Sellers: time to make home back into a house
It sounds harsh, but to sell a home, an owner has to remove his or her mark. That’s one of the best pieces of advice home stager Phyllis Fiore offers clients.
Fiore is an Accredited Staging Professional trained by International Association of Home Staging Professionals president and CEO Barb Schwarz.
Originally a Deer Valley Resort ski instructor, Fiore got into the business after buying and selling several Park City homes herself.
Touring various properties in Summit County, she said she saw the good, the bad and the ugly. Unbeknownst to her at the time, both houses she and her husband purchased had been staged.
Knowing from personal experience the importance of the service and fascinated by the transformation that can take place with fairly minimal changes, Fiore sought training from industry leaders and started Stage Right! this year to help locals sell houses faster and for more money.
Many people in town already offer staging, but there’s a misconception that it’s about having nice décor. It really has little to do with design, Fiore said, and everything to do with removing distractions that keep potential buyers from seeing themselves in the home.
Lessons one and two: declutter and depersonalize, she said.
Too many books on the shelves and too many items stacked on kitchen counters make a room look smaller. People get used to the clutter and constricted space, she said, but one cannot expect someone doing a walkthrough to look past it.
As inconvenient as it might be, getting rid of a lot of stuff makes rooms feel more open and more comfortable, she said.
Statistically, buyers report staged homes give the impression of better maintenance, Fiore added.
One of the hardest things to do is remove personal photos, collections, mementos and other items that make it difficult for another person to place themselves in the space, she explained.
Those items make a house a home, but if you’re moving anyway, they’ve got to come off the walls and shelves eventually and sooner is better, she said.
No part of the house escapes scrutiny. A buyer’s impression of a home starts with curb appeal, she added.
Fiore thinks of selling a home as like throwing a party. No matter who you invited, as soon as the first guest shows up, the party must begin. Considerations for every potential buyer must be made, she explained.
"It’s truly tough for owners. They love their stuff and can’t understand why people can’t just see it for what it is," Fiore added.
The goal is to allow potential buyers to walk into the home and have an "ah-ha!" moment.
"In staged homes, the feeling is so different," she said.
Fiore said she acknowledges it’s also hard for sellers to commit additional money to selling their home. That’s why she offers initial consultations for free, and only expects payment when she has a list of suggestions to implement.
But people also need to see it for what it is: an investment in the process. Staged homes are on the market 80 percent less time and on average sell for more than non-staged homes, she said.
"It’s to your advantage to spend a little extra to have that ‘ah-ha’ moment happen," Fiore added.
Fiore helped Elizabeth Risdon of Santa Barbara, Calif., stage a home there.
"Phyllis’ staging creativity turned my home into a real winner!" she said via email.
Fiore can also help with "staging for living" for people who would like the same service to their home but do not intend to sell.
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