Home Staging in a Seller’s Market

white-and-brown quatrefoil bedspread set on bed near window

Is home staging recommended given the low-inventory real estate market of 2021?

Let me set the stage (unintended pun!) with a few stories I have collected from clients over the past few weeks.

One busy young couple looking to buy their first home makes plans to attend weekend open houses on the South Shore but many times the homes are sold before the weekend even arrives.  When they are still on the market, it is not unusual for then couple to wait in line with 50 other prospective buyers.  Last week, they offered 10 percent more than asking for a $365K home to reach their max budget of $400K and the offer was rejected.

A house in Canton, where the average home value is north of $480K, recently sold for $100K over asking price.

Homeowners in Danvers received 73 offers above the asking price for their house and immediately dismissed offers from buyers who had to sell a home in order to buy theirs, who hadn’t waived the home inspection, or who didn’t present a cash offer.

With these scenarios, you might be thinking, home staging is not necessary.  Not true! Staged homes give you a visual edge and stand out from the competition, sell faster, and attract more money than non-staged properties. And now more than ever, buyers want move-in ready homes at these elevated price tags.

Let me share some top tips from my own twelve-step ABC’s of home staging I compiled for my home staging workshops.

First, depersonalize. Potential buyers want to envision their own family pictures on the mantel and their favorite art style on the walls and décor preferences throughout.  If, for example, you prefer maximalist bohemian style or favor gothic with black walls and furniture, change the paint colors and dial your style WAY BACK to appeal to mainstream buyers.

Second, eliminate the clutter. Even if you don’t have clutter in the classic definition, excess “stuff” makes rooms look smaller. Oversized furniture, wall-to-wall books on the shelves, and baskets and baskets of well-organized toys or shoes can be a turn off or point to limited storage space in the home. In fact, even rolling up an area rug to showcase beautiful hardwood floors, removing a side chair and end table, and taking down window treatments and wall art all contribute to the illusion of a larger home.

Third, clean, clean, clean because first impressions count. For example, start at the front door and clean the outdoor light fixture and sweep the stairs because buyers will notice the dirt while waiting for the realtor to unlock the door. An unclean home could raise red flags for potential buyers wondering if there are other deferred maintenance issues.

In closing, there are two kinds of stagers – those who bring furniture and accessories into your empty rooms (which actually look smaller and buyers cannot envision furniture placement in empty homes) and those who advise you how to best use what you currently own. And there are several pricing models for staging services.  Some charge 1-2% of the home’s value while others charge a flat consultation or hands-on assistance rate (to rearrange or move out furniture, for example), based on the size of your home. Few offer relocation services, too, to pack, meet the movers and set-up your new home.

With many satisfied clients since 2008, Barbara Graceffa owns and operates Secretary of the Interior in Quincy, MA offering decorating services at reasonable rates. If you want to suggest a blog topic or have a decorating, downsizing/decluttering or home staging project needing professional help or are interested in hosting a workshop or quilt show, please contact her via her website www.sec-interior.com or phone 617.921.6033.

By Barbara Graceffa

Barbara Graceffa, CEO of Secretary of the Interior, serves decorating clients; assists with professional organizing, home staging and moving assistance; teaches on these subjects; and delivers quilt lectures and trunk shows.

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