The Ultimate Guide to Staging Your Home

  • Hagen Bergstrom Team
  • 02/21/20

What Does Staging a House Mean?

If you’ve ever binge-watched HGTV home makeover shows, you’ve seen a staged home. This is the part in Fixer Upper when Joanna Gaines carefully arranges artfully-worn books on a shelf, selects the perfect mirror for the mantle, and repositions the sitting chairs to make the living space feel more open and inviting. She makes it look so easy! That’s the magic of TV. In reality, she, like all professional interior designers who stage homes, are highly skilled experts who understand that staging a home correctly takes developed craftsmanship, a keen eye for design, and all the right pieces. 

Staging a private residence is the act of preparing it for sale by improving the aesthetic appeal of the property inside and out. Whether this means replacing furnishings, adding greenery, or swapping outdated pieces for a more cohesive look, this process revamps the household in order to make it more appealing to potential buyers.

Reasons to Stage Your Home

First and foremost, you want to sell your home. Staging is a crucial step in the home selling process that shouldn’t be overlooked. A beautifully-staged home can make a property stand out in a saturated market. Accredited Staging Professionals are experienced designers who understand the nuance that a fresh coat of neutral-colored paint can add to a kitchen and can visualize a space’s potential (and often has a ready-made supply of accent pieces to make it real.) Professional stagers use their highly crucial skills to turn your home into a canvas to create a new masterpiece—one that is designed to sell. 
We spoke with John Jones of CaJo Design here in DC to hear his insight on the importance of staging a home in the Washington, DC real estate market. He says, “A National Association of Realtors® (NAR) survey found that the longer a home stays on the market, the further their price drops. Once staged, homes spend an average of 70% less time on the market!” When working with CaJo Designs, their staged homes spend an average of only 10 days on the market after staging, which is an incredible testimony to the power of knowledgeable interior design. 
Homes sell faster and for a higher price when they have been appropriately staged. According to the NAR, staged homes also frequently see an increase in selling price. 31% of buyer’s agents reported an increase between 1 and 5% on the offer price. That kind of return on investment drastically raises the value and importance of home staging. How and why does it work? According to Jones, “Many buyers have a difficult time seeing the potential in an empty home. Staging invites them to imagine what it would be like to live in the space.” 
When buyers are searching for potential homes, a space overwrought with personal trinkets can distract from its architectural beauty. Staging presents a cleaner slate. On the contrary, an empty house stripped of character can feel intimidatingly barren. When buyers can imagine their lives happening inside the walls of a house, that is when a sale is made. Without proper staging, it can be very difficult to envision a house becoming a home. 

How to Stage Your Home

By now, we can see that staging a home is more than adding fresh flowers to a delicate vase or fluffing the sofa pillows (although, that can certainly be a factor!). In this case, it’s often better to let the professionals handle things. 
Hiring a professional home stager takes the burden of redecorating off the seller, and their objective vision can see things homeowners might overlook. While you might love your comfy sectional for movie nights, it might not be the best furniture for a house on the market. Because people often form a deep attachment to their homes, it might be difficult to objectively view the space, which makes it incredibly beneficial to have a fresh set of eyes reimagine the living areas. Jones touches on this by saying, “Our homes represent who we are, and even if you have amazing taste and style your home is still personal to you.” How, then, does staging your home make a difference to potential buyers? “The goal of staging is to make the home speak to everyone else, in a compelling and positive way.” 
Sometimes, house staging professionals will recommend updating to the latest appliances to boost the value of the home. Stainless steel kitchen appliances, for instance, sell better than an outdated range or dishwasher. For the best results, sellers may need to store current furnishings in lieu of the rented pieces their home stagers suggest. In cases where all or most of the seller’s possessions are being replaced for staging, sellers might find the most comfort and success in moving out during the selling process. 

Tips for Staging a Home

1. Understand the Scope of Your Home Staging and Your Budget

In the world of home staging, there is an essential hierarchy of importance to understand. The guest bathroom is nowhere near as important as the master bedroom. Focus your efforts on the spaces that highly influence buyers—typically the kitchen, the master bedroom, and the living room. According to the NAR, the living room is overwhelmingly the most popular selection for staging. This is the room where people spend a majority of their waking hours congregating and relaxing, whereas buyers might not be as concerned about the decorative state of the laundry room. Each room added to the staging project increases the cost of the staging, so if your budget is limited, you’ll want to choose wisely. 

2. Find the Right Professional Stager 

It goes without saying that the most important part of staging a home is finding the right designer to work with. You’ll want to make sure you find someone who is experienced in the field. Perusing online portfolios and social media profiles are excellent ways to get to know a designer. CaJo Design features photos of previously-staged homes on their website for potential clients to review. That way, sellers know what they can expect from their services, the types of spaces they have experience staging, and what the end result might resemble. When you find it’s time to book a stager, consulting with listing agents and brokers is a surefire way to collect insightful recommendations. Choosing the right interior designer to stage your home can be the deciding factor in how successful a property is on the market—this is not a decision to take lightly! 

3. Prepare Your Home for Staging

Before the designers can come in with their brilliant furnishings and elegant décor, the house will need to be deep cleaned and decluttered. Overall, clutter is one of the primary culprits for keeping a house from its full potential. Organizing consultant Marie Kondo and her organizational KonMari method have become a global sensation, transforming the way people approach decluttering, and if there is a right time for someone to convert to her tried-and-true techniques, it’s when they’re selling a house. She suggests parting with anything that doesn’t spark joy, so it’s probably time to reconsider that sweater you were gifted but have never worn and the books collecting dust. Her tips include folding methods to maximize small storage spaces, approaches for each type of clutter, and recommendations for where to start organizing. 
Make sure that during your deep clean you don’t neglect the hiding holes. Potential buyers will undoubtedly be interested in the built-in storage, so don’t expect to get away with tucking things in the linen closet to be dealt with later. In the long run, it’s better to tackle this project sooner rather than later. You’ll thank yourself for the extra effort—and so will the buyers. 
Preparing a household for the real estate market takes time and effort, but hiring a professional stager can relieve some of that stress so that sellers can focus on their new endeavors. 
Selling your home doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With help from the right people, you can move onto bigger and better things without losing your hair in the process. When you’re ready to sell, reach out for more information on Kalorama real estate and houses for sale in Washington, DC.
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