March 24, 2010 by Marianne Sweet

If you are still on the fence about the value of professionally staging a home for sale, here is another benefit to consider: staged properties command higher appraisals.

Certified Residential Appraiser Linda Shurtliff, owner of Troy-based Reliable Residential Appraisals, LLC agrees. “A staged home has much more appeal than an unstaged home. A staged home has no clutter, very few personal items and appears clean and welcoming. A home that is well-maintained, has good functional utility including strategic staging of furniture, has fresh paint and is clean will appraise higher than one that’s not.”

Shurtliff, who has been appraising properties for 18 years and has owned her firm for 14 of those, has seen her share of houses for sale. She knows that factors other than comps affect the final value. “In doing an appraisal on a house, the appraiser estimates the current market value as of the day of inspection, but we also look at the house as a prospective buyer. Everything is considered in an appraisal …how well it’s maintained, the quality of the cabinets, flooring, lighting, etc.” Since the main goal of home staging is to present a home looking it’s very best, it follows that staging will address all of these factors and affect the appraisal.
“If something is really offensive, it forces us to look at lowering the range of value” according to Robert Vacanti, president of Northeastern Appraisal Associates.

Samantha Maziarz Christmann, Consumer Reporter for The Buffalo News offers the following tips:

Set the stage. Make the house look as nice as you can, as if you were staging it for a buyer. Making the home as pleasant as possible can help give the appraiser a subconscious nudge in your favor.

Got wild taste? You might want to consider toning it down for the appraiser.

Completing needed repairs won’t increase the value of your home, (but) neglecting repairs and maintenance will decrease the value.

A favorable appraisal is in everyone’s best interest. The seller is justified in listing at a higher price point, the buyer feels confident that they have paid fair market value for the house, the mortgage lender will be more likely to approve the loan to the qualified buyer, and the listing agent makes the sale!

Many great outcomes follow from a small investment in staging. Shurtliff sums up her belief in home staging: “It’s one very good thing a homeowner can do to help make their home stand out from the rest. They need to be able to detach themselves from their home, especially in today’s market, and let the professionals market it.”