The Ultimate Guide to Home Staging in Hawaii

What Exactly is Home Staging?

In home staging, you arrange furniture and put décor in a private residence to make it attractive for potential buyers. Ultimately, the goal is to get your property to sell more quickly and hopefully, for a higher bid. It’s all about that first impression!

Nina Arakaki says, “It can be challenging for people to walk into a home and imagine how to layout the space. That’s why home staging can be important, especially in Hawaii where the market is so competitive.”

There are various techniques and strategies that professional stagers use to make your property as welcoming as possible. Depending on your budget, you can do just a simple cleaning and remove a few personal items. But if you want to go all out, you could give your home a fresh coat of paint, fix up your landscaping, add plants or hang up an art piece on a blank wall to make it look more inviting.

“I personally like to do realistic staging, so everything is practical. I want people to get that connection right away to the home. Just like when you go shopping for shoes or clothes, you want to feel that emotional connection – it’s the same thing as you walk into the home. Otherwise, it’s just a big box,” says Nina.

Types of Staging

There are four different types of staging: virtual staging, soft staging, vacant staging and occupied staging.

Virtual Staging

  • Virtual staging is an effective marketing method where you use 3D software to stage your home. Most programs use photographs to recreate a digital room. You can then add décor elements, place furniture and even remove things from walls, ceiling and floor. Some programs used by professional stagers include ARCHLine XP Virtual Stager, Real Tour Vision Software, 3D Max Rendering & Modelling Software and even Adobe Photoshop.

Vacant Staging

  • Nina’s specialty is vacant staging, where, as the term implies, the house is vacant. This means you will most likely need to furnish the entire home or condo from scratch. Nina purchases items from Inspiration Interiors, Valyou Furniture, Target, TJ Maxx or Ross. She also finds unique finds through Facebook marketplace to build her inventory. She doesn’t rent furniture, although some stagers do that. She will sometimes use air mattresses and store things underneath to hold it up as a bed.

Occupied Staging

  • Occupied staging is when people are actually living in the home. Nina says she tries her best to use any existing furniture the owners may have, and if she has to bring in her own furniture, she covers it with a sheet so that it won’t get damaged when the residents are using it.

Soft Staging

  • Soft staging is a more budget-friendly option, where stagers will use existing furniture and add artwork and décor like pillows, throws, candles, plants, etc. to freshen up the space. Small details can help make a home look more welcoming and homier.

Six Reasons Why You Should Stage

1. More Potential to Sell

If you’re selling your home, you want it to sell fast and for the best possible price. By presenting your home in a good light, you’ll increase your chances of success.

2. House Feels Well-Maintained

Buyers want to feel that the home is safe and well-maintained. If you do a good job with staging your home, it will give buyers the impression that this home is in good condition. And, it shouldn’t be a false impression – basic repairs such as broken faucets, chipped paint and loose screws should be fixed during the staging process.

3. Get a Head Start on Packing

In order to stage, you’ll need to declutter significantly and remove all your personal belongings. That means, no more procrastination! When it’s actually moving day, you’ll have less things to pack last minute. Two birds, one stone.

4. Staging Makes the House Seem Larger

By removing clutter and arranging furniture to the best possible layout, the home will look larger than it really is. By paying attention to the flow of the room, the home won’t feel cramped or crowded.

5. Makes Your Home Competitive

It’s most likely that savvy buyers have visited other open houses before visiting yours, and they will visit more homes after they leave. By staging your home, you can make it stand out. Even if your home is priced comparatively to other homes, you can give the appearance of a better value. The same logic applies to any product!

6. Woo the Agents

Agents see homes all day, especially buyer agents. By staging your home properly, it can get buyer agents interested and excited. As a seller, this is a great thing because the agent’s excitement can rub off on the buyers.

Take A Look At The Numbers

Still need convincing? Here’s a few stats from the 2019 Profile of Home staging by National Association of REALTORS Research Group.

  • 40% of buyers’ agents cited that home staging had an effect on most buyers’ view of the home.
  • 83% of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home.
  • Staging the living room was found to be most important for buyers (47%), followed by staging the master bedroom (42%), and staging the kitchen (3%).
  • 1/4 of buyer’s agents said that staging a home increased the dollar value offered between one and five percent, compared to other similar homes on the market that are not staged.

Differences Between Condos, Single-Family Homes & Luxury Homes

A condo typically requires logistical planning with the building to adhere to rules. Often, the condo will only have a certain time frame for move ins and you will need to schedule the elevator for bringing in furniture and décor. “It also requires more manpower and there’s some risk of liability because you don’t want to scratch the walls or damage the hallways. I plan ahead carefully to make the most out of my trip,” says Nina.

A single-family home does not require as much coordination, although you will still need to plan what and when to bring items so that you don’t waste time. Luxury homes have a certain aesthetic, which means the décor and furniture will need to be higher quality to fit the style of the home.

SIY (Stage It Yourself) or Hire A Pro?

Nina says: That depends! If you’re trying to stage a vacant home, definitely go with a professional. “People underestimate how much time and labor home staging takes, and it's stressful if you’re also trying to move at the same time,” says Nina. “Sometimes, it can cost about the same or even more if you’re planning to do it yourself.”

Soft or occupied staging? Go for it! “I personally think anyone can soft or occupied stage,” says Nina. If doing it yourself, below are a few tips to consider:

Nina’s Nine Important Tips

1. Neutrals. The right background for each room will help set the mood. That’s why most people paint their walls white but it’s the same for primary furniture pieces, comforters and towels. You can add that pop of color through pillows, throws, flowers or artwork.

2. Hawaii-Centric. Adding a little local artwork, style with a ukulele or Hawaiian children’s book can be just the right touch to styling a “lifestyle look.”

3. Coastal Theme. This is not only the current trend, but it matches the island-style without making it look over touristy. Keep it light and airy, add wicker or rattan, add photos of the beautiful beaches and lots of plants.

4. Mix It Up. Not everything needs to match! Nina loves interior design studio and online store Studio McGee. She encourages the eclectic look and straying away from old design rules about matching everything. You don’t need two nightstands and two lamps. Add a tall plant on one side or a ladder with blankets. Don’t be afraid to bend the old rules a little bit.

5. Table Place Setting. You can use it sometimes, but if you don’t have it, don’t worry about it. Grab a vase and some flowers, or branches or a few leaves. It’s classy and simple, and it’ll be just the right touch to make the table look put together.

6. De-clutter. If you’re staging it yourself, you probably have a home full of your memories. Remove all clutter and take away your personal items.

7. Consider the Angle of the Photos. When Nina stages, she keeps in mind the angles of photos. Keep an idea of where the photographer is going to take a photo and make sure that view will have the best styling.

8. Keep Architecture In Mind. Take a careful look at the architecture, location and demographics. Some homes are modern, others have a beachy style. If it’s a family-style home, make sure there’s a kids’ room.

9. Don’t Overdo It. Keep things simple! You don’t need to add something in every nook and cranny.

If Hiring, Keep An Eye Out For…

  • Style. Ask to see the stager’s portfolio and see if their style fits yours. Everyone has a different aesthetic.
  • Pricing. Most stagers price by square footage or by room. Everyone’s different. Nina personally prefers staging by square footage to keep it simple.
  • Lifestyle. A good stager will know the potential buyer’s lifestyle and will try their best to stage for that buyer.

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