Wednesday, December 16, 2009

5 Things You'll Never Hear Me Say . . .

5 Things You’ll Never Hear Me Say . . .  
by Jennie Norris, ASP Master®, IAHSP® President
December 16, 2009

Let’s face it. How many of you have grown tired of the shows on TV that depict homeowners as tasteless saps and the Interior experts – Designers, Decorators – as the only ones with taste and knowledge?

I know I have. Actually as much as those shows do help educate the public about doing something to spiff up their houses, they also do damage to my industry – The Home Staging Industry - by portraying us as critics that have no manners when we walk in to a house.

As an Accredited Staging Professional Master® (ASPM®), the FIRST principle I learned when establishing my business was to “honor the client and their possessions.” Words are powerful. They have the power to heal, to hurt, to uplift, and to drag down. Barb Schwarz, the Creator of Home Staging®, has taught this basic principle for nearly 40 years. It is founded in the principle of human kindness and consideration for others.

It amazes me that somehow others miss the boat on the fact that people have feelings, and when it comes time to sell a house, those feelings are elevated to a much higher stress level. I am never there to be a dictator, a critic or to offend my client in any way. I am also never there to make the Realtor® that may have brought me in to work with their seller, look bad. That would be foolish and amount to financial suicide.

Here are 5 things you will NEVER hear me say:

1. You have no taste!

2. What were you thinking!

3. These woods or colors don’t match.

4. Your things are outdated.

5. You need to replace all your things to get a Buyer.

1. Your taste is your own. Home Staging is not about the “things” in your house. It is about featuring the house and the floor plan for the Buyer. Your things may be worn, may be a bit dated, but that’s OK. We are not selling your furniture. The Buyers have furniture – they just need to see if it will fit and so they use your furnishings to get an approximation of scale and size visually, and this helps them mentally move in to your house.

2. Your things are what you enjoy. Who am I to come and tell you that you have the “wrong things” in your house? If you like a particular color or collect certain things, that’s your choice. Again as I have learned from Barb Schwarz, “The way you live in your home, and the way we market and sell a house are two different things.” So I focus on things that could be potentially distracting to Buyers. When people are walking through your house, they do get easily distracted by photos, collections, and anything that is too “incredible” to leave out – as that becomes the only thing the Buyers remember about your house. So, you do have to make changes to Stage your house for sale, but they are not done to criticize you or your belongings.

3. Matchy-Smatchy. Your furniture woods don’t have to match – in fact we don’t’ really need to focus on that at all when we Stage your house. People that come and tell you that “your things are all wrong” are focusing on the “stuff” and not the space. They must not have gotten the memo that the “eclectic look is in” and we can do wonders with what you have by simply reducing, rearranging, and possibly refreshing with a little “WOW Factor” inventory.

4. Most people don’t replace their furniture every season so guess what – their things are “outdated.” My own house has things we’ve owned for 10 years or longer. I am not going to replace all my furniture any more than you should be expected to. That is not realistic. A house that is dated can still be Staged and reflect the best way for Buyers. Of course, if you have dated fixtures and colors, those are easy fixes for Selling and as your Home Stager, I am going to suggest making improvements as your budget allows. However, if you tell me you don’t have any extra money, then I am going to successfully work with what you have and make it look the best for Buyers. That is what I am trained to do as an ASP Master® – I use my Creativity and Ideas to Stage – and don’t just rely solely on your money to replace and upgrade everything.

5. Please don’t fall into this trap. Even if you have a very high end house – don’t fall into the trap of “you must remove all your things and we will bring in rental furnishings to get your house sold.” Now if your house is vacant, yes, you do need to rent some things. But if you have furniture in your house, I can work with that. I may bring in some added “pizzazz” with d├ęcor or key Staging items, but I am never going to tell you that all your stuff has to be removed in order to sell. Anyone that does that is focused on money and not the goal of selling your house. It makes me cringe inside when I hear that some Sellers are being gouged in the tens-of-thousands of dollars to Stage their house with some supposed “stager” (usually some other profession cloaked in the guise of Staging) – that convinces them the only way their house will sell is with all new stuff. Ouch.

When you want an honest assessment of what to do to put your house on the market to get the best price in the shortest time, please make sure to work with an Accredited Staging Professional® (ASP®) Home Stager or a ASP Master.

If you reside in the greater Denver region, I would be happy to assist you or your client in preparing your house or listing for sale.

My commitment to all my clients is that I will provide an honest assessment and work with your budget and timeframe to successfully Stage your house for sale.

Happy Staging and Selling!

Jennie Norris, ASP Master®, IAHSP®
President, International Association of Home Staging Professionals® (IAHSP®) 2009-2010
Owner, Sensational Home Staging

10 Markets that are Poised for Rebound and 10 Markets that are Over Priced

10 Cities Where Housing is on the Rebound.

According to Michael Kling of Investopedia (, the following US Cities are poised for rebound:

(from Real Estate news – December 16, 2009)

1. Minneapolis – up 3.2%. Manufacturers such as 3M, and high-tech industries are hoping to benefit from the coming recovery. Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp is among the healthiest U.S. financial services companies, according to Moody's.

2. San Francisco – up 2.8%. Home prices there will drop 8.3% by next June, but will increase 14.3% by 2011.

3. Detroit – up 1.9%. Home prices fell 22.6% since last year, and are at about 72% of what they were in 2000.

4. Chicago – up 1.7% following a 2.7% increase from June to July due to first-time homebuyer tax credit that has motivated buyers.

5. Phoenix – up 1.6% after a 1.8% increase from June to July. The city was one of the hardest hit in the real-estate bubble. Prices have dropped by more than 25% since last year.

6. San Diego – up 1.6% but reported a 2.5% increase in July, and fell about 8.9% since last year.

7. Los Angeles – up 1.6% - Prices there rose 1.8% from June to July, but are still 12% lower than last year.

8. Washington DC – up 1.4%. and fell almost 8% since last year. The city is somewhat protected by a reliance on government employment.

9. Denver – up 1% - Prices there fell only about 2% since last year and have avoided the real-estate bubble that hit east and west coast states.

10. Seattle – up 0.1% with 3.8% increase predicted over the next few years. The real-estate market suffered less than others, as prices fell 15.2% over the last few years.

According to Forbes, the following cities are the most overpriced markets. 

This means the houses for sale in these markets are sitting longer than needed and are not selling.

The 10 most overpriced metro areas

1. Orlando-Kissimmee, Fla.

2. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla.

3. Jacksonville, Fla.

4. Baltimore-Towson, Md.

5. Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, Ill.-Ind.-Wis.

6. San Antonio

7. Denver-Aurora, Colo. (tie)

7. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. (tie)

9. Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind.

10. Austin-Round Rock, Texas (tie)

10. Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn. (tie)

As an ASP Home Stager, it is important that I stay on top of the national statistics and trends related to the housing market so that I can serve my clients even better.  Knowing that markets around the country are rebounding is good news, and yet in any market ASP Home Staging helps a house present the best for Buyers and therefore get an offer faster than the un-staged competition.

We know that when a house is ASP Staged and priced right, it will sell.  But the two key factors of Presentation and Price must be balanced.  We know based on our statistics that we track at that an ASP Staged property sells 2-3 times faster, and in some markets 6 time faster, than the un-Staged competition.  We also know that the Staged property sells for 5-20% more than the un-Staged competition, helping homeowners keep more equity and helping Realtors earn more commission and make more money.

When it comes time to sell your house, make sure to work with an ASP Home Stager.  You can find us at in our online directory or at online directory of the current members of the International Association of Home Staging Professionals (IAHSP). 

If you live in the greater Denver region, I would be happy to personally assist you in getting your house or listing Staged for sale. 

Please contact me at Sensational Home Staging - 888-WE-STAGE.

Happy Staging & Selling!

Jennie Norris, ASP Master, IAHSP President
Owner, Sensational Home Staging