Home staging still valuable for sellers
BARBARA BOXLEITNER/FLORIDA WEEKLY Home staging prepares a residence for resale. Removing clutter and rearranging furniture are key to staging.
Like the real estate market, home staging has taken a hit in recent years.
Too bad, according to some Realtors and design experts.
Years ago. the area had companies specializing in home staging, which includes removing clutter and arranging furniture to prepare a residence for resale. “It had really caught on when the market was hot because it was helping to sell homes,” said Karen Rolland, Realtor at Prudential Florida Realty in Punta Gorda and president of the Punta Gorda-Port Charlotte-North Port Association of Realtors.
But those companies, which Realtors say may charge a monthly fee or onetime fee depending on service required, lost business when the market tumbled. Home staging since has become less popular.
Indeed, cost appears to be a lingering obstacle for sellers. “It’s so difficult for them to spend money,” said Jim Thiel, Realtor at Century 21 Sunbelt Realty in Punta Gorda. “Unlike the reality shows, people just don’t seem to be willing to spend money for staging.”
Brenda Smith of Interiors By Design in Punta Gorda had a home staging consultation Monday. Though home stagings do not represent a big part of her business, she gladly accepts requests by either homeowners or Realtors. “It is important,” she said. “People have got to picture themselves living there.”
Homeowners need to remember the three Cs — curb appeal, clean and clutter — when preparing the residence. Without the outside appeal, people won’t be as willing to check out the inside.
“You’ve got to get them in the door,” she said. And then, “It only takes 10 seconds for people to decide whether they’re interested in the house,” Ms. Smith said.
Mr. Thiel said he often comes across resales that have way too much of everything inside. Common rooms have excess furniture, and often couches or chairs are set against a wall, as if following a formula. “Try to create more of a sitting area,” he said, “and better define the traffic pattern through the house.”
Larger pieces of furniture, especially in seating arrangements or near doorways, should be removed because the traffic flow will be poor. “Less is more when you’re staging,” Mrs. Smith said. “You want to have just enough in the room to show the purpose of the room. You don’t want the room to be overpowering.”
And the experts recommend removing personal items, such as photographs, decoratives and regular artwork.
Kitchens, too, have unnecessary clutter, they said. Mr. Thiel rattled off the appliances — the blender, toaster, coffee maker — people have them lined up against the kitchen wall, which really isn’t seen because of all the countertop items. That stuff needs to be removed to make the kitchen wide-open.
“Pick two appliances. One is better,” said Mrs. Smith, noting that leaving the coffee maker on the kitchen counter makes the most sense because people expect to see that out. “Kitchens are the No. 1 seller of the home. It has to be immaculate.”
For the bathrooms and bedrooms that she has seen staged, Mrs. Rolland said there wasn’t anything drastic done. For example, towels were placed out to match the bathroom décor. “Put a candle or two out, nothing really extravagant,” she said, “just enough to accent the color of the tile and walls.”
A part of Mrs. Smith’s home staging involves color consultation. She recalled a high-end Punta Gorda Isles home that had dark red walls inside. For a resale, the color scheme didn’t work. So she opted for a beige/gold that matched the rest of the interior. “Their home was very taste specific,” she said. “You want it to be warm, but you want it to be neutral.”
She assisted Mr. Thiel when he was trying to sell a Deep Creek home owned and occupied by an elderly woman who was headed to an assistant living facility. Together, they persuaded the homeowner to replace the early 1980s worn orange shag carpet, which had pet odor. Mrs. Smith had a new light beige carpet installed and staged the living and dining rooms. She removed some of the furniture.
Some homeowners are reluctant to make the changes that will improve their chances of a sale. They like the bright colors in their home, but other people will not. “If it’s too much like the owner, people are going to get put off,” Mrs. Smith said. “They feel like they’re invading someone’s territory.”
Other times, people remain so attached and become emotional once suggestions are made. They have to move on emotionally. “They have to consider their house as someone else’s. You can’t hold onto the past,” she said. “You have to look at selling that house as a job.”
With the surplus of inventory, sellers need to find an advantage, especially for the higher-end homes in the $300,000 to $500,000 range. Since there are not as many, they best be current. People expect the interior — specifically the cabinetry, countertops and flooring — to be updated. ¦