Goodness, what a spate of rough weather we've had here in the Hudson Valley lately! But of course, I missed some of it because I was in Nevada.
I'm happy to report I brought back more than bronchitis from the Real Estate Staging Association conference in Las Vegas. No, I didn't hit the jackpot in the casino, but it is official! I am truly honored to share the news of winning RESA's 2011 Staging Professional of the Year award for the Northeast region. It is a huge accomplishment to be recognized by my industry peers and judges, and I have to thank you, my readers, too, for your encouragement.
The always engaging and entertaining Matthew Finlason of HGTV's "The Stagers" was our closing keynote speaker. His presentation on what he calls "lifestyle merchandising" was truly inspirational and will cause the staging industry to take it to another level by dialing in to a specific buyer.
Finlason suggested stagers should stop neutralizing and not sterilize spaces. He says buyers are suffering from neutral fatigue. There is a quote in my PowerPoint presentation on real estate staging from a Realtor in California that says how we are selling a lifestyle, not a house. The buyers' potential new home must be the vision of how they want to live, not how they are living now.
Thanks to all the staging shows on television, consumers are very much aware of staging. It is important to understand lifestyle and how people live in their space. It is important is research, analyze and create a demographic of the buyer. This markets a lifestyle that appeals to the dreams of the buyer. In other words, create a story.
The last vacant staging I did of a model home was in an area near West Point. They were appealing to the traditional military family coming to the East Coast from anywhere in the USA. They did not want anything too modern or urban.
This contradicts the taste of someone already living in one of the townhouses who had quite contemporary taste, with furnishings from West Elm. My selections were more transitional in style, incorporating a traditional look with contemporary accessories.
While listening to the builder and the real estate agent, I could have come up with a story profiling a family relocating to upstate New York from Small Town, USA. The father grew up as an Army brat, is married, with two daughters, and all the wife and girls can dream about it the close proximity to Woodbury Common shopping outlets. As much as the father wanted to dominate the house with his military paraphernalia and love of Army football, he was far outnumbered by high levels of estrogen. And then ...
At the Las Vegas conference, Finlason did call all of us in his enthusiastic audience "a quarter-cup of crazy" for being stagers. I guess I just proved his point with my imagination coming up with that family of four. Or maybe it is all the medication from the bronchitis. Either way, I will be getting a lot of mileage from that phrase "quarter-cup of crazy."
Buyer-seller generation gap
In this region, my stagings are predominately occupied homes for sale. A major problem I have found is the generation gap between the buyer and the seller. There has been a huge increase in the first-time homebuyer market. This buyer can't relate to the older homes that have not been updated and have more of a "grandmotherly" look. Staging can bridge that generation gap by appealing to the younger buyer.
Stagers need to dial into the buyer's dream of owning and living in their new home. It is up to us, the professional stagers, to tap into their desires, needs and wants. That is what staging is all about — making the buyer fall in love with a home for sale. Staging makes that emotional connection, which then gets the house sold.
For More info
For more information on Matthew Finlason visit his website: www.matthewfinlason.com.
For more information on staging and a list of the RESA winners: Visit www.realestatestagingassociation.com, go to 2011 Home Staging Award winners. RESA has a great tool called the Home Staging Calculator, which can figure out how much you may save, or spend, by staging or not staging.
Great idea from a reader
Dear Claudia: A few weeks ago you asked for suggestions concerning donating "stuff". This is what I do.
Every Memorial Day, Liberty has a village-wide garage sale. Since so many people in the area are unemployed or are in need, I put my unwanted stuff on the lawn in front of my house with a big "Free" sign. My only caveat is that I ask them to take only what they can use and to do something nice for someone else — kind of a "Pay It Forward."
I encourage other people I know to bring over their unwanted items also.
I call it my "Set It Free" Day. I've discovered that everyone who stops by is appreciative, and they take only what they can use.
Whatever items that aren't taken, I donate to the Dessin Animal Shelter thrift store in Honesdale, Pa. — Donna in Liberty
Thank you for sharing Liberty's garage sale. This may encourage other areas in the Hudson Valley to do the same and "pay it forward."
Here in Goshen, we only get one bulk garbage pickup in the spring. I know my stuff disappears before it gets picked up. Sometimes I will take something large to the curb, and before you know it "» poof! It is gone.
As much as one person's trash is another's treasure, there is garbage that just won't get picked up because it really is trash. Don't let it sit curbside indefinitely.
Write, e-mail or call
Send in your decorating and staging questions to email@example.com. Thanks to the weather in this area, which keeps us indoors, we have ample opportunity to plow through our homes. Keep sending in suggestions on what you do with your unwanted stuff.
Claudia is a decorator, professional stager and owner of Claudia Jacobs DesignsLLC in Goshen, NY. Visit www.claudiajacobsdesigns.com or call her at 845-294-8993. Send questions and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org to be answered in her column. Find her on Facebook & Twitter. Go to the lifestyle section @ www.recordonline.com to read past columns.