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  • Writer's pictureDebbie DeMarais

Stage the Home or Cut the Price?

Simple graphic comparing potential price difference between home staging and a typical home price reduction.

Is home staging worth it?

I’ve met people who think having a home staged is a luxury — a pricey, optional add-on like a whirlpool bathtub or a Sub-Zero fridge. But the interesting thing is: People who think that way are only the ones who have never had a home staged.

I want to ask them this question: When you put a home up for sale, which do you think is more expensive, having it staged, or cutting the asking price?

According to Redfin, a national real estate brokerage, about 25% of homes currently on the market are listings with price reductions. And according to research from Zillow, the average price cut is around 3% of the list price.

That means one in four homes end up reducing the asking price and a 3% price drop on a $500,000 home is $15,000. If I staged an entire three-bedroom home for a full month, it would generally cost less than a fifth of that amount.

Does staging a home really prevent a price reduction?

In my experience, absolutely.

Most sellers begin considering (and most real estate agents begin suggesting) price reductions when a home sits on the market without getting any viable offers for somewhere between two weeks and a month.

On average, 90% of my staged homes receive offers within two weeks (and close within 45 days). This isn’t just my experience, a 2018 study by the Real Estate Staging Association found that homes staged prior to being listed sold within an average of 18 days. Compare that to unstaged homes, which sat on the market for an average of 108 days before getting an offer.

When you cut down the number of days your home is on the market, it’s less likely you’ll find yourself considering a price reduction. And the cost of staging a home is almost always less than a price cut.

Now you’re wondering: Is it magic?

Why does staging sell homes faster?

Home staging gets potential buyers excited about a listing. From how the photos look online to how the home appears when someone walks through the door, home staging gives a home an appealing look and feel, inspiring potential buyers to envision themselves in their new home. That excitement and envisioning will often spur them to make an offer.

Here’s how home staging creates that excitement:

Using the right mix of furnishings, decor, and negative space, architectural details are highlighted and brought to a buyers attention. Home staging also takes into account the existing finishes within the home, creating a look that flows through the house, harmonizing color and encouraging people to explore the floor plan.

When a home is staged, it feels warm and inviting, not cold and empty. Where a potential buyer might glance at an empty bedroom, that same buyer can’t help but take a moment to walk around in a properly staged bedroom, imagining themselves getting a good night’s sleep in there.

Home staging lets a buyer see themselves in a home. That visualizing element is important. This year, the National Association of REALTORS conducted a Profile of Home Staging and said:

“Eighty-three percent of buyer’s agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home.”

You probably can’t imagine putting in an offer on a home you just couldn’t see yourself living in, and neither can a potential buyer.

Should you stage an occupied home?

While it’s hard to for potential buyers to envision themselves in a vacant home, it can be even harder for them to see themselves in an occupied one.

An occupied home is just that, a home that still has people living in it when it goes on the market. You might assume that since there’s already furniture, home staging services aren’t really necessary. But honestly, I’ve found that sometimes staging is even more necessary.

A potential buyer might walk into a home, see furnishings, artwork, decorations that distract them from the home. That overwhelm them with a personal style not their own. They might never look past that strange wall-hanging in the back bedroom. They might not be able to forget about the overly cluttered kitchen. Even though those things will all be gone once the home is theirs, that doesn’t matter. Impressions do.

What does occupied home staging do?

Staging an occupied home is generally a single-day, low-impact service that transforms a house from a home that looks like “somebody else’s place” to a home a buyer can see themselves living in.

And occupied home staging is always done with great respect to the needs of the home’s current occupants. After all, it’s still their home!

Here are a few things that happen during an occupied home staging:

  • Existing furnishings and décor is arranged attractively throughout the home

  • Decluttering opens up the flow and floorplan

  • The sellers receive checklists that help them make sure the home is ready for open houses and photo sessions

  • Any needed cleaning is coordinated and performed

  • Any minor upgrades and repairs are suggested and if approved, performed

  • If downsizing or storage of items is needed to declutter a home, that is arranged as well

When you work with a professional home stager, they will always respect your situation and understand the stress that selling a home can bring. Occupied home staging takes your life and lifestyle into account, while putting your home in its best light, making it a home buyers are eager to move into.

Stage the home or cut the price?

While it may seem the choice couldn’t possibly be that simple, in my experience it actually is. Have your home staged and it’ll excite buyers, letting them see themselves in your home. They’ll likely make an offer long before thoughts of a $15,000 price cut ever enters your mind.


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