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Staging For Sale

Investing in home decor can increase the bottom line.

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Lynn Scott and Landes Good create a warm and comfortable environment in a vacant house for sale

Staging a home for sale is like putting on its “evening makeup,” says Landes Good, a partner with Lynn Scott in Good-Scott Home Staging. “You want the house to be approachable, but you want to make it more dramatic, make it ‘pop.’”

Isn’t that what anyone trying to attract the right suitor might do? Particularly during a soft market, when a house can sit for months without getting a “second date,” a makeover can mean all the difference between waiting for the phone to ring and wearing one, so to speak.

Judy LeMarr of Frank Howard Allen Realtors knows that firsthand. She recently sold a Headlands condominium in Marin City that “was on the market forever,” she says. She couldn’t convince the owners to stage it, and so there it sat, even after a price reduction.

“Once they decided to stage it, though, it sold within a couple of weeks,” she says. “I will always use that condo as an example. If the owners had staged it right away, they would have sold it earlier and gotten more money.”

For LeMarr, it always makes sense to stage because “it defines a space and shows how much room there
really is. Prospective buyers don’t always have that vision. When you look at an empty space, it’s cold and you see the flaws, but you can’t see how you can live in it. “

On the other hand, house-hunters don’t want to see how the owner lives in it, either. “People feel awkward walking into someone else’s home and looking around,” says Good. “A stager helps a buyer bond with the home, linger and picture himself there. We’re selling a newer and better lifestyle, the idea that the buyer will have time to relax and enjoy life, so we make sure there’s no visual noise of clutter, bills or toys.”

Like other stagers, Good takes her cue from the home, not the home owners. “We aren’t staging their dream home,” she says.

“We’re making their home appeal to as many people as possible through straight-out good design.”

Interior designer and stager Ruth Livingston, who owns Ruth Livingston Studio on Tiburon’s historic Ark Row, would agree. “To me, it’s about the lifestyle. You want prospective buyers to visualize themselves and their family in the space and, depending on the environment, you want to create as much excitement, coziness, tranquility, or glamour as you can.

“If you’re talking about a Cape Cod or cottage-style house in Kentfield or Ross, I would probably do a shabby chic interior with antiques, sisal rugs, and canvas-slipcovered furniture,” she says. “If it was a sophisticated, contemporary house in Tiburon, I would use beautiful works of art, handwoven silk rugs, unique handmade furniture and decorative objects from the collection at my store.” Livingston prefers to keep her presentation simple and striking, with “special touches that glamorize the experience, like beautiful towels, soaps, lotions and candles in the bathroom, professional cookware in the kitchen, and a mirror, towels and sports water in a mini-gym.”

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