Ever considered a professional stager to maximise your property’s sales appeal? We ask the experts if it’s worth it
In a competitive market, a beautifully presented property could make the difference between a quick sale and a hard pass. We all know the rules about decluttering, tidying up the front for kerb appeal, and giving our interior walls a fresh lick of paint – preferably in an inoffensive neutral colour that will appeal to most buyers. But if we really want house viewers to fall in love and offer on the spot, we may need to go a step further. Enter the strategic art of home staging.
Professional stagers combine creative design principles, real estate knowledge, and even a sneaky bit of psychology to win over potential buyers. Given that property-seekers often make decisions based on emotions, a home stager worth their salt will know exactly how to evoke feelings of comfort, security and aspiration, all of which are vital elements in the buying decision. “I believe that in some instances property staging makes a huge difference,” says Vivienne Harris, owner at Heathgate. “A while ago we were selling a small development and the last two or three units were sticking. Staging was suggested to the client as the apartments were compact and empty and without styling it was hard to imagine how the furniture (or even what furniture) would fit and how it could look. Within two weeks the flats were under offer and sold thereafter.”
“When we plan to buy a new home, we all aspire to a beautiful interior that reflects our style and good taste” Anita Mehra, Benham & Reeves
Home staging comes into its own in vacant properties, where you might be asking potential buyers to imagine family life in what is, essentially, an empty shell. With carefully selected furniture and décor that complements the property’s architectural style, effective use of colour and lighting, and with homely finishing touches such as artwork, rugs, and decorative objects, an empty house really can become a future home. “Staging a property can make a huge difference in terms of marketing,” explains Vikki Broad, head of sales at Hamptons in Islington. “When you’re selling a property, you’re selling so much more than bricks and mortar, you’re selling a lifestyle – this is very hard to do in an empty space. Staging really helps to bring the property to life, showing it in the best light. In my experience, when a property is staged, we tend to get more interest, and in some cases, a higher price.” Anita Mehra, managing director at Benham & Reeves agrees, telling us: “When we plan to buy a new home, we all aspire to a beautiful interior that reflects our style and good taste. When you present that interior to a prospective buyer, it makes it much easier for them to envisage themselves living there because you’ve delivered the lifestyle they can aspire to.”
These days, most homebuyers carry out a property search online long before they speak to a developer or estate agent, which is where virtual staging can come into play. “This is also a popular tool when marketing your property, especially within lettings,” says Vikki. “Similar to physical staging, virtual staging gives life and colour to empty, unfurnished properties where the images may otherwise appear lifeless and dull.” Of course, professional staging doesn’t come cheap, and where virtual styling can be an affordable alternative, inevitably, big decisions will be made in the physical world. “Don’t be tempted to do it yourself,” advises Anita. “Use a specialist who has experience and a demonstrable talent for it. You might be surprised to learn that with the right design strategy in place, the buyer will often ask to purchase the property with the furnishings included, which is convenient. As a general guide, consider spending around 1.5 per cent of the property value to home-stage at a ‘cut-above’ level, with the main objective to drive a quicker sale. Properties that are completely empty or poorly furnished tend to take three times longer to sell, so from my experience, I think that home staging is definitely worth it.”