The Value a Positive First Impression has on Home Buyers

This post was originally written by Shar Sitter, a professional Home Stager from Minneapolis. Its such a great post because as a professional stager, we talk (ad nauseum) about how vital it is to make a fantastic first impression however as Shar says, many people discount that in favor of highlighting other property features. No more! Now we can talk about tangible numbers in terms of the valuable equity home owners will be losing if they fail to make a positive first impression.

Do you have any idea what the dollar value is of a buyer’s first impression?

Home Stagers talk about first impressions all the time. We talk until we are blue in the face and sometimes we are still dismissed with “it’s not that important, I have a great kitchen.”

That may be true but the first gut reaction never goes away. I heard Real Estate Agent and Mogul Barbara Corcoran put an actual dollar value on first impressions and I sat up straight in my chair. I had never heard it expressed in actual $$$ before.

If you are not aware of who Barbara Corcoran is, she is a Real Estate Contributor on NBC’s Today show, part of ABC’s reality hit Shark Tank, as well as a frequent guess on one of my favorite shows “The Nate Berkus Show”.

It was on Nate’s program that I heard this discussion*. A young couple had their home for sale for six months with almost 100 showings and without receiving a single offer.

Nate asked Barbara if Home Staging is really needed and worth it in this depressed economy and Real Estate Market. Barbara’s reply and I paraphrase:

Home Staging is no longer an option. It makes a difference of a house selling or not. Homeowners do the heavy work of upgrading kitchens and baths but Home Staging makes the biggest difference on first impressions. People walk in and feel like ‘I want to live here. It feels like I could see myself living here’.”

With Designer Nate Berkus’s expertise they assisted this couple with their living room, the first room the buyer walked into. They took down blinds, painted the dated brick, rearranged the furniture which was pushed against the walls, deleted bulky over-sized furniture and a wall unit blocking the view of the fireplace and added some new items.

Do you know what Barbara said was the dollar value to the bottom line for this change?

5% – 7% of the value of what the home is worth!!

Mayfield LR SOLD

Now do you understand how important a first impression is?

With a $400,000 listing that is $20,000 – $28,000.

If you think you can’t afford Home Staging you may want to think again. You may be leaving money on the table.

Let’s put that into perspective so that home owners understand and can compare how much equity they are losing vs the costs of home staging.

First you need a PLAN and that starts with a home staging consultation. For many home owners, this is a service that is often covered by a savvy Realtor. If it’s not, or you are selling privately, you should budget between $200 – $500 for this service. It is an essential step and the cornerstone to properly preparing your home for sale.

If your home has been well maintained and updated then the preparation costs are negligable. On average, preparation costs can range from $500 to $5,000.00 depending on the property. Opting to skip this step and simply showcase the home won’t fool your buyers. No amount of staging is going to hide the fact that your kitchen dates from the 1970’s or that there is pink carpet throughout or that all the  wall colors and wallpaper make the home way too personal and dated.

W LR Collage
Staging an owner occupied home once it has been cleaned & de-cluttered adds the WOW factor!

Once all the prep work has been done, then comes the staging part of the process. This includes furniture editing & placement, layering in artwork, decor, luxurious bedding & pillows … and so much more. It’s a process best done by a professional who focuses on how to maximize the marketability of a property – not just make it pretty. This takes skill, experience and training and is why so many DIY staged properties fail to impress.  Typically for owner-occupied properties a normal staging investment will be between $800 – $1,800.00 depending on what is needed.

For an empty property, staging is even more crucial. Creating function, flow and modern appeal – staging is what makes homes memorable. For vacant homes, staging is a marketing tool that helps them sell 90% faster than their un-staged competition at market value – or above!

JG DR Collage

So, let’s run a little scenario based upon those numbers for Sue Ann and Paul who have a typical home in Kitchener which will be listed for $549,000:

1) Home Staging Consultation: NO COST as they opted to work with one of Rooms in Bloom’s Realtor Partners who offers home staging as part of his listing services.

2) Preparation: Based upon the consultation, Sue Ann and Paul painted their main floor and master bedroom (5 Gallons of Paint = $225), replaced the hardware on all the cabinets (50 handles = $150) in their home and got a storage unit ($150)  where they stored all their boxes after they de-cluttered. Total Cost: $525.00

A consultation gives homeowners a customized PLAN to get their home ready for sale!
A consultation gives homeowners a customized PLAN to get their home ready for sale!

3) Showcasing: Sue Ann and Paul opted to go with Rooms in Bloom’s Customized Staging Package which included the rental of a few pieces of furniture, artwork, luxury bedding for their Master, beautiful table centerpieces and home decor accents for each key area in their home. The showcasing took 2 hours, the house looked like a model home and the total cost was $1,100.00.

Total Investment: $1,625.00

Results: House showed well and got multiple offers over a 4 day span. House ended up selling for  $8,000 over the list price with no conditions. Sue Ann and Paul were thrilled – not only had their home sold but they had recouped their investment many times over! Bottom line: It all starts with a PLAN and home owners who invest in both the preparation and professional showcasing of their home get results! And yes, if you’re wondering, Sue Ann and Paul are REAL clients and although we changed their names, this situation just happened in February 2016.

Compare: $1,125.00 vs losing $32,940.00 (6% of the home’s value)!!


For more information on how to ensure that your property makes a positive first impression on buyers, contact Rooms in Bloom Home Staging & Design Inc. to book a home staging consultation. Rooms in Bloom is Kitchener-Waterloo’s premiere home staging company whose staged properties sell, on average, in less than 15 days on the market!

For a list of Realtors who work with Rooms in Bloom Home Staging & Design Inc., please contact us. As Kitchener-Waterloo’s Premier Home Staging provider, we work with the best agents in the Tri-Cities Area who understand that their is a direct correlation between the presentation of a home and how fast – and well – it sells! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter or call us direct at (519) 804-STAGE for more information on our multi-award winning services.

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9 thoughts on “The Value a Positive First Impression has on Home Buyers

  1. Hi There Kitchener,
    Thanks you for your post, don’t ignore ornamental drapery hardware for your decor. There are a variety of selections and products that can go with anything that you have prepared. I’m always amazed when looking at all of the types of finials and rings, there’s constantly something useful for a room I’m working on.
    Nice One!


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