Stacey Wiedower 0000-00-00 00:00:00
It was the house nobody wanted. It had a nice yard, a reasonable price tag, and an enviable Mud Island location. Surrounding houses came on the market and off again, but not this one. Month after agonizing month, it sat. “We had it on the market for eight months, and loads of people looked at it,” recalls Karen Soro, Realtor with the Sharp-Soro team at Henry Turley Realtors. “But nobody could get past the furniture.” Desperate to move the house for her client, Soro finally hired a home stager to bring things in, take things out, and give the chic Downtown space the pizzazz it was lacking. The next person through the door not only bought the house — he paid full price “Really and truly, the staging truck moved away, the next person walked in, and we had a contract,” Soro says. “It was that quick. I was a believer in home stagers like crazy after that.” A professional home stager is one part artist, one part space planner, and one part amateur psychologist. Trained in the art of preparing a home for sale, a stager views a space with an objective eye, then advises the seller on ways to de-clutter, rearrange, and redecorate the space to make it appeal to the maximum number of buyers — obtain- Ing the maximum price. “We go in and tell the client we’re going to do everything we can do to make their house the most sellable,” says Carmel Hopper, an accredited home stager and coowner of Memphis-based Home Stager Gals.“That may include deleting or purchasing some items. Mainly, we’re trying to create square footage, because most people have too many things in their homes.” Contrary to common misconceptions about staging — namely that stagers force sellers to paint every wall white, rent all new furniture, and remove every photo — a stager’s goal is to help the seller depersonalize The space only to the point that someone else could see himself living in it. ““Everything counts today,” says Ami Austin, owner of Ami Austin Interior Design and an accredited home stager. “More than 86 percent of the buyers will view your home online prior to visiting the property. If your pictures don’t reflect the best view, the buyer will never make it to the front door. We want the person looking at your home to not be consumed with what’s in your home, but with the home itself.” As a seller, that means you might have to detach yourself from your favorite chair or forego your lime-green accent wall for a little While — just long enough to sell your current house and move into your next one. And that’s where the psychology comes in. “Sometimes it’s very hard for people to wrap their arms around that,” Austin says.They say, ‘But we’ve always had our sofa facing this wall.’ It’s my job to help them understand, ‘You’ll have plenty of time to have things the way you want them in your new home, but right now, you’ve made the decision to sell this home, and I want to help you get into your new home.’” And staging does sell homes. A 2009 study conducted by the Real Estate Staging Association looked at 126 unStaged homes, both vacant and occupied, that had spent an average of 263 days on the market. After the same homes were staged, they sold in an average of 60 days — a 78 percent reduction in selling time Kendall Haney, Realtor and owner of Downtown Condo Connection, Realtors, often recommends staging for his clients. “A lot of my clients don’t realize what home staging means and the value it adds until we make the recommendation,” he says. “After the home sells, they realize that, yeah, maybe they should have listened to me earlier.” Some sellers balk at the idea of home staging because of its up-front cost, Haney says. “Sometimes their logic is, ‘Well, we can just reduce the asking price by $5,000.’ But it will only cost $2,000 to stage it, and it’s going to give them an easier, quicker sale. I know it’s an up-front investment, but you’ll get better return on that investment and come out better in the long run.” Regardless of whether a home is vacant and empty or occupied and filled to the brim, staging can be beneficial. “First of all, the house shows much better,” says Haney.“Second, staging minimizes or hides all the imperfections in the house. A potential buyer won’t look at those things — they’ll look at the furniture, the accent pieces. And it helps people visualize better: ‘OK, their sofa sits there; I can put my sofa there.’” To that end, Hopper carries a book with before and after photos to give clients an idea of what she can do for them. Often, her work includes suggestions of paint colors, plans for rearranging furniture to maximize space, tips on what to remove and what to add, and ideas on how to increase curb appeal. Sometimes she’s hands-on, and sometimes she’s hands-off, depending on the client’s preference. But she always tries to maximize the client’s budget. “My goal when I work with a client is for them to not spend any extra money if possible,” Hopper says. “I’ll reuse something they already have in a different room or pull something out they haven’t been using. One time, a client needed a pillow in a guest bedroom, but didn’t have one that fit the space.We used an old pillow and just wrapped fabric around it. It looked really good, and it didn’t even need to be sewn! I just try to be creative.” Fees for home staging vary by project and by stager, and so do the way transac Tions occur. Some Realtors include staging in their service offerings to clients and foot the bill for one or two hours with a professional stager. Other Realtors offer referrals.Occasionally, home sellers or homeowners hire stagers on their own to either stage a home for sale or simply to get suggestions for a fresh look. Home stagers can receive training and gain certifications through several organizations.Hopper, an Accredited Staging Professional (ASP), received her training through Staged Homes and is a member of the International Association of Home Staging Professionals, having served locally as chapter president. Austin, who is also an interior designer, earned her staging accreditation through Interior Redesign Industry Specialists(I. R.I.S.) and is the past president of the National Real Estate Staging Association. “It’s important to hire a professional,” Hopper says, “because a trained stager has been taught to view a home through buyers’ eyes. A homeowner is so used to seeing it, but try looking at it as though you were walking into a home for sale. What would you do to change it? If you think it looks perfect, you should probably call a professional.” Soro says she’s rarely seen a property that could not have benefited from staging. “Real estate is a psychology more than anything else,” she says. “People walk into a house, and if they can see themselves there, if that place calls them, it’s their house. Period.But when you’ve got the wrong stuff in there, it doesn’t call anybody’s name.” And, Hopper is quick to point out, just because a stager recommends changes doesn’t mean the seller has poor personal taste. Rather, it means their home is just that — personal. And to appeal to a buyer, the space has to reflect that buyer’s taste, not the seller’s. Realtor Annette Sharp, Soro’s partner at Henry Turley Realtors, says in her view, hiring a stager is a no-brainer when it comes to selling a home. “Staged homes tend to sell quicker and tend to sell for more money,” she says. “And if you have two side by side that have pretty much the same floor plan, and one is furnished and one is unfurnished, you can guess which one sells first.”
Published by Downtowner Magazine. View All Articles.
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