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MIAMI — Sellers can spend thousands on an interior designer staging their home. What do they get in return?

Time, say industry professionals. And sometimes, money.

The residential real estate firm Compass surveyed their agents nationwide in 2019 after launching its Compass Concierge program, which lends money to sellers upgrading their home, and found that 53% of agents said that staging decreases a property’s time on the market. And South Florida Realtors say it’s true — especially for priced $1 million and up.

“It sells the home more quickly,” said Jill Eber of the Jills Zeder Group, an affiliate of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate. “If a buyer sees empty spaces, they don’t know how the open spaces can be utilized.”

Some sellers immediately stage their homes when listing it, said Carole Smith, Compass Florida vice president and real estate adviser.

“They ask me ‘what do I need to do?’ I am not having a hard time trying to convince them,” Smith said. “I think it’s because they see nice looking houses on social media and in print advertisements. It’s a spirit of competition to make their homes stand out.”

Other sellers resist — only to find their single-family home or condo languishing for months. Once they do stage, the homes can sell in as little as three months, said Eber.

The shift in buyer response is clear. “They might not ask for a second showing or they immediately put an offer.”

Costs vary from about $3,000 to $100,000, agents said. Fees depend on the amount of square footage and work required. Sometimes that includes decluttering, painting, window treatments and home furnishings that add life to empty spaces.

Sometimes, staging even leads to a higher offer or sale price.

“A new house that is home staged often gets up to 20% more than the asking price,” said Farid Moussallem, Compass director of international sales, “versus a home that is not staged that may get as low as 20% below the asking price.” Older homes can benefit as well, he said.

“You need to have the ‘wow’ effect to command a premium. It’s not enough to have a house in a good location with the latest technology.”

It’s no surprise then that for staging companies like South Miami’s All About the Wow, business is growing. “We are living in a HGTV world,” said Jennifer McCloskey, company founder. “People have become more aware of it.”

Said Eber, “The sellers are getting more savvy. “They understand that first impressions are important.”

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