Staging Boosts Home Sales, Strengthens Real Estate Market in Northern Virginia
The flourishing home staging industry is assisting the real estate market in boosting home sales. Washington area staging companies in particular are enjoying tremendous success, expediting the sale of staged homes to the relief of agents and sellers alike.
Home staging is simply the aesthetic preparation of homes on the market through improved interior design. Stagers are akin to interior decorators in their use of furniture, rugs, artwork and other accessories to highlight the best qualities of a home. But, the role of stagers goes above and beyond decorating: stagers recreate the look and feel of sellers’ homes so that potential buyers can envision themselves living in those homes.
The term “home staging” was coined by Barb Schwarz nearly 40 years ago. Schwarz was given the official title of Creator of Home Staging by the U.S. government in the 1970s. She has spent the past four decades building an empire, one that continues to grow despite the economic downturn.
“We know for a fact that staged homes have an 80 percent chance of selling more quickly than homes that are not staged,” Schwarz said. “In these economic times, it is so interesting to see the effect that staging has on helping traditional sellers get their houses sold.”
Schwarz offers training to any stagers interested in becoming an Accredited Staging Professional (ASP). Schwarz feels that since she has the federal trademark on the staging industry, accredited stagers who have taken her class will be more successful.
Almost 95 percent of ASP staged homes sell in 37 days or less compared to the 182 days it takes for non-staged homes to sell, according to the official home staging website, www.stagedhomes.com.
Elaine Quigley, an ASP-trained stager and the president of the local chapter of the
International Association of Home Staging Professionals (IAHSP) said home stagers in Virginia and the District are all reporting the same good news: staged homes are selling within a matter of weeks.
“Some staged homes in Fairfax County are selling the same week that they were staged, often with multiple offers,” Quigley said.
Quigley attributes this success to less inventory and better market rates. “This time last year, there were more homes listed and they were not turning over quite as quickly as they are now because there were more to choose from,” Quigley said. “Now, people who have been sitting on the fence waiting for the bubble to burst, wondering, ‘When should we buy this house?’ are now buying.”
Quigley is also the owner of Topline Home Staging, a staging company focused predominantly on Fairfax County homes. She said that she is busier now than she was last year because houses are selling and going under contract more quickly.
“Staging benefits everyone because if the sellers want to sell, then they don’t want to sit on the market and keep making house payments or delay their move,” Quigley said. “They want to sell their house more quickly and for more money, and that’s what staging does for them. The buyer is always benefitting.”
Deb Gorham, a stager and the founder of the local chapter of IAHSP, agrees with Quigley. “I think that when you add staging at some level, whether the seller or the realtor is paying for it, it truly is the best investment you can make in a home,” Gorham said.
Gorham said staging is an integral part of selling a house on the market. “When you take habitable inventory and make it better with staging, the home on the market – the product – flies off of the shelf,” Gorham said. “Many realtors working with stagers have seen a home staged on a Saturday and sold on a Sunday night.”
Schwarz said realtors are beginning to understand the importance of staging. The percentage of realtors who feel staging is important went up from 71 percent last year to 91 percent this year. In addition, the return on the investment for every $500 invested is 333 percent, according to statistics on www.stagedhomes.com.
Schwarz also said that staging is entering all phases of the market. “Staging has just become this huge tidal wave,” Schwarz said. “We’re still on a critical map with a long way to go, but we’ve made huge strides in the past 10 years. To watch the escalating ripple effect taking place in home staging is really, really amazing.”