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What’s home staging and should you be doing it?

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Written by Stefan Kostarelis

“Home staging”, or “real estate styling” as it is commonly known in Australia, is the process of making a vendor’s home as attractive and desirable as possible.

This may involve taking simple measures such as sprucing up existing furnishing or something more dramatic like renting furniture for a vacant property.

The earliest mention of the term dates back to 1972 when a U.S. interior designer and realtor named Barb Schwarz staged her first home for a client. That home had been listed for six months without a bite but sold soon after the staging.

Seeing the potential, Schwarz later created the website stagedhomes.com and has gone on to train around a million real estate agents in the art of staging properties. In addition, she has logged over 17,000 hours speaking and written a book called “Home Staging – The Winning Way to Sell Your House”.

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Although the idea may have started back in the 1970s, it didn’t really hit Australian shores till about twenty years ago.

In 2014, Domain spoke to Katrina Maes, who started a Melbourne home staging company in the early 2000s.

She told Domain that back in those days it had been difficult to get real estate agencies interested.

“They just didn’t see the value in it, she said. “It wasn’t until they experienced people going through and enjoying the house and seeing the competition it created that they asked us to go back.”

However, Maes did go on to point out that she had gotten excellent results from staging, sharing that she sold a staged property for about $60,000-$70,000 above asking price. The cost of staging that property was around $3350, she added.

In the last few years, home staging has really taken off in Australia, and SA is no exception. According to Houzz, there are currently 31 home stylists and property stagers available within 50 kilometres of Adelaide city.

At first, it may seem as if home staging is something only for the rich and famous. However, this is not necessarily the case.

Sara James of the Perth Style Company told Domain that among the many misconceptions about real estate styling, the most common are that it is exclusively for luxury abodes and too expensive for most people to afford.

For example, most services will offer a consultation that will range in price from absolutely free to in the neighborhood of a couple of hundred dollars.

Consultations by Adelaide-based Upstaged Home staging currently start from $250 and take approximately two hours.

According to Upstaged’s website, that consultation includes a room-by-room walkthrough, furniture, color, lighting and cleaning suggestions and a prioritized “to do list” for clients.

Post consultation, you can either go ahead with some of the suggestions yourself or discuss pricing options for having Upstaged help.

The amount you spend will depend on your budget and the total size and value of your property. Since home stagers are aware that everyone’s needs are different, you should have no trouble finding one that can help you.

Perhaps the question is not whether you can afford to but whether you can afford not to. After all, if a house doesn’t sell it can lead to low offers as the listing gets stale and buyers wait for price reductions.

It today’s competitive real estate market, agents and For-Sale-By-Owner (FSBO) sellers must use a variety of techniques to successfully sell houses. At the same time, social media and sites such as realestate.com.au have made the industry an increasingly visual one.

In short, looks matter in real estate so home staging is something that is definitely worth investigating.

In my next post, I’ll look at some home staging tips that you can try on your own.