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Home Staging: Stage it to sell it

Authored by: Jenifer D. Braun  -  Published in: The Star-Ledger
Created on:

Once upon a time, getting a house ready for sale meant dusting the furniture, starting to pack and maybe putting cookies in the oven when a buyer dropped in.
These days, that's not nearly enough.
In a cooling real estate market, a practice called "home staging" is gaining adherents among realtors and sellers, and creating a whole new class of design professionals.
Originally embraced on the West Coast more than a decade ago, home staging essentially means redecorating your home so that it will appeal not to you, but to the largest number of potential buyers. And while you can do it yourself, you can also call in a stager who does this for a living -- and who can see your home with fresh eyes.
"We take the space you live in everyday and we reorganize it so it looks like you're having the biggest party you ever had," says Linda Russell, who runs a seven-year-old staging company called House Dressing in Montclair (housedressing.info) "Decorating is very personal," says Brit Brown, owner of Stage Appeal NJ in Chester (stageappealnj.com), and the president of the two-year-old Central Jersey Chapter of the International Association of Home Staging Professionals (IAHSP), which currently has about 22 members.
"When you decorate a home, it's according to your personal taste. When you stage it, you make it neutral so it appeals to everybody who walks through."
Having your home staged can cost surprisingly little -- most stagers offer a consultation service that includes their advice on all the steps you need to take to make your house more marketable, for $200-$300. Or, you can ask them to do the work for you -- for about $350 per room, they'll clean out the closets, rearrange furniture and artfully display vases, artwork and area rugs from their own inventory around the house. It adds up to about $1200 to $2000 stage an entire four bedroom house.
That's much less, stagers point out, than reducing the home's sale price by $10,000 if it fails to sell in the first month or so on the market -- which these days, with a huge "inventory" of houses on the market, is increasingly likely. (Stagedhomes.com, the website of Barb Schwarz, the West Coast realtor who trademarked the term "home staging," did a study in 2007 that indicated that staged homes sold in 31 days, compared to 160 days for non-staged homes.)
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Article entered in the Staged Homes System: 2008-05-27



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