Seller’s Market Plays Dress Up

Daily Variety
By Allison Robbins

They call it everything from “home staging” to “home fluffing” to “property enhancement”, but Realtors and designers agree on one thing – seller that go the extra mile before putting their homes on the market tend to sell the property faster and for more.

The home staging industry has been growing right along with the blazing-hot real estate market in recent years. Bringing new meaning to the phrase “home theater”, designers can improve reality, creating anything from a vision of sophisticated splendor to one of settled domestic perfection.

The goal? “It creates a world somebody wants to step right into and live in,” says Michele Kleier, president of Gumley Haft Kleir, a New York real estate management and brokerage firm.

Katie Benson, a Pritchet/Rapf Realtor who sells in Malibu, says the practice started with model homes – brand new residences decorated much like movie sets. “You walked in and fell in love, so people started doing it with estates.”

“Most buyers need help visualizing the finished product,” says Stan Richman, manager of Coldwell Banker’s Beverly Hills office – particularly with vacant homes. For occupied homes, furnishings should reflect architecture and asking price, say the experts. If furniture is old, worn, or just plain wrong, fix it, replace it or rent some, goes the thinking and many stagers have their own warehouses to pull from. Services range from redecorating with existing furnishings to changing everything from a curbside to a back fence.

Aimee Miller of Designed to Move, who trademarked the term Property Enhancementâ„¢, describes her services as “mini-face lifts” that might involve new paint, updating old lighting and plumbing fixtures, installing new carpets and landscaping. The services tend to pay for themselves, and more, claim the specialists.

Speed can be critical: designers rarely get more than a couple of weeks, some homes must be staged in less than 48 hours.

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