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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Staging Your Home for Sale

Home sales are up 16 percent from this time last year, according to the latest statistics from the Pinellas Realtor Organization. So if you are thinking about selling your home, you may want to consider staging it.

What is staging? The concept of staging was created in 1972 by Barb Schwarz out of Seattle. Schwarz says she was in real estate at the time and had a theatre background. When she would list homes, she would “stage” them like a play.

“The scene has to be set,” Schwarz said. “Every act is different, just like every room in a house, and you need to change the set.”

Today, Schwarz leads the way with her company, Staged Homes, as the creator

After staging photo of kids bedroom
photo courtesy of

Before staging photo of kids bedroom
photo courtesy of
of the staged homes concept and home staging Industry. She has since built an industry training and speaking to millions of people across the country about staging homes for sale.

According to a survey the average home is on the market for 130 days and the average staged home by an accredited staging professional is 23 days. This based upon a survey conducted by the International Association of Home Staging Professionals and of more than 1,000 homes (62 percent vacant, 38 percent occupied) across the continental United States and Canada prepared for sale by Accredited Staging Professionals in today’s market.

“The way you live in your home and the way you market and sell your house are two different things,” Schwarz said.

According to Schwarz, there are three main elements to staging a home. They include: clean, clutter-free and color.

By clean – Schwarz says the house must be Q-tip clean. As far as being clutter-free, you need to pack up your personal belongings like family photos and knickknacks. When she talks about color, she says the outside of the house should have no more than three colors and the inside of the house should have walls and floors with neutral colors. By doing all of this, the home will appear bigger.

It’s not only the inside that needs to be free of clutter but also the outside, Schwarz said.

“You can’t sell it if you can’t see it,” she said. “The overgrown plants and trees on the property can make a house look smaller.”

If you think you can’t afford to stage your home, Schwarz says, “You can’t afford not to. The alternative is a price reduction on your home. You have to look at the big picture. The investment of staging in your home is far less than a price reduction on your home.”

The cost to stage a home in the United States is anywhere from $500 to $5,000. The average is around $1,800, which includes a professional stager who does all of the work. This doesn’t include the cost of furniture, though, if your house is vacant. If you want to do the staging yourself, you can have a professional stager to write a consultation for you. This would include a written report of everything you need to do. Instead of the stager doing the work, you do the work. This can cost anywhere from $250 to $500.

Locally, Julya Kemp of Redington Shores owns New Outlook Home Staging. She is an accredited staging professional, specializing in working with clients and their own furniture and accessories. “You can do so much with your own furniture,” Kemp said. “You don’t need to go buy new stuff.”

Kemp likes to give the house a new look by minimizing. She says less is more.

“You have to see the space for what it is,” Kemp said.

If you have granite counter tops that are covered with placemats, according to Kemp, “you can’t appreciate the value of upgrade that most homes don’t have.” You need to minimize what is on the counter.

This is true for bathroom counters too. And make sure your refrigerator is clutter-free of magnets or anything else that you might stick on it. If you have space above your cabinets, Kemp says do not have plants on it. It makes the cabinets look shorter.

Moving can be overwhelming and stressful, so that’s where stagers come in to help alleviate some of the stress. Kemp charges between $400 to $600 to stage a two bedroom/two bathroom condominium, and it usually takes about four or five hours to do. Kemp tells her clients they have to stop thinking of selling the house as a personal thing and detach themselves from it. Her No. 1 tip is to make sure the house is clean.

“That doesn’t mean shoving everything in the closet because potential buyers do open closet doors,” Kemp said.

Even though more and more people are staging their homes for sale, a majority of homes are still not staged, according to Schwarz.

“So you can have the upperhand when it comes to selling,” Schwarz said. “It’s a comparison game, and the buyer wants the best home.”

So if you are serious about selling your home, upstage the competition. 

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For a video about staging a home, visit         

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