If there’s one bit of advice that practically all real estate agents give to their clients it’s this; staging your home before showing it to buyers will increase its price.
A recent study however has shown that staging, which is strategic decoration of a home to make it more appealing to buyers, may not be as important as most realtors think and, in most cases, won’t raise the sale price of a home significantly.
In a recent study of 820 homeowners who took several different “virtual tours” through a single home, with each tour being “decorated” differently, the results found by the College of William and Mary’s Vicky Seiler, co-author of the study, found that wall color, furnishings and other staged upgrades really didn’t matter.
The study, which was titled “The Impact of Staging Conditions on Residential Real Estate Demand”, took participants through different virtual tours where they saw, for instance, the same home without furniture, with “ugly” furniture, with “good” furniture and with two different color variations.
What the study showed was that, whether the home had “ugly” furniture or was painted in an “ugly” color, the buyers were willing to pay approximately same price.
“(Staging) choices do not appear to have a significant effect on the actual revealed market value of the property,” the study’s authors wrote. “These results stand in stark contrast to the conscious opinion of both buyers and real estate agents that staging conditions significantly impact willingness to pay for a home.”
Seiler, who agreed that sellers would not be happy about hearing that the money they spent on staging won’t yield a higher price for their home, also was quick to say that “I am definitely not ready to say spending money on staging would be a waste.”
The reason was that he found that a home’s “livability” was increased by staging and might be a factor in helping it to sell faster. She also agreed that, depending on the location and the price point, the study might not be particularly applicable.
“It seems plausible that different clientele might be differentially influenced by staging,” Seiler says. “It also seems reasonable to suspect different staging looks would appeal to different tastes and preferences of people.”
There are certainly plenty of realtors who believe fervently in staging. Alexis Moore, a broker for Blackstone Realty Group in El Dorado Hills, California, says that “staging is a must,” adding that “most sellers don’t want to spend money. But they should because, in the end, it is well worth it.”
While the study shows staging didn’t make a huge difference in buyers opinions, the fact is that it was a “virtual” tour and, in a real-world scenario, the outcome might have been quite different. For many realtors around the country the belief is that staging is not just valuable but vital to getting a better price for one’s home.
In the end, it might just come down to how much staging costs as opposed to how much more money a seller could eventually make because of it. Those numbers however aren’t exactly easy to specify.