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What Real Estate Agents Ought to Know About Home Staging
The concept of home staging is a relatively new concept in most real estate markets, not just here in Australia, but in all but a few international real estate markets.
Additionally, many agents have never even heard of the term, and many who have are very skeptical of any value to the service, perceived or otherwise. Believe it or not as an agent, there is a select group of professional and savvy Australian agents who are strong advocates of making professional staging services available to their clients.
Not convinced? Don’t take my word for it. Australia’s leading real estate website goes into some detail about the benefits of staging a home to suit potential buyers, in addition to offering some tips for homeowners thinking of taking the plunge into the Australian property market. CNN Money, an internationally recognized financial news service, also advises homeowners to pay special attention to the marketability of their home, especially in the residential real estate market.
Let me share with you some of the most common questions realtors ask when considering home staging.
What is Home Staging?
In a nutshell, home staging is the term used to describe the process of painting a property to be listed, or indeed one that is already listed on the For Sale market.
Now, sometimes it’s just a matter of reusing what homeowners already own. Other times, it may mean introducing new furniture that represents the home more in line with the home’s high asking price. However, most home staging projects fall somewhere in between. It is very different from interior decorating or interior design. Home staging involves making simple and inexpensive cosmetic adjustments to the home’s decor. Interior design involves making changes to a home’s floor plan, usually at considerable expense. Interior decorating involves decorating a space to suit the homeowner’s personal lifestyle and taste.
What is the difference between Home Staging and Property Styling?
Here in Australia, Home Staging is often referred to as property styling, property presentation or even house staging. All these terms mean exactly the same thing.
Isn’t home staging used exclusively for high-end listings?
No. Would you actually believe that this is much more common among homeowners with average sized homes? Why? Using the home staging service suits homeowners who would not hire an interior designer.
So why should I consider recommending a home staging service to clients?
Simply put, the real estate business is all about listings. Specifically, securing as many as possible. And there are several ways home staging can help you do just that.
Let me ask you this question. How could listings that sell faster help you in your day-to-day business? There is a real cost to passing on weak offers to all real estate agents. Just think about your advertising dollars and the time agents have to spend repeatedly talking to clients about their listing property. Clients want to hear from you why their property didn’t sell and what if another advertisement is planned.
Listings that present themselves well to potential buyers tend to sell more easily over time than those that don’t. They require less time and money to move. In addition, they usually sell at a price close to the asking price, resulting in a higher profit for you as an agent.
The reality is that when people drive past your agency’s front yard “For Sale” sign, they will make a mental note of whether it will last for days, weeks or months, or if it will end. Homeowners – (with the help of a professional real estate agent) who will sell their property faster and at a price close to the asking price, will offer you the best form of advertising your services – a free appraisal. A homeowner across the street who is having second thoughts about selling will gain some reassurance from seeing an agent whose listings are actually selling—and selling well. This is a highly effective way to establish your professional sales status and will go a long way in a sinking or flat real estate market.
You may also enjoy having a professional home stager help your clients see the property through the eyes of their potential buyers. I know how hard it can be for an agent to be able to deal with sensitive selling issues like clutter, pets, odor issues and so on and not feel like you’re walking into a minefield that could end up costing you the listing. . This is precisely the kind of thing that home stagers take care of diplomatically. Motivated homeowners really want and need to hear what things could be holding back the sale of their home.
I understand, but won’t my clients expect me to pay for the service?
Some agents are happy to pay for an initial consultation with a professional layperson for higher end properties they have listed or will be listing. This is a useful tool for agents when a home’s premium asking price offers more wiggle room in the advertising budget.
Overall, though, I’m personally not a strong advocate of letting agents cover brokerage costs for their clients. Why am I saying this? Because it’s my experience that the information and advice a client receives from a service they’ve invested in is perceived as more valuable and they’re much more likely to follow up on it.
I believe that simply recommending a home staging service works well in the same way that you might suggest or recommend a shipping or pest control service. As an agent, you are not expected to pay fees for these services on behalf of your client, and home staging usually falls into the same category.
But I always try to tell my clients what things they should do to help me sell their house. You say there is more?
Well, think about it this way. When it comes to selling real estate, where exactly do you think your strengths lie? Is it in advising on the placement of furniture, suitable paint colors to brighten up a dark-looking kitchen, placement of artwork to guide a buyer’s eye to one of the property’s best-selling features? Or do you think your expertise is more in the areas of pricing, marketing, selecting suitable buyers, negotiating and overseeing the legal side of the sales process?
Lots of agents take the time to suggest basic repairs and cleaning, but selling a property requires more than just cleanliness. You would be well aware of many clean and in good condition that have taken a long time to sell and/or have had their asking price significantly reduced.
Offering decorating advice to help your clients present the kind of property that attracts the attention of several types of buyers frees up the time you have to focus on other strategies you use to secure offers.
So is home staging expensive?
No. An initial consultation starts at around $150 and ranges up to several thousand for a whole house fit out. The final cost of setting up a home depends on several things such as;
“The size and condition of the property.
“How much work does the client plan to do themselves once they get advice from a floundering person. It’s a great way to keep expenses down.”
“The asking price of the house and the target market.
For example, let’s say a property with an asking price over a million dollars is very often larger in size and the type of amenities required must be of a special standard to increase the appeal of the home buyer in the target market.
You know what? Most homes are already furnished, and owners often have what they need to repackage their home for sale, even if that means reusing items that are in storage. This means that an investment of $150-$500 is all that is needed to create the right buyer appeal for this property.
I’m a big believer in weighing the price of something against the value. Yes, it can mean an investment of $200 – $1000 upfront. But for both the seller and the agent, the profits are far more valuable, and the return on that investment can come within days of the property presenting well and being priced competitively.
What is the best way to find a homestagger?
The best way is often to use an internet search engine such as Google or Yahoo. Just type in “home staging” and the area you’re in and you should get the result you need. From there, check out their website to learn more about how they work.
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