The importance of staging and photography, and other tips to maximize your home’s sale

By Michelle Talsma Everson

THERE ARE SEVERAL THINGS to remember when prepping a home for sale — among the top two are professional staging and photography, says real estate expert Gary Colin of Keller Williams Realty/Sonoran Living. As one of the top agents in the East Valley, Colin has been working in real estate for nearly 30 years. We chatted with him and other local experts to find out the most upto- date advice on creating a successful listing.

Set the stage
When prepping to show your home there is one aspect that most experts agree cannot be overlooked: the importance of staging.

Robyn Guinn, professional stager, owner of StageAZ LLC, and the Arizona State President of RESA Real Estate Staging Association), weighs in on the important topic. “It’s almost easier to explain what staging is not,” she says. “Staging is not interior design: interior design is personalizing a home to your needs and wants, usually with a hefty budget. It is not decorating… decorating is personalizing and customizing the space to your taste. Staging is depersonalize, de-clutter, space planning ideas, color coordinating, and making sense of traffic flow throughout the house. It’s staged to highlight the property or create focal points where they are needed. Staging needs to suit the style of the property, not personal taste.” Guinn continues, noting that staging “needs to show potential colors and furniture arrangement ideas that coordinate with the style of the house. It’s to show or portray a possible lifestyle you could have if you lived there. Statistics say that 90% of the people cannot envision what a vacant house would look like with furnishings in it.”

“So does every house need to be staged? Yes,” Guinn affirms. “Staged homes sell faster and for more money. Hire a professional, certified stager to help with the process and then a professional photographer to show off your efforts. Let the pros do what we do best.”

real-estateProfessional photos
“I believe professional photographers makes a big difference in the marketing of any home, especially upscale homes,” Colin says. Kevin Crosse, president and CEO of Arizona Imaging, makes several points about not only professional staging, but professional photography as well. “In today’s real estate world, exposure is job number one; they say about 93 percent of the buyers start looking for a home online. Knowing that we are a visual society, it makes perfect sense that a listing would have high quality photos and a lot of them,” Crosse says. “This is what buyers want to see; they want to get a feel for the home before they drive all over town inperson. Just because a cell phone can take a photo does not mean it should. The point is by hiring a professional you know the job will be done right.” Crosse adds that “with our market always changing, your listing must look its best online and in-person. Professional photographers have a variety of tools at their disposal to help them tweak and improve most any shot.”

real-estate-02Colin notes that professional photographers can also often coordinate photo shoots from different points of view — an aerial shot for example — and are great at lifestyle based images that attract potential buyers and invoke emotions. “When a photo captures both the home and the lifestyle, buyers and sellers can get a true feeling of the community,” Colin says.

More tips
Of course, there’s more to a successful listing than staging and photos. Colin adds extra pointers:

  • Know why you’re selling your home
  • Maximize your home’s sales potential
  • Do your homework before setting your price
  • Find the right real estate agent to represent your needs
  • Make it easy for prospects to obtain information

Make sure your agent does their homework, too!

Colin notes that there are several real estate apps that both buyers and sellers can refer to. To find out more about these apps and other great home sale tips and advice, contact Colin at Keller Williams Realty/Sonoran Living at 602.501.4580 or

To learn more about real estate photography, email For professional staging advice, contact