All dressed up and ready to go: Statistics show benefits to staging
Publisher: Mountain View Voice
When Cinderella went to the ball, she probably would not have won
the prince if she had gone dressed as a maid. Cinderella would have
lost out, and so would the prince.
There is a fine line between enhancement and camouflage, and staging
houses for sale -- like dressing up people -- lies somewhere in
between. In good staging, the best features of the house are maximized,
and the worst are minimized. Staging a house is presenting the dream,
showing it the way it could be. That's what dreams are made of,
and the relatively recent phenomenon of staging homes for sale has
proven that actualizing that dream has merit, both for buyers and
sellers. The following statistics indicate how much.
In discussions with colleagues and based on my own experiences
with staging, I suspected that staged homes sell faster and for
a higher price than those that are not staged. Wanting to test that
theory, I analyzed 2,772 properties sold between March 1 and September
30, 1999, in eight cities: Atherton, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills,
Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Portola Valley and Sunnyvale.
Out of that group, I took a sample of 129 properties that had been
staged, or 4.7 percent of the total. This sample represented condominiums,
townhouses and single-family residences. They ranged in list price
from $229,000 to $4.8 million.
The following results show marked differences between the sample
of staged homes and the total group, which consisted of both staged
and unstaged properties.
For the group of 2,772 properties, the average number of days on
the market was 30.9, and the average difference in sales price over
list price was 1.6 percent.
For the sample of staged homes, the average number of days on the
market was 13.9 -- about half of the time for houses in the general
sample. The average difference in selling price over list price
was 6.3 percent, nearly four times as much as for the other group
Please note that the staged sample was not skewed by one or two
outstanding properties. The homes in the sample were fairly similar
in terms of days on the market and net sales difference.
It would appear from the above that buyers, like Cinderella's prince,
want to see the house "dressed up." Judging from the net
sales difference, they are willing to pay for it, too. In addition,
this phenomenon is occurring in an extremely strong sellers' market
that would not appear to need any help.
I believe that the above findings have significant implications
for Realtors, interior designers, prospective sellers and buyers
and anyone else who stands to benefit from the marketing and sale
of residences. And this information is pertinent not just to the
Bay Area, but could be instructive throughout the country as well.
By contacting Realtors in numerous major metropolitan areas in
the United States, I found that, for the most part, staging is hardly
being done, if at all. As usual, California seems to be the leader
in this area. Thus, our experience here may well be helpful down
the line in other real estate markets, even where sales are so strong
that some feel there is no need for an additional boost.
Concerning the actual staging of houses for sale, there are a number
of stagers in the area who charge a range of fees and use a variety
of approaches. Some focus on rearranging the existing furnishings
with only minimal additions; others create an entirely new "look"
by bringing in their own furnishings and accessories. Some will
implement major remodels; others will coordinate painters, landscapers
and other service providers. Many will combine both approaches,
depending upon the seller's needs and pocketbook.
Whatever the approach, staging houses for market appears to make
a difference to buyers. And based on the results of my analysis,
the practice also carries with it implications for sellers who wish
to get the most value from their properties.
The data for the above analysis were provided by RE Infolink and
the following staging firms: A Fresh Look, Redwood City; JAG Staging,
Palo Alto; and One Two Six Design, Palo Alto.
Joy Valentine is a Broker Associate with Coldwell Banker in Los
Altos and can be contacted at (650) 917-4206.