The National Association of Realtors’ 2023 Profile of Home Staging reveals a quarter of all staging efforts yield additional profits of up to $18,935 for a median-priced home.

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As the real estate market continues to slow, more agents are resuming various marketing strategies they placed on the back burner when homes sold at record speed in 2020 and 2021.

One strategy that’s coming back into listing agents’ purview is home staging; however, its popularity and return on investment aren’t as strong as pre-pandemic trends.

According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2023 Profile of Home Staging released on Friday, the share of listing agents who stage all of their sellers’ listings declined from 31 percent in 2021 to 23 percent in 2023. The share of agents who only stage difficult-to-sale listings also declined from 13 to 10 percent during the same time period.

Of the agents who stage, 44 percent said staging resulted in a higher offer compared to a similar home that wasn’t staged. That’s a decline from the 2021 version of the report, where 49 percent of agents said staging resulted in a higher dollar value.

Jessica Lautz

Despite those declines, NAR Deputy Chief Economist and VP of Research Jessica Lautz said there’s still value in staging. According to 2021 and 2023’s profiles, an offer increase of one to five percent was the most common result (20 percent), followed by an increase of six to 10 percent (15 and 14 percent, respectively).

In today’s market, a one to five percent offer increase would result in an additional profit of $3,787 to $18,935 for a median-priced home — a worthy gain when compared to the median cost of do-it-yourself ($400) or professional ($600) staging.

“As days on market have lengthened for homesellers, it is not a surprise to see the return of home staging as a tool to attract potential buyers,” she said in a prepared statement. “Buyers want to easily envision themselves within a new home and home staging is a way to showcase the property in its best light.”

Although staging may not always result in monetary gain, it still makes a strong emotional impact on homebuyers and can quicken the sale timeline, with 48 percent of listing agents noting the time on market for their staged listings is shorter than their non-staged listings.

Nearly 60 percent of buyers’ agents said staging “had an effect on most buyers’ view of the home most of the time” — an increase from 2021 (47 percent) and 2019 (40 percent). Another 31 percent said staging “has an effect, but not always.” More than four-fifths of buyers’ agents said staging makes it “easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home,” a share that’s equal to previous years.

Listing agents and buyers’ agents agreed that well-staged living rooms, kitchens and primary bedrooms made the biggest impact on buyers’ decisions to make an offer. However, agents’ opinions split when it came to dining rooms, with listing agents finding it more important (69 percent) than buyers’ agents (21 percent).

The report also reveals another split in preferred staging methods, with homesellers hugely underestimating the premium buyers place on traditional physical staging, videos and virtual tours.

Among buyers’ agents, having photos (77 percent), traditional physical staging (58 percent), videos (74 percent) and virtual tours (42 percent) available for their listings was much more or more important to their clients,” the report reads. “Among sellers’ agents, having photos (89 percent), traditional physical staging (44 percent) and videos (44 percent) available for their listings were much more or more important to their clients.”

Kenny Parcell

Agents said they believe reality shows are partially to blame for the disconnect between buyers and sellers, with 73 percent reporting that reality shows create unrealistic and increased expectations of agents and 55 percent reporting that buyers said homes should look like they do on TV.

Even if a listing agent and their seller isn’t willing to invest in costly staging-to-dos like securing new furniture and decor, painting or making repairs, buyers’ agents noted simple actions like decluttering (91 percent), deep cleaning (88 percent) and removing pets during showings (83 percent) make a huge impact on their clients’ first impression of a home.

“When getting ready to list a home for sale, it’s vital to complete the necessary prep work to make a favorable and lasting first impression,” said NAR President Kenny Parcell of the report’s findings. “Realtors provide valuable guidance on how best to make your home an inviting space that connects with prospective buyers and stands out from the competition.”

Email Marian McPherson

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