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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Staging for Seniors - Senior Transition and Senior Market - by Jennie Norris, ASP Master, Owner Sensational Home Staging

Seniors - those people that are 55 or older - comprise the fastest growing segment of our population.  As a savvy business owner, it is wise to figure out how to market to and serve this demographic to ensure viability in an ever changing economy.

Staging for Seniors is not routine.  There are those that do not like working with this market segment.  I am not one of them.  I like working with Seniors.  Even when I was younger, I had a heart or affinity for seniors living in retirement homes.  I looked at these people as my grandmother or grandfather - they were someone's parent or grandparent . . . and even if they were in failing health or memory, they deserved to be treated respectfully and with compassion.  When I became a Mother - I would take my children to the retirement centers to visit with seniors living there -often learning they were neglected by their own family.  That broke my heart.

When I started my Staging company, I decided I wanted to serve this particular market segment and help Seniors with Staging and selling their houses.  There are others that have added services to help them transition into assisted living facilities and it's great that today an elderly person has a lot of helpful resources to help them make a transition that can be emotionally painful and physically draining.

When I work with Seniors, I do not conduct "business as usual."  I adjust my process depending on their timeframe, physical ability, needs, and situation.  Where I would normally write a Staging Consultation Plan, with seniors I often just do hands-on Staging because many of my senior clients are physically not able to implement the recommendations.  I do like to ask "Who is the buyer for this home?" because it makes a difference in what we do with Staging.  If the house is in a retirement community, I will cater the Staging to that buyer, and if the house is in a transitional neighborhood, I will cater the Staging to a first-time homebuyer or young family.  This makes a difference in painting and updating recommendations.

I like working with Realtors who specialize in the Senior market - they understand the needs of the elderly and how to handle them.  I often laughingly label my seniors "my resistors" because they do not like change.  A lot of the time they have been living in their house for 2 decades or longer - and they have an attachment to the house and their things that a younger seller does not.  When I suggest changes or physically Stage a house for an older person, I am mindful of their resistance to change - and therefore I always clearly explain my reasons and get their "buy in" of the needed change. 

When there is a limited Staging budget, my time is best used to do a hands-on Staging where I move through the house and either remove what is not needed or create piles of things that need to be packed so that the seller can see the impact right away. My moving things around saves them time and energy physically - and shortens the time it could take the get the house listed.

I just worked with an elderly couple that had been in their house for about 30 years.  They were amazed at what Staging was, and all the things they needed to do to not only prepare the house for sale, but also protect themselves as Sellers.  When they shared that, I laughed a little bit and said that the real estate industry has changed dramatically in the past decade.  Prior to the internet, we were not concerned about photos of homeowners going around the world.  Photos were used on flyers and handouts but now photos are put online - and are so important in order to get buyers to look at the house in person.  The whole identity theft issue was not really around 10-15 years ago, and even the issue of prescription drugs being swiped by people posing as "buyers" was not a concern more than 5 years ago.  The market has changed.  If it's been more than 10 years since an elderly person was involved in buying or selling a house, what we do is totally new to them.

The key is not to rush in and push them - rather we need to hand-hold and guide them with care and compassion.  With an added element of dementia that can be a concern, the other family members need to get involved with the sale, and often times are already stressed out dealing with the health of their parent.  As a professional Home Stager, my role is to be the coordinator, facilitator, and put the client at ease so they can focus on other more pressing issues.  I partner with the listing agent to get the Staging done in time to hit the market deadline - and then we both wait for the (hopefully) swift sale.

If you live n the Denver area and want to get your house sold - call Jennie at 303-717-7918.
Top 5% of all Stagers nationwide - productivity, longevity and experience.