Agent Essentials

Shop Talk - The Real Estate Agent Podcast

Real Estate Agent Podcast Episode 61: Home Staging

Episode 61: Home Staging
February 10, 2021

Proper home staging can update a house, show off its best qualities, and inspire a bidding war.

When people are going to buy, they want to have a really clear vision of what their life might look like in this space, and that life is going to look a little bit different than it might have two years ago.

McKenna Keller

About This Episode

Everyone knows that when you list a house, you have to remove personal photos and declutter. Going a step further can really elevate your listing while updating the house for the realities of a post-COVID-19 world. Brighten your client’s home with the latest design trends and attract even more buyers to every listing you have.

For more information on low inventory across the country, listen here.

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Episode Transcript

JON: Right now, at the beginning of 2021, the real estate news is mostly the same regardless of which market you’re in. All across America, we’re seeing enormous demand, sky-high prices, and frighteningly low inventory. Back in September we did an episode on low inventory that’s linked to in our show notes, so I won’t rehash the complicated problems that have led to our current predicament.

JON: Suffice it to say that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a big one, and is also a major culprit for why so many people want to purchase property right now. People are bored sitting in their homes and they’ve decided to get a new house, especially while interest rates remain at historic lows. So when your clients decide to sell in such a hot market, how can you ensure they get the highest price?

JON: Hello and welcome to Shop Talk: The Real Estate Show. I’m Jon Forisha, and on this episode we talk home staging, why it’s worth the investment, and how you can do it better.

JON: Today somewhere around 8% of Americans have been vaccinated against COVID-19, and the new administration has made vaccine distribution a primary goal. By most estimates, the fall of 2021 may look a lot closer to pre-COVID than things currently do. As the pandemic starts to subside and light shines through at the end of the tunnel, real estate agents everywhere are wondering what comes next.

JON: As much as I’d love for our crystal ball to show us the way, it’s been on the fritz lately, and given everything that happened in 2020 we’re all a little leery of trying to make grand predictions for the future. It is safe to say, though, that real estate will be just fine, and that the success that many agents saw in 2020 will likely continue through 2021.

JON: If you’re in a market in which home sales are frequently resulting in bidding wars and sale prices are running rampant, you probably have some very happy sellers. Proper home staging is one thing you can do to even further maximize the return they get, since the old adage “the house has good bones” isn’t always easy for buyers to see. Updating a house’s aesthetics can bring even more bidders to the table.

JON: To talk home staging with me is McKenna Keller, Regional Content and Social Media Specialist at The CE Shop.

JON: McKenna, thank you for joining me again.

MCKENNA: Yeah, no problem. Thank you so much for having me.

JON: Yeah. So let's jump into home staging. What is the importance of home staging?

MCKENNA: Yeah. Good question. Home staging can really just paint the listing in its very best light. If it's done strategically and done well, you can really effectively highlight some of the best features of the home and it just allows the buyer to kind of picture themselves living there. A staged home is a lot more inviting than, you know, just a bunch of empty rooms. It can also potentially help you sell a little bit faster and potentially at a higher price. So you know, there's nothing really to lose, but there's a lot to gain with home staging.

JON: Yeah, definitely. And does effective staging change throughout the year? Should you be doing something different in the fall than in the spring or summer?

MCKENNA: Yeah, I would say that it does change throughout the year. I think that really effective staging incorporates all of our senses. So throughout the year, even something as small as swapping out like a very summery yellow throw blanket for more of a mustard as you move into fall or maybe a winter green candles switching that out for lavender as we head into spring I think that's especially true for markets that experience very distinct seasons. So like for example, here in Colorado, we can obviously get quite a bit of snow in the winter. So you might have like some heavy throw blankets or deeper colors or just otherwise really play up that wintery coziness. Whereas in the summer it wouldn't necessarily make as much sense. So somewhere like Florida, you can kind of have that coastal beach vibe year round. But I think especially in markets with different seasons, it makes sense to swap things out as we move throughout the year.

JON: Yeah. So dress it up appropriately for the season then.

MCKENNA: Yeah. Just kind of lean into, you know, whatever's going on, seasonally smells, sights, colors, textures, that kind of thing.

JON: Awesome. And how involved should a real estate agent be with the staging of their client's house?

MCKENNA: You know, I think it depends a little bit on the client and the agent, but I think for the most part, the agent should probably be taking the reigns. They're just going to have a larger frame of reference. They have seen a lot more listings. They better understand what buyers are looking for. And, and they can just advise the client. It might be something simple, like just taking down family photos, swapping out some art or it could be, you know, we're going to bring in all new everything. There, there definitely might be a situation where a seller is, you know, more involved. They want to be a little bit more present in the process. But I think that a lot of the times the agent should really be calling the shots. They just have the background knowledge.

JON: Yeah. So what if an agent has just no design eye at all? Can they hire somebody out for staging?

MCKENNA: Yes, they absolutely can. It can be really tricky. It can be really intimidating. So there are a ton of staging and furniture and decor rental companies all over the nation. And they will come in, they will totally decide what needs to go, where they'll bring in all of the furniture they'll bring in decorative accents. They can even set up like a really nice little table scape in the dining room. So that's a really great option for anyone who's maybe not so willing to tackle this themselves. And then when the home is sold, they'll come right back in and they can move everything out. So you don't have to worry about storing anything. You don't have to worry about things getting lost or broken in the shuffle. That's a really painless choice for anybody who is not totally comfortable with this.

JON: Yeah. It makes it easy.

JON: After the break, we talk about how the pandemic has changed staging, possibly for good.

JON: Staging your clients’ homes is something you know you should be doing, but it just never seemed a priority before. Now, as you listen to the reasons why, you’re starting to wonder what other parts of the business you didn’t pay enough attention to. It all comes back to your education, which is something we can help with. The CE Shop’s online courses can teach you everything you need to know about real estate, both for now and into the future. Use promo code SHOPTALK to save 25% on your online real estate education.

JON: So, design comes and goes in waves, obviously. What are some of the latest design trends?

MCKENNA: Good question. I think honestly, as of late a lot of big home design trends have kind of revolved around this new reality that we're living in. And just the fact that most of us are spending so much more time at home. So a big one is natural influence whether that's houseplants or natural light or even fresh flowers or something as common as like furniture or decor made out of a wood or stone material. And then color is another really big one. I think for the past few years, a lot of white and gray and even tope has been really popular. And if we're spending all day now kind of in that white on white environment, it starts to feel a little bit cold or sterile or, you know, if you have kids home 24 seven, maybe it's not as practical as it once was. So even just small pops of color, some vases or wall art or candles, that kind of thing, I would say that that and natural influence are two of the biggest ones right now.

JON: Yeah. And that makes sense. And every year there are always articles that come out about the colors of the year. What are the colors of the year for 2021?

MCKENNA: Yeah, the colors of the year. So there are a couple of different categories of color of the year. So all of the major paint companies will release their own paint color of the year. And that's kind of just a prediction of the, the wall color that they think will be popular this year. And then there is the Pantone color of the year and Pantone is kind of a, what's considered like the authority on color. So theirs is usually the most popular or the most well-known. And this year Pantone actually has two colors of the year. And those are ultimate gray, which is kind of exactly what it sounds like. It's just a very neutral, universal kind of gray. And then they have illuminating, which is this really bright and sunshiny yellow color. And they determine what is going to be the color of the year through a 20 person team called the color Institute. And they research starting in early spring each year. And they kind of collect data on advertisements, photos shared just kind of the daily color patterns in our culture. And they'll release the color of the year as a snapshot of what is going on in our culture.

JON: Hmm. So it's not just completely made up.

MCKENNA: Believe it or not, it is not completely made up. It's it's supposed to be, yeah, like a representation of what we're all experiencing right now. So I think this year, the gray and yellow, that kind of contrast is supposed to symbolize better days to come and just optimism and sunshininess.

JON: Sounds appropriate for 2021. Yes. So you've sort of mentioned it already, but how else has COVID-19 changed home staging?

MCKENNA: I think honestly it has made home staging even more important and even more critical. I mean, we're all spending so much more time at home. And we've had to adapt and make our homes, our workspaces, our gyms, our classrooms kind of the end all be all. So I think that, you know, when people are going to buy, they want to have a really clear vision of what their life might look like in this space. And that life is gonna look a little bit different than it might have two years ago. I also think it has kind of opened the door to some staging bonus points. If you can kind of get with the times and maybe stage that spare bedroom as a home office instead of just a guestroom or even just pull like a child size desk into a kid's room that's something that's really gonna make your listing stand out because it just feels more realistic and relatable right now.

JON: Yeah, definitely. So what areas of the house should agents pay special attention to when spring comes around and the weather starts to warm up?

MCKENNA: I would say any outdoor area first and foremost. After a long winter just being cooped up, I think a nicely staged backyard, or even if it's just a small patio off of an apartment. I think that's going to be a really big draw. The national association of realtors also recommends playing up the living room, the master bedroom and the kitchen. Those are the spaces with the most impact. So I would say also focusing in on those areas and kind of like we talked about earlier, just bringing in the season maybe some fresh flowers or like a tablescape with some spring colors or even just like a little seating area in the master bedroom where you could kind of open the windows and let that spring air come in. I think prioritizing those rooms will really help maximize the impact.

JON: Yeah, yeah. Some great ideas. So how do you know a well staged home?

MCKENNA: Oh, that is a good question. I think kind of at a basic level, a well staged home is going to be really tidy. It's going to be well lit. So multiple sources of light in each room. But mostly I think it's just going to feel universally appealing. So there won't be any personal items out and about but it'll still feel really hospitable and inviting and like anybody can just move in and settle down. I think there should be some degree of uniqueness because, you know, buyers are probably seeing a lot of very similarly staged homes. So it should feel pretty neutral on the whole with just some little touches of interest that make it really memorable.

JON: Awesome. All right. Well thank you McKenna.

MCKENNA: Thanks, Jon. Appreciate it.

JON: That’s it for this episode, thanks for listening! If you enjoyed the talk, you can subscribe to us and leave a review so that others can find our show and join the ranks of happy real estate agents nationwide. Shop Talk is a production of The CE Shop.