In a digital age when buyers generally first view a potential new home or investment online, your property obviously needs to make a strong visual first impression.
As the seller, you want the property you are aiming to offload to look its very best, to appeal to as many potential buyers as possible.
Think of your home as a model. Professional models who sell products typically require some help to look as good as they do in promotional material: work on their hair and make-up, styling and lighting make all the difference. The same applies to your real estate asset – and this is where property styling comes in.
“Property styling involves elements of maintenance and styling, including furniture and accessory installation, to present your property at its best before it goes to the market,” explains Naomi Findlay, renovation expert and founder of the International Institute of Home Staging.
“It’s not interior design, and it’s not full-scale renovating for wealth, or house flipping. It’s all about return on investment. Data collected from a leading Australian home staging company illustrated that, during 2016, for every $1 invested in property staging the property owner received a return of $20 on average.”
In fact, it’s estimated that staged properties boost sales prices by an average of 10%. So just how does property styling deliver that kind of benefit?
1. Staging creates the fairytale
“Home staging helps to create an image of the lifestyle the property will offer the buyer,” Findlay says.
“This will connect the buyer emotionally to the property – an advantage in any stage of the property cycle.”
Many potential buyers have a difficult time looking at an empty space and visualising how the property would work for them, while a styled property can jump-start their creative juices.
“When furnished correctly, rooms look larger, warmer and more functional. Home staging can also create rooms within rooms in open-plan spaces,” Findlay adds.
It’s important to be aware of the demographic you want to cater to, as well as what they would expect given the location and price range. Professional property stylists will aim to work with the agent to determine your target market and how to stage the home accordingly.
“Property styling is not interior design, and it’s not full-scale renovating ... it’s all about return on investment”
2. It presents an easily marketable facade
Property styling not only makes a home look good; it also makes a space feel easy to move into.
“A staged home that presents well, with little or no obvious maintenance and running repairs needed, projects the image of a well-maintained and cared-for property,” Findlay says.
You also don’t need luxury items to convey a classy style – less is more when it comes to property styling.
“Simple and inexpensive items arranged well in the right location can have an amazing effect. It’s important that the home steals the show, not the furnishings – they are there simply to highlight and accentuate the property,” Findlay explains.
3. It enhances perception of value
Many buyers won’t want to have to deal with the hassle of renovating or making repairs to a place that appears rundown and in need of maintenance; they’re therefore more likely to take a closer look at a property they see as one they can move into at short notice.
“Selling property for profit is all about perceived value to the buyer,” says Cheryl Bedford, founder and CEO of Majestic Home Styling. “Approximately 80% of buyers will pay a premium price for a property that is presented beautifully and there is no work to do.”
For an agent, this also makes the home a lot easier and faster to sell. Property styling has a significant effect on how your home compares to other properties like it in your area. Among a group of similar-priced properties, the styled home has an advantage simply because it looks more valuable.
4. It nets a large audience
The majority of buyers, whether they are passing by in person for an inspection or ‘shopping’ for a home online, are able to appreciate the beauty of a well-styled property. You want to garner interest from buyers beyond just those in the vicinity so you can get the best possible deal.
“A staged home appeals to a large audience, which in return often leads to multiple offers. This results in the homeowner receiving the maximum sale price,” Bedford says.
“The basics of property styling are to create a beautiful space that shows the lifestyle that most buyers in the area of the property are looking for.”
5. It keeps buyers hooked
Each inspection is a seller’s one chance to make the right impression on a potential buyer. Every additional minute spent looking at the property adds to the possibility that a transaction could be made.
“You have approximately 30 seconds to connect the buyer to the home. As they walk through the front door, you want the buyer to have the emotional connection immediately,” Bedford says.
“Buyers want to see more with every room they walk into. If you don’t create this effect, they will do a quick walkthrough and be in and out in five minutes.”
Online, the goal is to keep people from scrolling past your listing, so you also need to capitalise on your styled home by getting professional photographs taken. That way, you get to advertise your home in the best possible light!
The key to making styling work for you is to have a good eye for detail and understand what a buyer would want to see if they walked through your home. If you choose to DIY, it’s crucial to have a strong grasp of design elements and how to lay out a room. If it’s not your strong suit, hiring a professional styling expert could pay dividends; they are able to look at the spaces within your property with an objective eye and quickly maximise its best features, while minimising its flaws.
In the current real estate climate, with many property markets across the country in decline, buyers often have many choices and leverage on their side. Giving your time and money to property styling could mean you have a considerable advantage over the competition – even if your property may not have been the best option in the neighbourhood.
WHEN STAGING GIVES A $500,000 BOOST
The work done on this open-plan waterfront property in Rozelle, NSW, highlights the best of what property styling can do.
“We look at trends and create individual styling solutions from them, and to ensure that buyers feel a connection through the visual aesthetics, no two properties are the same,” says Rachel Sillato, creative director at IStyle Property Styling.
“We want buyers to picture themselves in the space so it becomes about them and their future in the property.”
With this Rozelle property, the IStyle team first assessed what they had to work with, which was a beautiful panoramic view of the harbour. So they looked for design elements that would accentuate the connection with nature.
“The visual connection to the water lent itself to a calming palette of natural colours, textural timbers and tortoiseshell accessories,” Sillato says. “Monochrome tones and pops of green connected with the apartment’s outlook on lush manicured gardens and the Balmain Peninsula.”
The end result of the styling was a property that resembled a resort, promoting a relaxed lifestyle and tranquil atmosphere that effectively complemented the surroundings. As a result, the staged home sold for more than $500,000 above the reserve price.
“In a slow market, it’s key to elevate your property’s presentation – highlighting its potential not only in terms of how it will look but also how it will function,” Sillato advises.
“Carefully selecting core pieces to appeal to a wider demographic is important, as is furniture scale. This plays a key role in making a home feel large and spacious while enhancing its functionality.”