Do You Need to Stage Your Florida Home?
“Do I really need to pay to stage my Florida home?” is a common question Realtors receive from sellers. And it’s understandable that this discretionary expense may be something the seller wants to forego.
Sellers already feel tapped out from paying pre-inspection expenses and paying for delayed maintenance and upkeep, when prepping to put their Florida home on the market. But Realtors’ experience with staging and the emerging data suggests that it’s not an item that a seller should quickly dismiss.
More and more, Realtors and sellers are realizing the benefits of pre-market staging of Florida homes, both financially and in terms of days on market.
Diane Fryman, Realtor for PalmerHouse Properties in St. Petersburg, Florida notes, “I see a discernible positive response to staged homes from my buyers. Sometimes a blank canvas is NOT good for a buyer – the staging shows them the possibilities of the space. It creates a mood that the buyer responds to.”
Indeed, staging could create a discernible mood, such as a cool, modern vibe and a welcoming, comfortable feeling.
Staging a Home Shows Possibility
“In our own anecdotal experience as Realtors,” Barb Rowland recounts “from a seller’s standpoint, we have seen that our staged homes move faster than non-staged homes in Florida, all other things being equal. And interestingly enough, post-listing staging has also helped us move homes quicker – the homes that have been sitting empty and idle for a while seem to move quickly after the seller stages it.”
Why would that be?
Suzanne Feese, Barb’s partner and Realtor for PalmerHouse Properties, says, “Staging a home helps create a more emotional purchase for the Buyer. Creating an evocative feeling in the home cannot be discounted. Home purchases are emotional at the core.”
Barb says, “We have recognized the positive impact of staging, and we are partnering with a stager in our St. Pete market, to obtain scale and offer discounted staging services for our St. Pete clients.”
Statistics of Staging a Home
Are there statistics that support this experience? You bet. According to the National Association of Realtors, “for every $100 invested in staging, the potential return is $400.
A staged home will sell for 17% more on average than a non-staged home, and 95% of staged homes sell in 11 days or less. That is statistically 87% faster than non-staged homes.”
More recent data compiled by Home Staging Statistics show a similar result. According to Home Staging Statistics, “94% of staged homes sell on average in 29 days or less.”
Realtor.com finds that, “On average, staged homes sell 88% faster and for 20% more than nonstaged homes, which is nothing to sneeze at.”
Staging a Home Pays Off
So the data seems consistent, but does the math hold up?
“Staging the major rooms in a moderate-sized home (2000sf) may cost about $2,000 to $2,800 minimum, with a monthly renewal fee of $500 to $800 after three months,” according to Joy Mobley, a Home Stager and Realtor for PalmerHouse Properties.
Joy says, “Stats show that you could reap a 17% to 20% higher sales price; about a $50k to $60k return on a $300k home, for a mere $3-4k staging investment. As as a former financial advisor, I would tell my clients to make that investment all day long.”
Melissa Davis, Realtor for PalmerHouse in St. Petersburg, Florida, echoes the sentiment. “We understand that sellers may feel reluctant to stage their Florida home; however, the truth is in the numbers. Many reliable data sources, along with our own experience, attest to potentially enhanced results in terms of days on market and higher sales prices, on average.”
“It’s a game changer” according to Fryman, who also helps investors buy and sell. She says “My investors instinctively know that staging their flips, and tasteful staging of AirBnB properties, may provide more margin on their properties. For them, it’s business as usual to stage their homes, and it doesn’t cost a lot to do it well.”
You’ve heard it from the experts – staging your Florida home is a crucial marketing element that may reap profit!
How to Stage Your Florida Home
So, what constitutes good staging? Joy Mobley outlines her basic guidelines for staging:
1. Neutral Furniture Color
Keep the large upholstered pieces of furniture white or light beige. It makes the room seem larger.
2. Large Rugs
Use a larger rug than you normally would in the main living area, to make the living space seem larger. Keep to a natural tan rug with minimal pattern (sisal is always a good choice). If you choose a patterned rug, think soft, soothing colors, rather than chaotic, contrasting colors.
3. Balanced Pillows and Accessories
In the main living space, use patterns on pillows and accessories only. I generally use the failproof combination of tan and light gray accessories with a white or off-white sofa. The combination of cool gray and warm tan provides balance.
4. Coastal Decor
In coastal areas, accessories would naturally tend toward aqua and pale blues. Avoid theme décor (just a few sea shells, mind you). Focus mainly on texture (woven throws on sofa, natural wicker, white backgrounds with natural wood elements, and tropical greenery).
5. Low Contrast Color
Stick to low contrast, neutral color combinations in main areas, i.e. white with gray and tan or white with light blue, instead of say, black and white. Low contrast is easier on the eye and more soothing.
Bring nature into the home – tasteful elements of greenery and even a cowhide rug in a small office or dining area provide natural elements.
In terms of artwork, tend toward abstracts or simple landscapes or seascapes. Artwork for staging should not make a statement in and of itself – it should complement the calming environment you’ve created.
8. Modern Millennials
To potentially appeal to millennials, we use modern shapes for accessories, lamps and tabletop accessories. A round mirror over a mantle is always a good choice, flanked with a little greenery.
No overhead light in bedrooms, living rooms and home office – lamp light only, where possible.
If using books to populate shelves, wrap them in brown paper, to reduce distracting patterns.
Fragrance-scaping is emerging as an important feature, as long as the scent is subtle and not strong. Citrus, Pine, Jasmine, Cinnamon and Vanilla are go-tos for creating calm, well-being and mood boosting.
If in doubt, just keep it simple, calming and low contrast.
These elements could be incorporated in a do-it-yourself staging, if a Seller wants to tackle the staging themselves.
Final Designer Thoughts on Home Staging
Joy says, “For Sellers who are still living in their home, it may simply be a matter of de-personalizing, de-cluttering and deep cleaning. We often reorganize existing furniture, along with adding items from our inventory to create an environment that would appeal to a buyer. Since condos tend to be small, we often simply populate the shelves in an empty condo’s living room with books and accessories, since furniture may cause the main living area to look smaller, and then furnish a bedroom. Vacant single-family homes, however, would ideally be staged – usually the main living area, dining room, kitchen, a bedroom and an office (if there is one). Staging highlights the best features of the home and downplays the not-so appealing features, while creating a welcome home feeling.”
Sell Your Florida Home
Barb and her team at PalmerHouse Properties will be happy to work with you to determine which staging option is best for you. Feel free to contact them at their St. Petersburg, Florida office at 404-314-9092.
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