Last Updated on April 29, 2020 by Mark Ferguson
I have sold thousands of houses in my career, for both clients as a real estate agent and my own properties. Over the years, I have learned a few things about selling. In the past, I was hesitant to stage properties, but lately, we have been staging our properties, and I think it has helped them sell better. There are a number of reasons why I did not stage my homes in the past and why I decided to stage them now. It can be expensive and time consuming, and you have to be at good at staging if you are doing it yourself. If you stage right, I think it will help houses sell faster and maybe for more money as well.
Why did I not stage homes in the past
I complete from 20 to 30 house flips a year, and since those are flips, we sell all of them. In the past, I did not stage my homes for a number of reasons.
- Expensive: It takes money to buy all the furniture and the accessories that go with the furniture as well.
- Time consuming: It takes time to move that furniture and place it, and I am very impatient when selling houses. I want them to be put on the market as soon as possible, and staging delays that process.
- Ability: If you are going to stage, you must go all out. You cannot put a table with two chairs in the living room and call it good. I was not sure I had the ability to make everything look right.
We have had good luck selling our homes, but we have noticed more and more homes being staged in the last few years. It used to be that no one staged homes, so we did not have to worry about the competition.
Why did we start staging?
We started staging homes last year. There were a few things that changed my mind and made me try it out.
- New staging companies: I would not have to do the staging myself, buy the furniture, or store it. Someone else could do all of that.
- Affordable: It has become more and more affordable to stage homes, and for less than $1,500, it made sense to try it out if it made our houses sell better.
- Better marketing: When you stage a home right, it usually looks better inside than if the home is vacant. But more than how it looks in person, the pictures look much better.
- Distraction: Another reason I started staging is that when we flip homes, people expect everything to be perfect. We try to do a good job with our flips, but we cannot make them perfect. If a house is vacant, it is easier for people to find the flaws since they are staring at bare walls and floors. When a home is staged, they often look at the furniture and do not pick apart the house as much.
- Other people were doing it: We always keep an eye on the competition, and more companies that flip houses were staging them. If we wanted to compete with them, we had to start staging as well.
Was there a difference when we staged properties?
We sell from 20 to 30 of our own properties a year. Those properties are almost all remodeled, so we have a pretty consistent product that we produce. Every house is different, and it is impossible to know for sure if staging worked, but in my opinion, it did.
When we started staging, the pictures looked so much better. The marketing was better, and we got more showings than we did before we started to stage. We also had properties go under contract faster. It is really hard to know how much staging helped because the market changes and every buyer is different. Again, my gut told me it was working. It costs me money to stage, so it would be cheaper for me if it did not work, but we have continued to stage homes.
I also have a popular YouTube channel, and my viewers thought the houses looked much better staged as well. While they are not buying the houses, I do want my houses to appeal to the most people, and if most of my viewers liked the houses better, the general public most liked them better as well.
How much staging did we do?
Another thing to consider is how much staging to do. I have seen pretty lazy staging jobs in the past that literally had a bottle of wine on the counter and a tiny table with two beat-up chairs in the dining room. If you are going to stage a house, you need to stage it all the way. You don’t want it to look like someone knew they should stage but had no idea what they were doing.
At first, we used a professional staging company ,and they would stage the living room, dining room, kitchen, bathrooms, and one bedroom. They did not stage the entire house but enough for the buyers to see where furniture might go and to see what the house would look like lived in.
I personally like to see what a house looks like vacant, and I can then picture where my stuff would go, but most people do not work that way. They are emotional and visual, and even if they don’t consciously know it when a house is staged and looks better, it appeals to them more.
Later, my project manager, Nikki, started her own staging company, and she will do the same staging as the other company we used plus one more bedroom. Not only do the companies put in furniture but many decorative pieces as well. You can see some of our houses below.
How much does staging cost?
The staging companies we used charged different amounts for different houses. One of the companies would charge us based on the price of the home. The more expensive the home was, the nicer materials they used. We saw prices from $750 to $2,000 for 30 days of staging. We could extend the staging for another 30 days for a discounted rate.
Nikki started her company and decided she wanted to beat this staging company’s prices, so she staged another bedroom and usually charges a flat fee of $999 for 45 days of staging. She may adjust those prices as time goes on.
The staging companies store all of the materials, move them in and out of the house, and decide where everything goes as well.
For me, staging has been worth it. I think our houses are selling faster, the marketing looks better, and we are getting more showings. I avoided staging for many years, but now I am thinking I should have been doing it much sooner!