Does Staging Really Make A Difference?
This is one of the most common questions I get when preparing a home for the market. I completely understand. Staging is a bit of a hassle and an expense that many people think is unnecessary. I can tell you from experience, my team and I have sold over 300 condos in Downtown San Diego and staging makes a huge difference.
I am going to share a recent experience we had with a condo in Downtown San Diego to shed light as to how big of a difference staging can make. I met with clients who were looking to sell their condo in Downtown. The daughter lives in the property, but not full time so they decided it was time to sell. In meeting with them, I recommended we stage the property for several reasons. The first reason being the furniture, specifically in the bedroom, did not fit the space. The furniture was too large and made the rooms feel much smaller. On top of that, dark wood has the same effect. The second reason is the current design did not appeal to a wide range of buyers, which is an issue when selling. Furniture usually doesn’t convey with the property, but most people have a hard time looking past it. That was the case here. Lastly, the furniture with rich wood colors in combination with the gray/black porcelain tiles, absorbed too much of the natural light. Even though there are a lot of windows, the home felt a bit dark.
Although I recommended staging as the best option, the seller opted to skip the staging. I agreed we can test the market and maybe we find a buyer that can look past the current furniture. It would have been difficult to move the daughters furniture out and I completely understood where they are coming from. Sometimes the most optimal way to sell does not fit the situation.
What Happened Next?
Over the course of 4 months, I showed the home to over 30 buyers. The feedback was almost all the same. The bedrooms were too small, the layout was hard to figure out, the closet space was lacking and the dark finishes made the property feel a bit too dark for their taste. If this sounds familiar, three of the four most common objections were the reason I mentioned staging. After a couple of months of the same feedback, I had asked them to reconsider staging. They still weren’t ready, as we were going into the holidays and the daughter still lived there. I completely understand, but this time I stressed that the feedback remains consistent. The owners still didn’t want to stage. By December, they were growing a bit uneasy and, again, I understand. We were on the market for over 110 days. They finally agreed to partially stage the property. They said they did not want to remove their living room furniture, dining table, and their mattress. I was able to get the staging company to work around their current furniture. See the results and outcome below!
The Final Outcome
The photos tell a big story, but to be honest, the property looked even more impressive in person. The property was on the market for 125 days before we staged. After we staged, we shot new photos and relisted the home just 2 days later. We did not change the price. We used the same photographer. I attended every showing as I always do. Outside of the staging, nothing else changed. After only 3 days on the market, we received an acceptable offer and went into contract almost immediately. The buyer was local and lived just a couple of blocks away. She had been looking while we were previously on the market, but chose not to see it the first time it was listed.
This is just one of many examples I have proving staging does work. I am not saying every property needs staging, but typically most homes would benefit from staging. In this situation, the alternative to staging would be to do a large price reduction to draw in more buyers. Typically I do not think sellers should be leading with incentivizing buyers with price reductions. I believe property should be positioned correctly from the start, but also show accordingly.