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Home staging professionals find new business in changing market

Studies show staged homes sell faster than properties without touch-ups

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Home staging professionals discovered a unique way of marketing themselves in the fluctuating real estate environment by reminding home sellers that properties sell much faster after undergoing a professional facelift.

The Real Estate Staging Association has the figures to back this up.

In a recent study conducted by the trade association, 89 vacant occupied and un-staged homes were listed. These homes spent an average of 166 days on the market. However, when these exact same homes were professionally staged and relisted, they only spent an average of 32 days on the market — a 73% decrease in time spent on the market.

"Every home can use staging,” said Shell Brodnax, CEO of RESA. "Even investors are coming in. They are buying those properties, they’re fixing the things that need to be fixed and they’re paying for staging," she added.

According to Brodnax, staging is an effective tool no matter what the housing market looks like. In a slow market, staging can make a house stand out and sell. However, in a hot housing market, where things are more competitive, those properties are getting attention and often bringing in multiple offers, said Brodnax.

Additional research done by the association showed that when 359 homes underwent staging before hitting the market, the homes received a first offer within 26 days after the staging. Of these homes, 69 receivemultiple offers. When a seller invests in staging before they list their home, the home will sell 87% faster, RESA studies proved.

Brodnax noted that staging has gained momentum over the past 10 years as the market has continued to change. “It’s just really becoming more known — staging is a must,” said Brodnax. “Ten years ago, stagers were really struggling to get people to listen to them… staging now is a no brainer.”

Audra Slinkey, president of Home Staging Resource, said homes that aren’t staged may still sell fairly quickly, but they may not sell for as much money as they could were they professionally staged.

"Homes that are not being staged… it’s like leaving money on the table," said Slinkey.

According to Slinkey, the average cost of staging is approximately 1-3% of the value of the home. However, the return on investment can be as much as 8-10% back. "It’s a small cost and work on the sell side, but it’s a win,” said Slinkey. "You improve upon a product and the demand and price goes up."

While the need for staging is ever-present, the recent housing crisis did have an impact on stagers. "The worst time for stagers was in 2008, when the only things on the market were foreclosures and short sales in a lot of areas. Banks weren’t going to pay for staging," said Slinkey.

But even in slow seasons, the staging industry is able to keep busy. One of the things that stagers are good at is redesign work and holiday design during seasonal slowdowns, said Slinkey. "As a business model, they can still catch themselves," she added. "They stay fairly busy during those months."

More and more sellers are seeing the benefits behind staging. For most sellers, it's all about showing buyers the property's true potential.

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