Hi Friends ~
As I talk to people about owner occupied staging consultations and services there is generally an air of mystery about them and what actually transpires in staging the home you live in to sell. Realtors, clients and the general public all have questions about how the staging consultation works and the kind of effort that the homeowners will need to commit to during the process.
One of my clients graciously offered to shed some light by honestly talking about her experience and emotions during and after staging their home to sell. Keep in mind that not all homes with need to make as many adjustments as these homeowners. It’s my hope that you will find a bit of the mystery revealed by her unedited answers and experience!
Tell our readers from your perspective about the initial home staging consultation:
Client: When the appointment was first scheduled, I thought to myself that this was going to be easy. Who wouldn’t love our home – the place we live – the way it is? I didn’t expect many if any changes. After Jude left, I was floored by the eight to ten pages of completely filled out instructions of what was necessary in order for the house to be put on the market. Be warned, it is a lot to digest. It almost hurts your feelings that there are so many changes, and that someone just wouldn’t walk through your house and love it as much as you do the way it is. My initial knee jerk reaction for most suggestions was “We will never do that or that won’t need to be done.” I accompanied Jude through the walk through as she made notes and suggestions, I must admit, the entire time I was shaking my head no.
Real Home: Thank you for your candor! This shell shocked reaction isn’t unusual and one I try to temper with telling clients to try to take their emotions out of the equation (which can be very difficult to do) and work hard at no longer thinking of their house as their home but merchandise that needs to be marketed properly. There is no doubt that decorating to live is entirely different than staging a home to sell and typical homeowners are just too close to their homes to see it objectively. I don’t recall taking 8-10 pages of notes . . . no wonder you felt overwhelmed! I must add that these were hand written notes on unlined paper . . . and I have very LARGE handwriting!
After RH left, what were your thoughts?
Client: Because we had several Realtors through the house before our appointment with Jude, we had been informed that homes that have been staged sell faster and at a higher price, I knew this was something that needed to be done. Jude was professional and as I mentioned had many, many suggestions on what needed to be done before the house was put on the market. My heart said “none of this needs to be done, everyone will love your house.” My head told me “you had better get to work and start on the list given to you from Jude.” It was truly a conflict. Honestly, I think some of it has to do with the letting go of your home all the way around – just part of the grieving process of moving out of your “home”. Making changes (some drastic) are difficult and a person’s home is personal. It was almost a sad like feeling to think these changes would help a buyer see my home in a different light.
Was there a pill that was recommended by RH that was particularly hard to swallow?
Client: Whew! What a question. Of course, some changes were easy to swallow, like pack up a few things to declutter. The hardest pill to swallow? Maybe RH could answer this one better than I, since she saw our reactions to certain things, but for me the hardest few suggestions were to neutralize the paint colors. Our girls had beautiful paint colors in their rooms. One being green and the other room pink. In retrospect, their rooms look beautiful with the neutral colors.
Real Home: I do recall getting a few looks like “she must be nuts” from you, including painting the girls’ bedrooms among other suggestions. While it can be difficult to send these messages and I diligently work to be diplomatic when articulating them, I am committed to providing my clients with information that will have their home appeal to the broadest section of buyers. To do less would be a disservice to my clients, my reputation and to the staging industry.
Was there a low point during the process of staging your home to sell and if so, how did you work your way through it?
Client: I think there were a few low points. At the start you just feel like this will never get done. There is just too much to do. Take it from me though – and I was pretty resistant to the changes, as each change was made it made the other necessary tasks even more obvious. So, even though the process seems never ending the lows aren’t as “low”.
Real Home: Interesting perspective! I sometimes find that if we can complete one small room and showcase the difference with before/after pictures clients tend to see the benefit and get on board with the remaining rooms.
During the process, was there a “WOW” moment or moments?
Client: Honestly, there were several. We have a large dining room table that RH asked we remove the leafs to make the dining room table smaller. Of course, I gave RH all the reasons how and why we couldn’t do this. How would we have holiday dinners? How would we host family gatherings? The table looks best large? Well, once the table was set up the way RH requested, I’m not sure the table will ever be extended for long periods of time. The table looks even prettier and the dining room looked amazing this way. I even questioned why I didn’t have the table like this for the past ten years.
I know I mentioned the paint colors earlier. My jaw was on the floor after the paint colors were neutralized. Again, I have asked myself why I had the other colors all these years.
There were a few changes that truly made large drastic differences. Our foyer for example. RH recommended an area rug, mirror, a chest and a plant with a lamp. These changes made the first impression bright, airy and homey. It was so impressive, this look will be carried into our next home.
We also had a walk out basement that needed some updating. RH made very few changes – accent pillows on black leather sofas, changing the direction of a table and a few vases with silk flowers along with a wall accent piece over the fireplace and the entire basement looked completely different in a new way. I still am shocked when I walk down to the basement. Simple, inexpensive yet extremely effective.
The last recommendation, that I fought really hard NOT to do was a small, somewhat simple update in the Master Bathroom. At our price point RH was recommending a small tile backsplash, new knobs on the doors, faucets, light fixtures and granite counter tops to replace the laminate countertops. This was a fairly inexpensive update and truly placed a “WOW factor” on the house. After the project was complete, I had wished I’d done it years ago so that I could have enjoyed it longer. As I mentioned earlier, baby steps – and once one item is checked off your list and I saw the fruits of our labors I realized that changes would be effective.
One of the most impactful changes and where my husband began to realize the changes were making a difference and really started buying into the staging process was when RH recommend an inexpensive painting be placed over the bed in the Master Bedroom. I cannot even begin to tell you how one small change made the entire room different.
Real Home: You did make several purchases, i.e., a couple of small furniture pieces, 3 rugs (if I recall correctly) and some accessories/artwork. Not only did it amp up the appeal for selling but you will enjoy them in your next home!
Tell us about how you felt when the staging was completed:
Client: Again, I could go on and on about this. Wow! Wow! And another Wow! The question that continuously goes through my mind is “Why didn’t I do this years ago so that I could enjoy the house looking like this”? It’s mind boggling how even small changes make a large impact. For example: Another “pill to swallow” was changing the area rug under the kitchen table. Actually, I resisted this changed right to the day before the house was listed. Once the area rug was changed, I was asked numerous times if we had repainted the kitchen – and we hadn’t. Just one area rug brightened up the kitchen and gave it an entirely “new” look.
Tell us a little about living in a staged home:
Client: We enjoyed it. The beauty of the home and the changes have been so significant we are really enjoying the newness and freshness of the house.
Real Home: Without a doubt the changes you made really made a difference, but let’s keep it real . . . . with the demanding careers you and your husband have, two active pre-teen children, two dogs and two cats (starting to sound like your house is Noah’s Ark), was it easy to keep your house “show ready”?
Client: No, it was not always easy to keep the house show ready. I would let it go in between showings, but my girls were kept in the loop and actually started to help keep the house cleaner and we did manage to get through the selling of the home together.
Real Home: I do hear over and over again from Sellers (and know from my own experience) that living in a home that’s on the market, dropping everything to pick it up and get out of the house, is very stressful. All the more reason to do everything you can to minimize the time it takes to sell!
In retrospect, is there anything you would do differently?
Client: The saying “If I knew then what I know now” comes into play with this process. If I knew that the outcome would be so amazing, so fresh and enjoyable I wouldn’t have fought all the changes so much. My advice would be to put trust in RH to do what they do best – help you get the most money for your home. Enjoy the process (it’s hard, but believe me, it is worth it.) It’s a great feeling when the feedback from realtors bringing buyers through was ALWAYS “your home shows beautifully.”
Real Home: I am thankful to this client for her candid perspective on the staging process and hope it sheds some light to all of you reading this. While I can never make guarantees (there are some factors out of my control), statistics continue to pour in that a staged home will sell more quickly and for a better price than an unstaged home. Below is a link to the 2015 National Association of Realtors study on the effects of home staging:
Last but not least, this client’s home sold in 21 days – cash offer at near list price!
(I love my job . . . )
Until the next time ~
Real Home by Jude is located in Brighton, Michigan servicing all of Southeast Michigan including: Brighton, Howell, Ann Arbor, Plymouth, Canton, South Lyon, Novi, Northville, Commerce, Walled Lake, Wixom, Walled Lake, Milford, Highland, Farmington Hills, West Bloomfield, Livonia, Southfield, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Fenton, Detroit, Oakland County, Livingston County, Wayne County and Washtenaw County.
Contact Real Home by Jude to schedule a home staging or design consultation.