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Home staging companies forced to adapt as sellers pull back in slow housing market



In the dynamic world of real estate, the winds of change are affecting not just home buyers and sellers but also the businesses that help transform houses into dream homes. Home staging companies, like Rachael Stafford's Order in the House, are facing challenges as the Canadian housing market experiences a slowdown, prompting sellers to reassess the need for extensive makeovers.


Home staging, once a crucial investment for sellers seeking to maximize property values in a hot market, is witnessing a shift in demand. Rachael Stafford notes that in the current environment, sellers are more cautious about the initial costs and ongoing monthly fees associated with comprehensive staging. While some still opt for essential services like decluttering and organizing, others are scaling back on furniture rentals, reflecting a trend of cost-conscious decision-making.


The cooling real estate market, influenced by interest rate hikes and a decrease in newly listed homes, has prompted home staging companies to adapt to the changing landscape. With fewer properties being sold quickly, businesses like Order in the House are feeling the impact, leading them to find innovative solutions to stay afloat.


A study by the Real Estate Staging Association reveals a decline in the percentage of staged homes selling above the listing price in both Canada and the U.S. from 2022 to 2023. As the housing market experiences a 20-year low in sales, Cailey Heaps, president of the Heaps Estrin Real Estate Team, observes a notable shift in seller behavior. Staging is often done for an initial period, and if the property doesn't sell, sellers revert to their original setup, relying on staged photos to attract potential buyers.


To counter the challenges of longer listing periods, some home stagers are adopting creative solutions. Katie Walker, principal designer at Katie Walker Interiors, highlights the growing popularity of virtual staging. This innovative approach involves blending 3D models of furniture into photos of the seller's home, providing a cost-effective and convenient alternative to physical staging.


The extended days on the market have also influenced sellers' decisions, with many opting to remain in their homes during the selling process. This shift in behavior has led to a reconsideration of staging strategies, emphasizing the importance of making the existing living conditions work for the duration of the listing.


Looking ahead, industry experts express optimism about a potential rebound in the housing market as the Bank of Canada contemplates reducing key interest rates. Rachael Stafford remains hopeful that the staging industry will experience a resurgence, emphasizing the enduring value of even minor touch-ups by professionals. In a market where first impressions matter, the impact of a well-staged home can be the key to unlocking opportunities with discerning buyers who increasingly rely on online listings and photos to make their decisions. As the industry navigates these changing tides, adaptability and creativity become paramount for home staging companies seeking to weather the currents of a shifting real estate landscape.


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