You’ve put your blood, sweat, and (hopefully not too many) tears into your latest flip. Now that it’s time to sell, should you take the time to invest in staging an empty house?
The experts say “definitely”! Studies from Realtor.com indicate that not only do staged houses sell 88 percent faster, but they also sell for 20 percent more. Why? Because buyers want to feel inspired, not overwhelmed, by a potential home.
According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2018, overall 28 percent of buyers say staging is an important component of their home search. But, significantly, up to 40 percent younger buyers — those in the Millennial and Gen Z generations, a.k.a. the next wave of home buyers — value staging.
When it comes to staging, choosing which rooms to focus your attention could make a big difference when it comes to your flip’s profitability and desirability. You may not be able to stage the entire home, so it’s important to prioritize your time and resources. According to the National Association of Realtors 2019 Profile of Home Staging, many buyers want to see the living room and master bedrooms fully staged, but less used spaces such as guest rooms aren’t as important.
As an investor, it’s easy to see why you may be tempted to sell the home as-is. But in most cases, you’ve never lived in the house, so it’ll be empty, and that makes it harder for house hunters to picture themselves and their possessions filling the home. Staging an empty house offers real financial benefits. Here’s how to stage your investment house and maximize your profit.
Hire a Professional
If you don’t have the time, skills, or inclination to stage the empty house yourself, hire a pro. This option may cost a bit more upfront, but it’ll save you time. Realtor.com reports that staging services cost from $300 to $600 for an initial consultation that will determine the design direction. After that, expect to pay from $500 to $600 per month per staged room.
This means that the larger the home, the more staging will cost. Keep in mind that most professional house stagers will require you to sign a three-month (minimum) contract that’s binding even if you sell the home within a day or two.
What does a professional stager provide? Depending on cost, services may include:
- Working with furniture, art, and accessories you already own
- Bringing in new or rental furniture
- Purchasing fresh flowers, accessories, and art objects
- Additional window treatments
- Changing paint and decor colors
Soft Staging: Do It Yourself
Choosing the DIY route can save you money, but you will need to consider how much time it’ll take. First, you have to find the right furniture. You may choose to buy or rent. If you’re a frequent flipper, it just might make sense to purchase your own pieces to use for staging. You may also choose to rent furniture, especially those larger pieces that you don’t want to store in between flips.
Once you have your furniture and large pieces lined up, lay out the space. When deciding furniture placement, keep your end goal in mind: To create a welcoming space that doesn’t feel cluttered.
Next, give buyers ideas about how they can use the space by using so-called “soft techniques.” Tactics include using rugs to show where furnishings could go, in theory. Most buyers have a hard time imagining how they’d lay out a house, especially in empty rooms.
Just be sure you choose the right size rugs. As a rule of thumb, leave one to two feet of floor exposed around rug edges in larger rooms, and six to eight inches exposed in halls or entryways.
Optimize the home’s natural light, too. Use airy window treatments, open all the blinds, and use strategically placed mirrors to maximize light. If your budget is limited, focus your efforts on the “money rooms,” also known as the living room, master bedroom, and kitchen.
Overall, aim for a neutral style that’ll appeal to the most buyers. No need to overdo it with bright colors or unique artwork. Final touches include fluffy towels and shower curtains in the bathrooms, pillows and throws on couches and beds, accessories in the kitchen, and table lamps for warmth.
Don’t forget to spruce up the outside of the home, as well. Making even small improvements to landscaping can increase a home’s value by up to 12 percent as reported by Homelight, so mow the lawn, trim the shrubs, mulch the beds, and plant a few flowers.
Consider Virtual Staging
If all this sounds like too much effort or cost, consider a more affordable option: virtual staging. Both professional services and DIY apps allow you to stage the house digitally, without spending a penny on throw pillows or moving a single couch.
Of course, virtual staging isn’t real, so it doesn’t really help a buyer when they visit the home in person. However, the staged images may just get your property the attention it needs, and get a potential buyer through the door.
Staging is a critical piece in the selling process. It’s especially important to stage empty homes, as buyers can have a difficult time imagining themselves in empty, boxlike rooms devoid of comfortable touches. Given the (much) faster selling time and higher prices that staged homes command, it’s easy to see why any serious house flipper should invest in either professional or DIY staging.
When you’re ready to buy your next investment property, New Western is here to help. We’ll access off-market properties to find a match for your portfolio.