Staging the Sale

Once a privilege that only the sellers of luxury homes could afford, Home Staging is now within reach of most property sellers and is becoming a standard element of many sales and marketing campaigns around Australia. Story by Kerry McDuling.

The current property market has created many challenges for real estate agents and home sellers alike. Many home owners and investors have been forced to sell because of financial pressure, and, despite Federal Government first home buyers incentives, buyers are shying away from the market and waiting for better reports in the media about the economy.

In this type of market, better located property will sell first, followed by property with a greatly reduced asking price. And even in both instances, sales consultants across Australia are reporting that well-marketed homes are staying on the market for longer than three months.

As a sales consultant, there is not much that can be done about the location of the property you have listed or the local market and global economy. Having said that, you do not want to be trying to market homes that destroy their own potential in ways that can be easily avoided or fixed. How frustrating is it to try to show a property to buyers, either on a private inspection or during an open home, while stepping over a mound of clutter in the passageways and bedrooms?

Hayley Harris from Essential Key, Brisbane’s leading home staging and property stylist, says that properties that have been professionally styled consistently sell for a higher price than anticipated and are on the market for a shorter time.

“Home staging is increasingly becoming an essential part of the selling and marketing process with more sellers appreciating the difference a professionally styled property can make to the sale price achieved. Some are even requesting their real estate agent to organise this service for them,” she says.

The daughter of a property developer, Hayley grew up with an intense interest in and passion for property. She quickly discovered that interior styling is a gift, and advising others on how to capitalise on their home’s best features for a better result while on the market is a sought after skill.

Home staging goes beyond clearing up the clutter and making sure the house smells nice. Hayley says that by simply moving furniture, an impression of more space can be created, while traffic flow through an area is improved.

“People also don’t often realise how certain artistic pieces and the way an area is decorated can evoke various emotional reactions in visitors to the home,” Hayley says.

According to Hayley, an important part of home staging is making sure a home is de-personalised, but she says it is not as simple as just removing family photographs.

“Families and home owners tend to decorate their home with the things that remind them of happy times, reflect their lifestyle and hobbies, and are special and meaningful to them in some way. However, walking into a home with a lot of Christian decoration, ornaments, crosses and pictures is likely to be offensive or off-putting to someone who is of another religion, or not especially religious at all,” Hayley explains.

How frustrating is it to try to show a property to buyers while stepping over a mound of clutter in the passageways and bedrooms?

According to Hayley, home staging is not just about removing items, but can also include the addition of hired furniture and ornaments to highlight the qualities the property has going for it, while disguising any aspects that be viewed as disadvantages.

Barbara Lambert from Staging Space furniture covering the South Coast, Illawarra, Sutherland Shire and Southern Highlands in New South Wales agrees that the placement of furniture suited to the property can literally transform a home.

“For example, an empty dull corner can be redefined as a cosy reading area with the addition of an arm chair, ambient lamp and side table. The addition of throw rugs and new cushions will give both colour and warmth to an otherwise old lounge setting, giving the room a more modern fresh look and will appeal to buyers,” Barbara explains.

“A complete furniture package will provide continuity and a complete look. It is important to show a purpose for each space. Furniture also gives perspective to architectural details in the property. Buyers often have trouble visualising the size of the room and how their own furniture will fit into the room.”

While in the past, home staging was something only accessed by owners of mansions and million dollar property, the industry has changed. Now considered as an essential part of the marketing and selling process, home owners of property across all types and price sectors in Australia are working with home staging professionals to give their home the best chance while on the market.

Janne Petrie, a Sydney based home stager from the Staging Professionals and an Instructor with Australian Certified Staging Professionals, says that as the demand for home staging grows in Australia, the number of people training in home staging is on the increase too.

“Home staging is an exciting growth industry with lots of opportunity here in Australia, particularly in regional areas, and we will see more and more real estate agents using the services of professional home stagers,” she says.

Hayley says the process involves only one appointment between the stylist and the seller, where the homeowner is given a list of practical changes they can make immediately, and at little expense.

“Small changes can make all the difference, but often the home owner will not be aware of these because they are so used to seeing their interior space in a certain way, that they are oblivious to any alternatives,” she says.

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Kerry McDuling

Kerry McDuling has over ten years experience in the PR sector and as a freelance journalist. Formerly the Communications Manager for an international real estate franchise, Kerry is currently the Director of McDuling PR, specialising in public relations for the real estate industry.