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Adil Esmail**
**Sales Representative

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In a very competitive real estate market, homeowners look to more unorthodox methods than those in use even a few decades ago to give their property the edge over the competition. They throw extravagant open houses, reach out through the internet to catch the attention potential buyers on the other side of the world who are looking for downtown Toronto condominiums, and finally they turn to home stagers to make their condo look as inviting and full of possibilities as humanly possible. But now that the market is recovering, is it really necessary to cater to buyers quite so much? Is staging homes a dying profession? Should you bother with it when you're selling YOUR condo? There are still many benefits to staging a home, however it's your money you will be spending, so perhaps a cost vs benefits analysis is in order.

The Cost

You might be wondering: how much does it cost to stage a home, anyway? The final price depends on the agency or individual stager you hire. Some professional home stagers charge as little as $100 to $200 for their services, but what you'd be getting from these stagers is just some simple cosmetic adjustments in a small property. Generally the only people who can get away with paying that little for an effective home staging job are owners of Toronto condominiums for sale. For larger homes or homes that will require a lot of work (such as the homes of pack rats or people whose decorating tastes are well outside of the trends featured in magazines and on television decorating shows) the price can be in the thousands of dollars. For instance, a large Toronto house with a lot of clutter might cost $5,000 to $7,000 to stage if you hire a high-end firm.

What's Involved?

Generally the home stager will not conduct repairs on your home. He or she will be an interior decorator, and as such will usually lack the experience to do even minor carpentry, plumbing, and electrical work on the condos for sale in Toronto they have taken on for their clients. Therefore your stager will expect you to complete any minor repairs such as dripping faucets or chipped baseboards BEFORE bringing them in to do their work. Some of the tools that home stagers use to improve the look of your home include paint, furniture, curtains, rugs, artwork, lamps, and decorative items. He or she will likely have you place in storage most or all of your furniture and may even have you rent more stylish items. Buying paint, renting a storage unit, renting new furniture and buying new decorations are some of the tasks your $7,000 might fund, though some stagers bring in their own items. Definitely expect to be packing up your personal touches, such as football trophies, children's drawings, and family photos.

The Benefits

If this seems like a lot of work to you, you're right! However, surprising as it may seem, moving the furniture around and swapping out some of the decorations increases the price you'll get for your home by an average of 3%. That doesn't sound like that much, but the average asking price for a downtown property in the Toronto condo listings is in excess of $400,000, so you'd be getting $12,000 extra! Even subtracting the few thousand dollars a high-end stager would charge, that's a pretty big dividend. Of course, not all sales are boosted by that much, but they are generally boosted significantly. Why? Because home staging allows potential buyers to see themselves living in a fashionable new home - which sometimes results in them bidding extra to make sure they achieve that dream.

Saving Money

For those of you who are concerned about saving money whenever possible, there are options other than hiring a professional stager and paying her thousands of dollars. If you're willing to spend more time and effort, you can accomplish the same or nearly the same results by staging the home yourself. You can use decorating schemes that have worked in past Toronto condo sales by mimicking your friends, you can model your home after a scheme you saw in a magazine, or you can turn to how-to decorating shows on the internet for information on how to get started. Remember though: even staging your home yourself is not without cost, as you'll be renting a storage unit and probably some new furniture, buying paint, and purchasing new decorative items.

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