Home staging is a real estate buzzword and one of the top marketing tools that real estate agents use to help their properties sell quickly and for the most money possible. According to NAR (National Association for Realtors) or the Real Estate Staging Association, home staging not only helps homes sell more quickly but it also has been shown to increase the amount of money home buyers are willing to offer for a property that has been both updated and professionally staged.
As such, the newest trend we are seeing is that of Realtors who are covering most – if not all – of the home staging costs. This is especially true in hot real estate markets and in more urban areas where agents know they have to do and offer more to attract new clients. With TV networks shining a spotlight on the staging industry, home owners are becoming more and more aware of the high expectations home buyers have when searching for a property. So for many home sellers, they know they will have to make improvements and changes before they sell and most – if not all – are looking to real estate agents to offer all the answers and potentially cover all those costs.
As home staging experts and one of the most experienced home staging companies in the Waterloo Region, we understand what home buyers are looking for and we know that its a beauty pageant and a price war in the real estate market. We have many agents who include a home staging consultation with our team in their listing services and many more who offer to cover all staging costs associated with a property. From our perspective, here are the pros and cons to this kind of arrangement:
SETS AN AGENT APART
As we noted above, home staging is a proven and well known marketing tool that savvy Realtors and home owners use to make the most of a home’s presentation & appeal. As such, over the past ten years we have seen more and more agents add a home staging consultation to their listing services. While this is great for home owners, because so many agents offer this service, it no longer sets them apart. So agents feel they need to do MORE to impress potential clients and investing in a home staging package plus a consultation will definitely do that. Agents who offer to cover the complete home staging investment make a commitment to every client that ensures their home will look its best which in turn will ensure they get the best possible results with the sale of the home.
EMPHASIZES THE IMPORTANCE OF A HOME’S MARKETABILITY
While a decade ago, Realtors could just pop a sign in a yard and get a home sold, with the real estate marketing going almost completely online, a home’s appearance has never been more important. It’s not enough these days to just declutter and clean as home buyers are looking to be impressed by a property’s pictures before they even consider stepping foot in the home. When a Realtor includes home staging in the listing services offered to home sellers, they emphasize the importance of a home’s overall marketability to the real estate process. Some very savvy Realtors require that their clients do everything the professional stager recommends because they know that there is a lot that goes into the preparation process to achieve the best possible results.
ENSURES LISTINGS ARE HIGHLY PRESENTABLE & MARKETABLE EVERY TIME
Nothing is worse than when a Realtor has invested in a home staging consultation and the recommendations are either ignored or poorly executed. Home sellers can and will opt to ignore the advice of a professional, thinking they know best or that making some changes isn’t necessary. Additionally, as many home owners still believe that home staging is just decorating – not marketing – when they decide to stage themselves they make personal decisions about what they like and fail to consider the impact on prospective buyers. When savvy Realtors include both home staging consultations and packages as part of their listing services, they ensure that all the preparation and showcasing steps are taken properly so that when the property is market-ready, it’s overall presentation increases the perceived value of the home with prospective buyers.
HOME SELLERS WHO TAKE THE STAGING INVESTMENT FOR GRANTED
When agents cover all the home staging costs, the value of their investment can be overlooked and undervalued by home sellers. Like anyone who is simply given something for ‘free’, home sellers can fail to value the investment the Realtor is putting into getting their home sold. This can manifest in basic things like not keeping the home in the same condition throughout the selling process to sellers who insist that the agents cover everything from updates to staging renewals if the home doesn’t sell right away. Home Staging is a significant investment and when done by a professional, has a tangible return on investment. So while it’s great that an agent is willing to include this investment in their listing services, home sellers need to see the full value of what they are offering so that they, in turn, can do everything they can to make the most of that investment. This is often why we advocate that while investing in a home staging consultation is definitely advantageous for realtors, we don’t often recommend that they cover all staging costs themselves. Simply put, if their clients don’t have any ‘skin in the game’ what is their motivation for maintaining the presentation of the property? We have seen some of our realtors get taken advantage of – shamelessly – so it’s important to be smart about who makes which staging investment.
WHEN HOMES DON’T SELL
There are a lot of factors which go into a successful home sale which any experienced Realtor understands. A property may look incredible, show great online but because of price point or location, may fail to generate offers. A home seller may refuse to consider offer(s) and insist on a certain price point or conditions before they start any negotiations. A home seller may decide, for whatever reason, to take the house off the market and not sell after all. Nothing is guaranteed but agents who invest a lot in their listings can lose out big time if they don’t set expectations from the start, making sure everything is in writing so that if the agent loses the listing – for whatever reason – that they are reimbursed for much of their investment. Or if the agent is covering only the initial staging fees, that the home owner understand that if additional renewals are required that this is mandatory (hey its marketing – not decorating) and their investment – not the agents. This kind of education is invaluable and goes a long way to protecting a Realtor’s business and ensuring home sellers value all the services they offer.
MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT HOME STAGING COSTS
We touched on this above, but it merits further discussion. There are many misconceptions about how much it costs to effectively stage a property. Part of this may come from a lack of correct information about how much money the agent is investing in home staging. When sources like NAR report that the median cost for home staging is $600, it’s understandable why home sellers simply assume Realtors can absorb this cost. In reality, that fee might just cover the initial consultation fee in some cities and in other areas, like the Waterloo Region, the average staging investment – including consultation – is more along the lines of $2,000 for an occupied home and between $3,000 – $7,000 for an empty property. So before Realtors decide to include home staging in their services, they should do their research and find out what kind of investment they are looking at. They may decide that they are going to cover the initial consultation fee and allocate a certain amount towards any next level staging package. They may decide that they will cover all staging fees for the initial term but expect their clients to invest in home updates and any additional staging renewals if they are necessary. Knowing the fees, understanding the return on investment, educating home sellers on why staging is vital to the process and managing expectations is essential to success.
Home staging can solve a lot of problems in a property – no question. From redefining rooms for their intended purpose, making spaces look large and luxurious to highlighting selling features in a home and minimizing it’s weaknesses, home staging is an effective marketing tool. However, when agents are in charge of how much to invest in the process, key things can be overlooked and price or timelines may be more important than the staging process or its results. How does this affect home sellers? Well, it can mean that due to time or budget constraints that a dated property doesn’t get the updates it needs and the only concern is rushing to get it staged. All the staging in the world won’t help a property that needs work done before it can be staged for sale. Additionally, when a Realtor is budgeting for staging – say a vacant home – they will shop around based on price only. This can result in ineffective staging or vignette staging – both of which do more to decrease a home’s perceived value than add to it. It can also result in Realtors doing their own staging thinking they are saving their clients money when in actual fact, they have neither the skill nor the right furnishings to ensure the home’s presentation is maximized. Investing in cheap staging impacts the overall value of the home so home sellers may not get the quality of offers they were expecting and any investment made into the staging may never be recouped. It’s always wise to look for quality staging to maximize any investment made.
In an increasingly online world, the value and importance of highly marketable real estate listings is only going to rise. Real estate agents who understand this and take steps to educate themselves on the process and find reputable & experienced professional stagers to work with will ensure their listings continually stand out. For home owners looking to sell their homes, finding an agent who offers a wide breadth of services – including home staging – is crucial to a successful real estate experience. We recommend that both the agent and the home seller have an investment in the process and value the contribution each one is putting into getting a property sold.
For more information on home staging services in Kitchener-Waterloo, contact Rooms in Bloom Home Staging & Design Inc. Our experienced and award-winning team offers comprehensive staging solutions for both owner-occupied and vacant properties. To learn more about our company or to book a consultation online, visit our website or join us on Facebook.