Recently I was brainstorming ideas on how to make my business more competitive, while also paying attention to the bottom line. I had heard the term ‘staging’ a lot but didn’t really know what it meant, nor how useful it could be to my real estate practice. Then, as if out of nowhere, in walked a professional stager (Marilyn Roeke of Mission Possible Staging www.missionpossiblestaging.com in Calgary) who changed my ideas and got me thinking more carefully about what is involved in pre-listing a home for a seller. Additionally, Marilyn put me in touch with Christine Rae and her Certified Professional Stager program (www.stagingtraining.com), an amazing Canadian who basically brought the staging industry to Canada from the US in the 1990s. Before I knew it, I was taking Rae’s online course to learn about and obtain the Certified Staging Professional ‘Elite’ designation, a special course designed specifically for real estate agents wanting to utilize staging in their business model and learn how to promote it to their clients. Such a fascinating topic, so I would like to shed some light on what I have learned about staging in the past few months. Here goes.
What is staging and how it is important to a listing?
Staging is a wonderful marketing tool, which will enhance a client’s marketing plan and increase their profit by securing as much as the equity in the home as possible. According to Marilyn Roeke, “staging is a process of preparing a property for sale or rent by highlighting its best features. It is an investment tool that sets a property apart from its competition giving it a competitive edge. Although staging includes decorating it is much more than that”. With this in mind, a professional stager will utilize various techniques and methods in order to target a particular demographic, while at the same time appealing to a wider swath of buyers as the home will look perfectly presented. It is important to look at the listing process from the eyes of the buyer, as they actually are the most important party in the sale of a home. The home really should be set up and ‘staged’ with the buyer in mind. This is done by minimizing visual distractions and enhancing the look and feel of the property, both inside and out. Marilyn takes it one step further and focuses a lot on the ‘curb appeal’. For example, having the seller make sure that the lawn is cut, the flower beds are full (in season of course) and that the shrubs and trees are pruned back, if need be. Furthermore, she may also point out that the trim needs a touch up, or the roof needs replacing if shingles are curling. Curb appeal, is crucial, regardless of market, as many buyers put together a list of possible homes prior to going out with a realtor, and may drive by before viewing inside. This can make or break. I have had the experience that a buyer has crossed a home off of a viewing tour due to a previous late afternoon drive by. The curb appeal was, well, not appealing, and so influenced the buyer to think that possibly the interior mirrored the exterior.
Which Home Repairs that will Result in the Greatest Return on Investment?
Real estate professionals get asked questions about how to make their home more appealing to a potential buyer, and as much as it does depend on the home being marketed, it also depends on the budget that the seller has to use towards home repairs. Some homes have a ‘honey-do’ list a mile long, and some homes are pretty much ready to go with some simple pre-packing or flowers in a vase. However, most homes do require more than a spruce up in more than several areas of concern. According to HomeGain (www.homegain.com), a site that provides information about real estate and the industry, the top three improvements to the home before listing and that will result in the greatest ROI are 1) clean and declutter (872%), 2) home staging (586%) and 3) lighten and brighten (572%). Moreover, Rae cites that updating and staging kitchens and bathrooms are key, as the budget allows for of course. She goes on to say that “72% of first impression of a home can be controlled by the seller”, and that the feeling of a home is assessed within a blink of an eye of entering the property - a decision has been made, and homes are eliminated from the list based on the very first impression, regardless of whether it is inside or out. Now that I have a much firmer grasp of staging and how it all works, I am very excited to incorporate staging and Marilyn Roeke into my business model when working with sellers. I understand that this is quite crucial, especially in the buyer’s market that we are presently in, as no one has a crystal ball to predict when this down economy will flip for Calgarians. I look forward to adding to this topic in future blogs posts. One never knows what will come out of a well-timed brainstorming session. Have a happy spring!