First Impressions

Industry professionals: Even in a busy market, homebuyers want to fall in love

When the residential real estate market is as hot as Dallas-Fort Worth’s, it may seem like gilding the lily to expend the time and money to stage and professionally photograph a listing.

 But experts say it can make the difference between full asking price and top dollar.

“They say staging a home brings more money — 17% — but in addition to price, homes that are well maintained, edited, staged, and with curb appeal sell better,” said Paige Elliott, a real estate agent with Elliott & Elliott Real Estate Group and Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate. “Plus, good photography often sells (the home) sooner too, and the cost of staging is less than a price reduction if the home isn’t selling.”

Photographer Costa Christ and home stager and designer Sarah Nowak stressed how good photography could create an emotional connection for a prospective buyer.

“When a real estate agent hires me, they’re hiring someone who shoots for magazines, too,” said Christ, who photographs houses for real estate agents, architects, magazines, and interior designers. “So it looks like an editorial spread. They want an emotional trigger for the buyer.

“I have photographed homes that have been on the market for months or even years,” he added. “I shoot it with a different eye, and it sells in hours sometimes.”

The photography can be so important, he said, that his company sends an extensive checklist to homeowners so they can get more out of their shoot.

“Staging is important because it elicits an emotional response from potential buyers,” Nowak said. “It’s like a bridge that connects that person’s current life to the house you’re selling by helping them envision what it would be like to live there.”

Elliott said that staging helps with the practical aspects of home buying, too.

“Buyers can more easily envision how the space in the home can be used and get a better idea of the size, and see themselves living there, too,” she said.

“We often see irregular layouts, unusually small rooms, and awkwardly large spaces that tend to leave buyers questioning the home’s livability,” Nowak agreed. “Staging essentially eliminates that question by physically proving the home can be functional.”

Nowak said hiring professionals could make a difference in the price of a home — and the amount of stress involved. 

“Selling a home is a lot of work, and especially for those who have never done it before, there are so many things that can go wrong,” she said. 

“Find a licensed real estate professional that has a team of relevant supporting professionals; contractors, stagers, and real estate photographers are invaluable assets to a successful real estate agent’s team.”

Read more from all three experts by subscribing to [email protected], our weekly real estate and homes newsletter.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at [email protected].

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