Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Staging with a Goldilocks Focus - by Jennie Norris, ASP Master, IAHSP - Sensational Home Staging

Staging with a Goldilocks Focus

A childhood favorite, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, is a fairy tale known by most everyone. Goldilocks is the girl that enters the house that belongs to the Three Bears and proceeds to take a test drive on everything from food, chairs to beds. She would not settle on what she liked until it was, Just right.

Think about it – this fairy tale is a great analogy for Selling a houseand for Staging. Goldilocks is our Buyer, the Three Bears are the Seller and each one has a different Stager that worked for them.  We have to make sure our Staging is Just Right.  Not too much and not to little. We need to have a Goldilocks focus on our Staging to do just what is necessary to sell the house.

This means as a Stager we have to know when to stop adding things to the Staging – because if we bring out too much and put it in the house, even though it may look nice our Staging has crossed over to decorating. We have to ask ourselves constantly, Is this item really necessary to the sale of the house?

We can’t bring out too little because then the Staging is too stark and will not bring out the warmth of the house and make it feel homey to a Buyer.

Staging is subjective and we each develop our own style where one Stager may like to put more accessories in and another may be more streamlined, and yet we cannot lose sight of the goal.

In my ten years as a professional Home Stager I have seen both done – the stark Staging where someone plops a few pieces of furniture in some rooms and hangs a picture or two and calls it a day, to the Staging where there is so much in the house the Staging itself distracts from the Buyer being able to focus on the product – the house and floor-plan. The overdone houses can sell – and yet I wonder what the Stager is selling when they put so much in the house. In my opinion they have gone from working for the Seller to working for their ego – thinking that every house they Stage must look like a page out of House Beautiful magazine.

The THREE BEARS of Staging:

Papa Bear - This Staging has too much

Mama Bear - This Staging is too little

Baby Bear - This Staging is just right

We need to be objective about our own work – and stand back and ask ourselves, “Where does my eye go?” If it goes to all the fabulous stuff in the room or to a particular object – then guess what? You probably need to take some of the things out so that a Buyer can take it all in as a whole – the room. Staging is a tool used to help set off the product – the house – and should not be THE focus of the room. I don’t profess to be a judge and jury – we need to be able to assess our own work honestly – and not over or under Stage.

Who do we work for? The Seller, Realtor and Buyer.

What is our goal? To sell the house.

Don’t get me wrong. Our reputations are important. Every house we Stage we are putting our stamp of approval on it and we want it to look good. However, I have said this many times – my goal as the Stager is to help the house sell in the fastest time and at the best price. The goal is to sell the house – not make the house look pretty. Does that make sense? I feel that some in today’s Staging world have that flipped. Their goal is to make the house look pretty – and have lost the focus on selling the house – and instead get wrapped up in a decorating or design mentality instead of keeping their Staging hat on.

As an example, I was called to do a preview on a vacant property that had been on the market for a year, then off the market and rented, and then put back on the market for some time before the sellers finally agreed to Stage the house. They interviewed five Home Stagers, including me. When I met with the Seller at the house, I asked some key questions about their goals relative to the Staging. I could tell the key selling point of this house were the amazing views out the back of the house. I was selected to do the Staging because I met the budget, and the Sellers liked me. The Realtor that had the listing said to me, You did not put as much stuff in the house as this other Stager would have. And I replied, I did not have to. The house got an offer in 10 days after I completed the Staging. I did my job – the house sold. This other Stager wanted a 90 day minimum rental, and very high fees that did not meet the Seller’s budget because she had to create a certain look in the house. She was all about her inventory and her ego versus what was really needed to sell the house, and what was needed to meet her client’s needs.

Could I have put more in? Of course – there is always more I could put in a house – the key to Staging is knowing when to stop. I focused on the product – the house and floor plan – and Staged accordingly so that when Buyers came in they saw color and groupings of furniture, but also were able to focus on that view!

Next time you are Staging – ask yourself, Is this _____ really important to the look of this room or to the Staging or is it excess and could I use it in my next Staging?  Be honest. This may save you from having to purchase or rent something for the next house.

We don’t want our porridge too hot or too cold. We don’t want the chairs too big or too small. We don’t want our beds too hard to too soft. We don’t want our Staging to be overdone or too minimal.

We want things Just Right.

For help selling your house or listing in the greater Denver area, give Jennie a call.  (303)717-7918.  She knows what to do to sell the house - and not over or under do the presentation with Staging.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sensational Home Staging - Small Spaces made Sellable

Check out the latest Staging from Sensational Home Staging!  This is a small space Staging - the overall square footage was just under 500 sq ft!  Making the best use of space to help define it for buyers was critical.  We love how it turned out - Staging DOES help people really see how large a space is versus leaving a home empty.  In this case, what looked like small rooms actually can house a fair amount of furniture while still having plenty of open space.

Here is the client feedback testimonial:


First off, the place looks GREAT!!! I was there this morning with my realtor, and she too commented on what a great job you did. I gave her your card, but if I can get a few more from you to give to her, that would be great. I am sooo happy I made the right choice in choosing you to do my place. My realtor feels that it will sell in no time. The listing goes up tonight.

Thank you again, and I will see or talk with you soon.

Many thanks

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Awesome Custom home in Conifer - Staged and ready to buy!

This custom home in Conifer, CO is a beauty!  If you like privacy, acreage and views galore, you need to see this house!  Listed by Gerhard Leicht of The Leicht Team 303-913-6672 - this house has a mountain cabin feel with large exposed log beams, but also includes all the modern amenities such as granite, lots of storage space, hardwood floors, 3 fireplaces, and a special "eagle's nest" lookout!  Huge Master Bedroom and custom Master bath including a european bidet.  <br>

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Staging and Selling in the WINTER- by Jennie Norris, ASP Master, IAHSP-Premier, Owner Sensational Home Staging

Staging a house can become challenging in the winter when the landscape around the country does not look that great - dead grass, spindly trees with no leaves, two-tone colors with snow and dirt. In fact I believe winter time is the toughest time of the year to sell when dealing with curb appeal. Depending on what part of the country you live in, you may have lots of green and warmth this time of year, or deal with the barren landscape. When there is snow on the ground, it does look pretty, but as the snow melts, you are often left with bald patches of dirt, icy or muddy streets, and little color in the yards with deciduous trees that have no leaves.

So how do you add that curb appeal necessary for Selling when Mother Nature seems to have another plan?

Here is an excerpt from an article entitled "Home Staging Tips for Every Season" where expert and my personal mentor, Barb Schwarz, was interviewed by AOL online (

Home Staging Tips for Winter:

Keep your place warm. You want the house looked at! If you aren't living there or even if you are, spend the money to keep it warm. They will walk out if it's too cold," says Schwarz. "And that means no sale." Trying to save money by keeping your house cold and not heating it properly is a turn-off to buyers.

• Keep lighting in mind during the winter months. Winter means it gets dark earlier, so put lighting on timers inside and outside the house. Every room in the house can be on timers, as it welcomes buyers into a room and you want them to keep walking and checking out the house.

Just because it's winter doesn't mean you shouldn't have flower boxes and greenery at your front door, in pots. On the contrary, it's really warm and welcoming. Just make sure they are seasonally appropriate.

Keep snow off the back patio and front porch. You want people to go out and see the back and front of the house and the patio and yard, too. Go back to your back fence and see what does the back of your house looks like, does it look boring? You can keep flower pots by the slider doors, as it softens the look of the house in the gray winter.

Don't forget to put out the summer photos of your great outdoor deck, so people know what it will be like in warmer months.

Here are some added tips:

Invest in some annuals or perennials that like the cold weather and put them in pots or line the walkway with them. Some of the best annuals for color that like the cold are pansies, primroses, kale (cabbage), and emerald greens (arborvitaes). Think not just about adding green bushes, but add color with annuals that will survive in your climate. If you are not sure, consult with your local landscape supplier and ask what you should put in those pots in the front and back yards.

Remove hazardous ice from walkways, streets, etc. - this could pose a slipping hazard for a potential buyer and you want to avoid potential issues arising from a buyer that falls on your property. Plus, it makes it look like you care about your house when you have taken the time to remove the ice and piles of snow so that the house is easily accessible.

Add outdoor cushions to your chairs that may be outside for color and appeal. You can have a fireplace set up on your patio or deck where when the nights are not too cold, you could convey enjoying a nice cozy fire outside.

Lastly, when the outside is lacking in color, make sure you have plenty of color elements INSIDE your house to balance out the bleak. Use accessories and layers of color to help create that buyer appeal and transition from the outside to inside. If a house is bleak on the outside, and then on the inside has white walls, tan furniture and beige carpet, it is blah and boring. Using artwork, fabrics, throws, pillows and accent decor can help create an inviting look for buyers.


For information on getting your house show ready, contact Jennie at 303-717-7918 or 888-93-STAGE. With over 2,700 houses Staged successfully, Jennie has the expertise and ideas to help you achieve your goals of a successful sale.

List Price versus STAGED List Price

List Price versus STAGED List Price
By Jennie Norris, ASP Master, IAHSP-Premier, SRS, REO
Owner, Sensational Home Staging
Denver's Premier Home Staging Resource

Do Sellers sell their houses to get SOME of the money possible from the sale?


Sellers want ALL the money possible from the sale – the BEST PRICE possible so they can maximize the profit from the sale of their house. Not just SOME of the money possible.

Realtors want to earn as much commission as possible from the sale of a house for all their hard work – at least the ones that are serious about having a successful real estate business. And the fact is a Realtor has a fiduciary responsibility to get their clients the MOST from the sale of their house – not just some of the potential money. ALL of it.

Imagine if Sellers understood the difference between List Price and STAGED List Price. Wouldn’t ALL of them want to Stage before Listing?

What is the List Price? That is the price the listing agent believes is a fair price for the house based on a comparative or competitive market analysis (CMA). They take a look at recent solds in the neighborhood that are comparable to the current house being listed for sale, and then they factor in the market. Is it going up? Is it a declining market? And they come up with a price RANGE for the house.

A Realtor does not want to price the house too high – because then they are “chasing” the market for the sale and Buyers always want “a good deal” on a house they buy.

That is where Staging comes in.

What is the STAGED List Price? That is the price the listing agent believes the house will sell based on the CMA, the marketed competition AND the fact that the house outshines 85-90% of the other listings. In a hot market, it is often a higher starting point that just the list price. Because the house outshines the competition, it becomes the “benchmark” for all other properties the buyer is looking at, and ultimately becomes the one they must have. Because Staged houses sell faster than their un-Staged competition, in a slower market they are less likely to experience a price reduction therefore they do sell at a better price than their competition.

A Staged house shows better than the competition and creates this feeling within that makes a Buyer want to buy THAT house. The Staged house feels more spacious, warm, inviting, clean, and easy for a Buyer to envision living inside – and it gets the offer. Statistics all over the country prove that a Staged house sells faster, and for MORE than the un-Staged competition. In a hot market, this can translate into possibly multiple offers.

Now, Staging is not a magic wand that would allow a Seller to demand ANY price for their house – they must still be reasonable and with their Realtor’s guidance price the house within the range of where it will sell. But they don’t have to be at the bottom of the range, or even in the middle when the Staging has included updating such as new carpeting, painting, fixtures, and flooring. They can be towards the top of the range which in many markets means thousands of dollars more for the sale of the house.

For certain a Seller needs to honestly assess their house compared to their competition – and take note of how their house looks compared to others – that might be Staged – because if they choose not to Stage, their house will be “used” to sell the Staged houses.

Did you know that in the Denver area only about 10-15% of the houses are Staged prior to coming on the market? This gives YOUR listing or house an immediate advantage over 85-90% of the marketed competition! Around the country some areas have 50% of the houses being Staged while others are hard pressed to find even 5%.

A Staging Consultation in the Denver area ranges between $125-$350 and the consultation should include a detailed plan for the Seller on what they can do to get their house Staged and show ready. This is a MINIMAL investment compared to the ability to position their house at a better price than the un-Staged competition. Nationwide, the consultations range from $125-$450 depending on where you live and it’s all relative to the market and median price for houses.

Dare I say that the Consultation by a trained Professional Stager one that every Realtor should be using as part of their listing process? Yes.

In fact, the Realtors I have worked with over the years that include Staging as a standard part of their listing process, paying for this service for their clients to ensure it gets done, are the TOP agents in the market. They understand that it’s not worth listing a house unless the house puts its best foot forward – and makes the right first impression.

If you are listing your house – you as the Seller need to take control and make sure your house is STAGED prior to coming on the market and pay for the consultation if your agent does not include it. Get a trained Professional Stager to advise you on what you need to do. Or list your house with a Realtor that includes a 3rd party Staging assessment as part of their listing and marketing services.

The STAGED List Price in some market can be $10,000-$50,000 MORE than just the “list price” – and buyers will make an offer on the house that is ready for them to move in, is clean, decluttered, does not smell bad, feels spacious, updated, looks fresh and inviting.

The alternative is to not Stage, and just price your house where you hope it sells, and then reduce the price if there is no activity. That price reduction is usually 10-20 TIMES the Staging investment. That leaves a LOT of money on the table!

You see, you don’t SAVE by not Staging – you either invest it up front or you lose it on the back end with a lower starting point or price reduction(s).

Why do you need a 3rd party to come and tell you what to do? Can’t you just watch one of those shows? The fact is, it’s hard to be objective in your own house – you live there, you have decorated it with your personal taste and it is hard to separate ourselves from our “home” when it comes time to sell. Selling is also stressful and Sellers are not always in an objective and receptive frame of mind. Realtors don’t want to be the ones to tell their client there is anything “wrong” with their house – whether it’s cleanliness, smells, objects in the house or other changes that have to be made to create the necessary buyer appeal. Investing a few hundred dollars to get an independent assessment from a trained Professional Stager is the key. You can find one in your market by going to the site and clicking on the ASP Directory to find a trained and qualified Stager near you.

If you are a Realtor serving this region or you live in the Denver area and need to sell your house, just pick up the phone and call me to help you get your house prepared for sale.  After 10 years and over 2,700 houses Staged, I have yet to meet a house that I could not properly prepare for sale. 303-717-7918 or 888-93-STAGE.