by: Deirdre Schwiesow | Log Home Living

Maybe you’ve got your dream log home picked out, but you need to sell your current abode before you can take the plunge. In a competitive market, your house needs to look as appealing as possible in order to sell. Enter the professional stager.

What is home staging?

Kitchen After Home StagingStaging is decorating a home specifically for prospective buyers. “It’s different from preparing a home to live in,” says Michelle Minch, vice president of the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA). “It’s no longer a home; it’s a product.”

Why do you need to stage your home?

Michelle, whose Pasadena, California-based company Moving Mountains Design specializes in interior design and staging, explains, “All homes can benefit from staging. It’s a way to get a competitive advantage—staged homes are selling faster, and for more money, than un-staged homes.”

In addition, according to the National Association of Realtors, 80 percent of potential homebuyers shop on the internet before they look at house or call an agent. “Because of the huge explosion of home magazines, people are used to seeing well-designed homes,” Michelle says. “Your house has to look incredible in photographs, or it could be dismissed.”

Why hire a home stager?

Professional stagers understand how to make a home as appealing as possible to the widest possible audience. “Most stagers have experience in preparing tens or hundreds of houses for sale, whereas the individual homeowner has prepared one or two,” Michelle says.

Of course, it will cost you. At the least expensive end of the spectrum (about $150 to $250), you can hire a stager for a consultation. The stager will walk through your house and recommend changes. A more comprehensive consultation will get you a detailed roadmap of how to make the changes. You also can hire the stager to make the changes for you, in just a room or two, or throughout the house. If the house is vacant, the stager will bring in furniture; if you’re still living in the home, the stager can use your furniture, or replace/add furniture with rental pieces as needed. The cost will vary based on the services provided.

How do you choose someone to stage your home?

“Hire the stager who has the most real-world experience—this trumps training or certification,” Michelle says. You should ask to see the stager’s portfolio, check their references and ask for proof-of-liability insurance. In addition, she says, “make sure everybody the stager brings in is covered by worker’s comp insurance, and that you’re given a clearly written contract.”

Whatever type of house you’re selling, “make sure the stager understands the kind of person who’s going to be interested in buying [your] home, and that they stage the home appropriately,” Michelle adds.

How can I stage my house myself?

First, clean your house so it sparkles. It should also smell good and be clutter-free. One trick is to take out half of what’s in your closets, which makes the closets look larger. The next step is to “de-personalize” your home: “You don’t want someone walking in and seeing pictures of your family and friends all over the house,” Michelle says. The idea is to get them to see themselves living there.

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