Real Estate

Staging the Home For Sale

Staging the Home For Sale
Here are some helpful hints from experts in the field to expedite the process.

Taking Center Stage
When Barb Schwarz entered the real estate market in the 1970s, she quickly recognized the challenges faced by agents when helping homeowners sell their homes. Preparing a home for sale without offending the homeowner was something Schwarz was able to successfully address. Schwarz, who had previously owned her own interior design business, brought her design talents to the field and began educating sellers and agents that simply setting the stage for the sale of a home maximizes the possibility of top dollar for the home.

“Staging the home for sale” is a phrase Schwarz coined and a philosophy that she introduced to the real estate industry. Since the introduction of this concept, the now owner of and best-selling author has gone on to train close to a million agents and decorators nationwide and has developed the “Accredited Staging Professional (ASP) Course” and the “Master Accredited Staging Professional (ASPM) Course” over the last two decades. The idea of staging a home evolved from the idea that once a homeowner decides to place his or her home on the market, that home becomes a product. And just like a product, the more people it appeals to over another, the better likelihood that it will sell faster and it will sell higher.

So what exactly does staging include? Anything and everything needed to accentuate the best, most sellable features of a home. Often times it is removing furniture and rearranging items in a room to make the room appear bigger, putting away excess clutter from all the rooms, and displaying nice artwork and accessories to accentuate the home. Painting walls, cleaning carpet, and adding or taking down shelving or cabinets are sometimes also needed. It can also includes clearing away excess bushes and brush from the outdoor areas of a home and replacing that with flowers, lighting, and other garden accessories and patio furniture.

Charlotte Crutchfield, owner of San Diego based Staged to Sell, approaches each home almost as an art project, making sure everything is aesthetically pleasing and proportional. “My goal is to make the buyer feel like he or she can’t live without this home,” says Crutchfield. “I don’t mask the flaws, but more it’s that I direct the eyes to the best features of the home.”

Designing to the target market is something all designers understand quite well. The architecture of the home and the community surrounding the home undoubtedly lends influence to the design concept used when preparing the homes.

“The average person (home shopping) makes a decision on whether they like a home or not in about 30 seconds”, explains Jeff McGee, owner of Aspire Staging and Realty. “To capitalize on what may be just one chance per prospect, there has got to be a WOW factor, and we do just that!” Staging not only accomplishes the goal of presenting a home in its best light, it will help get a premium price for literally any home. In 2005, Money Sense Magazine reported some startling facts pulled from a Coldwell Banker Realty report: To measure the effects of home staging, they tracked 2,772 US properties for sale ranging on the low of $229,999 to the high of $4.8 million. The staged homes increased in value a whopping 6.3% on average and sold in about half the time of homes that were not professionally staged. “In today’s leaner market”, adds McGee, “the motivation to differentiate one’s home from other listings is even more important”.

When Maria Barry, owner of M. Zuppa Interiors and furniture store LeDimora, works with the new developers, she first determines which rooms of the house should be staged. “Obviously, we will always do the main rooms,” says Barry. “Most often, the budget will include staging of the entry/foyer, living room, dining room, kitchen, master bedroom and bathroom, and office.”

Furniture, drapes, gorgeous rugs, plants, dish ware, and any other home accessory you can think of are added to these homes. Each home is going to have a different look and feel, whether it is Traditional, French County, or Tuscan, and the furniture and accessories should blend with the home perfectly.

As for the outside areas of the home, use pottery and plants by the front door, but focus more on the furniture for the backyard, adding patio furniture and other plants and accessories around the fireplace or pool areas.

Barry does occasionally work with re-sells when they just need a little sprucing up. When asked what she recommends to homeowners who are looking to prepare their home for the market, Barry replies, “Take away the clutter, remove certain pieces or rearrange the furniture in the rooms, and add fresh, new accessories to the rooms.”

The last six of six new homes staged by M. Zuppa Interiors sold completely furnished. “People come into a home and like what they see. They don’t want to have to re-do it themselves once they buy the place and maybe have to wait to have their home furnished,” says Barry. One of her clients recently said, “I just want to bring my shoes and go buy groceries,” which only strengthens the fact that the home staging industry will only continue to grow.

While many builders hire a contract designer, there are alternatives that provide expertise and quality furnishings, resulting in the look and feel of interior design without the expense and the long wait. One pioneer in Southern California is Parker Rose Design, a San Diego California-based company that offers
a hybrid service combining interior design capabilities with
home staging economics.

“With the amount of new building in Southern California, we saw a niche in the home design industry that consisted of builders and owners who need designs done quickly or on a temporary basis,” said Brian Pidgeon, President of Parker Rose Design. Pidgeon points out that Parker Rose allows the builder to wait until the final weeks of construction before making a model commitment. And when the home sells, the builder has the option to either return or purchase the furniture.

“Look at why every major home builder in the country has model homes, because they capture the buyer’s imagination and motivate them to purchase.” Pidgeon sums it up, “Paying the price to stage a home is less expensive than the fi rst price reduction.”san diego premier


Following are a few home staging tips from Barb Schwarz, ASP, CSP for the outside areas of your home from an excerpt taken from

Try looking at your house “THROUGH THE BUYER’S EYES” as though you’ve never seen it or been there before. Any time or money invested on the following will bring back more money in return, and hopefully a faster sale.

1. Go around the perimeter of the house and move all garbage cans, discarded wood scraps, extra building materials, etc., into the garage.
2. Check gutters for roof moss and dry rot. Make sure they are swept and cleaned.
3. Look at all plants… prune bushes and trees. Keep plants from blocking windows. “YOU CAN’T SELL A HOUSE IF YOU CAN’T SEE IT.” Plants are like children — they grow so fast!!
4. Weed and then mulch all planting areas. Keep lawn freshly cut and fertilized. Remove and dead plants or shrubs.
5. Clear patios or decks of all small items, such as small planters, flower pots, charcoal, barbecues, toys. etc. (Put them in the garage or a storage unit.)
6. Check paint condition of the house — especially the front door and trim. “CURB APPEAL REALLY WORKS!”

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