pic-1Last week, while driving down the winding road that leads to my cul-de-sac, I actually took the time to count the For Sale signs…five homes out of a row of 12 were advertising with the standard realtor sign complete with a holder for colorful flyers. The Home For Sale signs have become such a regular part of the scenery they now blend in with the begonias and crepe myrtles.  It is a veritable smorgasbord for buyers, but definitely a tough market if you are trying to sell. Not too long ago, my husband and I started looking around at existing real estate. We love our house, but now that we are empty nesting we want a little less square footage and a few more amenities.

While we spent quite a bit of time walking through new construction model homes, we also took a look at a few existing upscale homes located in some of our favorite established neighborhoods. The contrast of going from the model homes to walking through occupied homes for sale was not only an eye-opening experience, but often a real shocker…as in, “are you kidding me?”

No doubt, we expected to see homes with outdated wallpaper, décor and appliances, but in the over $500K price range, we had much higher hopes for visual presentation and curb appeal than what we found. In fact, after several disappointing showings, we began to label the types of homes we were seeing. There was the Frilly Fru Fru, which my husband deemed “every man’s nightmare”…complete with pink ruffles, pink walls and even dolls on the king size bed in the master bedroom (both distracting and disturbing), the Clutterville, where you couldn’t tell whether the countertops were granite or Corian…the Clueless, as in – you might want to put the dishes in the dishwasher and pick up your underwear off of the bathroom floor because a bunch of strangers are walking through your house, and our favorite…the House of Blues, where every inch of wall space was occupied by a photo, piece of art, shelf, trophy…giving the viewer no opportunity to even see the house, let alone imagine yourself living it!

Interestingly enough, after walking through over 20 existing homes, not once did we see a professionally “staged home” decorated to inspire imagination and invoke positive feelings. Discouraged, we quickly retreated to our homey abode and decided to wait a while to revisit the idea of moving. At the time, I remember telling my husband that I didn’t see how any of those folks were going to sell their homes unless they got some professional help.  Apparently, it was a view shared by many people, enough to create a whole new industry of home staging companies and professional home sale consultants.

A friend of mine recently sold her house one week after listing it, not an easy task in the city of Charlotte, North Carolina. After bribing her with her favorite martini (or two), she revealed the secret of  her success. Turns out, she hired the team at Creative Home Stagers, a Charlotte based staging company, to give her some tips and help her get her home ready to stand out in the overly crowded market. After doing a little homework, I found out that a staged home not only sells faster than a non-staged home, but also sells for more money in comparison.  Extremely organized but short on time, my girlfriend made the suggested changes after her consultation with Creative Home Stagers. . .in addition to selling after only one week, she was also pleased to inform me she got her original asking price.

After our overwhelmingly negative experience looking at homes for sale and after hearing my friend’s results with her staged home, we are definitely going to be placing a call to Creative Home Stagers when it’s our turn to plant the For Sale sign in our own front yard.

Alison S. and her husband have lived in Charlotte, NC for 23 years. She is a personal trainer, professional fitness instructor and health and fitness freelance writer.

Keywords: staged home, home staging companies