MoneySense Magazine, Nov. 2003
“Selling Up: A home stager can help you get top dollar”
Written by Gabrielle Bauer
Photograhy by Virginia MacDonald
Excerpt from MoneySense Magazine:
If you’re looking to score on the real estate market, your best investment may not be a house or condo, but an hour with Debra Gould. Through her company, Six Elements Inc., she dispenses design advice to people who want their property to sell faster and for more money.
The results can be stunning. One week after implementing Gould’s suggestions, a Toronto couple sold their house for $12,000 over the original asking price of $349,000. Gould’s hourly consulting fee “was the best $125 they ever spent,” says Cristina van Blommestein, the couple’s real estate agent.
Then there’s the magic Gould worked on her own home in Montreal last year. To prep the place for buyers, she spent $2,000 on new lighting and fresh paint, and also strategically rearranged the furniture. Then came the payoff: her house sold for $30,000 more than she had bought it for just three months earlier in a virtually identical real estate market.
With reports like these spreading through the real estate industry, it’s no surprise that a growing number of home sellers are hiring consultants like Gould. Known officially as “home stagers” (you may have heard the more colorful term “fluffers”), these professionals maximize your home’s appeal and value to prospective buyers.
Home staging isn’t just about boosting your selling price; it can be a big help if you need to sell your house in a hurry. “The prospect of dealing with showings and open houses for weeks was horrifying to us,” says Louise Summerhill, the mother of two young children and a full-time lawyer whose husband is in the same profession. “We wanted a quick sale,” she says, so they hired Gould, who put superfluous items into storage, had the carpets cleaned, moved furniture around in the house, and shopped for new bathroom towels and other accessories they could use again in their new home. She also purchased and arranged flowers for showings and did “dozens of other things that made the house look planned and designed,” Summerhill recalls. The total bill: $5,500. Result: their home sold on the first day of offer-taking.
Looking back, Summerhill muses that “a lot of people would resist staging because it does require you to depersonalize. But it helped us to think that we had bought a new home and were now just custodians of our old house. Our object was to sell quickly, and that we certainly accomplished.”