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A Staging Consultation and a GIRAFFE! A funny "Sold" Story!

Home Stager with Looking Fine by Redesign, LLC

I received an email this morning from a client that I just had to share.  This little story shows the seller's advantage by hiring a professional home stager for a pre-listing consultation.  Here is a brief recap:

In January, 2009, Looking Fine by Redesign was contacted by a homeowner in Avon, OH for a pre-listing consultation.  On January 29th, my assistant/husband and I met the sellers, and did a two-hour walk-through consultation.  The homeowners were "all ears" and were very anxious to hear what we had to say about their home.  This was a six year old, detached cluster home in a popular Avon, Ohio neighborhood where there are at least a half dozen other homes for sale within a couple of blocks.  The home didn't need a lot of cosmetic work, but did need better furniture placement, depersonalized, and a "punch" of interest. 

The sellers had done a lot of traveling and LOVED to collect unique art, including wood carved African Safari animals.  One of our suggestions was to use their wood carved GIRAFFE as an "eye-catcher" on the plant shelf in the VERY high ceiling foyer...something "memorable" and "unique" that a buyer would remember after touring the home.

We followed up with a comprehensive assessment and action plan for them to complete the staging on their own.  Fortunately, they were VERY motivated and both had a decent eye for design so they got to work on the changes immediately upon receiving the plan.  As a standard practice, I checked in with the sellers periodically via email to see if they had hit any road blocks or needed additional help.  They were progressing nicely.. great!

Fast forward two weeks..the home is put on the market.  I sent another email this morning to "check in."  This is the reply we received back from the seller:

"You won't believe it but we sold our house in 2 weeks! We got lucky and found the perfect buyer. Inspection was last weekend and everything looks like it will fall in place. All the feedback we got from the showings was great, so thanks so much for your help. And you'll get a kick out of this, we moved that giraffe to the foyer plant shelf as you suggested and the buyer loved it so much they wanted it as part of the deal. Hilarious! Thanks again!" Cameron L., Avon, OH

WOW...SOLD IN 2 WEEKS!!!  These sellers did it right from the beginning.  They hired Looking Fine by Redesign BEFORE they listed the home, they rolled up their sleeves and got to work and BELIEVED that staging their home would pay off.  All homeowners should understand that a consultation with a professional home stager WILL make a difference.  In these tough economic times many homeowners don't have the financial resources to pay to have their home staged, but a consultation will work wonders!

Did the giraffe sell the home?  No. But the staging consultation, the motivated sellers' hard work, and pricing the home right did.  The giraffe obviously helped the buyer "remember" this home though! While nobody really thought the giraffe would be a part of the sale....the homeowners were happy to include it in the sale.  Little changes....BIG results!

I hope you enjoyed this quirky...yet SUCCESSFUL staging success story!

Teresa Mills-Schremm, is a Certified Professional Home Stager and owner of Looking Fine by Redesign, a North Olmsted, Ohio, Home Staging and Redesign firm.  Providing homeowners in Cuyahoga and Lorain Counties with Affordable and Creative Staging Solutions!  Call for a consultation at 440-655-5831, or email teresa@LookingFineByRedesign.com.  "Let's Get It SOLD...Together!"

Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging Consultations that Sell Portland Homes"

Teresa ~ that's a great story and proves that hiring a professional home stager before listing really does benefit the sellers and their agent!  I'm glad to hear that they didn't mind parting with the giraffe.

Mar 09, 2009 10:33 AM

standing by iron railing I loved your story.  It took me back a few years to a young couple wanting the mirror and shelf I placed in the small entry.  It can be just some small thing that makes a difference.  The giraffe is more memorable than a mirror and shelf: good call on your part!


Sharon Charboneau - "Upstaging" the Sunshine Coast of BC

Mar 09, 2009 01:00 PM
Donna Schoby
Liberty Bank of Arkansas - Bentonville, AR

Teresa, This is GREAT! I love these types of stories. Thanks for sharing!

Mar 09, 2009 03:36 PM
Teresa Mills Schremm
Looking Fine by Redesign, LLC - North Olmsted, OH
Online Home Staging - Coast to Coast, ASHSR

Maureen,  So true.  Even if a home doesn't need a major overhaul, a staging consultation really helps the sellers to "improve upon the product" before offering it to the public.  It can even help you get rid of an item or two in some cases! :-)

Sharon,  Making the home "memorable" doesn't necessarily mean investing big bucks.  As your example shows, you can make even a small entry inviting with the right pieces.  Great job!

Donna,  Staging can be FUN!  It doesn't mean you can't think outside the box once in awhile.  I'm glad you liked the story!

Thanks for commenting ladies!

Mar 10, 2009 12:15 AM
Kathy Passarette
Creative Home Expressions - Mount Sinai, NY
L.I. Staging/Decorating

Teresa ~ Great story! How great that they called you prior to listing and got the house in shape.  I'll bet they were just thrilled it sold in two weeks.  I like your points about pre-listing consultations (and the story too) so much I'm reblogging you! : )  Hopefully, more homeowners will be proactive in the sale of their homes.

Mar 10, 2009 06:50 AM
Juliet Johnson
Vizzitopia - St Johns, FL
Jacksonville Photography & Digital Marketing

You mention that feels new to me, Teresa - the notion of placing something memorable in a significant place.  We have often talked about buyers giving homes nicknames and how we advise homeowners to remove anything negative that might become an "unhelpful", not particularly positive nickname.

The Giraffe House...it's a good one.  Whimsical, exotic, subsconsciously reinforcing the tall ceilings...Of course, if the folks hadn't done everything you recommended, the home wouldn't have appealed enough to garner an offer.  But this was a clever tactic, and I say, kudos!  Congrats!  And a well-earned success!!


Mar 10, 2009 01:03 PM
Mary Jamison

Not sure I agree!  My background is interior design, and now as a full time Realtor, I do give "staging" advice to all my clients, however buyers do remember homes and call them by a name when looking.  Such as, The Giraffe Home, or the Cat Pee Home,  or what ever might have caught their eye!  It can be good or bad!  Who is to say what someone will love or hate.  The one thing I stress is "Do you want to live in your home, or sell your home?  After the "filthy one" I showed today, that statement is more true than ever.  Clean,  classy, neat and smelling good is always the best!

I recently went on a listing appointment for a $1.7 million home,  The listing agent before me had told them they "Had" to paint their grass green, among other things adding up to around $10,000! 

The home was a beauty on its on,  bottom line is some staging can make or break a deal.


Mar 10, 2009 02:37 PM
Mike Henderson
Your complete source for buying HUD homes - Littleton, CO
HUD Home Hub - 303-949-5848

Nice job.  My opinion is that most people would say to put the Giraffe in storage somewhere and not feature.  Your insight was dead on.

Mar 10, 2009 04:55 PM
Gina Zimmerman
North Eastern Group Realty - Fort Wayne, IN
Fort Wayne Real Estate

Great story -- hope the realtor appreciated your work!.  I am a ASP (Accredited Staging Professional) and a realtor and it is amazing how homes can be turned around with the direction of a professional.  Giraffe sounds darling.  Last home we did we took down hundreds of sea shells but were able to showcase the best ones.  You go girl. 

Mar 10, 2009 07:18 PM
Sharon Harris
Keller Williams Keystone Realty - Hanover, PA

Small things can make the biggest difference! great story thank you for sharing it.

Mar 10, 2009 11:16 PM
DeAndrea "Dee Dee" Jones
Samson Properties - Manassas, VA

Its amazing what item can cause a buyer to have an emotional connection.  If it wasn't expensive I say let them have it.

Mar 11, 2009 01:10 AM
Teresa Mills Schremm
Looking Fine by Redesign, LLC - North Olmsted, OH
Online Home Staging - Coast to Coast, ASHSR

Kathy, Yes, the homeowners were thrilled that the home sold in two weeks.  They really weren't expecting such a quick sale.  I did some research on their competition before the consultation, and I found a house that had been on the market for over a year...it was only four doors downs from my clients'.  Not sure what the problem was...it was priced $14,000 less!  Feel free to re-blog me!!  The more homeowners who "get it"....the better! :-)

Juliet, This couple had a lot of motivation.  They are a younger couple with an adorable toddler AND a new home that was just built.  The thought of two mortgages really got them going!  The giraffe was whimsical and it wasn't so huge and overbearing that it distracted you.  It did reinforce the very high ceiling.  Glad you liked my idea!

Mary, I agree.  There can be a lot of deal breakers and poor or amatuer staging is definitely one of them!  You are right about the clean and odor-free.  Nothing will turn a buyer away faster than that "kitty smell."  Was my suggestion a bit risky? Perhaps.  It wouldn't work in every home, but this one it did.  As luck would have it, the buyer bought the giraffe too!!  Thanks for commenting.

Mike, Thanks for the compliment.  Sometimes you have to think outside the box.

Gina,  Thanks!  I never met the Realtor...it all happened so fast!  I did look at his website and oddly enough he offers "staging and preparation" as a listing service.  Yet, the homeowners called us in on their own.  Hmmm??

Sharon,  Thanks...I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Tina,  The home was in great condition and the sellers packed away a LOT of stuff.  The giraffe actually replaced the half DEAD plant.  I think the giraffe was fun and much more positive!  Thanks for your comment.

Mar 11, 2009 01:22 AM
Hendrik Glastra
HG Staging and reDesign - Toronto, ON

Hendrik Glastra CSP Toronto CanadaGreat story and great idea. As a stager I am a firm believer in using something ecclectic to add a bit of charm.  I wish more people would get the idea that a pre-listing consultation is a great tool in prepping one's home in these economically challenging times. (not to say they should not have us fully stage the house if possible and not everybody is capable of executing our recommendations) 

Mar 11, 2009 03:06 AM
Danell Merren

Great story, Theresa! Where abouts in OH are you? I went to college at Wooster and my hubby at Steubenville. Take care!

Mar 11, 2009 03:34 AM
Kathy Booth, Setting the Stage
Setting the Stage - Newmarket, ON
Home Staging and ReDesign Professional

I absolutely love these types of stories!

Mar 11, 2009 01:24 PM
Teresa Mills Schremm
Looking Fine by Redesign, LLC - North Olmsted, OH
Online Home Staging - Coast to Coast, ASHSR

Hendrix, I prefer to do the staging myself, but there are some sellers who are motivated enough to do a decent job with some guidance.  In my area, I'm finding that the homeowners who call in a stager, often can't afford to spend a lot of money, but are scraping together enough for a consultation and action plan.  I don't try to discourage them because as my little giraffe story illustrates, preparing the home BEFORE listing is a huge benefit regardless of who does the physical work.  As you know, you can determine which homeowners have an eye for design and organization the second you walk into the home.  Asking a few basic questions during the consultation process will indicate if they have what it takes.

Danell, Thanks!  I'm located just west of Cleveland.  Wooster is about 30-40 minutes away, and Steubenville about 2 hours.

Kathy, Success stories rock, don't they!! :-)

Mar 12, 2009 01:57 AM
Annie Pinsker-Brown
Stage to Sell - LA Home Staging - Los Angeles, CA
Stage to Sell, Los Angeles Home Stager

Teresa, congrats on a great sale and a wonderful success story for the books! :)

Mar 12, 2009 04:57 PM
Clara Hahn

Yes, indeed, I am a firm believer in "Home Staging" Inside and outside.  Thanks for sharing this. Clara

Mar 16, 2009 10:03 AM