Auburn Hills, Battle Creek, Berkley, Beverly Hills, Bingham Farms, Birmingham, Bloomfield, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township, Center Line, Chesterfield Township, Clarkston, Clawson, Clinton Township, Commerce Township, Dearborn, Detroit, Eastpointe, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Ferndale, Franklin, Fraser, Grosse Pointe City, Grosse Pointe Farms, Grosse Pointe Park, Grosse Pointe Shores, Grosse Pointe Woods, Grosse Pointes, Harper Woods, Harrison Township, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods, Keego Harbor, Lake Orion, Lansing, Lathrup Village, Livonia, Macomb County, Macomb Township, Madison Heights, Metro Detroit, Mount Clemens, New Baltimore, New Haven, Northeast Detroit, Novi, Oak Park, Oakland County, Oakland Township, Orchard Lake, Pleasant Ridge, Pontiac, Ray Township, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Romeo, Roseville, Royal Oak, Royal Oak Township, Shelby Township, Southfield, St. Clair Shores, Sterling Heights, Sylvan Lake, Troy, Utica, Walled Lake, Warren, Washington Township, Wayne County, West Bloomfield
Snatch up buyers with staging
Posted July 28, 2010
Photos provided by Carolyn Stieger
In the days of the housing slump, Realtors and sellers are pulling out all the stops to get homes off the market.
But with rainy-day funds dwindling in many bank accounts, it’s hard to know if services like staging are still worth the money.
Carolyn Stieger of We Stage Greater Detroit in Bloomfield Hills said staging does help a house sell. Last year was not a good year for the home staging business, but something changed in the fall.
“My phone started ringing like crazy.”
Stieger said successful Realtors know what works — pricing a home right and staging the home so it appeals to a wide variety of buyers. But many know they don’t have time to do the staging themselves.
“Part of my job as a stager is to help them make their property appeal to the broadest market of buyers and have it turnkey, so they can sell it faster,” said Stieger, an accredited staging professional master.
Kathi Jones-Cutler, a Realtor with Max Broock-Birmingham and an accredited home stager, said she knows that is true from firsthand experience.
“I had just listed a home and … after we staged it and priced it right … it sold after the first showing,” she said.
Stieger said national averages show that staged homes sell in 45 days or less. That’s the value, according to Jones-Cutler. Staging used to bring a higher price for the home, but she said now homeowners are just aiming for market value.
Stieger’s services range from $200 for her to come in and give the homeowner a list of problems to fix to about $800 for her to come into an owner-occupied home and rework and reposition the possessions herself.
“It really is very cost-effective if you think about how quickly you can sell your home,” she said.
Those who have already moved out and need to fill an empty house with rental furniture or accessories will pay extra monthly fees, she said.
“A buyer has a hard time visualizing what a home will look like if it’s empty,” Jones-Cutler said.
But staging has to be done properly to work, she said.
“A seller may believe that their home is staged and beautiful, but it’s to their liking,” she said. “They have to … be very objective and walk through their home and critique it.”
Jones-Cutler recommends enlisting the objective eye of a relative or friend for those who can’t afford professionals’ fees or don’t have a Realtor that serves double-duty as a home stager, as she does.
The top priority is cleaning the home to get rid of any odors, be it sweat, pets or just dirt, she said. Don’t cover up smells with an air freshener or odor-eating product, “get out a bucket and start scrubbing off the doorknobs, the doors … everything should be squeaky clean.”
Clearing clutter is the next big step. Sellers should borrow a garage or basement or rent storage space to move out extraneous knick-knacks, photos and even furniture.
“Especially if you’re moving because you need more space, why advertise that it’s too small?” she said. Also, “if you’re in need of repairs, then you want to make sure that you take care of those repairs before you place it on the market. Make it look like a magazine shoot.”
Jones-Cutler also suggests creating different areas in the home to show buyers how they could use the space, such as adding a television and a card table with a board game and snacks laid out in an unfinished basement to let its potential as a recreation space shine.
“That’s added value to a buyer,” she said.
Living in a staged home doesn’t have to feel like a museum existence, Stieger said.
“If you have the 3-year-old and the baby … you have to have your home show-ready in 15 minutes or less. What can we do to make this easy for you and ready to get out in a few moments notice so we can show your house?” she said of her job. “Staging is creating that ‘I want to live here’ feeling, but showcasing all the features of the home.”
Jones-Cutler said many of her clients have discovered that they love the minimalist living that staging offers.
“It’s just retraining your thought process and a little bit of discipline,” she said. “We all get sort of stuck in a rut, so it’s hard unless you enlist some help.”
Other devices meant to help sell homes are often not worth it, Jones-Cutler said.
“In this economy, it’s all about price,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what incentives you may give; you can throw in a boat, furniture, a car — that’s a gimmick and it really didn’t work in the first place, and now it’s really not working because, my gosh, you can buy a house for $10,000 in Michigan.”
On the other hand, she said that offering to pay closing costs and other means of reducing what buyers have to shell out up front do pay off.
“That’s very common, and yeah, that does work,” she said. “That helps bring a buyer to the table, buyers who, in the past, couldn’t save as much.
About the author
Staff Writer Kristyne E. Demske covers St. Clair Shores and the Lake Shore, Lakeview and South Lake public schools for the Sentinel. Kristyne has worked for C & G Newspapers since 2004 and attended Michigan State University and Chippewa Valley High School.
More from C & G Newspapers