All About ReDecorating

East Bay Life – September 15, 2004
By Ann Strong

Setting The Stage For Selling Your Home

Decorators can help make homes more appealing to buyers

If you watch shows like “Curb Appeal” and “Designed to Sell,” you might think staging was a commonly used tool to help market a home. While that may be true in other parts of the country, in the Northeast staging is just beginning to catch on.

Though staging and interior design are both about making a home look better, the difference between the two is that staging is done for people who might live in the house while interior decorating is done for the people who currently live in the house. The point of the exercise is to help prospective buyers envision themselves in the home.

Area real estate agents like Chris West of Gustave J.S. White Real Estate in Newport have tried to get sellers to utilize staging to help market their home. “It’s a great idea,” she said. “We’ve had interior designers come talk to us about the benefits, but we’ve yet to have a seller try it.” Some of Ms.West’s clients have elected to take a DIY approach to staging. She has a series of videotapes on staging that she lends and will also make suggestions herself. “I advise sellers to take down personal mementos and clean up around the front door.”

Part of the reluctance on the part of sellers to stage their homes is a belief that it’s unnecessary in today’s hot real estate market.

According to designer Jan Girouard, of All About Redecorating in Newport, that’s not always true. She recently completed a staging in a Portsmouth home that was just not selling. She removed a collection of dolls from the living room, put a sectional sofa back together, rearranged lamps for better lighting, and decluttered. The job took two hours. The house sold in two weeks.

“Sellers should think of the sales process as a business,” says Ms. Girouard. She recommends thinking of your home as a product. “When you have a particular product you have to differentiate yourself from other products.” According to Ms. Girouard, there’s an even bigger reason to stage: “The longer it’s on the market, the more apt a seller is to lower the price. Staging can help a home sell faster and for more money.”

Ms. Girouard recommends that sellers stage their homes before they list them with an agent. It can really take the stress out of the (sales) process, Ms. Girouard said.

Compared to compromising on the asking price, at an average of $500, to stage a 2,000 to 2,500 square-foot home, staging is a solid investment. And, it’s generally a quick process.

Most of the time, staging is done with existing furniture and accessories. ”If I do recommend clients buy something I make sure it’s an item they can take with them to their next home,” said Girouard, who does eight or nine staging jobs a year.

For savvy sellers, staging offers an opportunity to make sure they receive the highest return on their investment –their home–as possible.

Staying at home?
All homeowners can utilize elements of staging techniques to help their homes shine for parties, the holidays or everyday. Here are some tips:
*Declutter: if you don’t use it –lose it.
*Use large baskets as a quick place to hide children’s toys.
*Make sure lighting is appropriate to space. Task lighting, up-lighting, general lighting and picture lighting should work harmoniously to create a pleasant space. Lighting should not be jarring.
*make your space pleasant to all your senses. It should smell fresh.
*Keep only the most frequently used appliances, such as the toaster, on the counter. Everything else should be stored away. (Refer back to the first tip.)

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