"It forces the seller to declutter the home so that the home shows instead of their personal belongings ... and mentally prepares the seller for the move to come," King said. It helps the buyer, too, she added "because they can visualize themselves and their belongings in the space because the stager has neutralized the property."
Artistic yet calculated
So what's involved in staging a home for sale? While no two stagers operate exactly alike, the typical occupied-home staging involves a consultation, followed by hands-on work.
Typically, at the consultation, the stager will point out things that should be done in advance of the intensive staging day.
This might include painting or plaster repair, carpet or tile cleaning, landscaping or other maintenance chores.
Once the background issues are addressed, the stager returns to create that model-home image: moving furniture around to showcase a focal point like a fireplace or view; editing the contents of a room to create an airier feel; accessorizing to bring out the cobalt-blue of a bathroom tile ...
It is an artistic, yet calculated process. And it's hard work.
There is much physical labor involved in staging, which is why it isn't cheap.
What does it cost?
Staging fees vary according to the level of service. Occupied listings are typically the least expensive because the homeowner usually has enough furniture and accessories, although sometimes other accents or new pieces are brought in. Hourly staging fees vary greatly based on experience and training, and average $75 per hour and up.
Some stagers charge a package price.
Most vacant listings are fully furnished by the stager, requiring the stager to carry an inventory of furniture and accessories.
Because of this, most stagers typically ask for a percentage of the home's sale price.
Vignette staging -- partially staging key rooms to provoke a feeling or mood -- can be equally effective. Instead of fully decorating a vacant home, the stager uses just enough furnishings and accents to evoke an emotional response. Typically this type of staging is billed on a monthly rental fee for the furniture and accessories in addition to service fees.
Who to contact
So how does one find a stager? The popularity, and success, of staging has exploded this new career path, making stagers easier to find than ever.
To find a stager for a home or listing, you can start by asking Realtors or homeowners you know. Stagers vary widely in their level of expertise and knowledge of Santa Fe and our unique real-estate market. The Interior Redesign Industry Specialists' Web site at WeRedesign.com or StagedHomes.com for Accredited Staging Professionals list stagers certified by the respective organizations.
Once you've contacted some potential stagers, interview them. Ask about their backgrounds, certifications and training; how long they have been in business (and in Santa Fe); and whether they have a portfolio and references.
Heather Wood is a freelance writer who writes regularly for the Santa Fe New Mexican. She can be reached through her website at www.HeatherWoodFreelance.com.
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