Should we be staging our homes? How to best present your property to potential buyers

Experts advise UAE homeowners on how to dress their property for rental or sale, a process often used on Netflix's 'Selling Sunset'

In Netflix's 'Selling Sunset', real estate agents often hire the help of a stager to dress homes and help sell their properties. Courtesy Netflix 
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"I have to stay on my A-game, and the staging on this property has got to be perfect," Chrishell Stause says in the first episode of series three of Selling Sunset, which was released on Netflix last week.

In this particular episode of the property reality show, actress-turned-estate-agent Stause is trying to sell a seven-bedroom, seven-bathroom, 6,300-square-foot home in Coldwater Canyon, Los Angeles, valued at just under $4.4 million (Dh16m). In order to do so, she teams up with a home stager named Odelia to stylishly dress a number of rooms in the previously empty house.

The same practice happens here in the UAE. And one Dubai staging expert says it could ultimately earn you more money on your property.

A staged kitchen and dining area, as seen in a home on 'Selling Sunset'. Courtesy Netflix 

What is home staging? 

"Home staging is the process of preparing, packaging and presenting your home for sale or rent, ensuring it appeals to the widest possible audience and sells or rents for the highest possible price," says Sarah Johnson of Sarah Johnson Consulting, who has been staging on a commercial basis in the UAE for more than 14 years.

The business works with companies and individuals, and offers a range of options, Johnson tells The National. 

The packages start with a basic option, which consists of a consultation, followed by Sarah Johnson Consulting sharing a report and mood board for clients to replicate.

A staged office, as seen in a home on 'Selling Sunset'. Courtesy Netflix 

There is then the option to upgrade to a package that includes the company removing clutter in a space, and advising on upcycling and sustainability possibilities. Finally, clients can opt to hand over full control, giving the company a blank canvas to complete a full fit-out.

"It is bespoke work," Johnson says, and packages start at Dh2,500 per room. She says that as a stager working in residential properties, you "have to be empathetic and mindful, you're in someone's home … it's not a commercial proposition".

“It's about creating an identity that complements the living space, bringing to life an environment that reflects you,” adds Maxine English, creative partner at Sarah Johnson Consulting.

Sarah Johnson Consulting's founder, Sarah Johnson, left, and creative partner, Maxine English. The company has recently expanded its services to offer home staging

Does home staging work? 

Johnson says "80 per cent of buyers can't see how that space could work" if it is presented to them empty. "Putting basic elements in has a massive impact on the speed it sells or is rented."

Staging can look good in an empty property; having furniture in a room can make it appear bigger as it's easier to visualise what may fit

Lewis Allsopp, chief executive of Dubai estate agency Allsopp and Allsopp, agrees that there are benefits to home staging.

"It all depends on the client and their imagination. A staged property can work wonders for clients who can’t picture the potential for a space in a home," Allsopp says. "Often, staged properties or well-furnished properties get a lot of interest from potential buyers who are drawn to the aesthetic and the styling of the home.

"Staging can look good in an empty property. Sometimes, as odd as it sounds, having furniture in a room can make it appear bigger because it's easier to visualise the dimensions and what may fit. Often, buyers or tenants will look at an empty room and be left with doubts about what would fit ... Staging could lead to a quicker sale or rental time and potentially a higher price."

Johnson says it is a balance of “effectively creating brand guidelines for people’s homes” and creating an aspirational space, while taking a client's needs into account.

A staged living room, as seen in a home on 'Selling Sunset'. Courtesy Netflix 

Allsopp and Allsopp does not currently offer home staging, and  its chief executive notes that the design cannot be too personality-led, echoing Johnson's belief that staging should "take the emotion out" of preparing a home to be sold.

"There are cases where a staged property can block a buyer's vision and they can’t see past the furniture and decor that is right in front of them to make space for the visions of their own home," Allsopp says.

"Our top tip to sellers or landlords, when it comes to making their property attractive to a potential client, is to declutter.

"If the property is currently occupied by the seller, landlord or a tenant, we advise that it is kept as clean and tidy as possible for marketing and, of course, for viewings taking place.

"A vacant property should be kept fresh and tidy, avoid unnecessary eyesores in the garden and, if possible, keep the power connected to show the property at its full potential, and avoid stuffy rooms and dead grass."