]. Furthermore, said RESA analysts, homeowners who stage their homes could “save more than $4,000 in carrying costs.”

Seiler himself is perfectly willing to admit that staging could affect other aspects of home sales, and warned, “All we could test for is how much the home would sell for.” He added that a staged home may sell faster than an unstaged home and that a well-staged home may sell faster than a poorly-staged one. Darci Willis, an Indiana real estate agent, definitely believes in staging. “Even though people logically know that they can change the paint color, it can be distracting and off-putting [since] buyers are thinking emotionally,” she explained.

Home staging services range widely in price and quality, with some stagers charging only about $30 an hour for consultations and others charging hundreds. The cost of staging will depend largely on how you obtain the furniture for the presentation and how much of the work you handle on your own. Also, staging often involves deep cleaning and incidental purchases (although larger items like furniture can usually be rented), so you may be looking at several thousand dollars to stage an average home. Sometimes a stager will simply rearrange your existing furniture to keep the process more affordable.

Do you stage your properties before putting them on the market? Do you think staging is important?

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Comments (6)

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  1. wt says:

    I personally had always thought this was a waste of time. People don’t buy homes just on how the homes are decorated. Yes, its nice to see those newer contructions that are all glamorously decorated but the truth is, buyers won’t be decorating their homes the same anyway. It would takes thousands $$$ to accomplish. The homes are purchased based on location and depending on condition the price is then negotiated. Then last but least the amenitites such as ing pools which most are now choosing to opt out in regards to liability and expenses. When the market was the good it was soley based on location and everything else was a bonus.

  2. Derrick says:

    Well this is all nice, but it’s not how the masses really respond to selling. This lab rat “study” doesn’t even qualify to represent reality. The survey shows the truth. People think more highly of themselves, but claim others are affected.

    Take a pair of shoes and sit them on the bottom shelf for $10 or put the same shoes on a sales counter glass shelf with spotlights and backdrops for $39. Many people will buy the $39 shoes and never consider the $10 pair.

    Nothing is 100% effective, but I’ve street-tested this for decades. In most cases, I shortened selling time significantly and increased sales prices. While the level of “staging” and improvements can vary results, in many cases, this was the difference between selling or not.

    Psychologists say people make decisions in steps. People generally rationalize their decisions based on emotional responses.

    The survey repeats the common error. People always claim they are rational when buying, but in 30 years of selling the reality is most decisions are emotionally based.

  3. Alex says:

    This study is a bunch of nonsense. Buying something is an emotional decision. When you’re dealing with landlords and investors, it’s more aobut the numbers. But when you’re dealing with a family and a personal home, it’s an emotional decisiion. A clean, clutter free home always sells easier and faster, if not for a higher price, at least it sells much easier and much faster.

  4. DB says:

    We staged the home we were living in. It sold within a week after listing during the height of the real estate crash at a profit…

  5. rupert says:

    i have been in the real estate business for too long (33 yrs.] people express buying decision separately and independently . the professors sampling is flawed, sitting from an ivory tower , and determining people,s buying behavior is absurd. many people including myself acquire properties , sometimes on the structural integrity of the property, in addition to how the layout flows internally . sizes of rooms etc. location comes a lowly third on my list behind financing and ltrv. staging is deceptive, people arrange their furniture , reflective of their life style. nothing is written in stone. Real estate is not an exact science . We who are out in the real estate trenches see marketing of real estate differently. investor GRI, MAI, MBA, ASc ENGNR.

  6. Clemdane says:

    I have no dog in this fight. However, I don’t think the study has proven that staging does not work. It was only virtual pictures of differently staged and non-staged houses and the buyers were only hypothetical survey buyers, not people who actually completed house purchases. What I say I would pay for a hypothetical house while I am taking a survey on virtual houses is not the same as what I would do in an actual real estate transaction. I.e., the survey takers had no skin in the game and could say whatever popped into their heads without living with the consequences.

    It would be a lot more trouble to create a study that compared actual purchasers of staged vs. non-staged houses because there are so many other factors in play that make it impossible to make a one to one comparison.

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Category: Real Estate