If you really look into it, home staging has been around as far back as the 1960s within the homebuilding industry. If a homebuilder wanted to attract buyers to their prototypes (model homes), they decided it might be best to furnish a few empty houses to show a more “lived in” version of them. Their designers made up fake families and devised decor around, for example, a family of four — two adults and two children, outfitting each room accordingly.
The resale community only began recognizing staging as a viable marketing technique in great numbers back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It wasn’t just a matter of believing in the concept of staging. Realtors understood how a more tastefully decorated and arranged home was easier to sell. It was a matter of convincing the seller to invest in this marketing technique.
Fast forward to today’s fog-up-a-mirror-and-sell-a-house real estate market, where there are so few listings that multiple offers are the rule and not the exception to it. Sellers are caught up in deciding when to list, for how much, and which home renovations to do beforehand, if any, when it seems like a foregone conclusion their house would easily sell.
What they often fail to understand, however, is that the phenomenon of staging itself has raised the bar on selling a home. In fact, it’s almost the opposite of how people began wearing more casual clothes to a job interview, thinking wearing their best suit would have no bearing on impressing a potential employer. In this seller’s market, when there are more homebuyers looking to purchase a home than actual houses listed for sale, the result is rising home prices, stiffer competition, and increased bidding wars among homebuyers. It would appear that home sellers would have the upper hand when it comes time to negotiate, and often they do. But how the house looks still matters. Big time.
Redfin’s Lexi Klinkenberg agrees. “Although we are in a seller’s market and homes are selling extremely quickly, staging your home is still important,” she says. “Staging is visual merchandising for your home so that you can sell it quickly and for more money. In fact, staged homes sell 73% faster than empty homes.”
She uses the logic of “dressing to impress” on a first date. Listing photos are EVERYTHING right now, when the pandemic has caused buyers to buy a home virtually sight-unseen. Therefore, the more appealing a house looks digitally, the more attention it will get. “A new listing gets three times more views in its first week on the market than at any time after that,” says Klinkenberg, who adds that a full 85% of buyers say photos are the most important factor in picking the homes they tour. “Engaging listing photos make potential homebuyers want to view your home rather than skipping past your listing. This is why we recommend you stage your home before you list, rather than investing in staging later if your home doesn’t see enough traffic or sell quickly.”
But what does staging really do? It permits buyers to understand how they would live in your home and allows them to picture their family in each space. “The average person shopping for a home isn’t a professional designer and probably won’t naturally envision how an empty space could function, so having it staged could help paint the picture of what living in the home could look like,” she says.
Staging also offers a vision of the proper use of space and makes the property appear move-in ready. Let’s face it — one of the biggest reasons you might pass on one house over another might be the time and money you can imagine having to put into it just to make it your version of it acceptable. If you, as a buyer, are already paying top dollar, bidding war or no bidding war, it may leave you very little to no budget for home improvements or renovations.
“Staging helps the home feel as new as possible so there are fewer objections,” says Klinkenberg. “Hiring a team of professionals to stage your home and identify impactful updates will create a move-in-ready experience that could inspire more buyers to make an offer.”