Rick BissonHomes are personal—life-sized representations of the cultural background, experiences, and passions of those living inside. However, a highly-personalized living space is not necessarily the best way to portray a home when it’s time to sell. While each collection of artwork, figurines, or glassware have a special meaning, these collections may hinder the buyer’s vision and draw their attention away from the focal point – the house.

The moment the decision is made to sell, a commitment must be made to transform the home into a place that potential buyers can easily picture as their own. One way to accomplish this transformation is staging the home in a compelling and positive way so it sells quickly and for top dollar.

According to the National Association of Realtors 2017 Profile of Home Staging, 62 percent of sellers’ agents surveyed say that staging a home decreases the amount of time a home spends on the market. Thirty-nine percent said that it greatly decreases the time and 23 percent said it slightly decreases the time.

“Realtors know how important it is for buyers to be able to picture themselves living in a home and, according to NAR’s most recent report, staging a home makes that process much easier for potential buyers,” said NAR President William E. Brown. “While all real estate is local, and many factors play into what a home is worth and how much buyers are will to pay for it, staging can be the extra step sellers take to help sell their home more quickly and for a higher dollar value.”

Seventy-seven percent of buyers’ agents said that staging a home makes it easier for buyers to visualize the property as their future home, and 40 percent are more willing to walk through a staged home they first saw online. However, 38 percent of buyers’ agents said that staging positively affects a home’s value if the home is decorated to the buyer’s taste, meaning that a home’s staging should be designed to appeal to the largest number of potential buyers.

The highest share of buyers’ agents, 31 percent, reported that staging a home increases its dollar value by 1 to 5 percent. Thirteen percent said that staging increases the dollar value 6 to 10 percent.

Sellers’ agents report even more value is added from staging: 29 percent reported an increase of one to five percent in dollar value offered by buyers; 21 percent reported an increase of 8 to 10 percent; and 5 percent reported an increase of 11 to 15 percent.

Realtors representing both buyers and sellers agreed that the living room is the most important room in a home to stage, followed by the master bedroom, kitchen, and then the yard or outdoor space.
Beyond staging, agents also named the most common home improvement projects they recommend to sellers: Ninety-three percent recommend decluttering the home,;89 percent recommend an entire home cleaning; and 81 percent recommend carpet cleaning. Other pre-sale projects include depersonalizing the home, removing pets during showings and making minor repairs.

The goal of home staging is to depersonalize and declutter a home to accentuate the architecture and space so a buyer wants to move in right away. The range of projects involved in staging a home may include tasks such as cleaning, removing and rearranging furniture, packing up belongings, and remodeling an entire room. Staging can be performed by the homeowner, with the help of a friend who has a knack for interior design or by a professional stager.

If you, or someone you know, is considering selling a home, talk with your trusted Realtor first. Their experience and advice in preparing an home for sale will pay great dividends toward getting you top dollar in the shortest amount of time possible.

This column is produced by Rick Bisson and his family, who own Bisson Real Estate with Keller Williams Realty of Midcoast and Sugarloaf.