Tuesday, April 27, 2010

ZZZ’S . . . is your house so BORING that it puts Buyers to Sleep?

ZZZ’S . . . is your house so BORING that it puts Buyers to Sleep?
by Jennie Norris, ASP Master, IAHSP President, Owner, Sensational Home Staging

In the words of the immortal Ella Fitzgerald . . . “It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that swing.”

When it comes to Selling your house . . . we need to change the words to: “It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that ZING!”

How about . . . “Your phone just won’t ring without Buyer Zing!”

Have you ever walked into a house and there was just nothing there emotionally for you? You know – it looked “OK” but there was no CONNECTION in the emotional realm. There was no “ZING”.

Buyer Boredom strikes. Yawn. When they see room after room when looking at houses – what makes your stand out from the crowd?

Ya gotta Bring the ZING!

What exactly is ZING? One definition is: “To be lively or vivacious. To have pizzazz.”

That is what we want to have buyers FEEL when they walk into a house. An instantaneous connection to it . . .
Buyers will always say when they find houses they like, “This house FEELS better than that other house.”

What do they mean? Does it actually physically feel nicer to the touch? NO. What they mean is considering ALL their senses, the house FEELS internally better – they make a connection to the house that the other one did not do for them.

Think of it as BUYER CHEMISTRY.

CHEMISTRY . . . we all have experienced that with dating . . . You know that feeling you may have had when you went on dates – and the other person either created that “ZING” inside you – or not? It was the desire to spend more time with that person and explore getting to know them. . .

Well – houses can do the same thing – create a ZING for Buyers. When there is no ZING there is no ZEST or ZEAL for buying – and the buyer will go in search of the ZING somewhere else.

Then you get ZILCH. No offers or at least not the kind you want.

So how can we get that ZING for buyers and get them to ZOOM ahead with an offer?

Make sure your house has BUYER CHEMISTRY. It needs to look, feel, and smell right. It needs to invite the Buyer to explore all areas of the house – room by room. We don’t want them ZIPPING by each room with a cursory, “Uh huh” as they glance from the door. We want them to experience the house – and really begin to FEEL like they could live there.

Each room should have some ZING – appeal that makes the buyer want to see more of the room and more of the house. Then the chances that Buyer will feel the ZING inside are greater – and then instead of them passing on the house, they will be eager to write an offer because this house feels just right!

To get help creating “ZING” in your house or listing, make sure to work with a professional ASP® Home Stager – trained to bring the WOW Factor and ZING needed to help Buyers want to make an offer.


If you live in the greater Denver area, call me – Jennie Norris, ASP® Master, and Owner of Sensational Home Staging at www.SensationalHome.com to prepare your house or listing for sale. 888-93-STAGE.

Check out Columbia, MD - ASP Course - Creativity and Ideas used to present this house for sale!

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Monday, April 26, 2010

ASPs rank #1 in Google Search Engine results thanks to Stagedhomes.com

Stagedhomes.com has released stats that show that we rank #1 in Google Search results for the key phrases related to Home Staging!  This helps boost all ASPs and ensures the public finds those they need to work with for Home Staging all over the world!  As a professional ASP Master Home Stager I am thankful for the partnership that Stagedhomes.com extends to its graduates and the investment they make monthly with earch engine placement to ensure their graduates and members do come up first in search results!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The 5 Senses of Staging a House - A Sensible and Sensational Idea

The 5 Senses of Staging a House – a Sensible and Sensational Idea!

By Jennie Norris, APS Master®, Owner, Sensational Home Staging

I read something recently that caught my attention as it talked about how our 5 senses – SIGHT, SMELL, TOUCH, HEARING, TASTE – engage as we look at houses, or rather how they don’t engage if the seller has not deliberately put things out to make that happen or has not bothered to prepare their house for sale.

I thought about this – and as a professional Home Stager – I realized this is what I do every time I work with a Seller and on a house to Stage it for sale. But there is an imbalance with some Staging out there – where the focus is really on ONE sense – SIGHT and the others are sort of forgotten.   Let’s take a look at what a complete sensory Staging would be like. . .

Before we take a look at what happens with Staging, let’s consider the flip side - when a Seller does NOT prepare their house for sale and what a Buyer might experience within their 5 senses.

SIGHT: Cluttered and dirty houses are a turnoff to Buyers. If the house is not picked up it says, “I don’t care about my house.” If a Buyer sees too many personal things, they feel like they are invading someone’s space and they are uncomfortable and will leave. If they see all the Seller’s things it not only distracts them from just being able to take in each room as a whole, it also could turn them away if the items are too personal, tacky, or just plain odd.

SMELL: Do I really have to mention that ANY unpleasant odor, aroma, or smell in a house is not a good thing for Selling? If a Seller is unsure whether their house has a smell that is unpleasant, tell them to ASK any number of people that do not live there. The most common culprits are cooking odors, pet odors, cigarette smoke odors, and mildew smells but it could even be too much fragrance or plug-ins that cloister the senses. However, most people are afraid to tell them the truth, and that is where the Home Stager can help.

TOUCH: This can go a couple of ways, but let’s first start with the touch that ends up with sticky residue on your hands – that is a house that needs cleaning! Buyers are going to open doors, cupboards, and touch things as they go through the house. Buyers will also consider the furniture in the house, and if touching it gets a reaction like “EWW” – that is not a good thing. Threadbare, torn or tattered is not a good look for any Seller hoping to attract a Buyer and give them the belief that, “Hey I took great care of this house – just look at how well I cared for my furniture!”

HEARING: We cannot always control the noise outside of our houses – traffic, dogs, construction, but we can control the noise inside. A faucet that sounds like a Mack truck engine when you turn it one says, “There is something gravely wrong with the plumbing in this house.” Squeaky hinges, doors that drag on the floor, and in general any noise that advertises the age of the house is not a good thing for Selling.

TASTE: This one really does not pertain to pre-Selling so we’ll just skip this one for now and go right into the recommendations for when the house is Staged.

It’s easy to incorporate all 5 Senses in a positive way when Staging and Selling a House. This can be done with Occupied or Vacant houses for sale and is a key process that ensures a Buyer has a complete experience in the house. . .

SIGHT: Make sure the house is light and bright. Open up windows where there is a view to show off, and minimize any unattractive views with blinds or strategically placed objects. Make sure the house is very CLEAN and also DEPERSONALIZED as far as collections, personal items (bills, medicine), photos, and anything that could be a potential distraction for a Buyer. Any brightly painted walls should be painted a warm neutral color. Walls that are too dark actually make the room feel smaller as it closes the room in . . . And when a Seller does not paint, they are eliminating a large portion of the Buyer pool who don’t like that color, it does not go with their stuff, and they don’t to have to paint when they move in! They’ll just go buy something else that is ready for them and does go with their things, a.k.a. NEUTRAL.

However, we need and want COLOR and NATURE for visual appeal in Staging. Accent décor and greenery, artwork that draws a person closer, and other fun whimsical displays are good for Staging and Selling.

Do not make your house so stark and plain that all the pizzazz is gone. This is taking the “de-cluttering” too far – and now your house is cleared out but it’s Boring.

TIP: Your Home Stager will know what to do in each room to make it visually stimulating and appealing to draw the buyer in and want to see more! They can use your things or enhance what you have with décor, but the plan should be to keep or add pizzazz but allow the Buyer to take each room in its entirety and not be distracted by décor or too much. There is a fine balance your Home Stager can help you achieve.

SMELL: We want houses on the market to smell good – fresh and inviting. For showing houses Realtors often use the baked cookies or bread trick or the cinnamon simmering on the stove trick . . . but Buyers can detect if there are other underlying aromas. This is where a house must be CLEAN – and there is no concession here – we don’t want smells –urine, dirty clothes, smoke smell, cooking odors, mold or mildew smells in the house. Once the smells are eliminated, the house should smell fresh and clean – and be kept that way while the house is on the market. There are products that eliminate odors for good as long as they are not reintroduced.

When others may be afraid to tell the truth about odors in a house that is coming on the market, a professional Home Stager owes it to the Seller to tell them the truth. Those that are trained understand how to couch their message in kindness so they don’t offend – and yet if we don’t tell the truth and the house does not sell because of this issue, we did not do our job.

TIP: Ask your Home Stager what they recommend as a permanent solution for odors. There are inexpensive yet effective products that are odor eliminators, as well as machines that can be used.

TOUCH: The house should look “plush” and inviting. There should be soft surfaces along with the hard – and this relates to the furniture. A bed can havea comforter, but why not add some accent pillows and a throw as well to create layers of softness? If a Seller has a collection of Adirondack furniture throughout the house, they need to possibly minimize the collection, and for sure bring in accent pillows or cushions, and silk trees or plants to help soften all that wood. Not that a Buyer is going to sit in a Seller’s couch, but we want them to feel like each room is inviting them in to experience more. By the same token if the Seller has a bunch of overstuffed couches, bean bags, or large floor pillows, we want to bring in some structured furniture to help add strength and solidness to the room, otherwise we feel like we are sinking. Throughout the house there should be a balance of hard and soft, plush and streamlined.

TIP: An experienced Home Stager will know what to do in each room, how to make the most of what a Seller already has, and bring in any needed décor to complete the look.

HEARING: Showing houses agents will often play music – and I think that is a good thing to create an atmosphere that is pleasant and inviting. There are other audible enhancements that are appealing to buyers as well. A water feature is enticing and relaxing – consider putting one in the Master bath or a larger one in the courtyard or back patio. Sellers need to fix all the squeaks and groans in the house they can before it comes on the market. You cannot “Stage away” traffic or construction noise, but you can minimize it by having another sound override it. This helps a buyer to know, “Even though there is some exterior noise, I could still live here if I had this water feature.” Help them to know how to override what may be a potential detraction to buying the house.

TIP: Your Home Stager can provide a creative solution or idea to help override a potentially negative sound. They cannot “Stage away” the issues, but they can help come up with a plan that will minimize or eliminate the issue.

TASTE: Of the 5 senses this one is probably the least utilized when Staging as most of the time we are not using real food as props that are supposed to be eaten. However, when Showing a house, it’s fun to have cookies or fruit and refreshing drinks for Buyers. Stagers can use faux prop food for a look – such as parfaits or small cakes, faux fruit or even faux champagne in glasses, but these are props. Some Stagers can use real fruit as a prop – but with most it’s not to be eaten. To get this 5th sense involved with Buyers the Seller or Realtor will have to provide the delicious snack that gets that last sense engaged, or a team partner Stager can bring cookies and lemonade for the open house – and get that last sense checked off!

Let’s face it – the market is competitive and to get the Sale you want within the timeframe you need, you owe it to yourself and your house to engage all 5 senses for the Buyer.

The Results? A SENSATIONAL Sale . . . When Buyers make a 5 senses connection to a house it is more likely to become their HOME and the Seller will achieve their goals as well of selling versus sitting on the market.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Sensational Home Staging - Using CREATIVITY and not renting or buying!

Another Sensationally Staged house - for sale . . . and instead of having the Seller "remove everything and bring in all brand new stuff" - which really requires little creativity - we used what the Seller had in their house - and our ideas.

TWO Staging Project - TWO Success Stories - TWO Examples of Sensational Home Staging. . .



In today's market - many sellers cannot afford to "spend" thousands of dollars to "stage" their house - and I put the word in quotes on purpose - because when a Seller is told to get rid of their stuff - and a "Stager" brings in new things - it's Decorating. Decorating focuses on the stuff - and not the space. It's not about the house it's about the Stuff - we can select what we want, put it where we want - and although it might look great - we need to ask - "Was it necessary?"

Sometimes it makes sense to add a few things to add "WOW" Factor or even a lot of things - to make a house appeal to buyers - but to replace a whole house that is already furnished - is a costly venture. If the house is vacant - yes it does need rental furnishings to make it feel homey and inviting. But a furnished house - does NOT need to have things replaced or removed . . . we can work with what you have.

This type of Staging is tougher. Mentally it's hard to be restricted to what someone else may have in their house. I may think it's dated or even unattractive - and I can still work with it - and using my training and experience present the HOUSE using those things - in a way that appeals to buyers.

When a Stager is restricted by what is in the house - CREATIVITY has to kick in - and it's a welcome mental challenge for me.  The other type of Staging is physically demanding - because we are bringing in boxes of decor and furniture - but it is not as challenging creatively. Staging with what a Seller has is also physically demanding as furnishings are moved from one place to another, or room to room.

90% of Sellers cannot afford to spend excess on Staging - and so are we so focused on making the look like an episode of Design Chic - that we forget that we can use our creativity to present a house for buyers?

I believe that one reason some Stagers only use rented inventory to Stage is they don't want to take the time to have to figure out how to make the things in a Sellers house work. It's much easier to know that they can bring in the sofa or chair of their choice than be stuck working with one that may be worn or dated.

When a Buyer buys the house - are they buying the furniture too? NO. They are buying the house and space - not the stuff. They do use the furnishings in the rooms to assess whether their things will fit and how to arrange their things. But rarely are they there to shop for furniture and decor.

So Sellers and Realtors - you need to know that Staging is NOT about having you buy or rent things - when you already have things to work with in the house. Check out the link of photos that prove my point.

Could there have been different things added - sure. Was it necessary. No. These houses got the attention they needed post Staging - and the Sellers were flabberagasted at how GREAT their houses looked.

When you want to minimize costs for Staging - and invest in the time it takes to use someone with Talent and Creativity to Stage a house - look for an ASP Stager. Go to www.Stagedhomes.com to find them on the online directly.

If you are in the Denver region - I would love to help you or your client get their house Staged - and will honestly assess whether we can use what they have or if they do need to rent. But the first words out of my mouth will not be "it all has to go and you need to buy things or rent." Never.

Call me at 888-WE-STAGE or 303-717-7918 or go to http://www.sensationalhome.com/ to learn more about how I can help you achieve your goal of Selling your house or listing in the shortest time and for the most money.

TWO Staging Project - TWO Success Stories - TWO Examples of Sensational Home Staging. . .