Staging versus an empty home | Just Ask Jan

Dear Jan: The moving company will be here at the first of the month and move our belongings to our new home out of state. At that time, we will clean our home here and put it on the market. The house will be empty. Will that be OK for showings? — LJA

Dear LJA: Selling a home is all about location, price and condition. The saying is, “First impressions are everything.” If your empty home is freshly painted throughout and super clean, you might be able to get away with a blank slate. But if you really want to “wow” a buyer, staging is very important.

There are two degrees of staging. The most common one that Realtors use is to have the home professionally staged. Most stagers are interior designers and have an eye for what the home needs to make it warm and appealing to buyers. A buyer needs to “picture their own belongings” in the home, so it must be well done. The stager brings in furniture, including a couch, dining table, a master bed, pillows and nick knacks; and bedding and towels in designer colors to catch the eye. Every broker is different. Some brokers pay the stager, others charge the seller for the staging.

The other choice a broker or stager will use is call “vignette staging.” Instead of a house full of staging items, just a few items are brought in to paint the picture. The kitchen will have towels, hot pads, bottles of oil, that kind of thing. The bathroom will have towels and a pretty vase. It dresses up things without too much cost.

I find that staging really makes a difference. I am convinced that it has helped sell the last couple of the homes I listed. When working with buyers, I always hear “Oh, look how cute that is” when we walk into a staged home. I am so much a believer that I am known to ask my stager to meet with my sellers to perhaps give them a pointer or two. This has worked well for me.

My professional opinion is to do a vignette at the minimum and full-blown staging if your home needs the extra help. Go ahead and wow them!

— Jan Zufelt is a broker for John L. Scott Real Estate in Kingston.

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