Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Virtual Staging - Selling a House is NOT the time to Air Brush for Perfection - by Jennie Norris, ASPM, IAHSP, Owner of Sensational Home Staging

Virtual Staging – Selling a House is not the Time to Air Brush for Perfection


Virtual Staging – Selling a House is not the Time to Air Brush for Perfection


by Jennie Norris, ASP Master®, IAHSP-Premier, BTS, REO, SRS

Owner, Sensational Home Staging, Denver Region’s Premier Home Staging Resource

IAHSP International Board Member

In the world of fashion, models, Hollywood, and the media – much of what we see is not real.
 Lighting, clever stylists, and make-up can drastically alter the appearance of the model or subject. Then add in the common practice used in print media of air-brushing out flaws, and the person that is featured in the photo spread often does not resemble that at all in real life. In recent years, we have all read or seen actresses criticizing magazines for doing everything from altering their size, elongating their legs, deleting scars or cellulite, and adding things like abs and muscles.

All this is done with the magic of the computer, software and clever person with the mouse.

We know when we look at a person in a magazine that 99% of the time they don’t really look like that in person. We love to see the tabloids actually catch these models or actors in real life with their messy hair, real bodies and flaws. It reminds us that there are many clever things that can be done with a computer and software specifically designed to alter photographic images.

Although we accept this action in the world of fashion and Hollywood, we should not accept this as an acceptable trend for Real Estate and Home Staging.

Virtual Staging. This is where vacant rooms are “Staged” using images of furnishings and décor that are not real. The rooms are not truly Staged – as they are done by a person at a computer, not by a trained expert in the house. For some they may feel this is an alternative to having to invest in real Home Staging. However, the savings they get may actually end up costing them far more in legal fees or reputation than if they Staged it properly in the first place.

Photos do help sell a house, but how do we know that the images and dimensions in a “virtually Staged room” are accurate? How can we be sure that certain flaws have not been removed? Since Buyers are not imaginative, can we trust that they can translate what is in a little photo to a large empty room? Most importantly, editing out flaws or altering the appearance of rooms in houses for the sole purpose of selling the house is bordering on deception. In the opinion of professional Stagers everywhere, the photos of the house should be of the real house – not a virtual representation of the house.

Another problem is that Buyers will eventually go and see the house in person, and imagine their disappointment when the photo they saw online is not the representation of what they see in person. Their energy will drop, and they will not be able to translate the excitement of nice furnishings found in a virtual photo to a droll, empty room that echoes. Buyers need to experience a real Staged house with real furnishings and décor to not only know if their own furnishings will fit, but they need it in order to have a real emotional connection. That connection is what sells the house and makes it a home.

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR®) Magazine came out with an article (July 30, 2009) admonishing agents and Sellers to not give credence to the idea of virtual Staging. It is a risky proposition that could find itself being worked out in a court of law with disgruntled Buyers who felt deceived by a clever computer tech with some slick software.

The link below contains the full article and there is an excerpt below.http://www.realtor.org/RMODaily.nsf/pages/News2009073002?OpenDocument

“However, there are some potential pitfalls to virtual staging, including liability issues. There is the chance, for example, that a buyer will challenge whether the digitally altered photos provided an accurate rendering of the space. After moving in, the new owner could make a case for misrepresentation of the property against the real estate practitioner.

Another problem is the lack of control that sellers and practitioners experience in terms of color schemes and accessories. Virtually staged properties tend toward neutral tones and commonplace art and window treatments that could turn off some prospective buyers.”

(Virtual Staging: Brilliant but Maybe Dangerous? Daily Real Estate News -July 30, 2009)

The moral of the story is virtually clear. With Home Staging, ensure an honest and accurate representation by entrusting your house or listing to a trained professional ASP® Home Stager, and not the clever skills of a computer jockey equipped with a mouse. That mousetrap could prove fatal to the purchase, the Seller, and even a Realtor’s career.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Custom Beauty near DU - Denver Colorado. . . Sensational Home Staging success!

This is one of our recent Staging projects of a custom, new-build property in Denver. The Staging is in line with the style of the property and also the seller's budget - the end result is a tasteful visual presentation of a beautiful property.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Littleton Townhouse - Staged and Show Ready and Multiple offers over list on the first weekend!

This townhouse has a nice layout with 4 bedrooms and 4 baths, but a possible location issue with a busy street out back. The Sellers updated and prepped the property and the listing agent wisely included Staging as a key marketing and listing tool to help this property sell at the very BEST price. Properties sell in a strong sellers market - and they can sell for MORE when they are Staged. Don't leave $$ on the table - get the very BEST price for your property - Stage it before you list it!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Being Guido - How to Get Control of Your Money Flow - by Jennie Norris, ASPM, IAHSP-Premier, BTS, REO, SRS - Owner, Sensational Home Staging

Being Guido 
How to Get Control of Your Money Flow

Most people have seen those movies – the gangster flick where the bad guy named Guido talks with a thick Brooklyn or Italian accent and roughs up some other character as part of the plot.  No one likes Guido.  I bet Guido does not even like being Guido.

Yet so many Staging business colleagues put themselves in that role of the enforcer, collector - well, Guido.   The good news is there are ways to get away from being in that role.

Back before merchant accounts were part of our business process, I would invoice clients for payment and then wait expectantly for a check to be mailed to me or left for me to pick up.  I am sure they meant well and had every intention of paying me on time and in full, but then some unexpected bill came up or they forgot they had to pay for some other thing – and my invoice went to the bottom of the stack.  It was not just sellers – it was also Realtors.  Paying for the Staging services was not a priority to them – but to me it was my only source of income and was a priority for me to support my family.  Staging is not a hobby to me – it is a full-fledged business and so I had to find a way to ensure others understood that fact.

Let’s face it – to a client, paying for Staging services does not seem quite as important as paying for a house payment or other pressing bills.  Hounding people for payment took the joy and focus off what Staging is about – making properties more marketable, making sellers and Realtors happy, and ultimately earning money in my business.

With how far we have come with many different options for processing credit or debit cards for payments I am left scratching my head when I hear colleagues complain about not getting paid.  It is so easy to avoid being GuidoSet up a merchant account.  

Require clients to provide you with a valid credit or debit card number.  Process that payment at the onset of the next billing cycle and before a third party rental company may collect from you.  If that card is declined when you go to process it, there is no Staging that takes place.  If you process it for ongoing rental and the card declines, you pick up your stuff.   Period.  No leaving things in place believing that the check is on its way.  My experience is when a client has poor intentions and is going to default on paying, they will do it when you give them an easy way to make it happen.  When you take control of the money processing, these people cannot get away with not paying.

Leaving inventory in place with no client payment means you end up in the hole financially with little recourse.  Colleagues that have not been paid and are not in charge of their business money flow talk about having to put liens on the property or go to small claims court.  Both options create a negative situation that takes our focus off being productive.  They can also take a long time to be resolved.

Bottom line – Stop being Guido.  Don’t accept checks for large projects and/or for those projects that have repeat inventory payments.  Period.  No matter how nice a client is, or how good their intentions are, we leave ourselves open for being taken advantage of by not having professional standards that are communicated and enforced up front.  Someone that wants to only pay by check can provide a debit card – it is the same thing as the funds are pulled from the bank account.

I put away my Guido hat years ago – as soon as merchant accounts became available to me.  I gladly pay the processing fees that are far, far less than the cost of my time to hunt people down and hound them for payment.  I typical Staging project merchant fees are nominal compared to the thousands of dollars of my time and energy spent dealing with non-payment clients, not to mention the sleepless nights wondering how I am going to cover other bills I have to pay.  Just because a client has not paid is not a good reason for lack of payment to a vendor or service provider I owe.

There are numerous options for merchant accounts from your bank, credit union, online resources, and so forth.  You want to check the various terms and fees from the providers to ensure there are not hidden costs and negotiate low processing fees. 

So, in the words of Guido, “Fuhgetaboutit” – get a merchant account and enter the world of easy money processing.  No more waiting on others – we are in control of our money flow.   It is so easy, makes sense for a business owner that plans on growing, owning and operating a successful, thriving and profitable Staging business for years to come.

Staged house sells for $45,000 MORE and the Sellers are super excited!!

Staging helps houses sell at the very BEST price even in a hot market. This property was full of things, cleared out, cleaned, Staged and listed for sale. The house was not updated, has some conditional issues, and it still sold at 10% MORE than list - and the list price was at the top of the range to begin with. This shows the power of proper presentation with Staging and professional marketing by the listing agent who did an awesome job getting the most $$ for her clients! The Staging was in line with the price of the house and the budget for Staging. It does not have to be over done to get an offer - as Staging is NOT decorating!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Staging Success - Small property comes alive with Staging to show size and use

This was a property in Denver that was sitting on the market unsold because Buyers could not see what would fit and many said nothing would fit in the small bedroom which clearly easily fits a twin bed with room to spare. End result - they went under contract 24 hours after we completed the Staging!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Solterra - Lakewood Beauty - Staged and under contract in a week after being on the market MONTHs unsold!

This property was on the market for many months unsold. With some unique interior features and no visual appeal, buyers just were not excited about this house. Seller switched listing agents to one that was very proactive with marketing and went the extra mile for his client to ensure the sale - and encouraged the seller to Stage the property. End result was the house going under contract a week after listing! Staging is a key marketing tool that helps houses sell in the quickest time and for the best price based on market conditions.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Denver condo - Highrise living near Lowry in Denver . . . remodeled property Staged and show ready!

This remodeled condo in Denver has a nice layout, features and amenities . . . Staged and show ready for the perfect buyer to purchase!

Littleton Townhouse - Staged and Ready for Sale!

Check out one of our recent Staging projects - a remodeled townhouse in Littleton that now has color and visual appeal to attract buyers.