Selling guide

Selling Guide: the Importance of Home Staging

Home staging can help yield the highest price for your property.

As you adjust your expectations to what your house might sell for in the current market, it may be that you’re trying to decide whether or not to include home staging to help present your property. The cost – typically $3,000 to $4,500 for full staging over a period of four to six weeks – may seem like a big cost, but if your home is worth over $1 million, it’s still a relatively small outlay and will help set your property apart from the competition.

81 Tiber Street in Island Bay, Wellington

Ray White agent, Matt Ross, is marketing a beautifully renovated Wellington villa in Island Bay, which has attracted strong interest thanks to using premium home staging by Home Fusion. “The staging has helped showcase the quality of what the owners have done,” he says. 

The vendors selected striking art throughout the home from The Art Library, says Matt, the pieces they chose really stand out throughout the classy villa. The vendors were rewarded with 40 groups at the recent weekend’s half hour open home. 

“You want to be marketing to the best possible level. The home gets more attention, and the more people who are interested, the better,” says the Ray White agent. 

Using home staging depersonalises the home, making it ready for the next owners, reasons Matt. “The buyers should feel they’re not buying someone else’s home but they’re buying their new lifestyle,” he explains.

If you’re hoping for a certain price, use home staging say vendors

Mt Albert vendor, Anna, recently sold a stunningly-presented Mt Albert home as the market was turning and interest rates were on the rise. The attractive home was partially staged by Styled to Sell. When you opt for partial staging, some of the owner’s furniture stays and some pieces are supplemented by the home stager. “The market is so hard and the staging, I think, helped, especially when we were hoping to attract buyers at the $3 million price. I think, with homes like that, you need to sell the dream,” Anna says. 

“Having a home staged in a way that you’re able to see how it would work for your own situation has massive benefits. It also took the pressure off making rash buys that would work for this house but not for our next,” she adds. 

Liz, another Mt Albert vendor using Styled to Sell’s Salley Jefferies, recently sold her beautiful home in Challinor Crescent. The home’s renovation was relatively new and the owners had never fully furnished the property, so staging was a given, she says. 

The mother of two describes what home staging did for the property. “Salley was able to look at the house afresh and make certain features of the house pop,” says Liz. 

Was it all worth it? They sold on the night of the auction which was a big win in the current market. One buyer threw in a lovely opening bid and then there was negotiating after that, says Liz, whose agent was Ray White’s Rachel Berry. 

The vendor talked to a few home stagers before choosing Salley, who she says was happy to look at what furnishings they had, as well as bringing in her own touches. “A lot of staging companies focus on vacant houses, we were just wanting to make it look pretty,” says Liz.

Creating flow and usable space, say home stagers

What exactly are home stagers doing that’s so magical and transformative, they’re a no-brainer in the current tougher selling environment? Polished home stager, Kylie Telford, the go-to stylist of successful UP agent, Jennifer Temm-Munns, explains her approach.

“For me it’s about creating flow and cohesion throughout. People have a tendency to do one thing in one room and something different in another. I’m taking people on the journey, so all the rooms will have a similar look and feel,” she says.

Even a partial staging will help bring flow, she adds. Think about the furniture you have in your home. Often, you won’t have bought it for the room it’s ended up in, you’ve been given it or bought it for another home. Things can look a bit eclectic or mismatched, not many people buy and plan for a whole room, says Kylie.

Home staging makes a huge difference, she says. “So often people say they don't want to sell it now, they like what we’ve done so much. It’s that bit of planning and creativity, which puts it together. A lot of people don’t know how to use a room,” explains the Polished home stager.

What value will her handiwork add to the price achieved on a home for sale? Kylie thinks a minimum of $40,000, to $50,000 but normally around $350,000. “People will fall in love with the staging,” she says. Her fee is for five weeks of staging, and if the home stays on the market after six weeks then she charges 10% of the full cost per week.

Book your home stager as far in advance as you can, she advises. If you’re bringing your home to the market in the spring, start talking to them soon, she says.

Given good notice, she’ll start thinking ahead about certain pieces which will suit a house she’s staging, says Kylie.

The home stager prefers that people move out of the home when it’s staged so everything stays pristine for viewings and there are no cooking smells and so on. A lot of people choose to stay with friends, she says.

What message does not using home staging send?

“If you can’t do the home staging, then you need the money fast, that’s the message it’s sending buyers,” says Salley Jefferies from Styled to Sell.

Salley, who first started home staging with top Ray White agent Robyn Ellson and has gone on to work with a number of other Ray White agents including Rick Mozessohn and Rachel Berry, says at the moment, every little competitive edge counts.

‘I do spatial staging. It’s about making the space as usable as possible, so people can walk around in the open home and they’re not restricted, she adds.

“You really need to make the place stand out and appeal to a broad range of people,“ she adds. “If it looks as though it’s been loved, people get that.”

Salley supplies everything from linen, rugs, lamps, bedside tables and plants as well as bedroom settings. She brings in art and will often re-hang a lot of the owner’s art to get it working in a new room

Good art is really important, says the home stager, who hires pieces through a local art gallery. Her style of staging is quite modern though she loves mid century. Interview a few home stagers and see whose style you like, she suggests.

Good home staging “is about bringing in light,” says Salley. In winter, it’s about light, warmth and texture, she says. In spring, it’s more about creating an airy feeling, the promise of summer. In all seasons, she’ll have the outdoor furniture on display. People especially want the outdoor furniture out if they’ve created a new outdoor space, a deck, for instance.

Home staging can add significant value perception to a property, as it has to this Mt Eden home.

Home staging can add hundreds of thousands to a selling price, say agents

To those vendors who aren’t keen to pay the $3000 full home staging fee, Ray White agent Rick Mozzesohn says home staging adds hundreds of thousands to a home’s perceived value. Staging is most important for the photos, he adds.

In a market like this, homeowners try to skirt around thoroughly doing the marketing and staging. What you’ve got to remember is a home is the most expensive thing you’ll sell, so the $3,000 to $4,000 is well worth it, says Rick. .

On a nicely staged home in Mt Eden he’s had 80 to 90 groups through. The house needs work but people’s eyes are drawn to the staging and they’re giving a positive response. It might well contribute a few hundred thousand extra dollars to the achieved price, he says.

The Ray White Mt Eden agent rarely takes on a listing where the vendor isn’t on board about staging.

“Real estate’s subjective, we’re not selling cars, where every factor is controlled. With houses, no two properties are the same, even if they’re next door to each other in a development.” Every tiny change has an effect on the price, he claims. Art is key, for instance, and the agent also has music and custom scented candles at his open homes.

“Everyone is doing the same open homes, so it’s about how to stand out in a market that’s so saturated, by being better,” he says.

Rick helped a vendor sell her one bedroom apartment recently in Eden Terrace. The tenants in the investment home kept the place neat and tidy, had their furniture in there, and the seller wasn't getting any nibbles. Once the home was staged, it was a different story, they had nine offers in a week, says the Ray White agent.

The vendor, Kelly, explains: “Prior to the staging, the modern apartment was getting lots of hits online but nobody was falling in love with it, “ she says. When the home was staged, buyers were coming back for a second and third look.

“People didn’t have that emotional connection until it was staged,” adds Kelly. All those competing to buy, in the end, were owner occupiers, she notes.

After this home was staged by Polished Home, the estate agents noticed a difference in buyers returning for another look.

According to UP agent, Jennifer Temm-Munns, home staging is imperative right now. And $3000 on a $1.5 million home is not a big outlay, she says.

The market is extraordinarily tough, there’s a lot of property on, and first home buyers are used to homes being presented with a certain standard of interiors, like the homes they see on the TV series, The Block, for example. “They’re very visual, people are making decisions remotely so the photos have to be very good,” adds Jennifer.

Home staging in the lower to medium price range is especially important, she says, pointing to a current listing at 2/260 Meola Road in Pt Chevalier, staged by Polished.

Bayleys Remuera agent Colleen Harris is another advocate of home staging. She’s seen it work time and time again.

“People buy with their eyes first,” she says. Colleen had a client in Mt Eden who renovated her home and, when staged, the home fetched a premium price which Colleen puts down to the styling from Amazing Interiors.

The Bayleys agent is currently marketing a home which has been transformed by staging in Mellons Bay.