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Friday, June 29, 2012

2 Hours - Limited Budget - Cluttered House - What Would You Do?


Yesterday we had the opportunity to Stage a house in Denver - in SORE need of Staging. The Realtor called and wanted a consultation plan for Staging. In our conversation I discovered that the Seller was older, not physically able to do anything, and had no help. So Plan B emerged where we would do what we could with a hands-on Staging in the 2 hour time allotment we had for the consultation - to stick to the Budget.

Other challenges shared with me by the Realtor: The seller is from another country, does not speak English that well, and has a faith that requires daily rituals to icons and items.

Even though it is listed for sale, there were no interior shots of the house online. Strike 1: When there are no interior photos buyers KNOW it's a dog of a house and will PASS on an in-person visit.

Sight unseen we arrived at the house that was about 1200 square feet. The seller was a very nice woman and a little nervous to see us all pile out of the car. Not knowing what I was in for, I had another ASP Stager colleague, and my "Stage Crew" of 4 strong young men/boys to help with moving, packing, schlepping, etc.

I did a quick assessment of the house: Living Room crammed full of personal things, too many plants, and lots of religious things. Dining Room was not being properly used and had a console table full of junk. Kitchen had LARGE granite table in it that needed to be moved. "Family Room" was being used as a bedroom - racks of clothing, dressers, and other random furniture - no bed. 2 bookshelves blocked access to this room - and created a tiny passage way from the kitchen to the Family Room that you had to carefully navigate through. Bedrooms - dated bedding, beds slammed up against the walls. Basement - not worth Staging - mostly empty and could be used to store the boxes of things we would remove.

We had asked the seller to provide boxes -which thankfully she had in the garage so I set the Stage Crew on the task of taping up the boxes for us to use to remove things. Normally the Seller is NOT present while we Stage as it can be stressful so at one point we just had her relax on her front porch area while we zipped about the house.

We had 2 hours to transform the rooms we could - with the limitations of what the Seller was willing to have us put away. It is an art to negotiate with a Seller - let alone have the added challenge of a language and cultural barrier.

In the end, there was still more that needed to be done, but we worked hard and fast for 2 1/2 hours - moving heavy furniture, boxing, and thinning out areas that desperately needed help. At 2 hours we were ready to leave and then I decided I could not leave the bedrooms unattended. So, we rearranged the 2 rooms - one was simply pulling the bed off the wall and centering it in the room, and the other was totally rearranging a HEAVY dresser and hutch, bed, etc. Realtor kept saying, "That's what I thought needed to be done." In my head I was saying, "Well - what were you waiting for?" Oh yeah - ME!

The moral of the story: Sometimes when the budget is limited we do our best to help showcase the house. AND the Realtor needs the support of a Stager who can come in and make it happen when they have been met by resistance from their Seller.

The Realtor was happy with the results - and I found it amusing that he did not lift a finger to help us with any heavy moving or lifting. We were all sweating and dealing with moving things that were not necessarily clean. All the while being "observed" by the agent. He gets paid to sell. I get paid to Stage - and I am good at it. I considered yesterday a great workout!

We left the Seller and Realtor with a list of things "To-Do" to finish off the work we had started - and I believe they were more motivated to get it done because of the impact we had made in the time we were there.

Now there are at least interior photos that can be used to market the house!