Designed to Sell: How to Stage Your Home For A Quicker, More Profitable Sale

Article by Michelle Heslop. Photos by Jody Beck. Before photos courtesy of Josée Lalonde.

As Victoria’s competitive housing market continues to soar, the days of driving a for sale sign into your lawn and hoping for people to show up to your open house are gone. Before you list your property, staging your home will prepare you for a faster and more profitable sale. If the real estate market is booming, your house needs to stand out in the crowd; if the market is experiencing a lull, your home needs to appear the most desirable in order to fetch a higher asking price. Either way, according to designer, Josée Lalonde, owner of The Housse, United Stagers and Stylists Inc, staging is one of the most effective marketing tools that will elevate your property to hot commodity status. Modern Home was fortunate enough to capture this luxury Rockland home before and after the stage to demonstrate this dramatic transformation.

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The goal of staging is to highlight your home’s strengths, downplay its weaknesses and appeal to the broadest demographic of prospective buyers. Every home on the market has a peak moment and as the old adage goes, you never get a second chance at a first impression. Buyers are often waiting on new listings, most showings happen within the first 5 days and a seller’s best possible offers are typically obtained during this peak period. If you postpone staging, you have missed your home’s peak moment and the opportunity to generate excitement is often gone. Staging is relatively inexpensive compared to how much time and money you will potentially lose if you list your house as is and wait.

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In a recent move to streamline and strengthen the staging process, Lalonde created The Housse, a one-stop resource and rental centre serving Vancouver Island home staging, styling and design community. According to Lalonde, the aim of The Housse is to build a staging community, pool all staging inventory as a resource base and to create memberships for access to these resources. “A Housse membership allows home stagers to collectively offer a stronger, more comprehensive service to clients on Vancouver Island,” says Lalonde.

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“Interior design is about your personal style; while staging is simply about creating an atmosphere for selling,” saysLalonde. She explains that the intention is to depersonalize and declutter while creating a homey and livable atmosphere for potential buyers. Lalonde emphasizes that you don’t sell your house the way you live in it — you want to present it as spacious and open to allow the potential buyers enough room to dream a life there. Displaying personal items or family photos gives buyers the impression that they are intruding on someone’s space which often results in rushing through the viewing. Staging allows buyers to mentally move-in.

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According to Lisa Williams, realtor with Sotheby’s International Realty in Victoria, “I have witnessed many times over what a dramatic difference staging a home can make to how quickly a home sells.” Take the most recent example of the luxury property on Pemberton Road (as seen in photos) — it sat empty for months with very little interest; it was staged, made to feel livable and they got a sale within a couple weeks.

Williams added that “it was much easier to imagine a life there when it was staged; people are more positive and it gives the home a feeling. Empty homes just don’t give buyers a sense of livability.” In Williams’ experience, sellers always net a better result when they stage their home; it more than pays for itself.

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With over 2000 member-contributed staging items, The Housse is another form of income for stagers. Members contribute to the inventory pool and when their pieces are leased to a stager, the owner makes 50% and The Housse makes the other 50%. “We’ve had a positive response from bothrealtors and stagers based on access to the ever-changing inventory that fits a wide range of homes.

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It is expensive to own and store your own inventory so this gives designers and stagers a chance to access a larger inventory of pieces. The inventory is always changing and updating so it is flexible for many different spaces,” offers Lalonde. The Housse offers a user-friendlywebsite where you can do all your shopping and pick-up at your convenience.

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According to the National Association of Realtors, 90% of buyers are looking at potential properties online as the first step to purchasing. High-end properties are marketing overseas and buyers start their search for homes online. “Getting your property to stand out amongst all the other homes starts with professional quality photos. You have about 10 seconds to grab attention, so optimizing the visual appeal through staging can be your best chance to make an impactful first impression,” says Melanie Henson, a local stager and member of The Housse. Lalonde adds that “professional, quality photos are just as important as the stage and will help get viewers to your house faster.”

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Don’t just take our word for it. The Housse collects local statistics that supports staging so it can be shared with members and clients. “One of many success stories at Housse is the recent quick sale of this luxury Pemberton Road home that sat on the market vacant for months. This also happened recently at a home on Lochside; the realtor brought in a professional stager and it sold in a couple of weeks. Lalonde adds that when members return from a stage they fill out a form which allows us to collect statistics unique to Victoria.

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It is said that we purchase big-ticket items based on our emotions. “When a property is staged it allows the buyer to get a sense or a feeling of how life could be in that home. When it is empty, it feels cold, you can see the imperfections and your eyes are focused on the flaws,” says Henson. According to Lalonde, buyers tend to spend more time in a staged home, making the home more memorable.

“We are definitely witnessing a trend toward clients asking realtors about stagers and requesting estimates. People are watching HGTV and realizing staging is more than just decorating, it is prepping your home for the market. Staged homes sell faster and realtors are discovering how this can add to their success,” says Henson. The investment of home staging is far less than the cost of a price reduction in order to make a sale down the road. Most sellers would rather spend $3000-$5000 on a stager than take a $20,000-$40,000 hit on asking price in the first week. “Staging is money in your pocket at that point,” states Henson.