Let Your Home Take Centre Stage

Property Styling

A great many things have changed about the way real estate is sold in Melbourne – and across Australia over the last decade or so. One of the biggest is the way a home is presented to potential homebuyers.

In days gone by, a home was usually sold either as a fairly empty vacant property or, if the current owners were still occupying the premises, one that was kept as neat and tidy as possible but still certainly had, in most cases, that ‘lived in’ look.

That was before the concept of professional home staging reached the public, home – buying consciousness. Now, influenced in large part by glossy images on social media – especially Instagram and Pinterest – and the shows that make up the programming of television channels like HGTV – the average home buyer expects the homes their real estate shows them to be as immaculately styled as the ones they have seen online. Which is where professional stagers come in.

The Value of Professional Staging

A professional stager is defined as a designer who specializes in creating those Instagram worthy interiors in homes for sale that buyers expect to see. Real estate agents have long advocated for home sellers to embrace home staging, but now, with almost as many professional home stagers working as there are real estate agents in some areas they are actively forming partnerships with these design pros to help ensure that their clients’ properties appeal to as many people as possible.

But aesthetics are far from the only reason that real estate agents are advising their clients to consider investing in professional home staging. The fact is, top agents say, is that no matter where the home is located, how large it is or what style of home it is, staged homes simply sell far better than their ‘unstaged’ counterparts. And not only do they sell faster, but at a significantly higher price, with many professionally staged properties realising 10-15% more at auction than expected.

The Logistics of Home Staging

For those properties that call for a ‘complete’ professional staging, it’s not uncommon for all of the home seller’s furniture to be removed, stored in a pod someplace, and then new, rental pieces are brought in to replace them. The best professional stagers are not just interior designers though, they differ in that they understand the mindset of the average buyer; what they will be looking for, what current decor trends might attract their eye and certainly what might turn a buyer off a property completely.

But given that professional staging is an additional investment should someone who has a ‘flair for design’ simply forego professional help and try their hand at a little DIY staging? For the most part, both home stagers and real estate agents say that’s a bad idea, as an eye for design is not all that is needed. The knowledge of just what buyers are hoping to see is equally important and the average home seller simply does not have that.

However, there are occasions when professional home stagers will work with homeowners to ‘partially stage’ a home. Some homes, the experts say, are, for the most part, very presentable and appealing and just have a few spaces that ‘need help’. Under these circumstances, a stager will just come in to add those ‘finishing touches’ that can make a lot of difference.

The Costs of Professional Home Staging

So how much is all of this likely to cost? The answer will vary from property to property and from real estate market to real estate market. On average though, a full staging on a one bedroom property in the Melbourne area, for example, comes out to around $2,000, with a larger five to six-bed property coming in at around $10,000.

That might sound like a lot at first but when one does the maths, it’s quite a bargain. The average one bedroom property in Melbourne sells for $550,000 to $600,000. If you can add just 10% to that price – as in $55,000 on the lower end of the average – the money spent on professional home staging is little more than pocket change.

The average staging contract runs for five to eight weeks, a period of time that is often just long enough for the property to garner the interest the owners – and their agents – need it too. And in some cases, should the homeowner love the staging pieces so much that they wish they could take them with them to their new place, that may indeed be a possibility.

Choosing a Professional Home Stager

As mentioned previously, many real estate agents are actively forming partnerships with professional home stagers. Choosing to work with them is not mandatory, and there is no rule that says a homeowner must choose the agent’s preferred vendor. However, as the agent would not be working with them had they not already enjoyed sales success as a result of their work it will often pay off – and pay off big time – to listen to the recommendation.

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