Staging may not be important and may not raise residential sales prices, according to researchers at the College of William & Mary.
The study, reported by Bankrate.com, polled 820 home buyers who were shown a series of six virtual tours of a single property, each focusing either on wall color or furnishings. The tours showed the property without furniture, with "ugly" furniture, with "good" furniture, and with wall colors such as neutral beige and an "unattractive" shade of purple.
As it turned out, neither wall color nor furnishings made much of an impact on the potential sale price. According to the study, buyers were willing to pay the same price, about $204,000, regardless of how the property was staged. However, the same potential buyers thought that other buyers would spend more on the properties in the tour, which may explain why we don't question the wisdom of staging.
"These results stand in stark contrast to the conscious opinion of both buyers and real estate agents that staging conditions significantly impact willingness to pay for a home," the researchers concluded. Study co-author Michael Seiler, professor of real estate and finance at the College of William & Mary, speculates that today's buyers are savvy and recognize that staging involves cosmetic changes that are not expensive.
However, while sellers may not like hearing that money spent on staging won't yield a higher price, Seiler says, "I am definitely not ready to say spending money on staging would be a waste." For one thing, the study found that staging does give buyers a more favorable impression of the home's livability, something Seiler believes may help the property sell faster. He says the study might not be applicable to all price points and locations.
"It seems plausible that different clientele might be differentially influenced by staging," he says. "It also seems reasonable to suspect different staging looks would appeal to different tastes and preferences of people."