How Home Stagers Help Increase Sales Prices

The real estate mantra is no longer location, location, location; it's staging, staging, staging. Even luxury homes need to show their best face these days, and that's why staging has become the norm for high-end properties in L.A. Dressing a home to impress has spawned a cottage industry of licensed and certified professionals whose job it is to come in and make a home appear luxurious, welcoming and approachable for a faster sale and a greater return on investment. Often that involves whisking away half or all of the owner's furnishings, removing photographs and other personal memorabilia, replacing old cabinet fronts and hardware, changing paint color, enhancing the lighting, etc. According to CNN, home staging is one of the few professions poised for growth in the years ahead.

"It's about illusions and perceptions," observes Deborah Fabricant, owner of the Art of Home Staging, who recently staged a $25 million, 11,000-square-foot manse designed by architect Quincy Jones in the '50s. "Selling a house is a lot like a romance. You've got to set a mood. We're going for a neutral look since almost everyone can visualize themselves in a home like that."

Romancing the home doesn't come cheap, typically anywhere from $500-$75,000. Is it worth it? According to Fabricant, her input can increase a home value by 30% and move a property that's been idle for months. Even more modest projections from www.Stage, a leader in home staging services, show an average 3% minimum increase in the sales price of homes that have been staged versus those that had not. That's a $150,000 increase on a $5 million home -- not chump change by any standards.