What is home staging? Let’s create a clearly defined process.
I routinely hear from potential Realtor customers that they already stage their listings. When I hear this, I usually understand this to be what is often referred to, by other stagers, as vignette staging. This is where the agent, or a “stager” brings in a couple of boxes of accessories, artwork, and maybe a couple of fake trees. For the team at Rave Home Staging, we understand that while they are calling it staging, it rarely meets the requirements necessary for staging.
So what are the requirements for home staging?
Let’s give a basic, clear, definition of home staging.
Staging creates a measurable, marketable, change in the perceived value to the potential buyer.
While there have traditionally been three levels of recognized staging in our industry, today there are actually four.
Vignette Staging. The lowest and least effective type of staging.
This is what I mentioned earlier as a technique often done by Realtors. It’s usually a few items brought in to soften the kitchens and bathrooms. It includes a shower curtain, towels, small plants, and a few accessories, then similar types of items brought into the kitchen. It rarely includes anything larger than an individual can fit in any small or compact car and carry by themselves.
Now, let’s apply our definition (rule) to this type of staging. Does adding a couple of boxes of Home Goods decor to a house create a measurable, marketable, change in perceived value of the property? Are buyers emotionally inspired? Do they believe the value of the house has gone up? Do these things make the house feel aspirational? Sadly, the answer is, “NO!”. Vignette staging can add character and life to an otherwise empty, cold space. It does NOT create an addition in perceived value. Never has a buyer walked in and thought that the house was worth more money because of a few kitchen canisters and kitchen island set with place settings, including fancy napkin folding in the wine glasses.
With this said. While vignette staging has always been viewed as a low-end category of staging, it’s actually just decorating.
Partial or key room Staging. Frequently considered the “standard” of staging.
This is where only a few rooms of the house are staged, usually including the living room, dining room, eat-in kitchen, master bedroom, and master bath. Sometimes it will include few rooms, or more rooms, depending on both the house, and the staging company.
So, does partial staging meet the definition? Can it create measurable, marketable changes in perceived value? Yes. Yes, it can. While there are many spaces left out, possibly leaving opportunity, and money, out of the equation, partial staging is often a low cost way to make the most out of a vacant property.
Full Home Staging. The Best Return on Investment for Vacant Homes.
This is where all of the interior rooms of the house are staged. While usually the most expensive method of staging, if combined with cutting edge techniques like utilizing demographics and psychographics along with architecture understanding, then this is actually where you will earn your highest return on investment in selling your property.
Hands down this is the best use of the criteria of home staging, as it clearly identifies each space, within the house, showcasing lifestyle and luxury, often creating spaces that buyers believe to be worth tens of thousands of dollars more, than if they were left empty. The illusion is held throughout the house, unlike partial staging, and any awkward layouts are usually unrecognizable.
Virtual Staging – A fourth category has snuck into real estate recently.
Virtual staging – Unlike any of the three previous staging techniques, is completely digital. There isn’t even a single box brought out to the house, and frequently it’s being done by someone who isn’t even in the state, or country. In this case, virtual staging only provides enhanced photos of what a room could potentially be.
Before I address whether this type of staging meets our definition, I have one other questions… Is virtual staging ethical?
According to the HAR (Houston Association of Realtors) website, the overwhelming assertion is that Realtors MUST disclose that the photos are virtual and the furniture is approximate in size. This is because, in a virtual world, you can easily manipulate a sofa to suddenly become a 72″ 3-seater sofa, when it started off as an 84″ long one. This could falsely indicate what will realistically comfortably fit into a space. You can also digitally add larger pieces of furniture than can physically be moved into a space. Ex: some older properties don’t have the ability to move king box springs through hallways or windows, allowing only queen size beds or smaller. This is not something that may even be considered when virtual staging.
So, now let’s break into our definition. Does virtual staging meet the requirement of creating a measurable, marketable change in perceived value. It absolutely brings more people through the door. This means that it meets the criteria of measurable and marketable. However, when a buyer gets to the house, it is still empty. There is no lifestyle represented. There is no warmth, no flow, or floor plan layout. The house no longer feels aspirational. So, for this, I would have to rank it as “maybe”. Simply by getting more people to the house, the odds are increased that an offer will be placed. It’s also possible that buyers will be incredibly let down when they get there. A common phrase we hear with virtual staging is, bait and switch.
Are you thinking of staging your house, your investment property, or your listing?
Consider that the cost of each of these techniques varies, both by the amount of stuff brought in, the reputation of the staging company, and the length of contract. When deciding what kind of staging is right for you, be sure not to judge based just on cost, but also on return on investment. Which type of staging will provide the best bang for your buck? Which will bring in more potential buyers, in the shortest time possible, and which will overcome the most objections? Finally, which staging company, and service, creates the best aspirational lifestyle to the buyer most likely to purchase the property. The most a buyer loves the property, the more they pay, regardless of actual comps.
Rave Home Staging only offers full home staging because we know it has the highest level of ROI. We use a proprietary system of staging based on architecture, demographics, and psychographics (thinks & lives) of the most likely buyer. For questions, or to schedule a staging appointment, please call 904-379-5523.