Why Does Sweden Stage More Than The UK?
In Sweden professional home staging has become increasingly popular over the last 15 years. It’s used by house sellers both in bigger cities and in more rural areas for houses in all price ranges.
People love to look online for houses on the market. Home staging is a concept so popular that one home staging company, Scandinavian Homes is setting some of the trends in international interior design and they have over half a million followers on Instagram. That is just one example of the impact and how popular home staging has become.
Here in the UK people have been slower to embrace the concept, although it has featured on TV shows such as House Doctor for example.
I moved to England six years ago and I couldn’t help but notice the difference in quality between the way houses were marketed here in England compared to how it was done in Sweden.
When selling in Sweden you would make your house look the best that you possible could and pay for help if needed. Over here, it was sort of a half-hearted affair and it felt like people would put more effort in on selling a lamp on Ebay then when they were selling their home a house.
There’s a lot of money involved when buying and selling properties and yet there was not much interest in how it was marketed.
"Why is this?" - I have asked myself and I know I’m not the only one who’s been puzzled by this.
I have done a bit of “research”, as in empiric studies and discussing with people in the business. I know it’s a very complex thing trying to compare countries and cultures, but I believe I might have filtered out a few things that may have had an impact on the home staging business in Sweden v. UK.
1. Internet – Many Swedes have an interest in design, by heritage I think, and I know from my own experience that we love our houses and DIY. We also like our technology and we were early adopters of the internet. So maybe it’s no wonder that Hemnet, a website for buying and selling houses has become incredibly popular. It’s the equivalent of the British Rightmove but it started earlier, back in 1998. In 2015 it was Sweden's most visited housing website, with up to 2.6 million unique visitors a week. Hemnet was also chosen as the best search website in 2015 by Internet World’s Top 100. A lot of people would go in there just to get inspiration, get tips, check the price situation, and maybe dream a little for a while.
2. Cultural difference - In Sweden, more than in many other countries, people’s identity is very intertwined with how and where you live. It can be that the Swedes are the most “house crazy” people in the world.
Hemnet has carried out an international study that shows that when the number of visitors to housing-related websites is set against population, Sweden ends up in the top. And most house buying interested are the Stockholmers. That would of course have an impact as well.
There is more complicated factors to consider. I mean, there are political and structural reasons.or example it’s easier to dream, planning to live in and buying properties if a mortgage is a reality within reach. On the other hand, people still dream and might get motivated to find ways to achieve the dream.
3. Professional photography and Home Staging as a concept - I consulted a good friend of mine who is a successful estate agent in Stockholm, Mrs Carina Brandell. She would always use a photographer AND she includes a home staging consultation as a rule to her customers. Actually- for the last 10 years or even more, professional photographs would have been included in “the package” to sellers and now the home staging consultation is getting more and more common to get. As an estate agent you compete about the properties and the faster you sell and the better price you achieve the more customers you get, so it’s worth the investment for them as well. The house sellers can then choose whether they want to go further and pay for a “hands-on” home staging package. I believe this make people aware of the fact that it’s worth the investment. In my experience the estate agents here in England would offer this to high-end properties but they tend to take the photos themselves on many occasions and with just a little or no home staging preparations. This is ok , but it’s just not the high-end quality you get from a professional photographer and a professional home stager.
At the end of the day, the quality on the photos that is shown will have an impact on how interested people are to just browse along on Rightmove and other housing websites and think “wow that’s how I want to live”, and to make them dream a little and want a little. Be inspired. Like the Swedes on Hemnet.
The trend here in the UK seems to be changing tough and more and more people are, very wisely, considering home staging and professional photographs when selling a house. Also, more and more estate agents recommend this to their clients and the HSA Home Staging report 2019 shows that it is working.