As the real estate market tightened, the concept of home staging blossomed. A professional stager treats a home in much the same way that a set designer furnishes a stage for a play. The goal is to create an environment where potential buyers can imagine themselves living and enjoying life.
“Staging is decorating from the buyer’s point of view,” says Jennifer McCloskey, owner of Mod Restyle in Miami. “With so much inventory on the market, it’s the only way to make a home stand out from others.”
A stager takes a disinterested look at the home, and then finds ways to maximize potential and minimize flaws. “When you sell a home, there are the things you can control, and those you can’t,” says Nancy Cook, owner of One Day Décor in Fort Lauderdale. “You can’t control the age of the home, the location, the market or the mortgage index, but you can control how your home looks to buyers. Staging is a way of enticing a buyer to purchase a house.”
The process gives sellers a competitive edge, notes Vivian Planes, president of Stage to Sell in Miami. “Staging can make your house look like a model home and give you that ‘wow’ factor.”
Some stagers work only with homes that are occupied. Others will bring furnishings into a vacant home to make it look cozy until the seller finds a buyer. “It’s hard to picture a house as a home with no furniture in it,” McCloskey says.
In either case, the stager will make the home appear as spacious and attractive as possible, from the first view at the curb to the perimeter of the backyard.
Cook recommends standing across the street from the home and taking a black-and-white photograph of it. “Removing the color takes the emotion out of it, and helps the homeowner see it as it really is,” she says.
First impressions are paramount. “Curb appeal is what gets a buyer out of the car and into the home,” McCloskey says. “Studies show you have only about nine seconds to do it.”
Space, or the illusion of it, sells. A stager will create open areas to make the home look larger. “People are buying square footage, so make sure they can see it,” Plane advises.
The formula for success is simple, Cook notes. “Clean, tidy, neutral and spacious sells better than anything else.”
Home staging tips from the experts