When I first entered this business almost six years ago – the question of whether or not to stage a property would have been met with peals of laughter. Buyers were snapping what they could wherever they could. Granted staging appeared to bring even better offers – but with a market like that some sellers didn’t even bother to clean, let alone stage. But just as I walked through the doors of my first brokerage – the housing bull was turning to a big bad bear and within six months we were starting to see a new phenomena – “the staged home.”
As bear market rumbles on – staging is become the norm and those who don’t do it will often find their home languishing on the market. Buyers have plenty of choices and are only buying the cream of the crop – while leaving the rest behind. If it looks dirty, or in need of painting, if the carpets are dirty or old – rest assured – unless you really slash the price to the bone – your home will sit.
To Drive the point home. Last winter I had two condo units in the same complex on the market at the same time. The one I listed first was vacant with no furnishings and had not be repainted. The sellers had already taken a severe hit in the housing market downturn. Understandably, they balked at the idea of painting and renting furnishings. As time marched on and no offers came, I kept driving the conversation back to staging.
Meanwhile, in early February, I listed another unit in the same building. This unit had been beautifully furnished by the sellers and since they were still living there, the unit was able to be shown to best advantage. Sure enough – the first second open house – the unit sold to a buyer who had come through it twice on the same day. They loved everything about the place and could “mentally move in” because the sellers had pared down their belongings.
As unit #2 was heading towards contract, the state of affairs in unit #1 remained status quo. I would call (harass) buyers agents for feedback. There were plenty of people to call – the unit had been shown over 40 times. It was all the same. Even though nearly new, the unit looked “tired.” The layout was “awkward” The words “dull” and “bland” were used as well. After 4.5 months with nothing to show for it, the sellers finally relented about the staging.
Enter Marie Graham – Stager Extraordinaire.
I knew what needed to be done and most importantly who to call: Marie Graham of “The Refreshed Home” is just the person to respond to such an S.O.S. She knows exactly how to create that “WOW” factor buyers crave.
As you can see from one of these before photos – the fireplace was more of a problem than an asset. It stuck out far into the primary living area and buyers were very challenged by what to do with space. As it was, the unit was set on a diagonal creating something of a challenge for almost anyone. Maximizing the available space, putting it to good use and including all the elements owners expect to get out of such a space is the challenge. As it stood, buyers couldn’t “visualize” a full living area. What about an eating area? How do I deal with skimpy living space?
These two photos were closed to each other in terms of angle. After painting and furniture placement, it looks like a different space. Marie’s clever placement of furnishings and accent pieces creates a space where the buyer can actually see their own things in the space. From cold an tired to warm and inviting.
The use of paint in two colors as well as the furniture placement brings what was a flat canvas to life. The space is defined – there is cooking area , a living area and a dining area. This was a mystery space for buyers when it wasn’t furnished. Now they can mentally move in and feel comfortable that they have the space they need.
Quite literally – the space goes from wishy-washy to WOW!
This all sounds great you say – but did it help sell the unit? Within about 10 days of the staging there were two offers on the unit – one was accepted. So the unsellable condo went into contract about three weeks after the staging was complete.
Way to go Marie!
To see more from Marie Graham Go to her website – The Refreshed Home as well as her informative Blog on Active Rain.
© 2010 – Ruthmarie G. Hicks – https://thewestchesterview.com – All rights reserved.
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