Staging a home results in a 169 percent return on the investment and three-quarters of the agents recommended staging a home before putting it on the market
By Chris Bosak

The Hour, Norwalk, Conn.

RISMEDIA, August 5 � (KRT) � What is becoming a necessity on the West Coast is slowly becoming popular on the East Coast.

Home staging, or preparing your home to put it on the market, is a service more and more people in Fairfield County are utilizing, according to Trish Boyle of Stage Right Design, a home staging business in Westport.

Boyle is also a member of the Connecticut chapter of the International Association of Home Staging Professionals, which was formally inaugurated in February 2005. Members of the association have completed the Accredited Staging Professional’s course and examination.

“In California, you don’t put your house on the market without staging it,” Boyle said. “Staging is just starting to catch on (on the East Coast). People say, ‘Why should I fix up the house so it looks good for someone else?’ But it’s a small investment for what you get out of it.”

According to the 2003 HomeGain Survey of 2,000 real estate agents nationwide, staging a home results in a 169 percent return on the investment and three-quarters of the agents recommended staging a home before putting it on the market. Boyle added that studies show staged homes sell for an average of 17 percent more and up to 40 percent faster.

Boyle started her staging business shortly after moving from San Francisco to Westport. Her California home was staged by someone else and it sold in one day for 15 percent over the asking price. Boyle, who had previous design and marketing experience, immediately thought of starting a staging business here.

Boyle is compensated on a flat rate or hourly. She can also do consulting and help sellers hire landscapers, painters or other workers to improve the look of a home.

“I notice everything. I’m very detail oriented,” she said. “A lot of homes just need a good cleaning and decluttering. You also have to arrange the furniture to draw prospective buyers’ attention to the rooms’ focal points. Paint is another quick improvement. It’s a quick, inexpensive way to change a room.”

Boyle stresses that sellers should not ignore the outside of their homes as first appearances do indeed make a big impression.

“Realtors know when a house is going to be a drive-by,” she said. “You don’t want to be a drive-by. That first impression is so important. If you can’t get people into the front door, you can’t sell your home. At a minimum, people should do a little to improve the curb appeal.”

Boyle also has an inventory of furniture and accessories to furnish an empty house in which the sellers have already moved.

“A home will never sell for as much money when it’s empty as when it’s furnished,” she said. “It really is like setting the stage.”

With the housing market so hot, especially in Fairfield County, and asking prices at all-time highs, Boyle said selling a home for a few percentage points higher can mean a lot of money for the seller.

“People think staging is just for higher-end homes, but it’s not,” she said.

Staging is becoming more popular with the help of television shows such as “Designed to Sell” and “Curb Appeal.”

The Connecticut chapter of the International Association of Home Staging Professionals is made up of independent contractors like Boyle. Joy Cehovsky of Staging Spaces and William Raveis Real Estate in Southport is the president. The chapter also includes Elizabeth Steffen of Westport, Deb Russo of Ridgefield and Nancy Sinacori of North Stamford.

For more information or to contact a home staging professional, visit http://www.staged homes.com.

Copyright � 2005, The Hour, Norwalk, Conn.

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

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