Staged to Sell

Make Your Home Enticing to Buyers

Selling a home brings excitement and dread. There’s excitement about a new place offering different design possibilities and a new lifestyle for a family. Dread often creeps in because the present home has to be sold, and that’s a lot of work and a stark slap in the face of change on the horizon.

For those in 78209 about to place a home on the market, one of the tools for marketing is proper staging. Staging is simply making the house appear enticing to buyers. The goal is to make the buyer feel at home when he/she tours the property. There are several staging companies in San Antonio that sellers can contact to make the move — and the home sale — timely and less stressful.Cheri Stith and Jamie Weyand are experienced home stagers. Their company, Center Stage by Feather, Fluff and Flings, works with Realtors and homeowners to make home sales happen.

“Refresh and renew is what we do,” Stith says. “Jamie and I have been in the design business for more than 12 years. When we started working in Alamo Heights and Terrell Hills, we did everything from small design jobs to total home renovations. When clients outgrew their homes, they began asking us for sales advice. We’d help them update their homes for sale.”

“Home staging has really kicked in the last five years,” Weyand says. “A 2015 National Association of Realtors survey on home staging showed that 37 percent of sellers’ agents believe staged homes increase the dollar value buyers will offer by 1 to 5 percent. Twenty-two percent think it increases the dollar value buyers are willing to offer by 6 to 10 percent.

“Realtors representing buyers say that staging makes it easier for shoppers to visualize the property as a future home,” she adds. “Because the rooms are beautifully decorated, buyers are more willing to walk through a home viewed online. Buyers are also more likely to overlook other property faults if a home is well-staged.”
The whole point to staging, Stith says, is to reduce days on the market and get a higher price. “We worked with a home that had been empty and on the market for six months,” Stith says. “We staged it, and within five days it was under contract.”

Three Ways to Stage
Stith and Weyand say there are three ways they work with customers or Realtors to stage a home. “There’s occupied staging, vacant staging and interior design,” Stith says.

In occupied staging, the seller will remain in the home while the house is being shown for sale. “In this situation, we meet with the seller and her Realtor for home walk-through. We tell them how to edit the existing furnishings. We explain how to update the home and make it appear on trend. Buyers don’t want to imagine how an outdated house could look if it were decorated in a current design scheme; they want to see it now, ready for move-in. “

The pair offers these suggestions for occupied staging situations:

• Banish all the clutter. You may have to rent a storage unit for a while, but the investment will be worth the faster sale. Box up the knickknacks and the hundreds of books on groaning shelves. Limit the number of toys the kids keep and send the rest to storage. Clear countertops and keep cabinets orderly. Your goal is to show that your home has plenty of storage space.

• Clean those closets! Pack up all the out-of-season wear and store it. Pick four or five pairs of favorite shoes and place them on a shoe rack in the closet, not lined up on the floor. Put dirty clothes in covered bins and hang a sachet in the closet to make it smell nice. Stith recommends purchasing matching hangers and facing all clothes in the same direction to save space and make things tidy.

• Move furniture into conversational groupings. Pushing furniture against the walls doesn’t make the room look bigger, it makes it look awkward. Allow 36 inches of walking space around large pieces, such as sofas and chairs.

• If you are an empty nester, chances are you have unoccupied rooms that are gathering junk. Repurpose those rooms into something that will add value to your home, such as a home office or a hobby room.

• Increase the wattage in all your lamps and light fixtures. “Be sure your lamps are capable of using three-way bulbs,” Stith says. “Lighting, particularly from lamps, is critical to the ambiance of a home.”

• Refresh your exterior. “These days, homebuyers shop on the internet,” Stith says. “The first drive-by home shoppers do will be on a Realtor’s website. Make sure that your home’s exterior has that WOW factor that draws them in.” “This means clean up your landscaping,” Weyand adds. “Trim the trees, plant flowers, mulch all your beds. Clean the gutters and power wash the house. Wash all the windows, inside and out. You may need to sand and repaint your front door. Fresh flowers in a new pot by the door might perk up your entry, or a new bench. You want the outside of your home to say ‘Come on in!’”

• Make the home look pet-free. “We all love our pets, but when it’s time to sell a house, it might be time for the pet to visit Grandma,” Stith says. “Your house must smell fresh and pet free. Put away the chew toys and the food and water dishes. Put the dog bed and the scratching post in the garage. Reptiles should stay with friends! And be sure the yard has no sign of pet droppings anywhere.”

Vacant staging is much easier to handle. “We consult with the homeowner when she’s ready to move,” Stith says. “If applicable, we ask if certain pieces of furniture can be left behind to use in staging. After the homeowner moves out, we go to work. First, we professionally clean the home, inside and out. We paint, if necessary. We bring in furnishings that are on trend and sized for the rooms being shown. Many times buyers can’t get a feel for the size of a room without furnishings to relate to.”

Interior design services are provided when a home’s furnishings are already fairly current but may need rearranging or refreshing to show the home to its best advantage. Some of the seven suggestions may need to be applied.

Emotional MoJo

One of the biggest staging obstacles a decorator encounters is the homeowner’s desire to hang onto everything.

“I tell everyone we contract with that once you’ve enlisted the services of a Realtor, you no longer own the home,” Weyand says. “You are now in seller mode and need to take the advice you are paying us for. Let go of that sagging sofa. You may have had it since college, but it does not impress anyone, and it smells bad, too. Put Grandma’s oversized armoire in storage and make the bedroom look bigger.”

“We know letting go of stuff is hard for homeowners,” says Stith. “We help them summon up the emotional mojo to let go and move on to the next exciting phase of their lives — moving to the new home.”

Long-term Relationships
Through successful staging and decorating, the Feather, Fluff and Flings team have found themselves developing long-lasting relationships with homeowners.

“In some cases, we’ve staged homes several times for clients as their family has grown and then as they’ve downsized into retirement,” Stith says. “The trust we’ve developed over the years with these people is priceless. In many cases they’ve asked us to handle their most valuable investment: their homes. We take that trust seriously, during and after the home sale.”

“When I’m asked what I do for a living,” Stith says, “I tell people I put sparkle on homes and sales in their pockets. It’s a good day’s work, and we love it!”

By Robyn Barnes

Photography by Al Rendon

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