Once the decision has been made to put a property on the market, every owner hopes for a speedy sale. But when you’re fixing and flipping places, time really is money. To boost your odds of a quick sale–and chances of getting a good price–you need to make your place really stand out in a competitive marketplace.
How can you do that? One way is to hire a professional home stager to make your investment property look as appealing as possible.
Depending on your needs, a talented home staging pro can temporarily furnish everything needed to help potential buyers imagine living there–sofas and rugs, bedding and linens, small appliances and table settings–to make the place you’re trying to sell into a gorgeous, inviting showpiece.
But since most of your work is done on a budget, why would you pay money to have someone put furniture and props in your house for only a few weeks? While it may sound like a luxury, home staging can be a cost-effective investment, particularly in high-end or busy real estate markets.
In Fix and Flip, First Impressions Matter
“Staging helps get the good first impression and the most offers with the house selling quicker and for top dollar,” says Aleso Gourhan, a broker associate for Sotheby’s International Realty in Oakland, California. “Many buyers do not have the vision, time, cash, or desire to update, so a home that shows move-in ready will attract the most interest.”
Gourhan is not alone in understanding the value of a picture-perfect first impression. According to real estate agents surveyed for the National Association of Realtors (NAR) 2015 Profile of Home Staging, 96 percent of respondents said staging has an effect on a buyer’s view of the home.
Having a home staged can matter even before potential buyers walk in the door. “Almost all buyers begin their search for a home online,” says Gourhan. “This critical first impression determines whether or not they will then want to pursue seeing the property.”
The NAR survey found that 46% of buyers are more willing to walk through a home they viewed online. Even on the web, people want to see rooms that look picture-perfect and ready for them.
The Practical Side of Home Staging
Presenting an attractively styled home has other benefits, too.
“Buyers need to know how furniture fits and how spaces can be used,” says Gourhan. “A large room can feel cold and can be hard to visualize, but with good staging, a buyer can see how the space can be used.”
Is the property small, dark, or unusually proportioned? Staging can assist by highlighting the home’s strengths and minimizing its flaws. In fact, the NAR survey found that 1 in 4 buyers might be more willing to overlook other faults when the property is staged well.
Gourhan agrees. “A well-prepared home can distract from any negatives,” she says. “A buyer may fall in love with the inside and forgive an ugly exterior or busy street.”
Evaluating Time and Cost of Staging a Home
The cost can vary depending on the home and the amount of work needed, but Gourhan says that in her experience, it’s always well worth the effort — not just in price but in a faster sale.
So can you do it all yourself? Yes, in the same way that anybody can fix up a home or start a business: It can be done, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be done as well as it might be. When you hire a home stager, you’re getting a designer who handles the details, and will set up your real estate investment property as if someone with understated taste lives there.
For example, a professional won’t just park a couch and an end table from a local big box store in the living room. Instead, you might expect to see a graceful sofa with a silk shawl or wool blanket gracefully draped over one side. Elsewhere, the dining table will be set, the beds will be perfectly made, and there will be a stock of fluffy towels rolled up in the bathroom.
Remember that the housing market isn’t like a drugstore aisle, with choices based on active ingredients and price per unit. People aren’t just buying a building– they’re buying a haven, security– and, often, a showpiece. Because it’s so much more than just a financial transaction, meeting a home buyer’s emotional needs is paramount.
That’s why the smart money is on the seller who thinks of home staging as an investment in his or her business. Considering how much time and energy you spent turning a rundown place into a perfect home, selling it quickly will give you the joy of cashing out sooner rather than later…or the momentum to start the profitable process all over again.
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