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Honoured, shocked, and incredibly humbled – these are the words that best describe Shauna Lynn Simon’s reaction when she learned she was this year’s recipient of the RESA Kathy Nielsen Award at the 2018 Real Estate Staging Association’s Annual Convention and Awards Gala in Las Vegas. Kathy Nielsen dedicated much of her life to furthering the home staging industry through her work at the Real Estate Staging Association® (RESA). She was not only a leader within RESA; she was a mentor to so many home stagers. She was always willing to take the time to talk with someone, to give sage advice, and to brainstorm the next new idea for our industry. Kathy Nielsen passed away 3 years ago, and the award was created in her honour, as a tribute to her unwavering spirit, and as a way to recognize those that embody her true spirit and the values she upheld.

Candidates are nominated by the RESA membership, based on their willingness to mentor others, their commitment to professionalism, and their role in leadership within the organization.


Shauna Lynn has held the role of the Canadian Representative of the National Board of Directors for the Real Estate Staging Association® for almost two (2) years, and previously held positions within her local RESA chapter. In her role with the National Board of Directors, she has travelled throughout Ontario to meet with Canadian RESA chapters to learn of the needs of Canadian real estate staging professionals. She was instrumental in forming and heading the RESA Canadian Strategic Planning Committee, and has been tasked with furthering the education of homeowners and real estate professionals with the benefits of home staging and communicating what the industry stands for. She is the Ontario Instructor for RESA’s Professional Development Course, “Staging to Sell – What Every Agent Should Know”, and taught the first course in Canada at the Kitchener-Waterloo Association of Realtors®. She was voted as one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in Real Estate Staging for 2018, and continues to elevate the industry’s standards through her Real Estate Staging Professional Certification and Continuing Education training programs.


About The Real Estate Staging Association®The Real Estate Staging Association® (RESA®) is the trade association for professional real estate stagers and redesigners For more information on the real estate staging and the convention visit www.RESAConvention.com. For more information about the awards please visit www.HomeStagingIndustryAwards.com. For more information about real estate staging, or to find a professional stager or redesigner call 800-201-8687 and speak with Shell Brodnax, or visit the RESA® Web site at www.RealEstateStagingAssociation.com
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If you have ever lived in a home for sale, you can appreciate how challenging it can be to maintain a show-ready home for the duration of the listing. Of course, this is made especially difficult if you happen to have pets, kids, or any other type of life. While it is much less stressful for you as a homeowner to sell a home that you are not living in, an empty home puts a great deal of additional stress onto your buyer. 

The number rule of selling (anything) is that it’s not about you. In order to set yourself up for sales success, you will need to understand your buyer‘s needs, put those needs before your own, and clearly outline how you can help to deliver on those needs. What problem do you solve? Your buyer will have a list of wants and needs when looking at a home, but ultimately they will want and need something that fits their daily lifestyle. 

This is where home staging comes in. Homes that have been professionally staged spend 90% less time on the market (source: Real Estate Staging Association). Buyers view professionally staged listings as “well-maintained”, and are willing to pay more for a move-in ready home. In fact, a staged home will sell, on average, 17% higher than an unstaged home, according to US Housing and Urban Development. Despite these great statistics, we understand that it doesn’t make it any easier to open your wallet and spend money on a home that you are selling. Let’s face it – it’s not as though you are decorating a home that you are going to live in, so the joy in home staging, as a seller, comes upon the sale of the home, and the extra money in your pocket as a result. But what if it doesn’t sell? What guarantees do you have? And how much is the initial investment going to be?

Before we can tell you what it will cost to stage your vacant property, there are a few things that we need to consider. There are a number of factors that contribute towards a positive sale of a house, including the price, positioning in the market, and advertising. Home staging will help a home to sell for more money, but it is still subject to market restrictions, and will only sell for what someone is willing to pay for it. Think of home staging a part of your marketing strategy. It is not about decorating a home, but instead it is about showcasing the features of the home, and selling buyers on the lifestyle and experience of living there. 


Why are vacant homes difficult to sell?
  • 90% of buyers do not have the ability to visualize a space beyond what they see – vacant homes rely on their buyers to possess this skill in order to ensure that the house sells
  • Vacant rooms have no where to hide – buyers will easily scrutinize every aspect of the home
  • Buyers struggle to connect emotionally to a vacant home
  • Empty rooms appear smaller than they are – home staging not only helps to show the scale of the room and the furniture that will fit, but it helps to clearly define the purpose of a room, and the optimal furniture placement 
What is involved in the home staging process?
Most professional home stagers will begin with a home staging consultation, where they will visit the property to evaluate it and create a custom staging plan. In most cases, there will be a fee for this consultation (generally ranging from $100-$300 – BTSH Home Staging Consultations start at $150 + tax). In some cases, this fee may be refunded, in part or in full, if the staging company is hired for the full-service vacant home staging. In this consultation, you will receive some recommendations for updates or repairs, as well as some details about the staging that they will do (this may include a basic home staging plan, rooms to be staged, pricing, etc.).

Partial home staging vs full home staging
You may choose to stage only the main rooms of the home, however we strongly recommend staging the full house to maximize your home staging investment. Home staging helps to eliminate distractions, and create an experience for your buyers, and empty rooms will create a disconnect. As well, if any rooms are small or unusually shaped, buyers will find these rooms especially difficult to envision, and will usually underestimate their potential. Full home staging will always provide the greatest return on your investment, however if your budget will not allow for this, you can review options with your qualified home stager.


Weighing your options
It is not unusual to get a couple of bids for your home staging project, however the decision should be made on a variety of factors, and pricing should be the least of these. Remember that not all home stagers and home staging companies are created equal. Choose the company that you feel will best represent your home, and result in the best outcome. While there are a number of home staging techniques that most home stagers will follow, it is still a very subjective service, and different home stagers will create a different plan. When reviewing the home stager that you wish to work with, be sure to qualify their portfolio, experience, inventory quality, awards and accolades, certification training and continuing education, association affiliations, insurance coverage, etc. 

What does it cost?
Depending on the home (size, number of rooms, outdoor spaces to be staged, style of home, etc.), home staging services can cost you anywhere from $2,500 - $10,000 to stage properly. As well, the access to your property or the distance from the company’s service area can also affect the pricing. While condominium apartments are generally low square footage, the moving process can take much longer and therefore increase the staging fees. 

The investment for your home staging project includes more than just a few pieces of furniture. It covers the expertise of the home stager, and the time required to create and execute a successful home staging plan. This means creating the concept, selecting, prepping, and packing the home staging items, delivery (and pick-up upon sale of house), and of course the time required for the home staging team to install the selected items. The home staging process takes several hours, from start to finish, and involves several team members to execute effectively.


That said, how much can you expect to spend on staging your home? While this will vary from one staging company to another, here is a bit of a guideline based on our experience:
  • Pricing for vacant home staging projects begin at $2,500 + tax (this usually includes approximately 3 staged major rooms, plus bathrooms, hallways, and entrance)
  • Average vacant home staging pricing is $5,000 + tax
  • Smaller houses tend to cost more “per room” due to labour/moving fees – these tend to stay relatively the same as in larger projects
  • Houses with 5 major* rooms or more average approximately $750 - $800 / major room (+ tax)
  • Houses with 4 major* rooms or less average approximately = $850 - $900 / major room (+ tax)

*Major room refers to a room that requires notable furniture, such as a bedroom, living room, dining room, etc. Pricing provided includes the staging of all bathrooms, entry, hallways, etc. as a part of the estimated fee. If kitchen does not include a dinette, it is not included as a major room.


Tips for Setting Yourself Up for a Successful Sale
Give yourself the time needed to properly prepare your home for market. It’s cliché, but you really only do get one chance to make a first impression – make it count! Plan for home staging from the start of your project – it is never too early to call in a home stager for a consultation. A professional home stager can provide guidance and expertise to ensure that you are focusing your investment in the areas that will provide you with the greatest return. If you are flipping a property, it’s important to plan for home staging from the beginning. Consider meeting with your home stager BEFORE beginning any renovations. A qualified and experienced stager will be your best resource for understanding the best finishes and design choices for the home, which areas to improve, and how to best appeal to the target demographic of the home. 
Most of all, remember to stay calm, and call a professional home stager!


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As another year comes to a close, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on the past 12 months, and peer through the looking glass at the year ahead. We want to thank you for continuing to be a part of our journey, and look forward to another year serving the residents of Waterloo Region.
So what made this year so fantastic? Here are just a few things that happened at Beyond The Stage Homes - thank you for being a part of it!
January - Shauna Lynn Simon and Jennifer Roth attended the biggest home staging industry event in North America, RESACON in Las Vegas, where they continued to develop their skills and build relationships. In addition, Beyond The Stage Homes’ sister company, SLS Academy, was honoured as a finalist for Most Innovative Product for their Client Care Package, a staple in all BTSH consultations since inception.

January
– Shauna Lynn was officially sworn in as the Canadian Representative on the National Board of Directors for the Real Estate Staging Association. In her 2-year term, her aim is to grow a stronger home staging community across the country, build awareness for the industry, and forge relationships with Canadian home staging leaders. In her first year, she has travelled to visit all Canadian RESA Chapters, and was instrumental in bringing the Staging to Sell – What Every Agent Should Know professional development course to Canada. The inaugural Canadian class was taught right here in Kitchener-Waterloo in September, providing savvy KW agents with the CSA (Certified Staging Advocate) designation. 
April – Spring is a time to refresh, and BTSH took this as a great opportunity to refresh our home staging inventory! We sold off most of our inventory, helping us to clear out space to bring in new, top-quality items for staging our homes, as we continue to be Waterloo Region’s #1 choice for vacant home staging.

May - BTSH continues to be a proud sponsor of the KW MS Walk by raising funds at our hosted home sellers workshops, providing TeamMS prizes at the walk, and volunteering their time before, during, and following the event. This event helps to raise much needed funds for the MS Society’s Grand River chapter.
July Received 1st place Diamond Award for the Waterloo Chronicle Reader Awards Interior Design/Furnishings Category 2017
October - Received 1st place Diamond Award for the Record Reader Awards Favourite Interior Decorator 2017 (our 3rdyear in a row, thank you so much!!). To say thanks to our loyal supporters, we are offering a chance to win a $500 shopping spree from Wayfair!


Other notables of 2017:

BTSH enjoyed surprising clients with home-grown maple syrup from Harvey Martin Farm, in commemoration of Canada’s 150!

Shauna Lynn was featured on CTV, Rogers Daytime, podcasts, blogs, and more!


We continue to support local businesses and new entrepreneurs through the Waterloo Region Small Business Centre. Shauna Lynn is a volunteer mentor with the centre, and has provided leadership through guest speaking and 1-on-1 coaching.

We met some incredible people throughout the year, and we couldn’t forget about the furry friends that we made as well.


The Furry Friends of Beyond The Stage Homes - YouTube
  

What does 2018 have in store?

You know what they – time flies when you’re having fun! Well, we cannot believe that the spring of 2018 will mark our 10 year anniversary – stay tuned for details on how you can help us to celebrate this incredible milestone!

In July, Jennifer Roth and Shauna Lynn Simon will attend the 2018 RESA Convention at M Resort in Las Vegas where SLS Academy will be exhibiting once again. 

Beyond The Stage Homes will continue to make Waterloo Region’s homes beautiful, and service our clients in the only way that we know how – by always exceeding expectations in our designs, and in our service, and by creating a home that they can cherish, regardless of whether they are selling staying.

Wishing you a healthy and prosperous 2018!

All the best, from Shauna Lynn and the entire BTSH team 
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With the holidays just around the corner now, there are parties that need a-hosting, and tables that need a-setting. I love to host gatherings with my friends, from simple cocktail parties to extravagant bashes, and of course, dinner parties with my closest friends are always a holiday favourite.
The Cocktail Party

When hosting a cocktail party, since the objective is to have your guests mixing and mingling, it’s easiest to simply set out your food and drinks buffet style. First, re-arrange your furniture to accommodate your guests and allow them the room to move easily throughout the room (setting a table against a large wall in the room, rather than the middle of the room, will allow for a better flow and access). Ensure that you have a pitcher or punch bowl of a non-alcoholic beverage available, and set out with some highball glasses, a bucket of ice, and some lemons and limes for garnishes. Set out wine glasses, as well as an uncorked bottle of red and white (don’t open too many right away, as your guests may bring you a bottle as well). Serve finger foods that are easy to eat and don’t require utensils, and be sure to provide lots of side dishes and napkins. Allow for some rest areas around the room that provide some seating and if possible, some tables for setting down a glass or a plate.
The Dinner Party
When hosting a dinner party, how you choose to dress up your table can set the tone of the evening.. Whether it be simple and elegant, or festive, or even themed, have fun with it. Be sure to set the table before your guests arrive – it will help to avoid the chaos of trying to get it done while entertaining your guests. Set out hand-written place cards for a personal touch, to allow you to select the seat that will allow you the most flexibility to balance serving with entertaining.
The Black Tie Themed Party
If you are hosting a formal, black tie style party, why not set your table in a black tie theme? Choose a black linen tablecloth, and crisp white linen napkins, with black and white dishware. Compliment with some shimmer, such as silver candlesticks, or a centrepiece of silver and gold ornaments. Add a splash of colour with some rose gold or navy blue, both hot colours this season.
Photo Credit: Good Housekeeping
The Festive Party
For a festive party, set your table in the festive colours that you have chosen for your home. Create a feeling of warmth with candles, and bring out the holiday spirit with evergreen sprigs and holly.
Be a Gracious Party Guest

Attending a hosted party this season? Avoid arriving empty-handed. Most hosts will appreciate a contribution to the beverage bar, such as a bottle of wine or after dinner liqueur, but feel free to bring something more personal that can be kept and enjoyed after the party. For some inspiration, check out some of our favourites here.
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