DOVE CANYON The event was like a reality TV show.
Twenty-seven students of a home-staging class gathered in the living room of a two-story home in this gated south Orange County community to hear their instructor, staging guru Barb Schwarz, recite their instructions.
For two days, these aspiring real estate marketers have been learning the secrets of how to decorate a home to show to prospective buyers. They had come from throughout the region and the nation to learn from one of the industry's top professionals, a self-proclaimed pioneer of home staging with 30 years in the business.
Now, they were about to put themselves to the test and put their lessons into practice. In the classroom, they learned theories. Here, they were going to prepare a real home for the market.
The challenge: One hour.
That's all the time the students were given to convert this lived-in house, replete with keepsakes and family photos, into a marketing showpiece.
One hour to help the homeowners, moving soon to New Jersey in a corporate relocation, get top dollar for their house in the worst housing market in at least two decades.
Real estate agents and homeowners may be hurting in this housing slump. But those in the staging trade say their business is booming.
Staging is the craft of transforming a home listing into a showpiece, removing clutter to make rooms look bigger, cleaning and repairing to give a used residence that new, model-home look.
Sellers and Realtors increasingly are turning to stagers at a time when just one of every six Orange County homes on the market sells.
According to Schwarz's Web site:
- Ninety-three percent of homes staged by professionals sell in a month. Professionally staged homes are on the market an average of 33 days, compared to the 161-day average for non-staged homes.
- Staging provides at least a 300% return on investment Hence a $3,000 staging fee adds about $12,000 to a home's price, Schwarz said.
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