Staging and professional photos create the best first impression of a home, which helps to pre-sell the buyer. It makes them want to get there faster to confirm they’ve found the right house for them. How much does staging add to the price? Hard to put a specific number on it, but you should have more offers faster. What drives the eventual price in this market is how the listing agent handles multiple offers.
WASHINGTON (April 6, 2021) – A new survey from the National Association of Realtors® reveals that home staging continues to be a significant part of the home buying and selling process.
The biennial report, the 2021 Profile of Home Staging, examines the elements of home staging, including the perspectives of both buyers’ and sellers’ agents, the role of television programing and the expectations of buyers.
“Staging a home helps consumers see the full potential of a given space or property,” said Jessica Lautz, NAR’s vice president of demographics and behavioral insights. “It features the home in its best light and helps would-be buyers envision its various possibilities.”
Buyers’ agents overwhelmingly agreed, as 82% said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home.
These agents also said that visuals themselves are helpful, even more so in relation to buying a house during the coronavirus outbreak. Eighty-three percent of buyers’ agents said having photographs for their listings was more important since the beginning of the pandemic. Seventy-four percent of buyers’ agents said the same about videos, and 73% said having virtual tours available for their listings was more important in the wake of COVID-19.
“At the start of the pandemic, in-person open house tours either diminished or were halted altogether, so buyers had to rely on photos and virtual tours in search of their dream home,” said Lautz. “These features become even more important as housing inventory is limited and buyers need to plan their in-person tours strategically.”
Staging also increased the sum buyers were willing to spend for a property, according to the report. Twenty-three percent of buyers’ agents said that home staging raised the dollar value offered between 1% and 5%, compared to similar homes on the market that hadn’t been staged.
Coincidently, the response from sellers’ agents was nearly identical, as 23% reported a 1% to 5% price increase on offers for staged homes.
Eighteen percent of sellers’ agents said home staging increased the dollar value of a residence between 6% and 10%. None of the agents for sellers reported that home staging had a negative impact on the property’s dollar value.
Moreover, 31% said that home staging greatly decreased the amount of time a home spent on the market.
Exactly which parts of a home to stage vary, although living rooms (90%) and kitchens (80%) proved to be the most common, followed closely by master bedrooms (78%) and dining rooms (69%). As many workers were forced to work from home due to the pandemic, 39% staged a home office or office space.
Television programing played a noticeable role in how buyers viewed a potential property, according to Realtors®. Agents surveyed said that typically 10% of buyers believed homes should look the way they appear on TV shows. Sixty-three percent said buyers requested their home look like homes staged on television. Sixty-eight percent of Realtors® reported that buyers were disappointed by how homes appeared compared to those seen on TV shows.
In some cases, agents found that TV shows could influence a buyer’s perspective about a home. Seventy-one percent of respondents said that TV shows that depict the buying process impacted their business by setting unrealistic or increased expectations. Sixty-one percent said that TV programs set higher expectations of how homes should look, while 27% said that TV shows result in more educated home buyers and sellers.
“The magic of television can make a home transformation look like it happened in a quick 60-minute timeframe, which is an unrealistic standard,” said NAR President Charlie Oppler, a Realtor® from Franklin Lakes, N.J., and broker/owner of Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty. “I would advise buyers and sellers alike that before house hunting or before listing, they connect with a trusted Realtor® to get a reasonable sense of what’s out there and an idea of what to expect.”
Eight-one percent of those surveyed said buyers had ideas about where they wanted to live and what they wanted in an ideal home (76%) before they began the buying process.
Forty-five percent of surveyed Realtors® said they have seen no change in the share of buyers who planned to flip a home in the last five years, while 42% said they had.
Also, 59% said they have seen an increase in the buyers who planned to remodel a home in the last five years, while 34% said they have seen no change. Agents surveyed said that typically 25% of buyers who plan to remodel will do so within the first three months of owning their home.
Watch your TV placement when staging a home. Real estate professionals faced with the issue are divided over where in the living room a TV should go—or even whether it belongs there at all.
Hayley Westoff, a Compass real estate professional, told Apartment Therapy that if the TV setup feels wrong, buyers could be turned off by the space. After all, buyers want to visualize themselves living inside a home, and watching TV is a big part of many people’s lives.
On the other hand, Allison Chiaramonte, a Warburg Realty agent in New York, doesn’t see the presence of a TV as a critical matter when staging a space. A TV shouldn’t be the focus, she says.
“While some think keeping a television in the living room at an open house is crucial, others say it takes away from the taste of the home,” Antonia DeBianchi writes on Apartment Therapy. “It’s a problem that sellers don’t seem to talk about, and its solution isn’t the clearest, either.”
When a room is awkwardly laid out, it could add to the challenges. For example, above a fireplace is a common spot for TVs, but if a mantle is too high or the fireplace is on the diagonal, its placement could feel unrealistic or awkward.
“Rearranging the furniture, and putting either a TV or mirror where the TV would go … really helps the buyer visualize what that setup would look like,” Westoff told Apartment Therapy.
Also, if the TV is outdated, many real estate pros suggest removing it. “If you have a really old, thick, crazy TV, it definitely makes people wonder why it’s not upgraded and wonder what else in the house might not be upgraded,” Chiaramonte told Apartment Therapy.
The best compromise: Have the TV blend in. If it’s mounted in a cabinet, close the cabinet if you can. If sellers have a giant TV, try to tone it down by tuning it to soundless images showing nature or peaceful scenery so it shows more as art.
It became obvious at the open houses that people didn’t feel the need to explore the backyard – they just looked out from the house to get their feel. But the hedge in the middle blocked some of the view, and to fully appreciate the size of the backyard, you need to see past it.
It’s common that buyers are in a hurry and may not fully explore the potential, so let’s help them with the vision of what’s possible:
One of the main positives about this property is how suitable it is for adding a granny flat, and still have big yards for both. Originally, we thought the hedge might help to differentiate the two possible locations, but if buyers aren’t going to walk out for a look, let’s make sure the extra-large yard is visible from the house!
The other concern is that buyers aren’t used to seeing homes built in the 1970s.
These are literally the oldest houses in South Carlsbad, and $800,000 is the entry-level. The 2019 median sales price within a half-mile of my listing is $1,072,500, so for those who want a larger, newer home with more upgrades (but smaller yard + HOA), they are certainly available – you just have to pay more.
Here’s another example of the 1978 variety – and this is probably our main competition. It has upgrades, but the fancy stuff doesn’t change the floor plan and the yard is almost 5,000sf smaller:
Entry level means sacrifices, and the temporary inconveniences at my listing can all be fixed with money!
This is why it’s important to see properties in person – we are less confident than ever that the online photos can be trusted. From the WSJ:
Real-estate listing photos have always accentuated the positive, but computer-generated imagery of the sort Hollywood uses has now become so cheap and prolific that home sellers are taking out walls, removing ugly paneling and even adding digital swimming pools.
At the same time, photos are more important than ever: Nearly every home search begins online and deals are often struck without in-person showings, particularly among investors who are putting photos through their own algorithms to price homes as they make an unprecedented move into the U.S. housing market.
The technology allows sellers to green browned lawns, stage rooms with virtual furniture like digital dollhouses and even perform full-blown HGTV-style makeovers with clicks of a mouse.
The hazards to buyers range from disappointment when they arrive for in-person showings to blown renovation budgets. That could prove an especially thorny issue for investors, who may need to retrain computer models they use to comb through listings for houses that are good candidates to turn into rentals or flips.
Risks associated with doctored listing photos could spread beyond sight-unseen buyers. Federal rule makers are considering a proposal to open up more of the home-appraisal business to computers that generate property values partly by scraping online listing photos to gauge condition and finishes.
The computer-generated images are so good these days that humans have trouble spotting them. That’s causing problems for regional broker cooperatives, known as multiple listing services, that serve as repositories for property listings and sales data.
At a recent conference for brokers in New York, an executive from property photo-editing firm BoxBrownie.com Pty Ltd. urged agents to post altered photos side-by-side with the originals. However, Peter Schravemade, the Australian firm’s strategic relationship manager, said that labeling augmented images has occasionally gotten agents in trouble while altered images without disclosures have slipped past listing-site overseers.
For $1.60 per image, BoxBrownie will punch up pictures of a house for sale, making dull skies blue, patching lawns and maybe popping photorealistic flames into fireplaces. It charges $2.40 to change wall colors and $24 to swap out flooring. Starting at $64, it will virtually renovate a room to produce a marketing image that looks realistic but nothing like the real thing.
“We’re like Photoshop on steroids,” BoxBrownie co-founder Brad Filliponi said of the popular photo-editing program.
The ease and extent to which images can be altered has brokers and the organizations that police listings wondering where to draw the line on augmented images.
The National Association of Realtors code of ethics requires agents to present a “true picture in their advertising, marketing and other representations,” which extends to listing photos, a spokeswoman said. Donald Epley, a retired University of South Alabama real-estate professor who helped write national appraisal standards, said misleading photos are no different than fudging the square-footage or misstating the number of bedrooms in listings.
“This is a really new technology,” said Denee Evans, chief executive of the Council of Multiple Listing Services, a trade organization. “It’s just starting to bubble up questions as to where is that line.”
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