You've seen home staging done to artistic brilliance on various HGTV programs, and if you're putting your home on the market, you could boost your home's sale odds and profits by working with a professional home stager. What is home staging? It's a home "makeover" that presents your home in an improved light, making it more attractive to potential buyers. An expert stager reviews each room of your house and organizes some "tweaks" to create a more professional look, a softer feel and sometimes a redesign of your furniture placement and a paring-down of your home's d?cor in a manner that allows buyers to envision themselves living there.
Home staging is now considered a must. According to the real estate guide HomeGain, professional staging priced at $300 to $400 can increase your home's value and price by $1,500 to $2,000, a whopping 586 percent return on your investment.
"Making the investment of staging in your home is far less expensive than a price reduction on your home that would happen without staging," says Barb Schwarz, the creator of Home Staging and the president and founder of StagedHomes.com and the International Association of Home Staging Professionals.
*Finding a Home Stager
It's essential to locate, interview and hire a certified home staging professional who bears an ASP stager designation. ASP stagers have the utmost training and experience and, most importantly, association-required insurance coverage and legal contracts to make sure the job gets done correctly and in your best interest. A friend who fancies herself a good interior decorator will not deliver the same expertise as a stager, so be sure to find a certified expert through a reputable home stagers association, such as IAHSP.
"Be sure to interview at least two different staging professionals," Schwarz suggests, "because it's important to find one with the right kind of experience and the right personality to work closely with you. A stager's communication style is going to factor greatly into the success of your goals." For instance, a stager with a too-direct personality may insult you inadvertently with a blunt mention that your house smells like cats. Selling your home is a deeply emotional process, and a professional with the right kind of sensitivity is going to lead you better through the process.
Your potential stagers will come in and meet with you, look through your home and leave portfolios of their work. Schwarz says each portfolio is the true measure of what the stager could accomplish for you, so judge also by the "before and after" proof of talent.
The next stage is getting referrals. When choosing your expert stager, consider the feedback, but ultimately trust your gut.
*Working Well With Your Stager
Schwarz says: "To work well with your stager, you have to be able to cut your emotional ties to your home. Mentally, you need to accept that your home is now becoming a product through the adjustments the stager will make and recommend." The changes suggested are not meant to injure you; they're essential steps to improving the marketability and asking price for your home. "You're earning yourself money by putting away your collectibles and photos and earning yourself money by keeping it that way."
By removing personal effects, clearing away the kids' artwork and keeping your home clean during the entire time it's on the market, you're improving your odds of a stronger sale. You never know when a potential buyer will arrive, so your best strategy is to keep up with the changes suggested and enacted by your stager. And keep your kids motivated to do the same, with stricter chores and room-cleaning schedules.
"You're setting a stage," says Schwarz, who is also theater-trained. "So set your lights on a timer; have soothing music loaded and ready to play; and consider each act of transforming your home into a setting to be an investment in your home sale profits."
*What Does This Cost?
Prices for home staging services vary depending upon where you live, but Schwarz says you could arrange for a $250 to $800 professional staging assessment and a 35- to 55-page report of changes you could make to your home. Or you could spend several hundred dollars (some spend $1,800), including the prices of some furniture and d?cor rentals, for the stager to be fully involved. Think about that 586 percent return on investment as you consider your options, and talk to your accountant about whether the cost of home staging ultimately would become a sanctioned tax write-off.