When she put her house on the market, Dena Roy had already downsized, moving a lot of her personal stuff into boxes stored in the basement. She’d heard that it’s important for sellers to “depersonalize” their property so that potential buyers could better envision themselves living in the house. But her realtor suggested she do more, by hiring a stager. At first,Roywas a little apprehensive, fearing the process would involve prettying up her house and buying a lot of new stuff. But when stager Linda Esposito, whose mid-Hudson Valley company is called HouseSetters, arrived for the consultation, Roy, whose house is located in Hurley, was pleasantly surprised. She discovered that staging wasn’t about filling up the house, but rather parsing the existing furniture down and rearranging what she already had to better showcase the space.
For example, at Esposito’s suggestion,Roymoved a recliner and side table from the living room into an upstairs bedroom that was mostly empty. Esposito also recommended that Roy pack up the Cuisinart, blender and other clutter from the kitchen countertops and that she remove the attractive jewelry hanging on her bedroom wall, because it distracted visitors’ attention from the house. Finally, she advised thatRoyput her shampoos away in a cabinet and drape one of her scarves over the bed, for a splash of color, prior to a showing. As Esposito went through the house, “you start to see the difference,”Roysaid. “The house became a lot tidier.”Roysaid now she keeps a list on her refrigerator of all the steps she needs to take prior to a showing, which makes the process manageable.
A warmer welcome
In this tough market, it’s vital for sellers to show their house “as if they were expecting company,” in Esposito’s words—clean, neat, and well designed, what she refers to as the Pottery Barn or Crate and Barrel look, that universal language of good taste. National statistics show that having your house “staged”—a process that ranges from an hour and a half, $200 consultation to monthly rental of accessories to monthly rental of a full set of furnishings for a vacant house—improves its prospects of selling. According to a study conducted in 2000 by Joy Valentine, a California-based broker with Coldwell Banker, staged homes were on the market for 13.9 days versus 30.9 days for homes that hadn’t been staged. The study also showed that staged homes sold for an average of 6.3 percent over the asking price, compared to 1.6 percent more for unstaged homes.