Saturday, October 14, 2006

Staging Your Phoenix Metro Home to Sell

Professional Home Stagers Make Sure First Impressions Count

Lisa Hutchurson - Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle

When Bill and Janet Welch bought their home in Perinton, N.Y., 20 years ago, everything was state of the art.

When they wanted to sell it, their real estate agent told them the home looked a little dated. The Welchs turned to professional home stager Debbie Coons, who worked to improve the look of their home inexpensively so they could sell it as fast - and at the best price - possible.

"Staging gives your house the competitive edge," says Coons. "All other things being equal - price, amenities and location - the one that looks the best will sell the fastest."

That's especially important now, says ReMax broker associate Dorene Champion. "I would say there are a greater number of houses on the market today than in the past few years, and the marketplace competition is keen," says Champion.

One of these tricks is to "edit" all your stuff because uncluttered rooms look more spacious and calming. Stagers remove items from a variety of places, such as walls, bookcases, closets and cabinets. Simply rearranging your furniture can add interest to the space.

"Sometimes it's hard to edit your own belongings," says Linda Litchfield, owner of Stage Right home staging service in Pittsford, N.Y. "It just takes another eye to say, You don't need this here' or 'Pack this up now and you don't have to do it later.' "

Stagers know what's current. That's why Coons replaced much of the Welches' carpeting with ceramic tile, used silky drapery panels and sheers as window treatments and replaced brass doorknobs and cabinet handles with ones in brushed nickel.

Home stagers also use props, either to provide a designer touch or to broaden the home's appeal. "It's just the two of them right now," Coons says of the Welches' home, "so I'm not sure it could be imagined as a family house." So she placed children's shoes in the back hall, left a note to the baby sitter on the kitchen counter and stuck Snoopy slippers in a bedroom.

Is home staging worth it? According to a 2004-2005 survey conducted by StagedHomes.com, staged homes sell for an average 6.9 percent more and in half the time. Coons says that on average, her clients sell within three weeks; Litchfield says hers sell within one to three. But the benefits come at a price.

Coons' charges begin at $29 an hour for packing and cleaning tasks, and her consultation fees begin at $250. Litchfield, who always does the work herself, generally charges about $60 an hour for a consultation and another $60 an hour after that.

Home stagers keep expenses down by using props or items the homeowner already has. Because of this, Litchfield says, the cost of her updates rarely exceeds a few hundred dollars. Coons, however, says homeowners should expect to budget 1 percent to 3 percent of the value of their house on staging.

Don't worry if you don't have a big budget, says Litchfield, who has clients with homes priced from $100,000 to $700,000. "There's no substitute for cleaning and clearing clutter. Add in newer paint colors and better furniture arrangements, and you've got yourself a really spectacular-looking home."

If your thinking about selling your home and need some help, call Laura Boyajian, aka, Laura B. today at 602.400.0008. You may also visit her historic Phoenix website.

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