0 CommentsThe master bedroom inside a “character home” staged by Suellen Lassetter’s company StageRight Home Staging. (Correspondent Photo by James Carbone)
These staging tips from Ana Hitzel, who owns Accent Positives in Corona, could also be used to help homeowners be more comfortable in their house even before they think about selling it.
Get rid of clutter: You can, and should, live more efficiently. More is not necessarily better. Most people have too much stuff. Just getting rid of items or furniture can transform a room. “Most people don’t have to move in an instant. Find storage solutions now. Plan ahead and start boxing things up. You’ll be ready to move or you’ll realize you don’t need these things anyway and just get rid of them,” she said.
Consider repositioning furniture and accent pieces or even using them in different ways: You’ve looked at your dining room a certain way for 10 years, but placing a chair here and moving a painting there may give you a whole new updated look. There’s no need to buy more. Use what you have.
Keep it clean: You’ll enjoy your space more.
Update when you can: You’ll be able to enjoy the house, but when you plan to sell the changes you make will catch buyers’ eyes. Stagers can help homeowners target areas in the home that need the most improvement such as painting or updating bathrooms while staying within your budget.
For the first time in a long time, the housing market is healthy. Home sales are brisk. Sellers are competing for buyers. In some cases, it can be a bit of a jungle out there, so having an edge matters.
That’s where staging comes in. Staging is a strategic marketing tool designed to show a property in its best possible light. Professional stagers and many realtors believe in the power of this technique no matter the market — potential buyers can see all the possibilities and sellers can get top-dollar and a quicker sale.
According to the Real Estate Staging Association, professionally listed staged properties simply look better; spend 73 percent less time on the market; typically sell for more money; end up on buyers’ “must see” lists; are viewed as “well-maintained;” and have fewer concessions requested of the seller.
Individual stagers set their own fees, but a typical staging cost is about $2,500. It should be considered a cost of doing business or an investment that sellers might recoup when the house sells.
But not everyone is a fan of staging. Wil Herring of Baxter Wellington Real Estate, who is president of the Inland Valleys Association of Realtors, said staging is not necessary.
“The market is strong because there simply isn’t enough inventory out there,” Herring said. “Some sellers are getting 10 to 20 offers for their properties. And properties asking less than $300,000 are going quickly, so right now, at this moment, I don’t think staging is necessary in order to help sell your property. That may change in six months, but then again, the market is always changing.”
Would staging help you sell your house? Put yourself in the shoes of a potential buyer. Given about the same location and asking price, if House X is clutter-free, clean, updated and nicely decorated, and House Y down the street isn’t any of the three, which house do you think has a better chance of selling? It might come down to a simple gut feeling on the part of the buyers.
Ana Hitzel owns Accent Positives in Corona. Much of her work is done in Riverside County as well as the desert communities.
“Staging is marketing. You want your house to stand out in a crowd,” said Hitzel, who retired from the military before embarking on her new career. She is also a wife and mother of four children. She likes order. And she says she has the objective buyers’ eye that a homeowner may not.
“I always tell my clients, think about when you first walked into your house,” she said. “What struck you and convinced you to buy the house? What did you notice? Think about that and that will help you, but sometimes you need someone else looking at it. I take what I do seriously. This is my job, but I am also honored that someone trusts me enough to help them.
Suellen Lassetter of StageRight Home Staging and Redesign in Upland says it also helps sellers accept the idea they have decided to sell.
“Once you’ve decided to sell your home, you have to start detaching from it, which can be difficult to do. That’s where I come in,” Lassetter said. “You have to start looking at your home as a commodity. You have to decide whether you just want the house sold or do you want the possibility of selling it faster and for more money? It really doesn’t matter what the market is like. Statistics prove that staging a house works.”
Lassetter has some accessories, plants, towels and lighting fixtures of her own that she uses, but for the most part, she rents furnishings. Some homes have too much furniture or it is outdated and no longer fits the style of the houses. Others have too many things all over the place that serve no purpose and simply come across as clutter. The goal, she said, is to have the house look move-in ready.
Lassetter’s own experiences have been helpful. Early in her marriage, the family moved six times in 10 years.
“We lived in a Texas tract home and I went to see the model home for that tract. I copied what they did,” she said. “I’ve always liked interior decorating and now I enjoy the best of both worlds, staging and decorating. Very few people live in their house the way they would have to do to show it. I tell people what they might not want to hear, but need to hear.”
Selling a house involves marketing, merchandising, psychology and design, she said.
A house that “shows” well and is priced well will sell, and sell quickly, according to the experts. And timing can be everything. First impressions count, even from the moment a potential buyer drives up to a house. When a house first goes on the market, it usually receives a lot of interest from real estate agents and the buying public. That’s the time to strike. Once that first wave of interest passes, time can become an enemy for a seller.
Homeowner Kathy Hoffman-Crudge said staging has been a dream, which she hopes will translate to a quick and profitable sale for her 1,000-square-foot home in Monrovia. The asking price for the three-bedroom, one-bathroom Craftsman bungalow is $569,000. The house has been on the market for a couple weeks, but Hoffman-Crudge said she’s still glad it was staged.
“In putting our home up for sale, we were looking for ways to enhance the potential out of our little house,” said Hoffman-Crudge. “It is a cozy home built in 1896 with little rooms and a slightly awkward floor plan. We have rented it over the last eight years and have found that tenants fall in love with the place. We hoped that staging the home would help others see how cozy the house can be.”
She hired Lassetter to work her magic in the vacant house.
“Vacant houses take twice as long to sell,” Lassetter said. “Many people think that an empty room lets potential buyers see what the room could look like, but empty rooms actually make the space look smaller.”
She brought in room furniture to match the charm of the home.
“What you want to do is eliminate as many of the negatives as possible and point out all the good things, all the possibilities, about a house,” she said.
Within a matter of days, Hoffman-Crudge said Lassetter was able to work her magic on the unique house.
“She filled each room in the house with comfort and style,” Hoffman-Crudge said. “Besides the beautiful furniture, she added many special touches like books, candles and pictures on the walls. We are very happy with the result.”
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