Welcome Spring, the busiest season in real estate! More and more homeowners are getting ready to put their home on the market and buyers are ready to find their next home. Most sellers understand that it is important that their home look its best for photographs and showings. They understand that a clean, tidy home that smells good is more likely to sell than a dirty, messy, smelly home. They take time to organize and de-clutter, they may even hire professional cleaners, but some homeowners are taking the extra step to stage their home.
We already know that most buyers’ start shopping for a home online. Your home’s online profile will be their first impression. Staging helps them visualize the property as a future home and they are more likely to see it in person. The most important rooms to be staged in order are living room, kitchen, master bedroom, dining room, bathroom, children’s bedroom, and guest bedroom. The National Association of Realtors reports that taking the extra step to stage a home can make a difference in how a buyer values it and the price a seller might get for it.
Most sellers do not know how staging works and how much it costs so I decided to interview one of the top stagers in the Nashville market, Michelle Cox with Centered Staging, for some additional information and tips.
Gabriela: Can you tell me a bit about your services?
Michelle: Centered Staging & Re-Design is a Nashville based, home staging company that specializes in staging both vacant and occupied homes to sell fast, and for asking price or more. We have a team of stagers and reliable movers who work with us on a daily basis. We currently have 16 vacant homes staged and have a wide selection of inventory. Our furnishings generally have clean lines and are neutral colored which allows us to bring in pops of color through the use of accessories that are custom chosen to coordinate with the style and color scheme of the home. We also offer consultations as well as re-design services.
Our vacant home stagings focus on the key rooms that buyers are comparing when shopping on-line. These rooms are the living room, dining room, kitchen, master bedroom, bathrooms as well as curb appeal. The most important aspect of staging is bringing buyer’s attention to the most marketable qualities of the home. And, since buyer’s are mostly shopping on-line, we work with the space from the perspective of how it will look it’s best in the on-line photos. We provide all the furniture and accessories to make sure these key rooms are picture perfect.
When staging an occupied home, we are mostly editing the homeowner’s furnishings so that the only pieces in the home are ones that will help sell it. We have to balance that with what the homeowner needs to be comfortable while still living there. We will then help the homeowner’s determine what to do with the remaining furnishings. Once homeowner’s see their home staged to sell, they often say things like “Wow, we should have done this when we first moved in” and will ask us to come to their new home to get it set up.
Gabriela: Are there different levels of staging?
Michelle: There are several different levels of staging. The most basic level is the consultation. They usually take about an hour and once the consultation is complete, the homeowner has all the information they need to stage the home themselves, but, once they see how much work is involved, they usually hire us to do it for them. With both the vacant and occupied home stagings, there is the option of just staging the main floor, which often includes the master suite. When buyers see the home on-line, they often already have an emotional attachment to the home, by the time they walk through the main level, they should already be in-love with it and ready to make an offer!
Gabriela: How much does staging cost?
Michelle: Home staging often varies depending on the size and condition of the home. A consultation is $150, a vacant home usually costs between $1500 – $2500 to stage the key rooms and that often includes the staging fee and a month or two of the furnishing rental fee (most staging companies have a monthly minimum for their furnishing rentals), and an occupied home generally runs between $450 – $1250. The occupied home stagings vary the most because every room that is used by the homeowner needs to be staged, as opposed to the vacant homes where stagers will often opt for leaving a few extra bedrooms or a bonus room vacant. It’s better to have extra rooms vacant than to have them cluttered.
Gabriela: Can someone stage on a budget?
Michelle: Yes, the best way to stage on a budget is to start with the consultation. From that point, a stager may want to work with the homeowner’s as a consultant and help determine a budget for the purchasing of a few new accessories, do the shopping, hang art, review pictures of the progress, and maybe return a day or two before pictures are taken to make sure everything is in place.
Gabriela: What are your top 3 tips for sellers during your initial consultation?
Michelle: The 1st tip is always to establish the mind-set of seeing their home less as “their home” and more of their greatest investment, and this begins with de-cluttering and de-personalizing the space so that it is transformed into a space that will appeal to the broadest range of buyers. The 2nd tip is more “brass tacks” and includes a conversation about having a small budget for a few fresh accessories. The key for decorating your home to sell is to use lots of throw pillows, candles, mirrors, decorative baskets, fresh towels, and fresh bedding. All of these items can be purchased on a budget and will create a homey feeling that is neutral enough for most anyone to see themselves living there. At the very least, I suggest to homeowners that they have a new welcome mat and anticipate spending about $100 on a “bed-in-a-bag” set for the master bedroom. Even the smallest, most inexpensive master bedroom can appear luxurious with the use of decorative throw pillows. I also suggest that they go on-line and look at pictures on our Centered Staging & Re-design Facebook page because they will begin to see an over all pattern to the way each room is arranged and accessorized. The 3rd tip is focused on curb appeal, fresh mulch around the front of the house, power washing, colorful flowers, and make sure the address can easily be seen from the road, which may include a new mailbox.
Gabriela: Anything else you want to share?
Michelle: Lastly, I find that it’s important, as a stager, to reassure homeowner’s that the things being recommended to them for staging, are not things one would normally see when living in their home. This is true even for myself, I am currently in the process of selling my home and even though I’m a stager I still have a punch list of things to do from the realtor. It really does take a fresh set of eyes to clearly see your home from the perspective of potential buyers.
(Originally published for 12th&Broad: 4/1/15)