Leslie Eicher is obsessed with home design. Home staging is a proven marketing technique designed to help your home sell more quickly. At Staging That Sells, we offer personalized consultation for your property and provide the most current styles in home decor for every room, with results that are guaranteed to wow potential buyers.
One of the things I enjoy most about being a Certified Staging Professional is the opportunity to apply my skills and training to a wide variety of homes. Whether it’s a loft condominium, a starter home, a suburban family home, or a luxury mansion, the same basic principles of good staging apply…but that doesn’t mean a cookie-cutter approach can be applied to every home! The devil is in the details, as the saying goes, and at Staging That Sells we believe it’s our focused attention to detail that attracts prospective buyers to the houses we stage, and sparks the emotional connection that makes them say, “I want to live here!”
Recently, Manlin Development Group brought us in to stage their most recent custom home – a gorgeous six-bedroom, five bathroom home on a half-acre lot in Kirkwood, MO – we were ecstatic! Manlin shares our commitment to high quality and is well known for their attention to detail. Nowhere is that more evident than in this incredible 5,000 square foot home, and as Certified Staging Professionals we knew that our job was to showcase — not overshadow — the builder’s high-quality appointments.
We chose elegant but muted neutrals and metallics to highlight the stunning woodwork, quartz counters, stainless steel appliances and high-end fixtures throughout each room, including the living room, kitchen, and master bedroom. Plush area rugs help define comfortable seating and dining areas while also highlighting the wide, dark stain wood floors. All furniture was meticulously placed to show off the flow, ample floor space, and the stunning windows that allow views to the beautifully landscaped yard. What more could you ask for?
In asking ourselves the question above, we realized: even luxury properties will be someone’s “home,” so we felt it was important to make sure the staging painted a picture of warmth and comfort, too. For example, the breakfast room styling glides directly to a three-season patio staged to show its potential as a place of quiet reflection with your morning coffee, or a place to wind down after a busy day of work, surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature. The master bedroom suite was likewise staged as a plush, comfortable place to retreat from the world.
To learn more about this property and see additional photos, check out the feature in STL Mag.
Selling your home? We can help transform your property into the home of a buyer’s dreams – contact us today!
If you ask around about the best time to list a home for sale, you’re likely to hear that you should avoid selling your house in the winter (December, January, and February). After all, in parts of the country like St. Louis, winter weather means leafless trees, browning grass and a lack of blooms, all of which decrease a property’s curb appeal. Plus, few parents want to move their kids to another school halfway through the academic year. And let’s face it, a lot of people just don’t want to house hunt, let alone move, in the cold!
Conventional wisdom holds that the housing market is most active during the spring, stays pretty active during the summer, starts to peter out in the fall, and is almost dead in the winter. Data gathered by St. Louis REALTORS® for the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County supports this trend:
In our area, single family homes sold for a median price of $164,767 in the fall of 2016, and dipped to an average $155,000 in the winter. Active listings dropped from an average of about 6,905 to 5,428 from fall to winter, and the length of time that houses stayed on the market rose from approximately 110 days, on average, in the fall to about 119 days in the winter.
By contrast, home prices began to recover right off the bat in March 2017, with the median selling price starting at $159,900 (up almost $5,000 from the winter average) and rising to a summer average of $184,267. Active listings rose to 6,250 in March and continued that upward trajectory to reach a summer average of 7,001 listings. The length of time that houses stayed on the market dropped significantly from the winter average to 92 days in March and hovered around that number for the summer.
Using Inventory to Your Benefit
So, the question remains, are there any advantages to listing a house in the winter? One thing to consider is that while many house hunters do sit out the cold months, those who brave the weather tend to have very pressing reasons for needing to make a purchase, for example, relocating to the area for work.
However, those motivated buyers may not find much inventory on the market since most home sellers will stick to conventional wisdom and avoid the winter months. That situation puts selling your house in the winter at an advantage. Hermann London, a St. Louis area real estate agency, points out that when more homes are up for sale in the spring and summer, it becomes a buyer’s market where “buyers can be more selective, and sellers typically can’t be as aggressive in negotiation.” If you’re a winter seller, you are a rarity and even normally hard-to-please buyers are likely to see your property in a favorable light, especially if it is staged and showcased by a Certified Staging Professional.
Real estate website Trulia noted two other factors that can lead to positive winter sales: “Motivated buyers might also submit a price that’s too good to refuse. …[and] a fear of rising mortgage rates — rates tend to go up in the spring — might cause a buyer to be more willing to pay a higher price upfront. Whatever the reason, it’s a happy discovery for many people who finalize a home sale when the weather outside is frightful.”
Of course, circumstances change often in the housing market and those changes can be considerable. Knowing this, are there any indications that area listings are a good idea this winter? The St. Louis area has been experiencing a tight housing market with buyers scrambling to lock down a deal. That tight market should be good news for selling your house in the winter. . If there’s been a shortage of houses all year, then it’s likely that people will still be looking during the winter months.
Location and First Impressions Are Still Key in the Real Estate Off Season
A tight housing market does not automatically mean that your list price can remain at warm-weather levels. In September, Dennis Norman of St. Louis Real Estate News, noted that home prices in the St Louis real estate market were beginning their usual seasonal dip and would not recover until spring. But it should be noted that he said there were exceptions to this seasonal drop: one was St. Louis County, which he said was still a “hot seller’s market.”
While those assertions were made months ago, it’s possible that more people than usual will continue looking for a home through this winter. And that may mean list pricings in those areas may not have to go as low as they did in previous years. For September and October of this year, the median selling price was $174,625 … a significant increase over last fall!
But whether or not you can list high, obtain multiple offers, or even spark a bidding war will depend on the level of demand in your particular area AND how you present the property. Today’s buyers are demanding homes that won’t require a great deal of work, indeed, a Maritz Research poll showed that 63 percent of buyers are willing to pay more for move-in ready homes. Certified Staging Professionals are trained to identify what (if any) updates or upgrades should be made to help make the property appeal to today’s demanding home-buyers, and to help present it in a way that helps home buyers make an immediate emotional connection with the home. A well-staged home creates more buyer interest, and with more interest comes more offers, which often results in above-asking price offers…even during colder months!
Norman points out that when selling your house in the winter, the longer winter sellers wait to lower their price to a level that will attract buyers, the lower they will most likely have to go. Trulia echoes the concept of pricing a property just right in order to make a sale during the winter: “If a property price reflects both the current market and the surrounding neighborhood, that home is more likely to go under agreement at a favorable price.”
Keep these seasonal considerations in mind, and you can be the maverick who begins the year out in front of all the sellers sticking to conventional wisdom.
One of the key strategies used by Certified Staging Professionals is to give prospective buyers an immediate emotional response and connection to the home. We look at demographic data, recent buying and selling statistics for the neighborhood, and culture and lifestyle trends for the area. Then we look at the home itself and envision how the most likely buyers would live in it. This personalized approach is key, and in neighborhoods that are attracting young and growing families, it is perhaps most important in “family room” spaces.
Today, we’re going to look at a family room in a St. Louis home that we recently staged, and the thought process that went into the changes we implemented.
This lower level “family room” in a split level home presented quite a challenge! Not only was it unusually long (22 x 15 – to put this into perspective, the average family room is about 14 x 20!) one of the 15’ walls also included an off-center fireplace and was completely bricked over. To further complicate things, there was a support pole in the middle of the room, and a very visible sump pump had been installed on the floor in the left corner of the brick wall. In terms of offering first impressions, this room wasn’t doing much to please the eye!
The walls also included an outdated chair rail and paint color that we advised the homeowner to remove (the chair rail) and update (the paint color), but they had depleted their limited budget on kitchen upgrades. Staging this family room would definitely require some creative thought!
We set out to create an environment that immediately captured prospects’ imaginations and thus diverted their attention away from the flaws.
Because the house and neighborhood would definitely attract young families, we chose a “movie time” theme and staged the room as a fun, comfortable place for family time. We first placed a TV above the fireplace and then flanked it with themed artwork that balanced the off-center fireplace. A neutral colored couch with colorful pillows was placed next to the support pole and angled toward the fireplace and television (the focal points) to minimize the pole’s appearance. Two modern-patterned chairs filled out the seating areas, one of them strategically placed (with a tall plant) to hide the sump pump. We then utilized movie-themed art, books, and other décor items throughout the room to complete our theme and make the space thoroughly enticing. In the opposite end of the room we created a play space that had something for younger kids – a book rack and reading chairs for elementary aged kids, a train table and toys for pre-schoolers, and a study-area/craft desk for all ages. Truely a space for the entire family to enjoy.
With this solution, we helped minimize the room’s flaws and at the same time created the narrative that potential home buyers could immediately connect with themselves doing!
The End Result:
Despite some tough endeavors (the seller did not have the budget to update their older bathrooms, and the property was lacking garage space) this home ended up selling in just 8 days! This is truly a great example of how staging your house can help it sell faster.
Staging a Family Room Doesn’t Have to Be an Impossible Challenge – Let Us Help!
If you’re selling your home and working with a problem room that could use a make-over, we can help. Contact us to set up a consultation and discover the best strategies for staging your property and making it more enticing for potential buyers!
Whether you’re selling a vacant home or an occupied home, there’s a lot more to it than simply placing a “for sale” sign in your yard and hoping for the best! Even in a particularly hot seller’s market, as we’ve seen in St. Louis and cities around the country, savyy sellers know that offers might be forthcoming —but they’ll likely be way below asking price To maximize the dollar amount of offers and sell a property faster, you need to help potential buyers fall in love with it at first sight. The way to do this is through professional home staging, one of the most popular and proven methods of increasing property value.
How Home Staging Works
So what do home stagers do?
Certified home stagers are trained professionals who provide personalized, room-by-room consulting for home sellers and realtors, instructing them on what needs to be done to create the best first impression possible for their prospective buyers. Stagers understand the local Real Estate market, the psychology of buyers, and design/lifestyle trends. They objectively identify a home’s strengths and weaknesses, remove distractions, highlight its best features and enhance the space being presented. The goal of home staging is to present an idealized version of a home that generates more offers from buyers, and for higher amounts.
I will almost always tell a prospective client that home staging is the process of converting their personalized living space into a home that the largest number of prospective buyers could imagine themselves living in. If you think of a house as a professional actor in Hollywood getting ready for the Oscars (where they are going to be on display for many to see!) chances are, they’ve got a personalized team advising them on their attire, makeup, and which way to present themselves to the camera. Staging is very similar – you want to showcase your house in the best light possible, making it stand above the rest of your competitors in terms of presentation and arrangement.
Home staging is often misunderstood as decluttering or decorating, but in fact, staging is designed to help you look far more deeply at how your house and the elements inside it are presented. These include:
Repairing or replacing worn or outdated elements (e.g., carpet and light fixtures) that will immediately catch a buyers eye…and not in a good way!
Repurposing space from something that might have worked for you – such as using a dining room space as an office – to what will work and appeal to buyers.
Spotlight the best features of a room, enhancing the visible space while downplaying any flaws.
Re-arranging or supplementing existing furniture and decor to make your house appear up-to-date, on-trend, and to mirror the lifestyle of prospects.
And yes. de-cluttering and de-personalizing items to create a broad appeal that opens the imagination
What Do Home Stagers Do? A Brief Note On What Home Staging Isn’t
Every house is different, and home staging involves a personal consultation and strategy development for every home. Home stagers do not simply provide general redecorating advice, or recommend you paint a room or make a change for the sake of doing so. Recommendations for adjusting furniture, fixtures, colors, or space are tailored specifically for your property, knowing what will work best with the resources you have available. Home staging is not renovation – it is a marketing tactic that helps you to take your home from being a personalized, lived in asset to an attraction, the version of this house that you want your buyers to imagine when they step in for the first time.
The Monetary Benefits
The goal of a skilled stager is to help you make more money on your property sale, not recommend costly improvements that will waste your time and resources. When we’re making determinations about what to do, and whether that couch or TV should stay and where it should go, a keen focus is placed on your potential buyers. Our mind is always thinking about what we can do to truly make your property the best looking one on the block, giving you the competitive advantage over other home sellers. At the end of the day, we want to help you gain a noticeable increase in the final sale price – sometimes as much as 10%!
Thus, the next time a friend or colleague looking to sell their property asks, “what do home stagers do?” you can confidently answer: a lot more than just cleaning and redecorating!