Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Home Staging

Note: I don't really know about these statistics, I was just looking for an image for this entry. I do think, though, the homes that are nicely staged probably do sell quicker.

We're in the process of putting our house onto the market. Yeah, not the best time to be doing this, but, it IS the best time to be buying on the other end, so, a little bit of this for a little bit of that. Or, as we hope, a lot of that in a few years when the market recovers and the house we end up buying in FL at a lowish price will go back up towards its original value.

Anyway. This company we're using approaches things a bit differently, which, given the market, is likely a good thing. I can tell you that there have been houses in our neighborhood on the market for well over a year and, as far I can tell, their agents are doing squat. In fact, having run into this with other agents in my life, the agents are likely telling their clients, "Well, sorry your house isn't selling but it's just the market right now". Uh-huh. As you do absolutely nothing and blame it on the environment (are you reading this, Amy Pomera$$?)

I digress. The home stagers came by last Friday to check out the house of B and give advice/recommendations regarding what we might do to improve the way the house shows. Now, considering we plan on being out of the house when it's put on the market, this was a somewhat unusual meeting. Normally, they'd come in and recommend that half the furniture be removed and that it all be placed in temporary storage. Also, nothing on the counters, no signs of pets (oh yes, that'd definitely be a cinch in this household), the majority of your clothing packed away, etc., etc. And, yes, the usuals; touch up paint (or maybe an entire new paint job), carpets cleaned, power wash the house, windows cleaned, blah blah blah. Oh, and flowers! Put lots and lots of flowers in the front of the house. Buyers LOVE flowers!

I'll admit, I was both skeptical and resistant. However, the ladies won me over by first exclaiming how wonderful the house looked and what a fantastic job we did in upgrading just about everything. Really, their suggestions were minor and after thinking about them, I guess I can see why they offer them up.

One of the stagers told me that people tend to simply forget most of the houses after they've seen 15 or 20 of them in a day, especially if they were distracted by stuff in the houses. At the end of the day when discussing what they saw, they may only remember, "Oh, yeah, that was the house with the funky furniture in the living room" or, "Oh, that house. Hmmm...I don't even remember anything about it except I really liked their taste in books". So, in other words, what the stagers aim to do with their recommendations is remove anything that could be a potential distraction (or, worse, a major turn off) and show off THE HOUSE.

Which is why they love showing empty houses. Well, not totally empty; they bring in a few pieces of art or vases or mirrors or some such to highlight and accent important areas of the house (kitchen, master bedroom, master bathroom) but, NO furniture (they don't want the buyers to say, "Oh, our furniture would never look as good in this house as this furniture does").

If it turns out that the house hasn't sold before we move out (which is likely since it's not officially on the market), they feel, given the way it has been upgraded and maintained, it'll sell quickly. Good, considering how much we're losing on it. May as well get the pain over and done with.

In the meantime, IF someone wants to see it before we move out, they suggested the general things such as taking down family pictures, removing any religious relics/artifacts/icons (not that we have any) OR any that could be construed as such (i.e., a wind chime we have hanging out front that is a sun with a face) and, as best we can, hide pet-stuff (put away food bowls, beds, toys, etc.) Also, take down the large quilts we have in the living room/stairwell because, again, someone may get distracted by them.

Mr. B and I had a long discussion about it all after they left and decided we'll do some of what they suggested but not everything. Pictures, wall hangings; well, we'll have to take them down and pack them up, anyway and he will need to start patching up nail holes, etc. Pet stuff we can deal with and I suppose that wind chime can come down. They also recommended we remove the small garden flag in the front yard that has a bluebird on it and says "Welcome". I'm not taking that down. If someone gets distracted or offended by a welcome sign, screw them.

Books! Oh, they'd love for us to box up all of our books now but we're not going to, or, at least, we'll do so as we please. Mr. B quipped when I was wondering if someone would get offended by my books on Tarot, "Oh, don't mind the books but be careful where you step when you go into the blood sacrifice room, we haven't had time to clean it up since our last ritual".

I guess buyers can be real fickle and there is a lot of competition out there. Any advantage you can use, they say, will help.

Which is why we asked them to put another for sale sign in our backyard so that buyers going to look at the house for sale directly belows ours (same model but nowhere near as nice) will look up, see ours, notice the sign and say, "Wait, I want to see that one before I decide!" Maybe the folks down below us putting their house on the market will be fortuitous for us.

So, yes, yes, yes; I get what the stagers are saying and in this dog eat dog real estate market, you have to think outside the box". Yes, maybe someone will waltz into our house, love it, but then see a picture of one of our young nieces or nephews and say, "Oh, I can't buy this house! They have a child who looks just like the one we lost five years ago". Or, see the Tarot books and think "Devil worshipers! No way!"

Of course, I'd like to think they'd be paying more attention to the floor plan, the flooring, the sun room, the gourmet kitchen, the cherry cabinets, the granite, the lush lawn, the fenced yard, etc. but I know not everyone is as logical as we are by a long shot.

And, to be 100% truthful, I've been known to refer to houses by something odd that was in it (sometimes even the owners who were sitting in it when we looked at it), or, a bizarre decorating accent (one of the houses I looked at on-line in Sarasota I refer to as "The funky bathroom tile house") and have rejected them for these things. I've walked into houses, smelled cigarette smoke, and turned around and walked back out without looking at it. One house I looked at in Colorado Springs had a big pile of dog crap in the middle of one bedroom. Yes, it became "That crappy dog house". And, one in Sarasota had cat puke on the bedroom carpet. So, yes, pets can be problematic. Which, again, is why we are not really planning on showing the house until we're all out.

The stagers said, "You're lucky. There are some houses that we've seen that we've recommended $20,000 or more in improvements/changes". Lucky? I think not. I think, "We're SMART and we've taken excellent care of our house".

One stager said, "You should have seen the house we looked at this morning. PHEW. Yours is one of the best that I've ever seen".

Let's hope a buyer thinks so!

Mrs. B

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