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By Andy Capelluto

RISMEDIA, Nov. 3, 2007-Today’s consumers are looking to their agent more than ever to assist them in identifying ways to make their home sell faster. As a result, agents across the country are turning to home staging as a solution to help better position a home for sale.

Home staging is the process of glamorizing the look of any home by presenting it in an optimal light with the goal of maximizing the price and minimizing the number of days on the market. It’s a tool that is all about turning the lived-in house into a home that is ready to sell-a process that sellers generally aren’t equipped to do themselves.

According to a USA Today article, a major residential brokerage company looked at nearly 2,800 properties in eight different cities and found that staged houses sold in almost half the time it took the non-staged houses. They also discovered that sellers of staged homes, on average, received a substantially higher price at the end of the day.

Similarly, a 2003 HomeGain survey of 2,000 real estate agents nationwide found that moderately priced home improvements made before the sale-ranging from $80-$2,800-ended up producing the highest return on investment at the time of the sale.

Agents that offer staging as a value-added service for their clients have also noticed an increase in the number of referrals they’re receiving from satisfied clients. As the real estate market gets more and more competitive this added benefit takes on more and more value. Today’s sellers are hearing more about home staging every time they turn on their television and are beginning to look to their real estate professional for direction.

Historically, agents have provided sellers with tips on ways to prepare the home for sale, like getting rid of the clutter and eliminating odors. However, home staging takes this process to a whole different level. Think of the many theatrical stages that have been set by stagehands for major media productions. Their job is to establish an impression-to set a scene that captures the viewer’s attention. Essentially, the effective “home stager” is faced with exactly the same challenge. While his or her job isn’t transforming a blank stage, it may even be more complex in transforming a “well lived in” home into one that is ready to sell. It needs to be made to look inviting, warm and cozy while offering the prospective buyers the ability to visualize themselves living there.

The first impression of any home is the key factor in selling that home. Most people are visually oriented and can’t easily remodel, repaint or create a feeling of “home” in their minds. So what the buyer sees more often than not is what they want to see. That’s reason enough to ensure that the home is presented in the best possible light. The old adage is still true-you never get a second chance at a first impression.

Home staging requires knowledge about interior decorating, the color wheel, the principles of design, components of composition, symmetry and asymmetry, etc., which to some comes naturally and to others, is a skill that can be acquired by training. There are a number of courses for agents to take to become more proficient in home staging such as Accredited Staging Professional (ASP) and Accredited Home-Staging Specialist (AHS). The AHS course is now available online.

Andy Capelluto is the author of The Power of Staging.

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