How (and Why) to Stage Your Listings Like a Lab Coat Agent
To stage or not to stage, that is the constant question on the LCA Facebook page. Almost daily there is a question in regards to why and how a Real Estate agent should use staging in their business and it seems like there is a big divide when it comes to the importance of staging a home for sale. According to The National Association of REALTORs 2017 Profile of Home Staging, a staged home can increase the price of the home between 1-10 percent yet only 38 percent of all REALTORs are utilizing staging!
As an agent, it is your job to get potential buyers in the home. According to NAR, 95 percent of home buyers start their search online. Why is this important? This means you need to have eye catching photos that present your listing in the best way possible. While many will argue that photos are the most important factor to get a potential buyer into the home, I would argue that staging is the most important. Even the most talented photographer can’t create gorgeous photos when a home is a mess or the layout doesn’t make sense. Staging can take a room from, “Hey, a toy store exploded in here” to “What a relaxing oasis.”
According to NAR, 77 percent of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home and that 40 percent of buyers were more willing to walk through a home they saw online if it is staged. Make sure you aren’t missing out on potential buyers because a room looks dark, cluttered and disheveled.
So, How do You Utilize Staging in Your Business?
The end goal of staging is to present your listing in the best light possible by helping a buyer visualize the space as their own. You want your photos to excite a potential buyer and make them want to see the home in person. That starts with staging. Staging can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Staging a home doesn’t have to mean a full home makeover, new furniture, and thousands of dollars; it can be as simple as de-cluttering, changing some paint colors and moving around furniture. But you are doing both yourself and your seller a disservice by doing nothing at all.
At a minimum, make it standard to offer a staging consultation. Pay to bring in a local designer or stager to walk through the seller’s home with the owners. The stager will look at the home as a whole from a buyer’s perspective and will then sit down with the owners to discuss the home. The stager will create a staging plan for the owners including:
- what personal items should be taken down and replaced
- what rooms may need painting
- how furniture can be rearranged or moved to different rooms to maximize the space and use of a room
- anything else the stager feels needs to be done based on their prior experience and knowledge
It is then up to the owner of the home to implement the staging plan.
Staging Consultation and Inventory
If you wish to take it a step further, offer the staging consult and have a budget for inventory. Inventory can either be rented or you can purchase your own and lend out to each listing. Renting inventory can be pricey and your own inventory can take up lots of space, so this may be an approach you only use on those properties where it financially makes sense. Another option would be to utilize this method for the first week or two that the home is on the market. Just make sure if you use the second approach that the home is then put together in a presented way for further showings after you take the inventory out. You can also have the stager add to their plan that they suggest to the owners that they pay for the inventory or give them a list of some items they can purchase to spruce up the home.
Virtual staging is a hot topic right now. Taking an empty room and using a company to stage the room with virtual furniture can be a cost effective and quick way to present a listing that may be vacant or have some empty spaces. Many agents will argue that this is misleading to potential buyers and unethical, however we disagree. To us, it’s no different than a staged home being vacated before the house is sold. Many times sellers move out before the home sells, leaving it empty. As long as you are not changing the layout of the room, you aren’t adding/subtracting features (like making the floor hardwood when it’s actually carpet) and you are following the rules of your MLS, it can be incredibly beneficial in allowing buyers to visualize themselves living there. We are allowed to use virtual staging in our MLS and we both note that the room is virtually staged and we provide a photo of the empty room so we don’t mislead anyone.
If you have an eye for design and enjoy home décor, than DIY staging may be for you. You can offer to personally walk through the home with your sellers and play the part of a staging consultant. Depending on how invested you want to be, you can help them declutter, pick new paint colors, and even personally stage the home. This is the approach our team takes–we offer a staging consult with an in-depth staging plan. We even have a unit full of inventory that we lend out and install prior to listing the home. The majority of the time we are able to use a mix of the existing décor as well as ours and change up the space by decluttering and re-organizing the layout or use of the room. This option works best if you have the skill, time and patience to do the work on your own.
Staging has proven time and time again that it gets buyers in the door of homes for sale. Staging can not only increase the value of a property, but also decrease the amount of time the home sits on the market. In the ever evolving world of Real Estate, make sure you are setting yourself apart by going that extra step in getting a home sold.
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Support for Lab Coat Agents, and the audio version of this article, comes from Elevated Real Estate Marketing and Travis Thom. Elevated R.E.M. provides Facebook advertising coaching and ad agency services for Real Estate Agents across the globe. Visit ElevatedREM.com for more information.
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