We are all familiar with the adage that baking cookies or bread in your home just before a showing to potential buyers can enhance the feeling of warmth and help the house shoppers connect with your home.
But there are other steps home sellers should take when preparing the house or condo for sale and at the top of the list is staging. That aspect of the real estate market is so important today that there are accredited staging professional classes and certifications.
"Staging is so important in this market as it can show a buyer how they could live in the property and increase the perceived value of the home," says Lisa Kornhauser with John Daugherty Realtors. "A great stager could use homeowners existing furniture, add pieces from their collection or stage a vacant house all from their inventory. Staging a home is a way of bringing it to life. The key is to make sure that you use the right kind furniture and accessories that work best in the home."
"You have to create a look that triggers a buyer to respond well to a house. Staging is scientific, it's not just decorating."
While there are a number of interior designers and professional stagers who assist homeowners, Greg Williams and Steve Cook of ShowHomes run a turn-key operation, covering everything from furnishing vacant homes to providing their own contractors for updating to working with landscapers on curb appeal.
"Our goal is to put the house in the best show condition possible," Williams says. "We try to show prospective buyers what the home has for them."
Interior designer and professional stager Gail Taylor of Taylor & Taylor Designs regularly does staging for leading real estate agents. Her advice is simple, "The key words I tell my clients before staging are: Clean, clutter-free, organized, neutral walls, light and bright, and always . . . less is best. It's hard for buyers to picture their furnishings in a new home. They view the home as it is presented to them."While he agrees that effective staging involves visual esthetics, it is as much about placement. "It's not so much about the stuff that's in the house as it is the placement that is used to show off the house."
The goal is to create a setting that will increase the perceived value of the house. For Williams that means the home must look on trend. It should feel calm and serene. It should be sophisticated.
"In the Houston real estate market, it has become something of a beauty contest for houses," he said. "You have to create a look that triggers a buyer to respond well to a house. Staging is scientific, it's not just decorating."
He pointed to studies that show that rooms that are cluttered "with lots of stuff" cause a physical reaction in the potential buyer. "The heart rate goes up. The blood pressure goes up and alarms go off that this isn't the right place for them."