To stage or not to stage: is that the question?

stage_1_webFull disclosure! I am a home stager and interior designer. I’ve worked with top agents across the GTA but with a special focus on Leaside, where I live and have loved for almost 20 years, because of its charm and character, glorious brick homes, beautiful architecture and green spaces, and so much more.

You might wonder, with housing at such a premium in Leaside, why does anyone need to stage? As local agent Patrick Rocca says, “Staging definitely increases the value of a home. A staged home looks better, which means it sells faster and that means more money for my sellers.”

In fact, the real estate industry estimates staging a home can add between six and 15 per cent to the asking price. Some estimates go as high as 20 per cent.

Let me tell you about a few properties I staged in Leaside. One was a detached home with four bedrooms and two bathrooms that was listed at $1,349,000 and sold for over $1,750,000. This home had not been renovated in more than two decades but was lovingly cared for and we emphasized this with the staging design. Staging clearly helped surpass the client’s financial goals.

stage_2_webThe next home was a three bedroom, three bathroom detached home with a renovated kitchen that had been completed within the last five years. It was a lovely home where I fully replaced all of the furnishings throughout the home. The list price was $1,080,000 and it sold over asking for $1,451,000. The kitchen was nice, not outstanding – a simple kitchen the clients had updated on a tight budget. I was able to connect with buyers and showcase the home’s unique beauty.

The last property was a four bedroom, three bathroom townhouse that had not been renovated in many years. I had the townhouse painted a beautiful light colour that opened the entire home and helped to make the high ceilings and natural light a focal point. After staging and by updating the main living space furniture and updating the lighting throughout the home, this townhouse sold for $100,000 over asking.

I’m often asked, does that mean ALL my belongings and furniture must go? It’s a hot market and the buyer is just going to renovate, so can’t I leave it as is? Do I have to fix everything/replace a lot of things in my home?

stage_4_webA buyer never expects a home, especially an older home, not to have a few imperfections. That is the allure of Leaside and older homes. It’s always important to fix that leaking tap, but you don’t have to update the bathroom tile unless it’s in seriously bad condition. If a space is clean and decluttered, you will be surprised that buyers will overlook that cracked tile because they love the fresh paint colour in the room or they are still discussing the main living space and the amount of natural light in the home.

Not all staging techniques are the same. I have three different types of staging. Each style is different, and I always discuss with the agent and client exactly what I am going to do and recommend.


#1. Completely reinventing the main living spaces. This involves removing current furniture, art work, accessories and bringing in new, more modern and lighter pieces that rejuvenate the space. I will often add a fresh coat of paint to update the feel of the home. This type of staging works very well when I am emphasizing an updated home. Buyers walk in and fall in love with a home where they can see themselves living in each and every room. It is what agents call move-in ready.

#2. Working with the client’s pieces. This involves combining a client’s pieces with new pieces such as coffee tables, dining chairs, accessories and pictures. A nice mix of current pieces and new pieces provides unique rooms. This is a quick cost-effective solution to give buyers a feel for the potential of the spaces.

stage_9_web#3. Decluttering. This is commonly used with an original owner home, estate sale or where the agent knows that the property lends itself to a teardown or a complete renovation. In this staging I work with the owner or family, we declutter the house and ensure it’s clean, open and inviting to showcase the original charm of the home.

Staging helps to showcase a listing in the best possible light and get as many potential buyers into the home as possible. We are visual creators, and when we see a space that is pleasing to the eye then we become emotionally invested. Good staging for me is as unique as the family that has called it home.

Jill Rawson is a guest contributor to Leaside Life.