The popularity of television home improvement shows is finally helping Arizonans understand the importance of staging when trying to sell their homes, Surprise resident Donna Jamison says.
Jamison launched her business, Wild About Staging, in northern California three years ago, but moved the outfit to Surprise at the beginning of this year.
Staging involves de-cluttering and reorganizing the furniture and accessories in a home that is for sale, and rearranging them in a simple fashion that has mass appeal to house hunters.
Sellers recycle the furniture they already own to literally set a stage in each room, making sure to avoid anything that reflects their personal style.
"You're trying to look at (the home) from a buyer's perspective and draw them into the property. You really want (potential buyers) to feel comfortable and able to picture themselves living there," Jamison said.
Though the practice is commonplace in California, where Realtors often pick up a stager's tab, in Arizona, the practice is still catching on.
Jamison spoke with The Republic about the profession, what it entails and how it is evolving in the Valley.
Question: Why is paying for a professional stager a hard sell to Arizonans?
Answer: In California, it's a given. You don't put your house on the market unless it has been staged. There, Realtors typically pay for the service as part of their marketing. In Arizona, sellers are paying for it and they struggle with that. Here, sellers don't want to dip into their own pockets. I'm amazed at how many people will pay a second mortgage before they hire a professional stager. If they spend just a little up front, they could be selling their house much quicker. Staging is always cheaper than a home's first price reduction.
And in neighborhood communities where the houses look similar and have similar floor plans, you need help to make your house stand out and offer buyers a visualization of how your house could be their house.
Q: What are some of the biggest mistakes people make when staging their homes?
A: People generally know they have to get rid of clutter, but they don't always do a good job of that. Because they live so close to the clutter, they don't see it. I always advise clients to rent a storage garage beforehand so that they have space to put things.
Also, simply rearranging the furniture in your home is not staging,
Q: What is the most creative way you've recycled a client's belongings and put them to a different use?
A: One of my clients had really pretty drapes, but they were a dark and heavy green. We kept the window valances up but took the drapes and used them as slipcovers for the sofa and love seat in the living room. With a few throw pillows the room really popped and it just looked great.
Q: How much do you typically charge for staging, and what other services do you offer?
A: The national average for staging homes is about 1 percent of the home's listing price. However, that can go up depending on the number of rooms, or down if the house is pretty much vacant. For people that want to stage their home themselves, I do a consultation that costs about $350. I walk through the home with the client, take pictures, make recommendations and give a 30-page report on my evaluation.
I also do redesign, which is when you rearrange a home that's not for resale. A lot of clients who ask me to stage their homes will also ask me to come to their new homes and set it up in a similar fashion.
Q: In your opinion, how much does staging factor into the final sale of a home?
A: It's phenomenal. According to www.stagedhomes.com, 93 percent of homes staged by a professional stager sell within 33 days or less, and homes that are not staged are typically on the market 160 days or longer.
Check out Jamison's Web site at www.wildaboutstaging.biz