Friday, January 24, 2020

It Seems Like My house has been For Sale Forever

Selling a house can be a daunting and stressful task.  Years ago if your house was neat and clean, it would sell.  However, with television networks like HGTV, buyers expect homes to look like the houses seen on shows like Flip or Flop, Property Brothers, Hometown or Christina on the Coast.  The number of buyers wanting a fixer upper is shrinking. The majority of today’s buyers want move in ready home. What exactly is move in ready?

The move in ready home:
  1. Freshly painted walls in a neutral color that will allow a buyer to simply place their belongings inside.  Freshly painted does not mean “I just painted 5 years ago.” The color has to be current and not clash with the surrounding architecture.  I have seen it too often, a seller paints the trend color and it clashes with the flooring or cabinets.
  2. Updated kitchens and baths.  Buyers prefer stone counter tops of granite or quartz.  Buyers want updated stainless steel appliances. They want nice back splashes.  What they don’t want is honey colored oak cabinets and laminate counters. Does this mean a remodel? Absolutely not.  It often means painting or staining cabinets in an updated color. Changing hardware to a more current style. Possibly adding an updated faucet and/or sink.  Depending on the price point adding better counter tops. The kitchen has to be current enough for a buyer to be willing to live with it until a remodel can be done.
In the bathroom get rid of your gold, green, blue, pink turquoise, toilet, sink and tubs.  A toilet is an inexpensive fix. Tiles and tubs can be re glazed in white to update.
      3.Light fixtures are another inexpensive fix.  Remove all the old brass       
         light fixtures for new.  Your local big box store has many inexpensive


4. Flooring   The preferred flooring is hardwood.  Check to see if you have hardwood under your carpet.  If not make sure your carpeting is clean and not worn. No one wants those popular colors from the nineties like mauve or royal blue. If you need to replace carpeting go with a neutral or consider a good laminate that mimics wood.  Ceramic tile in the bath is preferred.    
5. Do not forget your curb appeal.  Overgrown bushes and tree limbs distract from the value of your home.  Chipping paint, weeds, grass that needs cutting can also turn potential buyers off.  Landscape pays a big return of 100 to up to 1000%. Buyers want to see a low maintenance yard that is an extension of the indoor spaces.

        Ideally, there are 4 steps to selling your house to have it spend the      least amount of time on the market

  1. Prepare your house for sale. Make it move in ready.  A certified train stager will advise you on what needs to be done to sell your property.  Take their advice seriously. If you decide to skip a suggestion it may cost you time and money.  Remember once you decide to sell it becomes about the buyer. Your decor style may not reflect the demographics of the buyers in your area.  I understand that your recliner is super comfortable and relaxing. It’s just that being in the room doesn’t make the space look like a pottery barn catalog photo.
  2. Do a showcase staging.  This means spending the money to have a professional stager stage your home.  Unless you are Joanna Gains or her BFF clone, staging is not a DIY project. Many try and most fail.  The showcasing is what causes a buyer to make an emotional connection to the house that allows the buyer to envision living there.  I have seen many valiant efforts to stage. A table set for a dinner party, a tray on the bed, a lamp placed in the corner of an empty room, artwork missing or too small or hung wrong these are examples a novice wanna be stager makes. I have even seen large stuffed toys placed in various places in the house.  Yes, most people don’t live in perfectly staged houses. Even stagers don’t. But, when selling, we want to evoke the possibility that we could live like that all the time. Furthermore, it takes less than 15 seconds once inside the door, for a buyer to decide if they like your house. Don’t give a buyer a chance to find a reason not to say yes to your house.   I hear this all the time too. “ I am not spending any more money on this house.” If you don’t want to spend money on your house what makes you believe a buyer will want to spend money on it? Maybe if you lower the price enough a buyer will put in the time and effort to fix it up. Furthermore, every day your house remains on the market you will have carrying costs, water bills, electric and other utility costs, taxes, maintenance costs such as snow removal or lawn care, and mortgage payments if you do not own it free and clear. Once your house is on the market over 30 days, buyers think you have a distressed property that no one wants.  This leads to further price drops. The first price drop is almost always more than the cost to properly stage your house. Staging is a marketing tool! Staging is a marketing tool that gives a measurable return on investment. Don’t you want to market your property effectively?
  3. Hire a great real estate agent that knows your market and will price it competitively and market it effectively. There are 4 reasons houses won't sell. Price, Location, Condition and Improper or lack of staging.  I once staged a house that the owners refused to do showcase staging when it went up for sale. It sat on the market for over 5 months. Once the showcase staging was complete it sold in under a week.
  4. Professional Photographs.  Photographs are the first thing buyers look online at.  If a buyer isn’t drawn to the house through pictures, that buyer will never walk through the door.  A well staged home will also create better listing photos. This will further enhance your chances of selling quickly.

Need help getting your house ready for sale?  Or do you need help with a property that has been on the market too long? 
Staging Designs by Deborah can help.  Please contact us at 517 282 5039 or visit our website

Monday, April 8, 2019

What does a Mannequin have to do with Staging?

What does a Mannequin Have to do with Staging?

         If  I went shopping and saw a mannequin on display without clothes would I be able to guess what it was suppose to be wearing?  Probably not.  Having a career in merchandising, I know the purpose of a finely attired mannequin is to draw a buyer to that outfit and the other articles of clothing in the area.  Mannequins are marketing tools that retailers use to showcase their items. If I were to shop for a new dress online, I would find models wearing the dresses. Why do retailers do this?  Because they want us to form an emotional connection and imagine ourselves wearing that particular garment to a special function or maybe work, or vacation.

      I ask myself why do so many home sellers leave their houses vacant?  Nine out of ten buyers cannot visualize an empty room and how their furniture will work or function in that space.   A well dressed mannequin let's the shopper imagine wearing the outfit to their next birthday party.  A beautifully staged house allows a buyer to dream of hosting their birthday party in that home.

According to the national Association of Realtors, 83% of buyer's agents say staging makes it easier for buyers to visualize the property as their future home.   With a return on investment of 200% or more, why isn't every seller staging? 

    Maximize your profit, sell quicker.  THE POWER OF STAGING!  IT WORKS!

Friday, February 8, 2019

Five Mistakes to Avoid when Selling your House

Five Mistakes to Avoid when Selling Your House

   Here in Michigan, we just experienced a blast of polar air with wind chills of 25 to 35 below zero. Hunkered down inside my house, wrapped in a heated throw, I began to yearn for summer. I longed to dig my toes into the soft, sugar-sand beaches of Lake Michigan and to watch the sunset, dipping under the Lake horizon, the sky turning brilliant shades of lavender, pink, and coral.  Then I realized, despite how brutal winter is, spring officially starts in just six weeks. That means many homeowners are preparing to put their houses on the market.   

As a Home Stager, I spend a lot of time online looking at images of homes for sale.  There are so many times when I look at those photos and ask myself, "Why?" Then there's that house that makes me say, "Ahhh." Here are 5 mistakes to avoid to make sure your home is an "Ahhh," not a "Hmmm?": 
  1. Hiring the wrong agent.  Not all real estate agents are equal.  Will your agent market your house effectively?  Do they have a team of professionals to maximize your profit? Will they take professional photos of your home?
  2. Not preparing your home for photos. Fifty percent of buyers find their home online.  Like the saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words."  If your photos do not draw buyers in (or worse, if they turn them away!) your house will sit longer on the market.
  3. Failing to disassociate yourself from your home. We love our homes. We've usually made many happy memories there- holiday celebrations, bringing our babies home, birthday parties, etc.  I tell my clients to take all of those wonderful memories, place them in a beautiful box and tie them with a pretty ribbon.  These memories are yours to cherish and hold on to long after the move. In order to sell, buyers must be able to see themselves making their own memories in your house.
  4. Not making the necessary updates. Some sellers love their decor, paint colors, etc. so much that they refuse to change them even though they're moving. This past summer, I had a client who loved the color blue.  Nearly every room was painted a different shade of blue.  Outside her shutters matched the color of the blue sky. In order to make the house appeal to a wider range of people, I had to gently push her out of her comfort zone. She had the entire house painted a neutral color. The shutters were painted black. We made other updates, and I staged the house. The first buyer through bought it!  Remember when selling, it's about the buyer.
  5. Not hiring a professional home stager.  A well-trained stager will look at your home through a buyer's eye and suggest changes that lead to a quicker sale, at a higher price. One of my favorite staging-career memories happened after one of my clients followed my staging consultation recommendations. The listing agent brought a buyer through before she placed the house on the market. The buyer walked through, approached the agent, and declared, "I want this house." Boom!  Sold!  Zero days on the market!

  Discovering the potential  Reveling the possibilities
     The Staging Dezigner

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

What Are You Waiting For?

What Are You Waiting For?

        The band Nickelback wrote a song titled What Are You Waiting For.  It asks an unidentified person what they are waiting for. Then gives a series of answers that implies hesitation unless everything is perfectly in line, thus avoiding making a mistake.  The lyrics continue suggesting that by waiting an opportunity is missed.
      In the past few months I have been hired to stage properties that have languished on the market.  Despite a very hot sellers market over the spring and summer no offers were made on these houses.  Following my suggestions to improve the houses with paint and sometimes updates, as well as,  staging major rooms, each house sold in a week or less once completed.  One property in particular,  I was hired in June by the real estate agent  to do a consultation.  At the time of the consult, I and the agent urged painting the first floor of the house.  I also strongly advised staging the major rooms to include the front living area used as an office, the dining room, kitchen, family room, master and baths.  The kitchen opened into the family room. This combined space, was long and narrow similar to a bowling ally.
      The sellers bought another house, in another state and moved.  This property was now vacant.  A vacant house shows every flaw, damaged walls, uninviting paint colors, dated fixtures etc. The owners believed since it was such a great market, it would sell, so why spend money on painting and staging?  After 3 price drops, I contacted the agent and asked if she would mind if I contacted the sellers to see if they would reconsider painting and staging.  Here are some of the facts I presented to these sellers.

  1. Buyers start their shopping online by looking at the MLS.  ( This house had photos taken while they still lived there.  Their furniture looked old and worn.  As stated before the paint was not a neutral color that would appeal to buyers.)  Leaving the house in a dated condition eliminated many potential buyers.  Photos on the MLS is your first chance to attract a buyer.  
  2. Once in the house, a buyer will spend only 15 seconds deciding whether or not they like it.  If their first impression is good, objections become minimal.  If the buyer dislikes the house, they will usually find many things to complain about.
  3. Only one in ten individuals can visualize what a house may look like with different paint color, updates, and different furniture.  If left vacant, again only 1 in 10, sees how furniture will work in the property.  By sitting back and not updating and staging a seller eliminates nine out of ten buyers.  That is 90% of buyers.  Are you willing to take the chance that buyer number 10 is going to walk through your door and buy?  
  4. Sellers often look at staging and painting as a cost instead of an investment. I asked these sellers to adjust their thinking and realize they were investing.  Do you know painting a property in the right neutral color has a return on investment of 200%?  Staging statistics vary anywhere from 200 to 400 % return and in some areas of the country as high as 700%.  I don't know about you but I don't have any investment yielding me returns like these.
     RESA Stats
  5. According to statistics gathered by RESA, the Real Estate Staging Association, a house that is staged first, sells 90% faster than its unstaged competition.  If it is staged after being on the market, it will also seller faster.
  6. As long as you still own the house you are selling there are cost associated with it.  The seller will still pay taxes, utilities, monthly maintenance cost such as lawn care or snow removal, and a mortgage payments if it has a bank loan.
      So what are you waiting for?  If you are selling your house, do the smart thing STAGE.  Please make the necessary improvements and stage your home.  This not only will reduce the time the property is on the market, but also maximize your profit.
Family room after
Family room before

          Need help with the sale of your house?  Contact us Staging Designs by Deborah LLC         

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

You Need a Stager Too!

I am a real estate stager.  I trained under Christine Rea at CSP.  Christine is a best selling author.  She has trained many of the top stagers in the United States and Canada.  I spend hours continually learning, ie what are the latest trends, design styles, color for selling a home.  I am a member of our trade organization RESA, as well as, the local chapter president.  Listening to an agent tell a prospective client of us both say "I am going to tell you what is wrong with your house."  I am confident that the agent will.  However, I know the agent will not spend two hours going over the house in fine detail.  I know the agent will not recommend paint colors, offer to shop for accessories,  or come back later to rearrange furniture and accessories to merchandise the property.
Think about going to the dentist to get your teeth cleaned.  Most likely you see a dental hygienist.  Why?  It is the specialty of the hygienist.  Hygienist train for years to clean teeth properly.  A dentist is able to clean teeth but trains only for a few hours to do this.  Furthermore, the dentist does not clean teeth everyday for 8 hours.  Now you do you want cleaning your teeth?
Then why when selling your home, probably the biggest asset you have, would you only contact an agent about what to do to improve your house and stage it or not?  Staging is merchandise your property to draw sellers in so that they are able to envision living there.  Some agents stage.  A handful are really very good.  Most are not.  I once saw an agent place a soccer ball as an accessory in a formal dining room.  Another agent placed an undersized sofa in the middle of a very large great room with nothing else.  The sofa looked to be floating.  Another agent called me to stage one of her listings.  However, she did not wish to spend the money or ask her client to invest in a proper staging.  Therefore, she attempted to stage herself.  The results were underwhelming, furniture not to scale and no accessories.  There is another agent at a very large firm the offers "free staging with her listings."  Curious I looked at what the agent did.  Results- vacant house were left vacant.  If you lived at the house, two wine glasses were placed on a counter top. 
Agents are busy people.  Any good agent is constantly working to prefect their skills.  They are licensed and are required by law to take continuing education classes.  In the state of Michigan this does not include learning how to effectively stage a property.
Staging is an investment that can earn you big returns.  Make sure it is done correctly.  Hire someone with training, knowledge, loves what they do and focus their time effort and energy on staging.

Before and after of little girl's room.  Before by agent.  After by staging Designs by Deborah LLC
 Before and after of the living room. Before done by agent after done by Staging Designs by Deborah LLC

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Ultra Violet Pantone's 2018 Color of the Year

Ultra Violet

In 2016 Pantone could not decide between one color, but chose 2- Rose Quartz and Serenity.  These 2 colors became the go to color for bride's maids.  Two years later we are seeing the influence of Rose Quartz in just about everything.  Labeled Millennial Pink, this color is taking off every where.  The color is featured in Target's new line of furniture Project 62 as well as Nate Burkus.  One can find this soft pastel in house wears also.  Take a shopping trip to Macy's and the color is everywhere in clothing even in young men's.

Last year Pantone selected Greenery as it's 2017 color of the year.  This happy, bright green is also beginning to show up in home accessories.  Designers everywhere were drooling over lush green velvet sofas that appeared at the furniture markets this year.

For 2018 Pantone's color of the year is Ultra Violet.  If things hold true, expect an array of purple in accessories and fashion to begin to appear with in the next 2 years.  Once the color of royalty it is now available for all of us to use and enjoy.

Happy Holidays!   We are here if you need us!

With love The Staging Dezigner

Sunday, November 12, 2017

It is Only Ten Percent!

              As a stager I am one of the 10% of individuals the can see the potential in a space.  I can visualize what a room could look like with different furniture or furniture placement, new paint color and accessories.  Unfortunately most buyers in the housing market are in the 90%.  Unless a house is a perfect and welcoming space that tugs at their emotions, that property goes on the "I don't want to see it list."   Also unfortunate for the sellers, usually their real estate agents are also in the 10% and can see all the potential the house has.  Why is this unfortunate?  Because many agents do not recommend staging to their clients!  To avoid upsetting their clients they often do not address the truth that the property may need a stager's touch.
        I recently contact an agent I know about one of her listings that has been on the market for over 120 days.  The property is in a subdivision where houses move at lightening speed.  I viewed the listing photos.  Just like the agent I saw all the potential the home had to offer.  But, unlike the agent I was viewing the house through a buyer's eyes.  The agent told me the house was beautiful and was staged by the home owner who just happened to be an interior designer.  What did I see that buyer's may object to?  Beds that were simply mattresses laying on the floor.  A brightly colored and pattern stair runner that drew your eyes right to it instead of the architectural details of the entry way and stair case.  There was also a very tired looking sofa with out any pillows or throws.  It had been placed in a poor configuration with two over sized chairs. There were little to no accessories.  The exceptions were the 2 dolls in a bedroom, as well as, a very small piece of art over the fireplace.  Also the art piece failed to draw attention to how fabulous the fireplace was.  The kitchen breakfast area was completed with an outdoor wicker chair.
     I attempted to explain to the agent the difference between staging and decorating but, it was to no avail.  She explained to me that my job was to uplift people.  Although I love encouraging people, I would not put that on a description of what a stager should do.  My goal is to get the property sold as quickly as possible for the most money.  So sometimes even when I speak to a client as gently as possible, unfortunately, once in a while I may inadvertently step on some toes. When the seller is offended by one of my comments it is usually because the client has an emotional attachment to whatever it is I am referencing.  But the results are what matter.  When a clients house sells quickly and for the money they wanted or sometimes even more, they will usually forget about what upset them.
     As to the agent that seemed so upset about me suggesting her listing be staged, her pride is getting it the way to best service her client, as well as, herself.  A fellow stager and former real estate agent told me many agent's idea for marketing a property is to simply keep lowering the price until it sells.
 This is only leaving money on the table not only for the seller, but also, for themselves.
     Keep in mind the 90 to 10% rule when selling your property.  Hire a certified stager that can not only see the potential but will address any objections a buyer may have to buying your house.
Dining  Area Before
Dining Area After


   The Staging Dezinger