Realtors, builders say staging sells high-end homes
Custom builder Jerry Smith of Fairhope staged a few rooms in an empty, high-end house to make it more homey, then liked it so much he staged most of the house.
“A lot of times people will walk into an empty home and it feels kind of cold,” he said. “They can’t envision how to decorate it. Staging has made a big difference.”
Staging is all about making a house look attractive to buyers, and using that technique to help homes move off the market more quickly is becoming the norm rather than the exception, especially in the current economic slowdown, according to Realtors, staging professionals and area builders.
Smith hired Showhomes Mobile/Baldwin to stage his house in Fairhope’s Rock Creek, a home listed in the $900,000 range by Ashurst & Niemeyer.
Custom builder Brad Lewis in Mobile has a staged house in Newcastle Estates off Johnson Road and says it shows nicely. In fact, he said, “I use it to meet clients — the last two contracts I’ve gotten are because of that house. I take them out there and it serves as an office.”
“You can’t stage every room, but you stage the rooms that are most important,” for viewing, Darnell said, who reported selling three high-end staged homes for builders. “They love it. You have a better chance selling staged than you do vacant.”
Showhomes offers a home manager service, said owner Angela Blankinchip. For a fee, typically 1 percent of the listing price at closing, a home manager will live in the furnished home and keep the house and yard in showing condition seven days a week, according to Blankinchip.
Given the number of $500,000 to $800,000 homes on the market, “people are doing everything they can to make it more attractive, and staging adds value,” Blankinchip said. And, she said when potential buyers look at homes on the Web, “they want to see pictures of something beautiful.”
When a house is vacant, the flaws and limitations jump out, said Jane Ann Lance of Enhanced by Lance Home Staging Services in Mobile. “People who buy the higher end homes are looking for the ‘wow’ factor,” she said.
Builders and Realtors often hear buyers say they don’t know how their furniture will fit in the house, Lance said. “A lot of the higher-end homes have tricky floor plans and bigger houses tend to be more open. Staging allows you to see how it would be to live in this home.”
In the upper-end homes, most owners have the furniture, but they need the big accessories such as lamps, large paintings and beautiful entrances, Lance said.
“People tend to overcrowd or clutter a room,” said Tammy Boothe of Showhomes.
“But we don’t want to hide the builders work,” such as crown molding, custom fireplaces and other details, she said.