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Most real estate agents today acknowledge that, in the majority of cases, staging a listing makes it sell faster and for more money. So agents swear by staging especially for pricier properties (and, according to a 2017 NAR study 38 percent of agents stage all their listings, regardless of price).

Because a fast sale at the highest price is the most desirable outcome for sellers and agents alike, clients should be begging to have their homes staged before going on the market, right?

Wrong.

Getting sellers to grudgingly accept that their home will require staging is one of the trickiest parts of getting a listing ready to sell — mainly because staging sounds exactly like redecorating to them. So, they hear a suggestion that they have the property staged as a criticism of their taste — and they resist.

Photo by Chastity Cortijo on Unsplash

Here are key points to help agents educate their clients on how widely staging and decorating differ.

1. Stagers and interior designers may adhere to similar design principles, but their goals are completely different.

The decorator strives to make a home reflect the taste and support the lifestyle of the owners. A stagers’ purpose is to transform a home so it appeals to the greatest number of potential buyers.

As the sellers’ agent, you should be able to describe to your stager and your clients the types of buyers you expect to be most interested in the property, given its size, price point and location. Paint as vivid 0f a picture of the buyers and their style preferences as possible. Make sure your sellers understand that staging is designed to appeal to their target buyer, not to the current owners.

2. Staging is more like merchandising than decorating.

Like a good product stylist, a stager’s fundamental goal is to draw buyers’ attention to a property’s best features while minimizing its less desirable aspects. The materials, furnishings and accessories stagers use to achieve that goal will be tailored to the target buyer(s).

And the final design will highlight the most common buyer desires — a home that’s in move-in condition with updated kitchens and baths, spacious rooms, enhanced lighting and a neutral color palate.

3. A stager will have a large inventory of furniture and accessories in a variety of styles they can ‘rent’ to sellers as needed.

That factor alone can save sellers a lot of money. One of the most common problems stagers confront is furnishings that are not well-proportioned for the room. So their inventory not only includes varied styles and colors but also pieces in a variety of scales.

Properly scaled furnishings and accessories can make a snug room feel much more spacious — a common buyer “must-have.” The stager’s fee covers these added pieces for a specified period of time along with the expense of moving them in and out.

If sellers had to buy these items and pay for their delivery, those costs alone would greatly exceed the stager’s fee.  

4. Staging shows buyers how to use a home so they can envision themselves living there.

Your clients outfit and use their spaces to suit their needs, tastes and lifestyles. Stagers demonstrate how rooms can best be used. Very few buyers can imagine how to use a space without such visual aids.

5. A good stager doubles as a photo stylist.

A good stager will make every room look good in photographs as well as in person. All buyers today see a property online before they decide to spend their precious time seeing a home in person. So good staging and excellent photography are essential because a home’s online appearance is the new “curb appeal.”

6. Effective staging and photography will make a listing stand out against the competition.

Buyers look at a lot of listings online before choosing the ones they want to visit. And, when they do visit in person, buyers often tour several properties a day in their search for “the one.”

Before long, all homes start to run together in buyers’ minds. Good staging differentiates your listing from the competition and makes it memorable. And that’s a good thing!

Nicole Solari is owner and managing broker of The Solari Group in Solano and Napa Counties in Northern California. Nicole runs one of the highest producing brokerages in all of Northern California.

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