Is Staging Worth the Price In This Desireable Area?

In Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, most homes are staged. And those are your competitors.

As a realtor, one question I have been asked often is “How should I prepare my home for sale?”

One thing that I can’t recommend enough is to have the home “staged.” By enhancing the presentation of the home, staging improves its marketability. It is especially so in Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, where standard of homes is high, and staging has become more popular than ever.

But professional staging is expensive. So often, people ask: Is it really worth the money?

Absolutely. Staging may not be cheap, but compared to the benefits it brings it is an investment I strongly recommend.

If you ever attend open houses in Los Altos or Los Altos Hills, you will notice that most of the homes on the market nowadays show really well. The fact is, most of them have been professionally staged. So staging has almost become the standard in our communities.

What that means is if your home is not staged, you are losing to your competitors. Obviously, that’s because staging does make a substantial difference in the presentation of a home.

Here is how staging works: The stager, who is an interior designer specializing in decorating a home for sale, would come to your home to evaluate its needs in conjunction with your realtor.

He or she would offer a plan to stage your home with either rental furniture, if the home is vacant; or with your existing furnishing (plus some additional pieces and accessories, if needed). The goal is to improve the appeal of the house and show the best of its potentials. Staging also makes it easier for homebuyers to visualize how they would make the house their home. It is a visual as well as an emotional appeal to its audience.

I am always amazed by how much a home can be transformed by staging. The magic of a successful staging works for all kind of properties, from entry level to multi-million-dollars homes. Even a brand new construction in top condition benefits from staging as vacant homes often strike people as uninviting. If the home is dated, staging helps divert people’s attention from its imperfections and allows them to better see its potentials. A good stager, with the assistance of an experienced realtor, would be able to come up with the most effective strategies based on the conditions of the home.

If your home is not staged, chances are it will not be as appealing as homes that are. It is not a situation you want to be in especially in today’s real estate market. To get top dollar, you want your home to be the one that stands out, and to be amongst the first to sell.

Depending on the vendor and the scope of service, it costs an average of $3,000 to $5,000 (less if the home is occupied) to stage a 3,000 square-foot home. Compared to their usual price tag of $2 million-plus, the cost can easily be recovered by a faster or better terms of sale. In a grand scheme of thing, the cost of staging is pretty minimal for a transaction of this size.

While the local housing market has rebounded from its low, buyers remain discriminative. Selling in today’s market requires the showing of the best of your home. As savvy as today’s homebuyers are, most people can’t see beyond what they see. That’s why staging is so important. It’s true that staging does add to the upfront selling costs; but given its ability to help bring in qualified buyers, it is definitely worth the price!




Winnie Yip Fong, a Los Altos resident and a local realtor, writes a monthly column to provide advice and her insights into the local real estate market. Email her to winniefong.realestate@gmail.com for any suggestions or comments. Or follow her on www.twitter.com/SVHomes for more real estate updates.

Winnie Yip Fong September 22, 2011 at 06:58 AM
One additional piece of advice: Have the house properly staged before putting it on the market (rather than put it on the market first and see how it goes ...) The first impression is always the most important. And the first week the house is on the market is when it gets most traffic.


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