As the Australian market cools down, home staging can make a big difference in selling price

Australia has established a booming sideline industry of home staging, catering to everything from tiny studio apartments to villas that are stylishly remodeled before listing.

In a survey of brokers conducted by Australian brokerage firm LJ Hooker, the styling of a property for sale contributes between 7.5% and 12.5% ​​to the selling price. But selling price aside, the staging is even more useful now than it has been in recent years as the once-white-hot Australian market cools and sellers face greater competition to differentiate themselves.

“Typically, if the supply-demand balance returns in favor of buyers, as we’re seeing now, we’d have to invest more in marketing,” said Bianca Denham, national director of special programs at agency Ray White. Presentation or staging is an important tool in the sales process.

“A well-crafted styling package can make an old home look new, make small spaces appear larger and is essential when there is an open plan living space. As the market adjusts and supply begins to outweigh demand, sellers will need to invest more than they did during the boom to create the same competitive environment that comes with premium selling prices,” Ms Denham said.

Justine Wilson, home stylist and founder of New South Wales-based Vault Interiors, said the trend, which can be profitable for salespeople, boils down to making a good first impression.

“It’s like a first date. You don’t go out in your pajamas, you do your hair and makeup because the presentation is important. So it’s the same when you put your house on the market, if you want the best price you have to do your best,” she said.

“In our experience, we’ve seen a price increase of between 5% and 20% when you’ve actually presented your home well,” she continued. “If you want a premium price, you absolutely must style, that’s become the expectation of agents and sellers.”

A national online portal for finding tradespeople,, advises Australians that for every dollar spent raising a property, a seller expect to get AUD$3 (US$2.07) in consideration when selling it should. The cost of bringing in furniture and accessories before a home is listed – coupled with the flair of a professional eye – averages between A$3,000 and $7,000, according to Ms Wilson. However, this fee depends on the size of the property, its location and how much of the floor plan is to be staged.

“I would say about 50% of our jobs are part styling because a lot of people still live in their property and it’s just not feasible for them to store a lifetime supply of items for six weeks or more. We advise the homeowner on what really large items to store like their sofas or old armchairs so we can bring in replacements.”

She said that for partial remodels, sellers should focus on spaces that stand out online, including the master bedroom, living room, dining room, kitchen and outdoor entertainment area.

Unlocking the potential of a home

The art of staging a home to charm shoppers doesn’t necessarily equate to a full interior design or even styling a photoshoot, Ms Wilson said, but rather it’s about demonstrating potential.

“A lot of people don’t realize that the right presentation of a space, the right flow, the right function and the right size of furniture can completely change the dynamic. Professional stylists will add value where you might not expect it by creating a study corner under the stairs or giving you a media room.”

Nicole Gleeson, sales representative and partner at Kay & Burton in Melbourne, said the ultimate goal of home staging is to evoke a strong response, which is lacking when a property is vacant.

“For me, it’s not initially about creating a percentage difference in the selling price. It’s about creating competition,” she said.

“If I had a buyer who, let’s say, has a lot of vision because they know interiors and understand proportions, then that’s great. But what if you get someone else who has no idea or has never renovated? They might walk into an empty house and say, “No, the room is way too small, it doesn’t even fit a double bed,” when it actually would, but they just can’t judge the proportions properly.”

A need that is difficult to quantify

Nerida Conisbee, chief economist at brokerage firm Ray White Australia, said it’s difficult to put a dollar figure on the outcome of home staging, even though it has undoubtedly become an integral part of marketing.

“In terms of value appreciation, it’s very difficult to figure out as some homes are already well presented and may just need a little polish rather than a full style. Other homes might not look good at all, so the right styling can give a huge price boost,” she said.

Home staging is so common in Australia that home buyers expect almost a certain amount of presentation.

“You always need to make your home stand out, whether you are selling a $10million home or a $400,000 unit, it is always best to make the best impression. We know what visual property is like, and when people view a home online, we know that many are unlikely to take the next step of calling an agent or viewing the property unless they are in some way drawn to the property ‘ Ms. Conisbee said.

That’s especially true for Australia’s upcoming spring market, when there will be more inventory on the market than in previous years, said Eleanor Creagh, senior economist at PropTrack.

“Australia-wide there were more new registrations in the first half of 2022 to 2015 than any other year,” said Ms Creagh. As a result, competition among buyers has decreased and homes are not selling as quickly.

“With more choice for buyers, sellers could potentially benefit by helping their property stand out from the crowd. One way to do that might be to hire an expert to stage a home,” she added.

create competition

With agents selling the “great Australian dream,” Ms Gleeson said emotions are the most effective tool in their marketing arsenal.

“I build emotional connections that buyers can fall in love with. When they look home online or in person, you want them to feel, ‘How can someone live so beautifully? It’s the way I want to live.” That’s what I’m trying to achieve,” Ms. Gleeson said, reiterating the need for competition. “You can have someone fall in love with your home, but when two people fall in love with your home, you might get a much better outcome.”

Ms Gleeson’s team have recently sold a new three bedroom house on Ralston Street in the upscale Melbourne suburb of South Yarra. The entire attached townhouse was staged and sold in the vicinity of A$3 million amid fierce competition.

“It was beautifully designed but once it was sold we moved all the pieces to the adjacent town residence and within days sold it to one of the underbidders on the first property,” she said.

Inspiring prospective buyers as they walk through an open house is key, the ultimate goal is to entice them even earlier in the process.

“You want your offering to stand out and unless you have a well presented home, most people won’t be showing up to openings, especially in a cooling market,” Ms Wilson added. “That first stop – with great photography and presentation – can bring more buyers to you.”

with VL Hendrickson

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