Recently the term “staging” has become common in reference to listing a home. It’s not exactly the latest trend because it has been around for quite awhile. Staging refers to preparing a property through furnishings and accessories to enhance a home’s desirability when listed for sale. The term is more common now as the real estate market has entered a “period of correction” and sellers are looking for ways to differentiate their properties in a competitive market. Statistics continually show that staged homes sell more quickly than ones that are not staged. Unfurnished homes can be very difficult to show, especially if there are odd shaped or small rooms. They do not feel inviting, and because a buyer has nothing else to look at, flaws become more noticeable. Since only 10 percent of prospective buyers can visualize their furniture in another home, furnishings make rooms seem larger by giving a sense of scale to a space. And a professional will know what to do with rooms that are challenging. Developers have employed model homes for years. Designers choose furnishings to create a look that compliments a house’s style. From cottage casual to contemporary the idea is to create a lifestyle so potential buyers can see their lives in a particular home. Furnished interiors aid in marketing a project because they look more attractive in brochures and online virtual tours. According to national statistics, 80 percent of home buyers turn to the Internet prior to choosing a realtor. Surfing the web is commonplace as buyers consider moving. Online photos succeed because viewers see the furnished interiors as more welcoming. And because the staged rooms draw the eye, they can hide a listing’s flaws. As a Realtor, the photos set the property apart from other homes and the opportunity to capture a prospect is significant. Often the price of staging is less than a price reduction. Fees vary widely depending on a houses size; whether it’s a full or partial staging, and the length of the contract. The savings of a month’s carrying costs alone can pay for the price of the service. Add in the stress of maintaining a home in good condition for showings, and the inconvenience of strangers traipsing through, the price is well worth the investment. A number of firms offer free consultations to prospective sellers. A stager’s job is to aid the seller in marketing their home, but it can be an alarming experience. Recommendations to get rid of clutter and personal items; to clean, and paint as well as removing furniture can be painful, however it’s a smart way to get a professionals opinion. Tips such as changing linens, adding fresh flowers and candles are simple and inexpensive improvements, and they can be done by the owner if they cannot employ a professional’s services. An unexpected benefit of staged interiors is that buyers linger longer and allows them to connect to a property. Unfurnished homes receive a quick visit and it’s on to the next listing. Staging makes properties memorable, and in a market with numerous listings competing for attention, connecting with the buyer may be one of the best ways to sell a home. Jonathan Hopp is CEO of Staged for Success, a staging company in Studio City. He can be reached at 818-989-9654 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.