Staging Your Home In West Hawaii’s Competitive Market

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Luxury homes in West Hawaii cater to a specific crowd of homebuyer and many will view the listing for the first time from the mainland through the MLS. Great photography is essential and homes that photograph well will be the first ones to get that call from a potential buyer. What makes people take a second look at the photos? How the home has been staged.

We asked local staging expert, Valerie Delahaye-Ippolito, owner of Mahalo Hale Staging for her advice, data, and expertise regarding what she thinks helps sell a house quickly with the proper creative help.

Below are before and after photos of a home that Valerie staged in Kailua Kona. (Photographs by Ryan O’Halloran)


Once you make the decision to sell your home you need to look at it as a product.

Does your home say “buy me” or does your home say too much about you and the life you led in it?

Look at it like this, to get the most money for your car, you get it carefully detailed and make sure that it smells terrific. Your home as a larger investment deserves the same kind of treatment.

What the survey’s say

Did you know that 40% of home buyers are more willing to walk through a staged home they saw online than one that is not? (National Association of Realtors 2017). And over 77% of buyers find it “easier to visualize the property as their future home” when it’s staged. (National Association of Realtors 2017).

Staged homes spend 78% less time on the market. Add the cost of a mortgage, HOA fees, and utilities and suddenly the staging costs look like an investment that makes sense. Staged homes sell for an average of 3% higher, which is $30,000 for a million dollar listing, which exceeds the staging investment, according to the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA).

What do you need to do?

  1. Declutter:  The first step to moving on is to start packing. Take an honest look at your home, and go room by room and start the process of decluttering. Create four categories for your things – trash, donate, repair, and keep.
  2. Repair: Take a look at each room and start a list of what needs painting, fixing or updating.
  3. Refresh: Paint and spackle, fix broken tiles, caulking, and dripping faucets especially in bathrooms and kitchens which are the two areas that should be immaculate.
  4. Visual Marketing Using A Team of Pros: : As we said before, photos are everything! Online photos are the new front door. Your online photographs will be the deciding factor on who the buyers will hire to represent them and what houses they will go visit and this is especially true in Hawaii. Make sure your marketing team is composed of a great stager, a great photographer, and an amazing Realtor.  These three very distinct professionals are all trained in their field of expertise. Seasoned Realtors understand the importance of marketing and will recommend the right professional to market your property.
  5. Style: Give your home a sense of style, and each room a sense of purpose. A professional stager will help you navigate through this difficult task for a minimal consultation fee.
  6. Let’s “de-decorate”: Staging is not decorating. it is actually de-decorating. Staging is more comparable to set or stage design than it is interior design or decorating. Staging is about setting the tone and creating visual vignettes that will, in turn, create emotional responses within the viewers.
  7. Don’t over-furnish: Keep it simple and do not over furnish the rooms because the more you put in the room, the smaller the room gets.
  8.  De-personalize: Remove personal and decorative items that are overwhelming.  Only keep your “wow” pieces. Not every wall needs art. If you have an amazing view, let it speak for the home. Do not ever compete with nature. Home hunters are buying Hawaii, not the overwhelming Tommy Bahama bedding.
  9.  Keep it clean: A clean home indicates that the home was cared for and even if the home and decor are dated. it will give the viewers the impression that the infrastructure was well cared for, and that is a huge selling point as it will put your buyers at ease.
  10. Room for imagination: Give your potential buyers room to move in. Leave some room for imagination. That’s the art of staging!

Hiring a stager

So, how to choose a stager? Do your homework and go look at their website. Ask questions such as, “What did you do for this property”? In staging pictures ask if the furniture belongs to the client or the stager. Ask them if they rent or do you own the furniture. Where do they source their furniture and decorative items? How often do they update their inventory?

Most important you want to find someone who is visually gifted, who understands color theory, negative space, knows how to invoke emotional responses, and can set the tone with a minimal amount of furniture and decor and make your home stand out of the crowd.

LUVA Real Estate has stagers that we work with, including Mahalo Hale, that we can suggest when you list your home with us! Let’s work together in compiling a team of marketers to create a visually compelling space in your home for photos and tours!