Home staging: Do you need it and is the expense justified?

Replacing just one or two items of furniture and introducing some new accessories may be all that's required to update your interior.

Not everyone sees the same things in an open house – you just need to visit with a partner or friend to notice this.

Some people like to open all the cupboards, while others are content to stand back and get the bigger picture.

One of my friends likes to look at the family photos and certificates on the walls, and yes, more often than not she works out who they are, what schools the kids go to and maybe even how well they did. This is not six degrees of separation – more like one or two.

Another friend refused to take out library books for five years after she saw a pile of these stacked beside a toilet in a bathroom.

And another couple of my acquaintance had the most amazing art collection, but some of it was seriously disturbing. One painting, above the bed in the master bedroom, included images of women in various states of severe distress.

What do all these have in common? They're all examples of what not to have on show when you put your home on the market. The Chinese agent selling the home with the disturbing art collection muttered "bad feng shui" before demanding the art came down.

Most of us have read tips on how to present a home for sale, but would we be better off getting some professional home staging advice?

Real estate agent Donna Watts of Ray White Kohimarama is convinced it is a good idea, because not everyone has a natural talent when it comes to interior design. 

"You could spend $5000, yet gain an extra $20,000 in sale price," she says. "Good home stagers know exactly how to present your home. They can titivate with throws, cushions and artwork, and move furniture around to make a home more appealing."

Watts says presenting a home is often about decluttering and de-personalising. "People always ask as for feedback and we give it," she says. "For example, some people have intimate nude photos in their bedrooms, which may be lovely, but they may not want every Tom, Dick and Harry having a look when they come through the house."

Homestager Kate Lawry of The Look says that while furnishing empty rooms is typical of a homestager's role, there is a clear need for "enhancement" for many homeowners.

"Because we've been doing this for many years, it is quite easy for a homestager to come in and see what's missing, or what should be taken out," Lawry says. "It is very hard for a homeowner to be objective enough to see what should be changed. A second opinion and an experienced eye is always valuable."

Lawry says a home needs to appeal to as many people as possible when you're selling. "If something is going to jump out and distract people, then maybe it's best to remove that item. Certain artworks fall into this category – on a subconscious level they might make a person have negative feelings about a space.

"Really bright, jarring colours or things that clash are other things we would suggest changing. Big, bulky furniture pieces also might need to be swapped out if they are making a space look a lot smaller than it really is. People do get used to living with these things and they don't see the problem."

Sharon Laffan of Living Edge, another leading homestaging company, says preparing a home to sell can be a stressful and overwhelming process. "We know that well-prepared homes sell faster, and for a better price," she says. "And professional stagers know what needs to be done to get a home ready for sale."

Laffan says it all comes down to presentation. A positive first impression is critical and most homeowners need help to ensure their home's best features are highlighted so the home stands out from the competition.
Homestagers can also update a home to reflect current trends, which invariably gives it the wow factor – something that might be missing from a similar house for sale down the road.

Unlike empty houses and builder show homes, a furnished house isn't likely to require the "full treatment". Homestagers consequently offer initial consultations and can follow these up with staging to whatever level is required.

Homestagers all say a quote is essential as the amount varies according to how much work is required. For example, the work may include the removal of some large furniture items and replacements provided. Or it may simple be a rearrangement, the addition of some new accessories and decluttering.

At the very least, you will know to remove those cheeky fridge magnets, personal certificates, photos and suspect artworks.

From Stuff.co.nz