By Meredith Dunn, Communications Manager, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

First impressions matter, especially when showing a home. Almost all (99 percent) REALTORS® recently surveyed believe curb appeal is important when attracting a buyer[1]. For that matter, presenting a house as a future home is almost as important: 77 percent of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home[2]. Additionally, according to 62 percent of sellers’ agents, staging can also at least slightly decrease the amount of time the home spends on the market. However, both increasing curb appeal and successfully staging a home can be daunting prospects. The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) heard from members on approaches they feel are most effective. 

For example, a full and well-maintained lawn is important to potential buyers. REALTORS® ranked a standard lawn care program (to include six applications of fertilizer and weed control) as the No. 1 outdoor feature project that appeals to buyers. REALTORS® also estimated that lawn care would recover 267 percent of the cost as estimated by landscape professionals. In the same vein, landscape maintenance (which includes an annual mulch application, pruning of shrubs, and planting new annuals and perennials), comes in at No. 2 on the list of projects that appeal to buyers, and could recoup 100 percent of the cost, as estimated by REALTORS®. For both the lawn care program and the landscape maintenance, among the top results of the projects were beauty and aesthetics, at 39 and 34 percent respectively.

A new wood deck comes in at No. 5 on the list, both in rank of appeal to buyers, as well as rank of projects that likely add value to the home for resale. The wood deck project was estimated to recoup 80 percent of the value, but ranked 9.8 out of 10 on the Joy Score. The Joy Score was calculated by combining the share who were happy and those who were satisfied when seeing their completed project, and dividing the share by 10 to create a ranking between 1 and 10. Higher Joy Scores indicate greater joy from the project. Forty-nine percent said that the most important result of the project was better functionality and livability.

When home staging, buyers’ agents found that staging the living room was most important at 55 percent, followed by staging the master bedroom at 51 percent and the kitchen at 41 percent. Sellers’ agents agreed, and commonly staged the living room at 83 percent, kitchen at 76 percent and master bedroom at 69 percent.  For both buyers’ and sellers’ agents, the guest bedroom is considered to be the least important room to stage. 

When making the decision whether to stage a home, 38 percent of sellers’ agents said that they stage all sellers’ homes prior to listing them for sale, but 14 percent say that they stage only those homes that are difficult to sell. Approximately one-third of both buyers’ and sellers’ agents agree that staging the home can increase the dollar value offered between 1 and 5 percent compared to other similar homes on the market that are not staged.
 
In addition to staging, agents also commonly recommend home improvement projects to sellers. Ninety-three percent recommend decluttering the home, 89 percent recommend an entire home cleaning, and 81 percent recommend carpet cleaning. Other projects before showing include depersonalizing the home, removing pets during showings and performing paint touch ups and minor repairs.