All The World’s a Stage . . . and your house is a scene in the “For Sale” act

by Aaron Wilson

By Joanne M. Anderson

Photos courtesy of Debbie Campbell, CSE

Gone are the days of dusting cobwebs off the front porch, mowing the lawn, cleaning the house, listing it for sale and signing a purchase contract soon thereafter. Even if you upped the charm with fresh bread from the oven and soft jazz in the background, the New River Valley market can be highly competitive, and sellers need every advantage for a timely sale, ideally at asking price.

First impressions can be deal breakers for potential buyers, especially when homeowners do not grasp the significance of staging the home. It’s like missing the forest for the trees. This common phrase means one is looking at individual things (trees) and missing the big picture (forest). In house terms, it can be viewed as prospective home buyers being distracted by trinkets, unusual artwork, personal belongings or loud decorative accents which attract attention. The human eye is drawn to something which stands out, and the viewer misses the entire room for the visual impact of one thing.
A home is decorated and styled for personal taste. That doesn’t mean it’s especially appealing to someone else, which as long as you are the primary residents doesn’t matter much. But it can matter big time when you decide to sell the property, especially if you want a fairly quick sale and a good price. The National Association of Realtors reports that staged homes sell 80 percent quicker and draw offers up to 11 percent higher than non-staged properties. A study by the Real Estate Staging Association indicates that staged homes sell, on average, 73 percent faster than unstaged ones.
“Staging allows the Realtor® another tool to add to our marketing package,” states Debra Chase with Coldwell Banker Townside. “Staging provides the finishing touch that can help buyers see the potential that a room or whole home offers.” Curb appeal is the first impression, and a not-so-perfect performance outside can be overlooked for a stellar setting on the inside. The hallmark of a home stage professional is a keen eye for arrangement, organization, function and color, understanding the kind of neutral environment that has broad appeal. It’s not about decorating or redecorating, but more about transforming the home from personally-you to impersonally-anyone else.
Debbie Campbell, CSE, grew up in Blacksburg and worked as a guidance counselor for 20 years before starting her home staging and redesign business, Stage 2 Smile. Her Certified Staging Expert (CSE) designation comes from completing coursework with the Home Staging Institute. Having a keen eye for decor, color, function and aesthetics, Campbell had been informally doing “home makeovers” for friends and relatives for years before she transitioned into an entrepreneurial role. Her counseling background, however, is valuable in home staging.
“Anyone selling a house is stepping into some kind of transition ~ a move across the country, divorce, downsizing, job change,” she explains. “Thus, the work can entail almost as much tact and diplomacy as skillful and sensible reorganization, removal and repositioning someone’s prized possessions.”
One of the most common stumbling blocks to staging is emotional because homeowners can be defensive. Someone removing and repositioning things can be disheartening and disruptive. But the home stage professional simply sees how to present the home in its best light, literally and figuratively. The objective is to sell the house for a great price in a relatively short time frame, and keeping that in mind makes the home staging professional part of the sales team, not an adversary.

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