Staging to sell: Trend is catching on in the real estate world

Some words take on new meaning rather quickly.

Consider "staging," derived from the verb "stage."

Since the mid-1980s "staging" has meant more than put on, produce or mount. It has everything to do with selling a home.

Staging, in the real estate sense, means setting up furniture, accessories and art in a home on the market in order to show its potential and increase its desirability.

A kind of market-driven makeover, in other words.

Five years ago Krystal Perkins, a former real estate agent, saw a need and started her own business, Staged by Design. She is an Accredited Staging Professional. The West Seattle business has grown dramatically.

"Most homeowners are savvy enough to know that a staged home sells," Perkins said.

Perkins and her business partner Jen Guyer maintain a warehouse stocked with lamps, furniture, art and accessories - she figures about $100,000 in inventory. In Perkins' line of work one is rarely off duty. Weekends are often spent checking out garage and estate sales.

"We spend a lot of time shopping. We look for things that are appealing to the widest range of people," Perkins said. Which means, she added, mostly neutral colors.

If the main part of her inventory is classic and color neutral, Perkins said, "We jazz it up with accessories."

The staging trend is a Northwest phenomenon, pioneered three decades ago by Bellevue's Barbara Schwarz. Schwarz travels around the country speaking to real estate agents on the virtues of the practice, is the author of the book "How to List and Sell Residential Real Estate Successfully," and has been written up in the New York Times, Business Week Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and other national publications.

Perkins said the value of the concept is still evolving in the real estate marketplace.

Though it hasn't won universal acceptance her business continues to grow.

She maintains four to five stagings a week and figures that 60 to 65 percent of her clients are repeat customers.

Most of those - 80 percent, she said - are real estate agents; 5 percent are developers and builders, and 15 percent are homeowners.

In January Perkins' business will go on-line with a retail division for agents and anyone else interested in purchasing items from their staging inventory.

Jolene Anderson of Coldwell Banker Bain Associates Lake Union office has been staging homes since the late 1980s.

Anderson said it was the only way she could sell condos.

"Color and design mean a great deal. (Staging) allows people to visualize themselves in that space," Anderson said. "When we stage a home we are setting the energy level for that home."

Anderson rents from high-end furniture stores and works with designers. She looks at the kind of house for sale and visualizes the buyer and works back from there.

"People want a more neutral palette and easy care," she said. "They want something wired and technologically appropriate."

Anderson estimates a staged home might have a 40 percent better rate of sale.

"The realtor needs to provide every tool" in order to sell a home, she noted.[[In-content Ad]]