Should you Stage your Bay Area Home?

One of the perennial questions I get from sellers is: should I stage my house when I put it on the market?

It seems like it’s a question as old as time. Of course, the concept of home staging hasn’t been around quite that long, although it has been around just about as long as I’ve been alive.

While I suppose it’s possible that Babylonian REALTORS were staging their listings millennia ago, staging in the “modern” era got going in the early 1970s, when an interior-decorator-turned REALTOR named Barbara Scwharz began decking out her listings so that they would look more appealing, and thereby sell faster and at higher prices.

Barb went on to create the International Association for Home Staging Professionals (IAHSP) and founded – purportedly the first website dedicated to the art of home staging.

Most people think of “staging” as renting furniture and placing it artfully about the home. In practice, the placement of carefully selected furniture is really just the icing on the cake. Staging a home really goes much further than that.

I consider “home staging” to be anything that dresses up the home to enhance it’s appeal in the marketplace. The truth is that very few people live in their homes the way those homes are sold.

Come to think of it, I have never once heard a stager say, “I’m going for that lived-in look.”

Staging is perhaps better thought of as a process, that takes a home from that “lived-in look” to something much closer to a “model home” – what a brand new, upgraded, and professionally styled and furnished home would look like in an upscale development.

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That brand-new, decked-out, upscale model home is in fact what has the widest market appeal. Almost every buyer would prefer to buy one of these homes, if it were in the area the buyer wants to live, at a price they can afford.

In the Bay Area however, there are very few such homes in the established neighborhoods close to amenities most buyers prefer. And on the relatively rare occasion when centrally located new construction does come up for sale, the price is typically significantly in excess of what most buyers can pay.

What buyers can afford though is older homes that have been made over to have a similar look and feel to those brand-new, gorgeous model homes. And yes, buyers will pay a premium for homes that come closer to that ideal.

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Which is why it does pay off for you as a seller to “stage” your home: by doing so, you create more demand for your property. And what happens to a commodity when demand increases? The price goes up. Of course.

Which isn’t to say that you need to stage your home. You can sell your home in any condition. With the right strategy, marketing, and negotiation you can do very well on the sale of your home, staging be damned.

Just not quite as well as you would if you carefully staged it for maximum market appeal.

If you need any help deciding to what degree you should stage your home, please feel free to contact me any time. I’m happy to talk it over with you.

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About the Author
Seb Frey helps long-time Bay Area homeowners make their next move easily the next one yet. If you're looking for a minimum of hassle, maximum net cash on sale, and certain results, contact Seb today.