For the fourth year in a row, Preferred Staging has compiled home staging statistics for the Washington DC, suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia market. What initially surprised us has now become a common theme - budget staging actually hurts a home's value.
And how is the value hurt? Poor stagings neither show nor photograph well, and are often confusing or distracting to buyers. These homes will most likely sit on the market for longer and endure multiple price drops - all of which devalue the property and cost the home owner money in continued maintenance as well as lost revenue from the sale.
We were initially surprised by our findings because one of home staging's effects is to give home buyers an idea as to what the room could be used for. In theory, you don't need to completely furnish a room to define it. But in practice, a partially staged or under-staged room leaves buyers feeling confused and distracted. Staging with vignettes or cutting corners by not using end tables and lamps and not hanging art on the wall can leave the impression that the room is not complete, that it lacks a sense of purpose and doesn't really show how a buyer can best live in that space. Worse yet is when a partially staged room looks like the buyer simply left behind their throw-away furniture.
The bigger problem surfaces with the listing photos. Almost 100% of all new home searches start online, and sellers have only about 30 seconds to impress today's tech savvy buyers before they'll simply click to the next listing. When listing photos show a partially staged or disjointed room, they're not going to be enticed to want to go and see that house.
We all know that buying a house is as much psychological as it is emotional and rational, and we understand that buyers are subconsciously passing judgment and creating a narrative not just about the house but the sellers as well. You want that narrative to be a positive one.
What narrative would these photos generate in the minds of potential buyers? These are all photos of "staged" houses.
So what's a budget staging? As demonstrated by the photos above, a budget staging uses smaller furniture and fewer pieces, and much fewer accessories, often not using rugs, lamps and art. They also stage fewer rooms and sometimes leave major rooms vacant. Because there is less inventory, less labor is involved so the overall price is lower than that of a professional stager. But as you can see from the above examples, budget staging does not add any value to the home.
Using smaller pieces of furniture does not make a room look bigger and in fact the opposite is true - the room looks smaller. Staging only one or two rooms on the main level presents a disjointed house.
Another trick that budget stagers use are composite beds, which are a liability. A composite bed is usually composed of things that a real bed isn't - buckets or bins are the base. There is no real bed frame or box spring, and usually no headboard. It may look good, but if you sit or lean against it, it will fall apart and a buyer could land on the floor and possibly injure themselves. It's also a distraction - to protect themselves, a sign has to be put on the bed along the lines of "For Display Purposes Only - Do Not Sit". Buyers are going to be intrigued to investigate, and then they're no longer interested in the house. What do you think they'll remember about the house? The great kitchen or the fake bed?
As our home staging statistics confirm, leaving a home vacant is better than partial, minimal, or budget home staging, but if leaving a house vacant can mean as much as a 6% loss compared to a professional staging, imagine the loss as a result of a budget staging.
To maximize the value of your Northern Virginia, Washington DC or Maryland home, full home staging is our recommendation.
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