Should You Stage Your Home?

The L.A. Times’ Real Estate section this weekend carried this story about home “staging,” where a company comes in and essentially transforms your home’s interior to a model home’s.  For example, here’s a Silver Lake home a company called Moving Mountains Design staged, before:


and after:


The result:

Michelle Minch, the owner of Pasadena-based Moving Mountains Design & Home Staging, and her crew staged a vacant California-cottage-style home in Silver Lake, finishing up around 5 p.m. on the Thursday before Christmas. She planned on coming back the next day with a few more throw pillows for the window seat, but the listing agent had scheduled three showings for that morning. Before Minch and the extra throw pillows could arrive, the sellers had a full-price offer. Days on market: one — in what was the slowest December sales market in about a decade. The house sold for $1,442,500 without making it into the Multiple Listing Service.

So, what’s the catch?  Well, it’s not free:  The above staging cost $7,000, including two months’ worth of rental furniture for the entire house and a guest house. But depending on how much you’re selling your house for, it could certainly prove to be worth the money.

If you just can’t see yourself parting with that kind of dough, there are still things you can do to improve your chances. There’s a reason model homes look the way they do. The more your house looks like a model, the better your chances of enticing buyers.

1) Get rid of the clutter.  In model homes, there are no overflowing closets, junky garages, dusty knick-knacks.  Put your cra…. I mean, stuff, in storage.
2) Clean. Model homes are spotless.  After you de-clutter, have a pro come in and scour the place.  Don’t forget about carpets and windows.
3) Deodorize.  Replace smoke and pet odors with pleasant fragrances.  Try dabbing some vanilla extract on your light bulbs.  Turn on your lights, and your house will smell like fresh-baked cookies.
4) Freshen.  New, neutral paint can do wonders for your home’s appearance.  Add some bouquets, candles, artwork and other accessories to make rooms look more inviting.
5) Re-cover.  Hide worn furniture with fresh slipcovers, a la “Trading Spaces.”
6) Rearrange and remove.  Arrange your furnishings to create an open yet intimate space.  If you have too much furniture, see #1.
7) Be critical. How would you react when entering your house for the first time?  If it’s with anything less than unbridled enthusiasm, you need to do more.  In this market, homes need to impress.

Recent Redfin posts:
“An Inevitable and Necessary Decline in Home Prices”
A Look at Westwood Home Sales
Nine-0-Two-One-OH! No Housing Crisis in Beverly Hills

  • C. Chan

    Some readers might be interested in this discussion that was started a while back.

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  • Professional Home Stager

    I own Moving Mountains Design, the staging company referenced above. I would like to emphasize that the home discussed in this blog sold in less than 24 hours on the Friday before Christmas for over the asking price. I think the $7,000 this home seller spent was well worth it. Many of our stagings are less expensive. This home seller wanted us to stage every room in the house, plus the guest house. Staging every room is not always necessary, but if the home owner wants us to, and they are willing to pay for it, we are more than happy to oblige.

    Almost 80% of the homes we stage sell in 60 days or less, half of those sell in 30 days or less, and several have sold in 7 days or less. Those are pretty good odds, especially in this market. Moving Mountains Design can be reached at (626)441-8975 or on our web site