Staging Sells Homes Faster & For More Money

June 6, 2007

There are over 5000 homes for sale in the Omaha Metro area – and it’s a BUYER’S market. It’s a tough market out there…seller’s should do everything in their power to make their home outshine the competition – staging is a key element and should not be overlooked! I’m always happy to assist my seller’s with staging tips for their homes (this is a free service I provide) – it truly makes a difference! — Angela May, Realtor –

Regional Spotlight: Professional Stagers Help Yuma Residents Sell Real Estate

RISMEDIA, June 6, 2007-(MCT)-Staging a home doesn’t have to be costly. It can be as simple as removing extra furniture, buying a new comforter and replacing personal belongings with new pictures and accessories.

When prospective buyers walk through a house, they want to see space they can visualize filling with their possessions, not the buyer’s “stuff.”

That’s advice professional stager Teri Short gives to her clients, advice meant to help people prepare their home to entice potential buyers to sign on the dotted line.

“Now I’m getting a taste of my own medicine,” she said as she pointed out moving boxes stacked along a wall and renovation projects in various stages of completion in her own home.
With the cooled-off real estate market, just posting a for-sale sign could result in a long wait for a buyer, she said.

That’s why she’s taking her own advice to get her home ready to sell as she and her military husband prepare for another move.

“How you live in a home and how you market a house are two different things” is the golden rule she learned while taking a staging class.

The staging process has sometimes been referred to as detailing your house much as you would a car before selling it. It’s the process of making a house more appealing to potential buyers so it will stand out from other homes on the market.

Potential buyers will decide whether they like a house within 15 seconds of walking in the door, said Kathy James, a real estate agent who recently became certified as a property staging consultant. Sometimes it can happen as soon as they park at the curb.

That means the clutter has to go, she and Short agree. Trim trees, pack away the personal photographs and the knickknacks collected over the years, take the magnets off the refrigerator, remove all but the minimal furniture and weed out the closets.

“You need the house to flow and you don’t want distractions so people can imagine their stuff in there,” James said.

Staging is a service she offers free to her real estate clients, many of them senior citizens in the Foothills. Otherwise, the going rate is about $1 a square foot, she said. In other cases, she will act as a consultant.

While the effort will cost some money, the end result is that people likely will sell their homes faster and often for more than they would have otherwise, she said.

“Staging isn’t redecorating,” James said. “It’s not about expensive upgrades. It creates space visually. I want them to get the maximum out of their house.”

It’s not always easy. James related her experience with one couple who were selling their home after 15 years to move near their daughter. It was a traumatic experience, especially for the man, she acknowledged.

One of her first recommendations was to remove a large ficus tree he had planted that had grown so much it obscured the front of the house. Then she had his overgrown citrus trees trimmed way back to open up the backyard.

“The hard part is that it creates a lot of emotions,” James said of staging. “The man was angry the whole time.

“Sometimes I have to comfort people as things in their home change. It’s no longer their home. Their pictures are gone. You have to honor their stuff, then tell them to pack it away. Sometimes it takes a neutral person to help them.”

The results can be dramatic, James said, with such simple things as removing a window cooler and providing a clear view to a nicely trimmed yard. Maybe it’s buying a new comforter and replacing window blinds.

When all the work is done and the sellers have packed and stored or shipped a lot of their personal belongings, “they can focus on the buyer,” she said. “They did all the hard work before hand.”

Short said she suggests people shift their thoughts to the new house they will be moving to and the new friends they will make. “That makes it easier to detach from the old house and pack away things.”

That’s what she’s been doing herself in anticipation of putting her house on the market in about a month.

She’s also painting over the dark paint on the ceilings throughout the house, replacing the mauve kitchen tile and stripping wallpaper — all things that came with the house when the family bought it during the height of the real estate boom and there were few choices on the market.

“When the market is hot,” Short said, “the buyer will think they can paint over or take down wallpaper. With the slower market, they’ll say forget it.”

Staging was something she got into a few years ago with the idea she could do it while her children were in school. But there’s been a demand for it only recently with the downturn in the market, she said.

Realtor Ed Sexton, who has used Short’s services for several houses, agreed that staging has helped market them.

In one case, a house sold three weeks after Short gave the sellers a two-hour consultation. It had been on the market for six months before that, he said.

“There’s two things to selling a house,” Sexton said, “the price and how people feel about a home when they walk in.”

Staging Benefits
Lasting impressions occur in the first 15 seconds of viewing a property. Property staging prepares your property for sale through a series of steps that increase its value and produces more appeal for buyers. A prospective buyer must be able to visualize the home by way of satisfying their own unique needs.

Why hire a property stager?- Maximizes square footage- Reduces stress to the seller- Catches buyers’ attention quickly- House is on market for less time- Increased traffic flow of potential buyers- Encourages buyers to view the property’s architectural features- Analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of the property.

Source: Kathy James, Property Staging Consultants
Copyright © 2007, The Sun, Yuma, Ariz.Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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