2024 is not the year to cut corners on staging — here’s why

When it comes to home staging, there are two homeowner camps: those who think it’s a waste of money and don’t want to pay more to make their home more attractive to buyers and those who realize the worth and are willing to make the investment needed. 

While most Realtors will die on the hill that staging should never be cut out of the home selling strategy, this year it’s even more important. Recently, The Mortgage Reports even reported that staged homes sell “73% faster, on average, than their non-staged counterparts.”

With prices reaching unprecedented heights and interest rates soaring, the discerning nature of today’s buyers requires all agents to employ every possible advantage. 

Simply put, cutting corners on staging is a risky move that risks prolonged market presence. In fact, this year I’d argue we need to take it a step further.

Set the scene with exterior curb appeal

Imagine potential buyers arriving at a home with a well-maintained lawn, fresh bark or rocks enhancing the landscaping and pretty bright flower pots at the entrance — a scene that immediately invites them to step inside.  

Now, take that and one-up it. I like to ensure any potential buyers are really looking out for the exterior appeal, like washing the front door and windows and removing screens for a clean look while keeping them handy for the sale. It adds a personal touch that sets the stage for a positive viewing experience and builds confidence in the buyer that the home has been well-maintained the whole time the homeowners were in it. These small details make a substantial impact.

Interior maintenance: the devil in the details

In 2024, buyers are not just seeking a house; they desire a home that has been lovingly maintained. For example, fresh paint, clean baseboards and consistently functioning lightbulbs all contribute to the overall appeal of a well-cared-for property. Addressing deferred maintenance issues becomes extremely important, as neglecting minor fixes can raise questions about the home’s overall condition. I also suggest a professionally cleaned and serviced mechanical system — a detail that speaks volumes about a property’s upkeep and resonates with potential buyers.

The magic of staging in action

Contrary to old-school belief, staging is not a luxury reserved for high-end listings; it’s a game-changer for homes at every price point. Partnering with a professional stager has the potential to elevate a property’s appeal significantly. Picture the power of clean and fresh linens, fluffy towels in bathrooms and a clutter-free kitchen — these personalized touches not only resonate with potential buyers but also add a sense of warmth and livability to the space.

As a listing agent, I pay for both a staging consultation and staging items as needed. I pay for the first month of staging for my clients. That allows time for professional photos of the home with the staging. Additionally, an open house and the majority of showings will be in the first 30 days. After the 30-day mark it’s up to the sellers if they want to keep paying for the staging but typically if the home is priced correctly, it will sell in the first 30 days in most markets. 

The positive atmosphere created by thoughtful staging prompts buyers to envision their future in the space, creating a subconscious excitement and positive conversation. Personal anecdotes attest to the fact that buyers often struggle to overcome feelings of unease when faced with cleanliness issues and deferred maintenance in a home; these factors can overshadow an otherwise perfect property. As a listing agent, I believe so strongly in staging homes that it is part of the value of working with a Realtor.

The staging investment: worth every penny

The concern about the costs associated with staging may give some sellers pause, but successful listing agents understand the tangible benefits that staging brings to the table. Even vacant homes need staging: stage the living, dining, primary and exterior space as needed and add in some art and decor. 

Staging is an investment that pays dividends, attracting more potential buyers, accelerating the selling process and frequently leading to higher offers. Covering the initial staging costs, as many listing agents do, underscores the commitment to ensuring a successful sale. Consider it not just as an expense, but as a strategic investment in the overall success of the home sale.

Overall, in 2024, cutting corners on staging is a risk that sellers cannot afford to take. Realtors play a pivotal role in educating their clients about the concrete benefits of effective staging. By prioritizing exterior and interior maintenance, collaborating with professional stagers and incorporating personal touches, Realtors can guide their clients toward successful home sales. The investment in staging isn’t just a financial decision — it’s a commitment to delivering a positive and memorable home buying experience for all parties involved. 

Jen Routon currently serves as president elect on the Board of Directors for the Denver Metro Association of Realtors.

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