4 Reasons to Stage Your Home

As Washington D.C.'s hot real estate market continues to forge ahead, it's easy to be complacent as a seller. 

After all, for the previous 15 months, those listing homes have had the upper hand. Too many buyers compete for too few houses, and even those less than ideal, poor condition fixer-uppers are commanding top dollar.

At least, they were.

As the seller's market heads towards another year, buyers have become far savvier in the homes they consider and the offers they're making for them. The market remains as hyper-competitive as ever, but buyers are no longer tossing cash at the first listing they see. 

Those days are past us.

As a seller, this means a for sale sign in the yard and a cursory online listing doesn't cut it if you want your home noticed and producing highly lucrative offers by the broadest possible audience.

One of the most critical steps to maximizing your listing's potential is staging.

What is staging?

At its most basic, staging is a simple concept - the process of preparing a space or spaces in a home to appear larger, brighter, cleaner, less lived in, and more livable.

It's not just rearranging furniture, though there's an element of that to it. 

As the most vital step of the listing preparation process, staging takes your freshly cleaned, newly depersonalized home and further presents it as a showcase for would-be buyers.

Aside from the obvious of taking something old and slightly used and making it like new again, staging provides a wealth of benefits for a seller wanting to move their home as quickly and for as much money as possible.

What exactly are those benefits? Let's explore four reasons to stage your home.

Staging makes a more memorable online impression

Among buyers' agents, having photos (83 percent), videos (74 percent), and virtual tours (73 percent) available for their listings was more important since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

NAR 2021 Profile of Home Staging

As ubiquitous as the practice is, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) began publishing a report on home staging several years ago. A telling look into the minds of both buyer and seller agents and the clients they represent, the report provides a wealth of insight into just how important staging has become.

The report even includes a section on the significance of home design and house hunting TV shows, where the staging trend arguably gained much of its recent popularity.

While TV serves as an influence for the staging movement, its track record for success is proven in the real world, starting with your online listing.

In a 2020 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, NAR reported that 97% of home buyers used the internet in some form to aid in their home search. That's effectively saying that every single home shopper pops onto their phone, tablet or laptop, or desktop computer to search for a home. 

And what they're looking for are homes that stand out, homes that shine.

Of course, for sellers, it can be hard to tell the good from the bad after sifting through hundreds upon hundreds of listings. A staged home, however, jumps from the screen and screams, "look at me!" Which is precisely the type of positive attitude you want from your listing. 

Staged homes are cleaner, brighter, and appear larger than their counterparts that are just left "as is." They are considerably more photogenic and further enhance your online listing. Not just the static images either, but also your video and virtual tours.

The better the staging and the more professional the photos, the better the chance of standing out amongst a crowded marketplace.

Buyers can more easily envision a staged house as their home

Eighty-two percent of buyers' agents said staging a home made it easier for buyers to visualize the property as a future home.

NAR 2021 Profile of Home Staging

Let's face it, 82% percent of anything is a massive number, so it's certainly worth paying attention to. It doesn't hurt that the whole point of staging is to do exactly what buyer agents are suggesting - help a would-be homeowner envision the house you're selling as their own.

Removing the "lived-in' feel of your house allows a buyer to step into the space without the sense that it belongs to somebody else. You create a blank slate by: 

  • Removing your personal pictures, heirlooms, knickknacks, and any oversized pieces of furniture
  • Repainting in bright neutral colors
  • Replacing heavy window treatments with lighter versions or none at all
  • Reducing the contents and clutter of closets, pantries, and storage spaces
  • Rearranging furniture to improve a home's flow and sense of movement (its marketing path)

The staging incorporates all of the above elements. It also involves trading worn or dated furniture with contemporary pieces. The same goes for wall art, lighting, and accessories. 

Everything about the staging process is in service to framing the home for the buyer. It persuades them to consider where their home office might go, how their furniture might fit into the living spaces, or which extra bedroom will make the perfect home gym.  

Staging helps you sell your house in less time

Fifty-three percent of seller's agents said that staging a home decreased the time that a home stayed on the market.

NAR 2021 Profile of Home Staging

Preparing and staging your home to list for sale is a transformative, multistep process. It involves:

  • Decluttering
  • Depersonalizing
  • Cleaning 
  • Enhancing curb appeal
  • Minor repairs and touch-ups
  • Repainting
  • Repositioning rooms and interiors

Your repositioning strategy dramatically improves the prospects of your home selling faster. It's also a time-consuming process. One that many sellers wait until the last minute to start, resulting in an "okay, not great" home that shows well but doesn't maximize the property's true sales potential.

When the thought of selling becomes a possibility, that's the moment your house prep begins. Even if you're six months from potentially listing your home, it's a good time to start thinking about scheduling the entire prep and staging process. So there's no delay when you do choose to list, begin planning necessary repairs, determining paint colors and timeline, and securing storage for items that may need to be removed from the house.

The earlier you begin the process, the earlier you can get started on packing up for an impending move as well. And that should be your primary motivation. A home staged and ready to sell from the moment it's listed is a home that sells fast, allowing you to move on to the next phase of your life.

Staging helps you sell your house for more money

Forty-nine percent of seller's agents said that staging a home increased the dollar value offered, compared to other similar homes on the market that were not staged.

NAR 2021 Profile of Home Staging

The final and most important takeaway, though, is the impact staging has on your home's perceived value and how that influences buyer offers. According to the survey, nearly half of the seller's agents surveyed claimed that a staged home increased the dollar value of their client's offers. The breakdown showed:

  • 23% (of sellers agents): said a staged home increased offer value by 1% to 5%
  • 15%: said a staged home increased offer value by 6% to 10%
  • 11%: said a staged home increased offer value by 11% or more

Ultimately, if you stage your home, a large segment of buyers perceive that as a value-add proposition, and they're willing to increase their offers accordingly.

Final thoughts

Forty-seven percent of buyers' agents cited that home staging had an effect on most buyers' view of the home most of the time, but not always. Forty-four percent said staging has an effect on most buyers.

NAR 2021 Profile of Home Staging

Staging a home, particularly a high-end luxury property is no longer an option - it's a necessity. Buyers perceive your home differently and in a more positive light from the start of their home search. They gravitate to it while searching online. They will want to envision themselves living in it when touring in person. And, they'll be ready to move quickly onto the offer and closing phase - often for more than asking.

We've alluded to it several times, but that is the power of a well-staged home. It's transformative.

It significantly alters the buyer's perceptions of their home search. Instead of seeing a tired and lived-in home - the condition of most homes when listed, including those at the top of the market - they instead experience a home tailored to them, allowing them to see their future instead of revisiting someone else's past.

Ready to explore the best of Washington D.C. real estate? Contact the Center Circle Group today to start your home buying or selling journey. From homes for sale in Washington D.C.,  allow Ryan Tyndall and the Center Circle Group to be your guide to the D.C. metro area real estate market.




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