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Does this sound familiar?
You have a beautiful listing that would be a fantastic investment for a buyer — yet it has dated paint colors, worn furniture, and too many accessories that will ultimately detract from the results you know you could achieve for your seller.
Most buyers will find it challenging to see past those things, especially when looking at photographs online where almost 90% of buyers begin their search. I’ve found the simple answer to getting the greatest number of buyers to a property — and achieving the maximum price for my sellers — is to stage it.
A perfect example of the difference staging makes is when my team listed an opulent waterfront home that had not been updated in 40 years. At first, the sellers did not want to stage. It had a great floor plan as well as stunning views, but after many showings and extended time on the market, we were faced with staging or a significant price reduction. The sellers opted for the former.
My staging partners edited the decor and accessories, brought in current furniture and rugs, and a painter who replaced dark jewel tones with light colors that drew buyers’ eyes to the dramatic water views. We had multiple offers over the list price within a week. The cost of staging would have been less than 1% of the seller’s net had we taken a price reduction.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that staging improves the outcome of my sales every time. Every single time. We all benefit from staging — both listing and buyer brokers alike. Listing agents net more for their sellers, and buyer agents don’t have to work as hard to find a property that will resonate with their clients. As all buyer brokers know, the majority of today’s buyers do not have the aptitude or time to do a lot of work. Here are my top recommendations to help our sellers and buyers in today’s market.
Help your clients see the value of staging
Many sellers don’t think their home needs to be staged or believe buyers prefer to make their own changes. In some cases, they’re uncomfortable having their belongings removed or replaced, so you must put them at ease.
Homeowners need to understand the powerful impact of staging. A staged home can sell up to 88% faster at a price up to 20% higher than an unstaged home. I’m so confident in the results that I include a financial contribution to staging in my marketing budget in case the costs pose a barrier for my clients.
Virtual staging doesn’t return the same value. While it can be an effective strategy to capture online buyers’ attention for new construction, virtually staging a home can result in disappointment when a prospect actually walks through the door.
When a stager impresses you, make an introduction
You also need a staging company that aligns with your vision. If you’re active on social media channels related to your local real estate market, you may notice that many brokers and sellers will credit stagers in their posts. Every time one of these images resonates with you, make a note of who the stager is. (And be sure to do the same with your own.)
Next, interview stagers to find out how much inventory they have, whether they use professional movers, and if they have insurance. If possible, go to their warehouse to see their inventory in person.
It’s also critical to understand their contract and fees. Typically, they’ll charge for their time, a mover’s fee, and a monthly rental fee based on how much inventory they bring. The contract may include contingencies stipulating how much notice is required to install and remove their goods.
The best decisions are made in person
Schedule a walk-through of the property with your stager and your seller to share the home’s unique qualities — as well as your client’s tolerance for change. This team tour of the home can build that trust and ensure the relationship feels comfortable for the seller.
A great relationship delivers great results
Sometimes it’s helpful to maintain a roster of several stagers. One may have a more fitting inventory for a particular listing, or the seller may have a preference based on what they’ve seen or heard.
But collaborating with the same stager and forming a strong working relationship is beneficial for many reasons. Notably, your trust in their process — and trust that they understand your expectations — comes from experience. Building results-based confidence in them is paramount for delivering beautiful, turnkey properties that will attract the most buyers and obtain the highest offers.
Linda MacDonald is a top producer who has sold over $450 million dollars in real estate, is an industry leader in marketing premier properties for Legacy Properties Sotheby’s International Realty with certifications in New Construction and Relocation, and has extensive experience with renovation and design. She enjoys the art and finesse of using cutting-edge technology and marketing to list homes for sellers and loves the challenge of finding the “perfect” house to meet the budget and lifestyle of her buyers. She enjoys giving back to her community by sponsoring local school organizations and teams and donating to Legacy’s Legacy with every transaction.
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