Selling Your Home? Staging Cuts Down on DOM (Days on Market)

August 13, 2012
When it comes to my favorite TV shows, “House Hunters,” “House Hunters International” and “Selling New York” rank in my Top 10. 

I’m hooked on these shows not because my family is in the market for a new home, but because the voyeur in me likes to see what’s out there if we were. Plus, it’s just fun to see what houses and interiors are like in different regions of the United States. And I’m not the only one. During my short stint as a Realtor, I quickly discerned that those stopping by open houses are mostly looky-loos.

In today’s real estate market, it’s the homeowner who ensures his or her house is buyer-ready and creatively staged who will see their house sell in a relatively short amount of time, according to the Real Estate Staging Association. It cites its own 2011 study where 174 vacant and occupied homes were listed unstaged. As a result, they remained unsold after 156 days on the market. When these same homes were staged and re-listed, they sold on average in 42 days. In another study, homes that were staged from the get-go also sold on average in 42 days.

Staging a lived-in home is not for the faint of heart. “Selling New York” is the best at showing discussions between Realtors, designers and unhappy homeowners on what to edit out (family photos, knickknacks, clutter) and how delicate these discussions can be. After a few tears, the homeowner reluctantly agrees to let the home stager bring in new pieces to supplement or replace a homeowner’s current décor, and sometimes the homeowner’s functional furniture is totally swapped out for sleek and modern. 

But home staging is no longer just for swanky New York apartments or high-end homes on the West Coast. It’s something you should seriously consider if you’re ready and willing to sell your home.

You can stage your home yourself or you can bring in the professionals. Most homeowners opt for a combination. 
First, make a list of everything that needs repair or replacing, such as worn carpets, broken light switches, loose door knobs, broken garbage disposal, torn window screens, dirty windows, and outdated plumbing and light fixtures. When the work is done, consider hiring a professional cleaning service to make your home sparkle.

Also, consider fresh paint indoors and out (neutral colors are still best). And consider repainting the front door in a complimentary contrast color. Don’t forget to spiff up your home’s curb appeal. Try painting the front door in a vibrant hue that compliments your home, add a pot or two of flowers or greenery, prune shrubs, and mow regularly. And while you’re outside, make sure your sprinklers and porch lights work, the eaves are free of cob webs, and your outdoor furniture creates a welcoming environment. 

If you don’t have the time or inclination to get your home ready to sell, a home stager can take on almost all of these tasks and more. A professional stager can also help you decide where it’s best to spend your dollars.

What should you consider when hiring a professional stager? RESA suggests the following:
  • Have they done work in your area? Since staging is marketing, they need to effectively stage the property for the types of people or families that are looking to buy in that neighborhood.
  • t’s important to fully understand rates and fees. Make sure to read and understand the contract and if you don’t understand something, ask for clarification.
  • Ask friends, family and colleagues for recommendations or find a list of BBB Accredited stagers at Interview two or three candidates. Does the stager’s portfolio display a range of styles? Or do all of the homes look alike?
  • Ask if the stager rents furniture from another source or owns the furniture that will be used. Make sure furnishings and accessories used will accentuate your home’s architectural style. 
  • Ask if photos in his/her portfolio are their own work and not part of a group class, training program or other collaborative effort.
  • Ask for references and call them. Check their BBB Business Reviews at
  • Does the stager have insurance and what does it cover?
  • But be warned, once your home looks spiffy and fresh, you might decide not sell your house after all. It’s happened more than once.
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