Barbara Cocoran put it rather well: “Why wouldn’t someone stage if they want to sell a house, and if they want to get more money for the house? I don’t get it.”
You probably know Corcoran from her regular appearances on Shark Tank. What you might not know is she built a real estate empire, the Corcoran Group, into a powerhouse and sold it for $66 million in 2001. She is, and always has been, a huge proponent of staging. So why isn’t everyone?
It’s a mystery to me. As a stager, educator, and writer I continually talk and write about the advantages of home staging. It’s a no brainer. In a recent staging class, I teach for Realtors, a hand shot up.
“Isn’t staging always cheaper than the first price reduction?”
Yes. Yes, it is.
Realtors and sellers seem to be getting the message. The National Association of Realtors released their 2019 Profile on Home Staging recently and a whopping 83 percent of buyers’ agents say staging makes it easier for buyers to visualize a property as their future home. This figure was up from 77 percent in 2017. The profile is only released every two years, and this is just the third time it’s ever been done.
The idea for this profile began after a round table discussion of members at the annual conference.
“Realtors were asking for this report,” Dr. Jessica Lautz, NAR Vice President of Demographics and Behavioral Insights said. “Our members were walking into homes, and the buyers were disappointed houses didn’t look like they did on TV. Setting expectations correctly is important. On the selling side, it was becoming hard to meet expectations, and 38 percent said it had impacted their business. Having this data helps people understand that buyer expectations have elevated.”
What about offers? Does staging help get that top dollar?
According to the report, 44 percent of buyers’ agents said staging increased the financial offer on a home, 25 percent reported it increases a home’s dollar value by 1 to 5 percent, and 12 percent said it increases the dollar value 6 to 10 percent.
Over half of sellers’ agents — 53 percent — said that staging a home decreases the amount of time a home spends on the market.
I spoke to stagers and Realtors around the country and in Dallas to see if the 2019 report reflected their experience.
“Most people don’t have the vision,” Ebby Halliday Realtor Julie Pillans said. “When you stage, it helps to tell the story of how great the home can be. Staging is becoming more imperative because there is more inventory on the market now and your listing needs to stand out. Staging is the only way to do that.”
“After 244 days on the market my client agreed to have her property staged,” Ebby Halliday agent Peggy Millheiser said. “Within three days we had a contract, over the asking price, and two other buyers waiting in the wings!”
Melissa Marro owns Rave Home Staging in Jacksonville, Florida. In 2018, their gross sales increased by 39 percent, year over year.
“More importantly, buyers’ agents now tell us that they prefer to show listings our company has staged because they know their customers will be excited to write an offer, Marro said. “This means less wasted time going from house to house, looking for the one. This change has led to even fewer days on the market for sellers who use our services.”
George Bass of George Bass Stage & Design in Dallas told me their numbers are up 40 percent this year over last year, and I heard much the same from stagers around America.
“Our business is up 50 percent from the first quarter of last year to the first quarter of this year,” Karen Otto with Home Star Staging said. “Why homes for sale have been the last product to be marketed, like any other product you purchase, is baffling to me. Smart retailers drive a buyer’s eye the minute you step foot in their stores. It’s no different with a home for sale, and even more important when you are talking hundreds of thousands of dollars. Smart Realtors are offering staging service to all sellers, not just for high-end vacant homes. The occupied homes are where agents need to concentrate. I think they don’t realize staging exists for occupied homes and that it is so important because most homes sold are going to be occupied. Staging is for any home in any market, and it’s finally becoming mainstream enough that agents and seller alike understand the value it brings to the home selling equation.”
Cort Furniture, a rental subsidiary of Warren Buffet’s Cort Business Services Corporation, provides furnishings for staging homes all over the country. They have seen an increase of 13 percent in the Dallas market alone, especially from investors inquiring about staging their rental and resale properties.
An interesting addition to this year’s report was the section about the impact of television shows on sellers. Think about how many people see Property Brothers, Buying and Selling, Fixer Upper, Flip or Flop and the classic Love it or List It. NAR reports 38 percent of respondents said television shows on the home buying process had an impact on their business.
NAR also added a section on the influence of family members on purchasing a home. Remember, if mom and dad are helping with that down payment, they get a sizable vote. I did ask the researchers at NAR about virtual staging, and the response was that it is controversial and not commonplace, so no data is being collected at present.
As Barbara Corcoran told the Real Estate Staging Association at one of their annual conferences, “Home staging is no longer optional in the real estate market, it’s a must. It’s what will make the difference in whether your home sells or not.”
And remember, no one wants to see photos of a cluttered home or a vacant home!
Karen Eubank is the owner of Eubank Staging and Design. She has been an award-winning professional home stager and writer for over 25 years. Karen teaches the popular Staging to Sell class and is the creator of the online course, The Beginners Guide to Buying Wholesale. Her love of dogs, international travel, history, white paint, champagne, artificial turf, Tudor, Midcentury Modern homes, and any house designed by Clifford Hutsell knows no bounds. Her father was a spy, so she keeps secrets very well! Find Karen at www.eubankstaging.com