Property stagers adamant agents can do better

Steven Cross

While home staging companies remain adamant they can bolster property sale prices and reduce days on market, in many cases agents remain unconvinced about the benefits these companies can deliver to vendors.

Sydney-based Matthew Hayson, director at Sydney-based Cobden & Hayson, told Real Estate Business that staging is popular among vendors, but he often advises against using the services of a home stager in certain circumstances.

“It’s getting to the stage when vendors are coming to us and asking to stage it, and we’re saying, ‘Look, let’s see if we can use your furniture’ because a lot of people are sick of seeing all the 'staged' furniture being reused," he said.

“Buyers walk in and say, ‘Didn’t we see that couch last week at a different property?’

“We’re trying to find furniture and staging companies that supply furniture that isn’t so bland and generic. But then on the other hand, you have companies who try and stage an old style house with contemporary furniture and art, and it just clashes with the property.

“It does work, but I’ve seen staging that makes a house look cheap, so you’ve got to be really careful.”

Cheree Scott, from property staging company Melbourne Property Stylists, sold a house that was on the market for more than half a decade in just two months.

“We did a property in regional Victoria late last year which had been on the market for six years," Ms Scott said. "It was a big mansion on an estate, big grounds, cellar, the whole lot."

“There were two things wrong with the property. It was about half a million dollars overpriced when they first went on the market, and it wasn’t styled, so people would walk into an enormous mansion and have no idea how to dress it appropriately.

“They’d be asking, ‘Is that a lounge room? And if it is, where would I put the furniture?’, because it was just so big.’

“It took eight weeks to sell after we furnished and styled the property, and it was a great result,” she said.

Ms Scott also believed the rise of online listings is making it even more important for agents to give their listings a makeover.

“The savvy agents know that staging a property well will get a better response online, and then get more feet through the door," she said.

“Looking at photos of an empty room is nothing in comparison to a place that is fully furnished. It starts to put a bit of emotion and warmth into a property. It really does increase the level of interest in the property which gives the agent more room to get a better price.

“You don’t go to a job interview and not dress appropriately.”

Using 'virtual furniture' to assist with online listings is another option, with property marketing company Top Snap reporting strong results in this area late last year.

But house staging isn’t as popular in Brisbane, according to Home Staging Brisbane’s Imogen Brown, who is having trouble convincing agents to embrace her services.

“I don’t see why agents don’t want something that can improve their selling times, increase the sale price and take a lot of the stress of selling a home off their shoulders," she said.

“We’re there to work as the middleman between agents and their clients on issues that are sometimes touchy to bring up, like saying, ‘Sorry, but your house smells like a dog'. We need to fix that."

Ms Brown said agents not using staging should reconsider the benefits it can deliver.

“Staging is more about evolving your offering, not change," she said. "I see it as an add-on to your already great track record, or for those struggling, it is a real point of difference in the market.”

Steven Cross

While home staging companies remain adamant they can bolster property sale prices and reduce days on market, in many cases agents remain unconvinced about the benefits these companies can deliver to vendors.

Sydney-based Matthew Hayson, director at Sydney-based Cobden & Hayson, told Real Estate Business that staging is popular among vendors, but he often advises against using the services of a home stager in certain circumstances.

“It’s getting to the stage when vendors are coming to us and asking to stage it, and we’re saying, ‘Look, let’s see if we can use your furniture’ because a lot of people are sick of seeing all the 'staged' furniture being reused," he said.

“Buyers walk in and say, ‘Didn’t we see that couch last week at a different property?’

“We’re trying to find furniture and staging companies that supply furniture that isn’t so bland and generic. But then on the other hand, you have companies who try and stage an old style house with contemporary furniture and art, and it just clashes with the property.

“It does work, but I’ve seen staging that makes a house look cheap, so you’ve got to be really careful.”

Cheree Scott, from property staging company Melbourne Property Stylists, sold a house that was on the market for more than half a decade in just two months.

“We did a property in regional Victoria late last year which had been on the market for six years," Ms Scott said. "It was a big mansion on an estate, big grounds, cellar, the whole lot."

“There were two things wrong with the property. It was about half a million dollars overpriced when they first went on the market, and it wasn’t styled, so people would walk into an enormous mansion and have no idea how to dress it appropriately.

“They’d be asking, ‘Is that a lounge room? And if it is, where would I put the furniture?’, because it was just so big.’

“It took eight weeks to sell after we furnished and styled the property, and it was a great result,” she said.

Ms Scott also believed the rise of online listings is making it even more important for agents to give their listings a makeover.

“The savvy agents know that staging a property well will get a better response online, and then get more feet through the door," she said.

“Looking at photos of an empty room is nothing in comparison to a place that is fully furnished. It starts to put a bit of emotion and warmth into a property. It really does increase the level of interest in the property which gives the agent more room to get a better price.

“You don’t go to a job interview and not dress appropriately.”

Using 'virtual furniture' to assist with online listings is another option, with property marketing company Top Snap reporting strong results in this area late last year.

But house staging isn’t as popular in Brisbane, according to Home Staging Brisbane’s Imogen Brown, who is having trouble convincing agents to embrace her services.

“I don’t see why agents don’t want something that can improve their selling times, increase the sale price and take a lot of the stress of selling a home off their shoulders," she said.

“We’re there to work as the middleman between agents and their clients on issues that are sometimes touchy to bring up, like saying, ‘Sorry, but your house smells like a dog'. We need to fix that."

Ms Brown said agents not using staging should reconsider the benefits it can deliver.

“Staging is more about evolving your offering, not change," she said. "I see it as an add-on to your already great track record, or for those struggling, it is a real point of difference in the market.”

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