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LESS Than Perfect

Home Stager with Perceptions AdverStaging(TM), LLC

In my last post I described the process of getting ready to list my house for sale.  I think it important to share some things I learned in that process and the additional knowledge I gained from the experts that actually do the work of selling homes, Realtors(r).  Remember, we were not selling a vacant home, but even at that, based on what I learned with this (pending) sale, I might be inclined to approach staging a vacant home differently.

As a stager and designer, and in life in general I'm a perfectionist - sometimes to the point of being obsessive.  Being a perfectionist is not a personality trait I would wish on anyone, though I suspect many might disagree with me.  Generally speaking, my house is always 'show ready' because of that obsessivness.  It's just the way we live.  I dislike clutter and love lots of free wall space.  I also like knowing that I don't have to rush around at the last minute should someone want to stop in and visit over a cup of coffee.  Closets and drawers are a bit of a different story though.  I live with other people and they have been known to leave things laying around.  If I'm unsure where the items belong I get them into a closet or drawer - or the infamous 'storage room' we have in our house.  As I was going through the house I knew I had to tackle those areas and I was dreading it.  Where exactly do you put other peoples things so they can find them quickly, or so that you can remember where you put things when they're screaming, "hey, I needed that!"  Here is what I did...

Closets - I weeded them out.  Out of season clothing was put in storage containers, shelves were tidied up and  shoes were lined up neatly.  Other than that, I left them alone.  No one really lives in a show home and I wasn't going to pretend we did.  I cannot begin to apologize enough to my previous clients for being so strict about their closets.  Sure, it's important to show space availability, but not to the extent of leaving closets without a lived in feel.  Potential buyers that came through my house appreciated experiencing the amount of 'real availability' of closet space we have here.

Drawers - Were left in the state they were found in - including the two junk drawers in the kitchen.  Who doesn't have a junk drawer in their kitchen?  As a stager I know better than to leave junk drawers for their intended purpose, but I went with my gut on this one.  Guess what?  It didn't make a bit of a difference to the potential buyers. 

The dreaded storage room - This room was a tough call for me.  The room really is fairly large and it is PACKED with all manner of items, though bulky Christmas decorations take up most of the room.  I thought about renting a storage facility just for the items in this room - I'm selling space, I kept saying to myself; and then I thought differently.  This is a storage room for goodness sakes - shouldn't buyers see its defined and intended purpose?  I did tidy the room up, donated a truckload of whatnots, but other than that the room stayed as it was intended, a storage room.

And finally, The Family Room - My family room is very much loved and used.  The bookshelves are filled to the brim with books.  And they're not perfectly orderly.  We also have an extra TV in this room - hey, who doesn't like playing Guitar Hero?!  I want to tell a short story about those bookshelves and the room in general and then I'll show a picture.  I had an opportunity to speak with a potential buyer immediately after the couple walked through the house.  Before they could say anything I was apologizing for the state of the bookshelves, explaining we love having access to whatever our hearts desire reading and I was having difficulty weeding through what should be packed away.  The feedback was this, "those bookshelves and the game TV set-up give that room the lived in, loved on feeling we want in a family room.  Thank you for not making the room look like a magazine shoot."  Now that was a lesson I'll probably never forget.  Here is the listed pic as taken by our Realtor, Lisa Zemack, of Zemack Real Estate.

Family Room

Our Realtor (as well as several other Realtors) had repeatedly told me that I was being obsessive about having everything perfect before I would agree to list the house.  At one point, Lisa told me to 'leave it alone', meaning the entire house.  She said enough was enough and the house would sell and probably sell quickly.  She was right - the house went under contract within 2 days, with multiple offers over asking. 

Going forward I'll remember much of this.  I'll ask sellers to do much less than I've asked in the past.  Most importantly I'll ask and respect the answer of the listing Realtor as to what their take is on the condition of the house and the buying demographics they expect to have go through, especially houses that are lived in while listed.  And I'll do everything in my power so the sellers still feel like it's their home, because it is...until the day it sells.









Robert Rauf
CMG Home Loans - Toms River, NJ

Jackie, isnt funny how we can often be our own worst clients?  I do think that having the ability to reflect back on our own personal experiences certainly helps us in our every day business.

Apr 28, 2010 04:11 AM
Jackie Peraza
Perceptions AdverStaging(TM), LLC - Framingham, MA
Home Stager - Framingham, Massachusetts

Robert, Absolutely.  I actually considered having another stager come through the house.  My husband and another Realtor talked me out of it.  I agree, agree, agree that our own personal experiences help us (maybe even propel us forward!) in our everyday business.

Apr 28, 2010 04:54 AM
Robin North
Dramatic Spaces Home Staging and Design - Cambridge, ON

Great post Jackie. It does serve as a reminder of what we are asking our clients to do.  Not only do we bring our home staging experience to the table, but our personal experiences as well.

Apr 28, 2010 05:07 AM
Julia Maher
Nestings: Connecticut Home Staging and Model Homes - Fairfield, CT
Connecticut Home Stager

Congratulations on your success!  I do listen to the Realtors I work with too; their experience is valuable.  Julie

Apr 28, 2010 05:46 AM
Geri Sonkin
Douglas Elliman Real Estate 516-457-7103 - Merrick, NY
Long Island Real Estate & Staging Expert

From my perspective there is something to be said for having another stager evaluate my home.  I can walk into a client's home and know almost immediately what it needs.  I can walk into HomeGoods or any other store, go quickly through the aisles and pick just the right pieces to show off the rooms to their best advantage.  Ask me to do the same to my own home and I'm indecisive.  I can't chose one thing because although I like it,  I also like another completely different look.  I often wish I could detach myself from my place to be more objective.

Apr 28, 2010 03:50 PM
Jennifer Dulmaine
Keller Williams Realty - Spencer, MA
Seth Campbell Realty Group

This was a great post-Having that balance between the stager and realtor...Excited your home was underagreement in 2 days!! Congrats Jen

Jun 17, 2010 04:27 AM
Kathleen Lordbock
Keller Williams Realty Professionals - Baxter, MN
Keller Williams Realty Professionals

A lesson learned by experience is often the best.  When you are the seller, you do view things differently but your home was basically ready to show at any time and lived in- just what we (my REALTOR® side now) want.

Dec 25, 2010 03:45 PM