Professional staging key in selling

Home staging. It’s easy to do — if you have a professional nearby.

Home staging. It’s easy to do — if you have a professional nearby. Sometimes something as simple as where to hang a picture or position furniture properly is not as clear to those living in the space as it is to an outside party. The image of Grandma posed in a brass, ornate frame above the fireplace is lovely — but probably only for the ones related to your grandma.

Chris Lu, Sabal Homes’ senior marketing manager, says people aren’t willing to buy homes now before selling what they’re in due to the recession. “It’s something we just identified as an obstacle to sell more houses.”

Sabal now offers a professional home staging option for existing residences when customers purchase and build a Sabal home. Lu feels home staging is an up-and-coming trend in both Calgary and Edmonton, where the builder’s homes are found.

“We’re going to help customers feel confident that we’re going to make sure they get top value for their house,” he said.

HGTV is a source Lu uses frequently to find upcoming trends. He noticed a recent shift of programming from house-flipping to redecorating and staging homes instead.

Yet Cheryl-Anne Priest, owner of staging company Inviting Spaces, says, “The HGTV shows have been extremely misleading.” Her concern is the indication homes will sell over list price, as she doesn’t think that’s realistic presently. But she does agree a staged home will likely get a higher sale price than an unstaged property.

Another local home stager Karyn Elliott of Crazy House is, on the other hand, thankful for the staging TV programs spreading the word about what she does for a living. She says the idea was not familiar in 1999 when she started her business.

“The first three years I had to pioneer the whole concept,” she said.

Elliott’s business model stemmed from a seeming lack of homeowners’ ability or willingness to fix up and clean their properties before showing them to the public.

She created five steps in her process of home staging with clients, which include cleaning (closets included), de-personalization (no personal photos), neutralizing (think toned-down paint colours), de-cluttering (a purge and storing of items) and dramatization (the final wow). She typically instructs her clients on how to complete the first four steps, but the last one is “the art of it,” and involves knowing where furniture and art should be placed. “If they can get it right, they would have done it themselves already,” she said.

Priest teaches home staging courses to break the myths of what it is and isn’t. The biggest eye-opener for many of her students is the advice that there’s more to it than making everything pretty. She also addresses who buyers will likely be and the need to stage for the purchasing market, not the current owner.

“A lot of the people selling are in their 50s, 60s, 70s now (and) they are downsizing,” she says, adding many think the home they’re selling is perfect as-is considering it housed them and five kids for decades. But, she says, the key factor they’re not seeing is that buyers today are 30-year-olds with active lifestyles and don’t want homes requiring hours of yard work and home maintenance.

– Edited by Metro Edmonton

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