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. 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.
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. 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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Category: Real Estate