Not All Smoke and Mirrors

By Michelle Lindstrom

New Home Living

February 2009

Home staging. It’s easy to do-if you have a professional nearby. Sometimes something as simple as where to hang pictures 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.

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 to Calgarians in 1999 when she started her business. “The first three years I had to pioneer the whole concept.” 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 process of home staging with clients, which include cleaning (closets included), de-personalization (no personal photos), neutralizing (think toned-down paint colors), 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.

A big supporter of well-done home staging is Christina Hagerty, Calgary real estate associate for Re/Max Realty Professional. “We’re selling a lifestyle;” she says. “We’re selling a home so people can walk in and say ‘You know what, I love that piece’ or ‘I’ve got that couch’ and hence relate to the lifestyle that’s delivered there.” But if people are being hit from all angles with reasons to save because of economic doom, why would they put more money into a home they don’t plan on living in anymore?

“It should be a really positive experience for the buyer and for the seller;” notes Elliott. She believes everyone wins when a house is staged. Sellers, because they feel proud of the home they’re presenting and money made from the sale, and buyers, because they can just move in and live. Realtors benefit from easier showings and faster sales.

Hagerty’s sales focus is on Calgary’s competitive inner-city market condos and she admits that, without question, buyers have a lot of choices right now. “We have to chisel our skills a little bit sharper and make sure that we work on our marketing. And part of marketing is first impressions are everything,” she explains. “The first impression (buyers) feel from the home is pretty much the impression they carry throughout the home.” So it stands to reason the emphasis on successful staging is huge, as she says it has to reach the end-user.

So instead of making grandma’s picture the reason your place “stands out”, possibly seek some professional staging help.

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