Is ‘staging’ a home to make it more appealing to buyers really worth it?

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It turns out that it’s rather common to ask, is it really worth it to stage a home? This is a question I have been asked quite a bit and one that seems to frequent the realtor community as well. Yesterday, Joan Harned, an Owner and Broker for Keller Williams Mountain Properties in Vail Colorado and columnist for the Vail Daily, answered this exact question.

The question was posed in her “Ask a Realtor” column:

“Dear Joan: I have been interviewing Realtors to list my home. I really liked the third one, and she seemed talented and aggressive enough to get the job done, but I have one reservation. She started talking about "staging" and having someone come into my home to tell me what I needed to change to make it look better.
Frankly, I was a little offended because I think my house looks great and I get complements from my husband and guests all the time about how well I keep my house looking. The Realtor gave me some arguments on why I should do it, but I still am not sure. Any insight?”

Joan responded:

“I am not sure what your Realtor said, but we tell clients that it is not necessarily to make your home look "better" but it is done to make your home appeal to more people, as we don't know what the next buyer will like.

I think this is a key point and I’m glad that Joan touched on it. There is generally a feeling from prospective sellers that staging somehow implies that there is something wrong with the home or that the homeowner has poor taste. As is the case with this particular seller and many others, the first reaction was defensive and even a feeling of being offended.  

This reaction seems to be normal and one that should be addressed. As Joan mentioned, this is not about making the home look better. This is not a reflection on the seller’s decorative abilities or taste, this is about making changes to increase the appeal of a home to potential buyers.

Joan continued in support of staging:

“Statistics show that staged homes sell faster and for more money, and I can personally attest to that. I am not sure how your Realtor handles the staging process, so I think you should ask her so that you will be mentally prepared. Our team has varying degrees of staging we offer, and we pay for a written list, room by room, of suggestions on how to make your property appeal to more buyers.

This question and answer represent a common interaction between potential seller and realtor regarding the value of staging. There is a great deal of data, both through formal study and through anecdotal feedback from realtors, that suggests there is value in staging. For most realtors and stagers, the trick is to help homeowners to overcome their initial reaction and see that this activity is to boost appeal and ultimately, increase the likelihood of a higher sale price and shorter time on the market.