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Staging Information

July 2, 2012
 

Case Study for Staging Slow Moving Home

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Written by: Dan Eason
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House Frong

I have a couple of friends, Kyle and Tesa Cornett, who were desperately trying to sell their home so that they could move to Houston, Texas for a great business opportunity. The problem was that they couldn’t sell their home. Their home had been on the market for over 7 months, they’d had over 70 showings, they’d done a lot to make the home presentable, and they were going nuts trying to figure out why their hard work wasn’t paying off. They also weren’t willing to lower the price anymore. (They’d already lowered the price by $4,000 several months earlier.) I challenged them to bring in a stager and to work hard at making the recommended improvements. They did, and in 1 week they had a contract on their home for their asking price. Below are the details of the stager experience:

Living/Dining

Background -

  • Owners are a couple with a marketing background.
  • They have three young children (1, 3, and 5)
  • Husband works out of home office
  • They did research on Internet to find the right Realtor and best way to fix up their home.
  • Home photos on internet showed well.
  • Home was on the market for 7 months
  • Family was tired of 2+ showings a week.  With young children in the home it was especially challenging because the home had to be cleaned right before a showing.,
  • The family initially put extra household items into storage so that the house would show better.  Over the course of 7 months, however, more of the “extra” items crept back into the home.
  • They live in the second largest house in the neighborhood (2,300 sq. ft.).  The asking price was $154,000, $5,000 less than the initial asking price.
  • A less attractive and slightly smaller home (2,000 sq. ft.) down the street was sold  under market value for $137,000 days earlier.
  • The couple had neutralized, de-cluttered, de-personalized, decorated, cleaned, and organized their home.
  • The common negative comments about the home were about the neighbor.
  • Neighbor would leave tools out, work on car in driveway, leave beer boxes out, and Christmas lights up.  They also had fake plants under the main tree and dead plants in large pots.
  • The husband had talked to the neighbor, who is “super nice” and generally a “good guy,” but the neighbor’s attitude was “if they don’t like the way I live then I don’t want them as my neighbor.”
  • The sellers were pleased with their Realtor, Kristi Maxwell, who they said had remained committed and worked hard throughout the 7 month process.

Energized Seller found a local certified home stager, Patricia Long, and hired her to help the Cornetts sell their home.  Here are her comments and/or actions:

House Frong

She started outside in the front:

  • Said husband will have to talk to neighbor again and talk him into meeting halfway.  Then he’ll need to roll up the neighbor’s hose, pull fake flowers, put in mulch, get rid of dead poinsettias, put flowers in his existing pots and take down the Christmas lights.
  • In his own yard he’ll need to cut bushes down so prospects can see all or most of window.
  • Put large pot with colorful plant on front porch
  • Replace rusty front porch light fixture

Backyard

  • Replace the fence that looks cheap and is old, graying, and doesn’t hide trash in neighbors’ yard (see post)
  • Don’t lean large toys against wall to clean up yard.  Set them up or get them out altogether
  • Don’t have loose balls laying around
  • Move large basketball goal so that it doesn’t look cluttered and isn’t a distraction from the great tree
  • Trim backyard trees to help get rid of cluttered look
  • Remove mold on back of house siding.  (“Buyers will think they have to do it themselves”)
  • Get rid of dead plants in pots
  • Power wash patio and furniture when doing siding
  • Put hanging baskets around patio
  • Replace torn BBQ pit cover

Pantry

Pantry

  • Put new mats down for showings.  Use the current mats for living.
  • Pantry shows roominess already but get rid of extra stuff on top shelves.  Put extra stuff in bins.
  • Buy Pure Air or Febreeze and use before showing in order to help eliminate any cat odor
  • Put vacuum in closet or garage – not around food
  • Always keep litter box fresh
  • Hide cat food dishes before showings

 Laundry Room

  • Organize
  • Go to Wal-Mart or Target and buy 4 red canvass bins and put all extra stuff, including detergent, into bins.
  • Throw laundry and towels into washer and dryer – don’t leave on top or in basket
  • De-clutter

Garage

(Contains all extra stuff from the house, including kid’s toys, stacked boxes, and large items that used to be in storage)

  • Realtor, who came to help, said she “sold 42 homes last year and no one refused to buy because of the garage, so if you have to have boxes somewhere, put them in the garage.  However, she stated, don’t hide the hot water heater.  “Buyers and the inspector will want to see the hot water heater.”
  • The stager said to at least organize boxes so that it looks neat.
  • De-clutter tools, paint and miscellaneous items

Breakfast Area

  • Feels crowded, get rid of 2 of the 6 chairs
  • Put a runner and centerpiece on table for showings
  • Go to Ross and Michaels for miscellaneous decorating and organizing items
  • Centerpiece should be iron basket or big bowl with fruit (lemons last longer)
  • Take fichus tree out to make room look less crowded
  • Move the baby’s high chair to corner so that it isn’t the focal point
  • Get rid of crank arm that the TV is on
  • Paint over areas that were patched or hang picture(s) to cover
  • De-clutter

Kitchen

Kitchen

  • The stager said it feels white and empty
  • Get appliances off counter
  • Put color on counters to compliment  pretty window treatments
  • Put knife block under counter
  • Don’t leave spices out
  • Use small items rather than large
  • Pull some of the decorations from the top of the cabinets and put on counter
  • Get new floor mats for showings
  • Use colorful, decorative soap dispenser
  • Find a solution for the laminate that is coming off some of the kitchen drawers.  “Buyers see it and think they must buy new cabinets.”  Take samples to a paint store and find out what options are for painting over the laminate and particle board where laminate has come off.  This will at least help them look uniform.
  • Buy paint product at Home Depot or Lowes that covers the repaired ceiling leak better.
  • Said “the kitchen sells the house,” so make the investment in time and money for this area
  • Take everything off refrigerator
  • Get rid of miscellaneous items on top of refrigerator – put inbins if necessary
  • If leaving coffee pot out, put on placemat with coffee cups (even with napkins in the cups) to make it look like a resort coffee area.
  • Put placemats, tray, or trivets, under decorative oils, vinegar, etc. to create more of a model home look.
  • Take the lamp off the counter

Dining Room

  • Make room seem more relaxed and get rid of ties for sheared curtains.  Leave open, though, to let light in
  • Get Rid of all family pictures
  • Rearrange plants
  • Center table under light
  • Get bigger rug for under the table or don’t have one at all (rug should be big enough that when scooting chairs out that they are still on the rug)
  • Put soft colored runner on dining room table that pulls in wall colors

Living Room

  • She moved furniture around to make more inviting
  • She got rid of tie backs on shear curtains

Stairs

  • Clean carpet

Master Bedroom

Bedroom

  • Get 2 of the same size bed side tables or only have one

Master Bath

  • Put money into room.  Too white.  Add color and make it look like a spa
  • Put nice towels out for showings
  • Don’t worry about changing out cheap faucets because of home price range.  If $300,000+ home then change out faucets

Master Closet

Closet

  • Organize better
  • Put trunks that are currently on the floor on the shelves
  • Thin out clothes
  • “The closet can make the homeowner seem very organized, which is what buyers should think.”

Office

  • Decrease clutter
  • Put miscellaneous things that are used daily in basket that can be stored easily
  • Pick up loose files off floor and desks
  • Move furniture around to balance room better
  • Put diplomas on wall to better decorate the walls

Little Girl’s Room

Childs Room

  • Pink color on the walls is okay to leave since the color suits its purpose as a little girl’s room.  “This shouldn’t turn off buyer too much even if the buyer doesn’t have a little girl.”
  • Make it easy to hide toys.  Use baskets, empty cabinets, etc.
  • Get rid of blue bed sheet.  Use white or sage instead
  • Decrease amount of stuff on top shelves of closet.
  • Thin out clothes
  • Make sure prospects can walk into the walk-in closet

Little Boy’s Room

  • Okay because it suits its purpose.  “The buyer will appreciate if they have a little boy, if they don’t then they will be okay with making changes.”
  • Balance the room better
  • De-clutter as much as possible (room and closet)
  • Where heavy furniture was moved and carpet is pressed down, rub ice on it for about 5 minutes.
  • Balance the room

Kids’ Bathroom

  • Put in new towels
  • Tie ribbons and raffia around towels
  • Make look more like a model home for showings.  Use old towels while “living.”

The Realtor made the following suggestion about dealing with the neighbor:

  • Write a description of all the great neighbors around them, including the one that doesn’t have the neat yard.  She said to  write about the 3 police officers on the street and how the neighbors offer to help one another, and discuss how everyone brings each other food for different occasions.

Additional Information

Replacing the backyard fence was the most expensive recommendation the stager made.  However, because the neighbors’ messy back yards could be seen, there wasn’t much privacy, and the fence truly looked old and cheap, we all encouraged them to make the investment.  They did and the results were tremendous: SUCCESS IN ONE WEEK!!  Way to go Cornetts, Stager and Realtor.



About the Author

Dan Eason
Dan Eason
Dan is the founder and president of EnergizedCommunities, EnergizedSeller and Home Stager Business Builder. He is also the managing broker for a commercial real estate brokerage in McKinney, Texas and a partner in a water permit brokering business in San Antonio, Texas. He has helped multiple business owners create and implement an effective marketing system, been instrumental in the privatization of Africa’s largest steel plant, and bought, merged and sold two Internet service providers, among other things. He has his undergraduate degree from Texas A & M University and MBA from Pepperdine University.



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