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Stagers create inviting homes

Authored by: John Scruggs  -  Published in: Memphis Business Journal
Created on:

Home staging is becoming more common in Memphis with homeowners and Realtors looking to get their properties sold and off the market.

With a growing inventory of homes on the market, some areas are turning to certified home stagers to help prepare homes before putting them up for sale in a more competitive housing market.

Memphis Area Association of Realtors statistics show that the average time on the market for the 1,122 homes sold in January 2007 was 105.5 days. 366 of those homes were on the market for more than 120 days. So a little extra effort in preparing a home to go on the market could be a good investment.

Staging a home for sale can involve anything from a simple consultation on what an owner should do to a full-service overhaul that includes rented furniture and renovations to better market the property.

The concept, which originated on the West Coast, involves setting up a home so that it will be more marketable, sell faster and possibly bring a higher sale price.

Cheryl Haas, a certified Associated Staging Professional, is the owner of Defining Touch, her home staging company that is an affiliate of Staged Homes, a national company.

Haas, who founded and is president of the Memphis chapter of the International Association of Home Staging Professionals, staged her first home in the Mid-South in 2003.

In 2004, Haas decided to get licensed and certified by Staged Homes, the company credited with growing and marketing the service and profession to homeowners and Realtors. She is now one of 24 ASPs in the Mid-South.

Barb Schwarz, CEO of Stagedhomes.com, started the business 18 years ago and has trademarked the term "staging."

"20 years ago having a home inspector come out was not commonplace," Haas says. "And now there are people getting their homes staged without even wanting to put them on the market for sale."

Consultations are a big part of Haas' work, and she says they range from $150-$250 for curbside to backyard service.

"With a consult, we come in and look at a home and try to determine what the target market is for that home," she says. "You wouldn't want to show a home in Harbor Town the same way you would show a home in Collierville."

Regardless, depersonalization and de-cluttering of homes is a large part of what home stagers do, she says.

Haas says staging a 2,500-square-foot property costs approximately $1,200.

"Buyers have to feel like they can move in," Haas says. "We also have agreements with certain vendors like PODS and 1-800-Got-Junk."

Realtors are taking note of the effectiveness a staged home can have on moving the property into the hands of a new owner.

Ann Hale, affiliate broker with ReMax at Mallard Creek, offers Haas' home staging services to all of her customers.

"It has produced fabulous results for our business," Hale says of Haas' work. "I would say around 95% of my customers are very interested in having a professional come look at their home before selling it."

Hale says staging allows a potential buyer to see a property at its best.

Haas says the process can include everything from shifting around furniture to having a homeowner make a sizable investment in needed renovations or updates to the home. The best time to stage a property is before the sign goes in the yard, she says.

Haas says one Collierville home, appraised at $750,000, had been on the market with three different Realtors for 13 months prior to staging.

"We took it off the market, staged the property and had a contract in three weeks," she says. "It sold above asking price."

With some Memphis homes staying on the market for sale longer than in years past, staging is becoming more popular with both homeowners and real estate brokers.

"It (staging) seems to have really taken on a life of its own in the Memphis market," Hale says. "We will often delay listing a home until the homeowner has made the updates that a stager suggests."

Are staged properties fetching higher sale prices? Hale won't suggest that, but she sees advantages to staging a property.

"I do know that anytime a Realtor does a market analysis for a property, there's always a price range for that home," she says. "Properties that have been properly staged can be listed at the higher end of that range."

Rather than the sales price, one of the primary points Haas and her colleagues push is how much faster staged properties can sell in comparison to other properties.

The average time on the market for a staged home is 21 days, Haas says, except for the middle of December.

Staging can range from furnishing a vacant model for a home builder to bringing in furniture for a property whose owner has already moved.

Haas cites data from the National Association of Realtors that says a furnished home will sell 68% faster than an unfurnished home.

With 132 clients in 2006, Haas staged Cybill Shepherd's South Bluff's home, which sold after being on the market for two months.

"She allowed us to make some investments on updating the home," Haas says. "It was a unique challenge because it's such a strong contemporary, and there's a small market for that type of property."

Haas estimates there were 400-500 homes staged in the Mid-South area in 2006.

"I have staged homes from $70,000 to $1.7 million," she says. "I always tell my clients, the cost of staging a home is always less than your first price reduction."

Defining Touch

Home staging
Owner: Cheryl Haas
Phone: (901) 465-4567
Web site: www.definingtouch.com

Article entered in the Staged Homes System: 2007-03-23



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