August 2007

The Benefits of Home Staging

Hiring someone to prepare your home so it makes a good impression on buyers can pay off.

When it’s time to sell you probably know that your property needs to be as clean, clutter-free and in as good repair as possible, inside and out. But you can further distinguish your home from the competition by having your home staged -- or window-dressed -- for sale. Staging helps exhausted buyers "mentally move in" and feel that when they move in for real, they'll be able to kick back for awhile and relax.

Professional stagers can see your house as buyers will, and they'll set the scene so that buyers can imagine living there. They're likely to simplify or streamline the furniture in a room for better traffic flow and to enhance its spaciousness. They may neutralize a too-personal color scheme or add touches of color or accessories where needed. In vacant homes that feel cold and lack visual landmarks, stagers often bring in rental furniture and create "vignettes," say, a seating area in front of the fireplace.

You can hire a stager by the hour or the room. Schwarz says homeowners typically pay from $200 to $3,000 depending on the level of service required. But the pay-off -- in time saved and higher sales price -- can be nice. In 2006, StagedHomes.com looked at the sales history of 200 properties staged by its members. Homes listed for sale prior to staging sat on the market for an average of four and a half months and sold within just over a week afterward. Homes listed for sale after staging sold within 32 to 42 days. In either case, the homes sold for an average of $26,000 more than expected.

By Pat Mertz Esswein

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