The quickest and most direct answer to the question “Should I stage my house?” is “Yes.” It has become standard practice in the real estate business to stage your home because it’s been proven to work. Staged homes sell more quickly and for more money.

BUT WHY, AND HOW?

1. FIRST IMPRESSIONS DO MATTER.

A lot of what prospective buyers see in your home comes down to at-a-glance impressions. The bumps and bruises you’ve come to accept as part of life in your home – the scratch on the wall going down to the basement, the worn look of the front hall carpet, or the magnet that doesn’t quite hold the bathroom cabinet closed – are all seen with less forgiving eyes by buyers. The mental notes that they make as they check out each room in your house will add up to “Nice” or “Meh,” depending on the care you take to tweak the details.

2. BUYERS ARE INTERESTED IN THE FUTURE.

When a buyer looks at a home, they are trying to imagine their lives in it. Staging – which starts with de-cluttering and de-personalizing – removes distractions and shows your property at its best. In a room that into which you’ve squeezed an extra chair, for instance, buyers are more interested in floor space. On a wall where you’ve built a collection of family photos, a buyer will be mentally filling the nail holes. The more you can facilitate the buyer’s vision, the quicker you will inspire their interest.

3. A BLANK SLATE IS NEVER ACTUALLY BLANK.

I recommend never showing a vacant property. Whatever your reason for selling, it is never a good idea to completely strip a place. Nice furniture and décor creates a context for understanding the potential of a home. Buyers see a sofa in a living room and it brings their sofa to mind. It encourages them to mentally place it there. They appreciate the function of a furnished room more easily than an empty one. I’ve even had buyers ask to include the art in the offer.

In the grand scheme of things, the cost of staging is consistently covered by the increase in selling price it helps to achieve.

You can never tell exactly how those numbers work in individual cases, but the statistics back it up. For now, just remember that well staged homes sell quicker, and for more money. It’s worth the effort.

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