Monthly Archives: May 2015

Staging “Rules” for Rental Product

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Planning multiple jobs on an on-going basis can be very tricky! For the last 2 weeks we have had a new stage job every day with additional de-stages either before or after that days’ stage. As I write this my team is de-staging one and staging another and then heading over to de-stage a 3rd property a few blocks away we were just informed had sold last night. Sometimes I feel like a conductor coordinating which furniture pieces will “dance” off to the next number of locations all around the city. However, that is only the case if they will “work” with the style and look of the next house we are staging.

In this past week we have staged an older 2.5 story turn of the century old character home, a brand new 2 story new build, an open concept new build condo and a 1950’s bungalow that has not been updated in a few decades. All very different designs and furniture/accessory requirements!!! I always pay particular attention to the furniture and décor required for each job. If I do not have the right furniture in stock, I will rent the “right” pieces to complete the appropriate design for the space. This is usually very straight forward and easy to do. However, at this time of the year, the right pieces can be a real challenge to keep in stock or to out-source! We’ve purchased a crazy amount of new stock for the new warehouse when we moved and still there are times when we are struggling to find the right pieces. Our rental supplier is also ordering in more pieces every few days and as soon as they come in they are gone! It’s just that time of the year! Everyone is crazy busy with this spring market!

Rental costs of furniture and accessories is based on a percentage of the retail cost of the item. If a client wants all designer high end furniture that costs $60,000 – $70,000 for a new build with a full finished walk out basement – the cost for high end furniture for a home this size is significantly more than for a 2 bedroom condo. I can provide very nice looking furniture and accessories at a retail cost of closer to $35,000 – $45,000 that looks amazing but drops your rental costs by nearly 50%. However, if the client specifies high end, that is what I will quote. Incidentally, when we rent high end furniture, the furniture company insists on using their own movers to protect their furniture from damage, but will only move their furniture so that often doubles your moving costs. 

Occasionally, clients want to hire a stager but want to choose the furniture and accessories and design the home themselves. I find it very interesting when we have inquiries from people who want to go through my pictures and pick and choose the furniture and accessories they want. Then they want me to provide an estimate for them on said selected items, reserve the furniture for them (*with no deposit) while they make up their minds whether they will be staging at all…. Then if they decide to proceed a week or 2 later, they want the items they selected and the home staged ASAP. This is simply not possible. We cannot hold furniture without a deposit, particularly at this time of the year, it’s just much too busy for us to take those pieces out of circulation without a confirmed job. Go through my pictures will tell me what style you would like, but if I have to out-source the furniture, and wait for a client to decide, the furniture could be long gone on another job or sold before the staging client decides if they like the pieces. On the other hand, trust me to do my job, which I am extremely good at, and I can source the items to give you the look you want and reserve the items once I know the job is confirmed and leave you with a completed and beautifully staged home!! The more time we waste going back and forth the more difficult it becomes to get all the pieces in question.

If you wish to specify the furniture and accessories you wish to purchase, but do not purchase them, some furniture stores may reserve it for 24-48 hours, but will often sell it if a paying customer wants it today. Quite often they require a deposit to hold items. As I have found with my decorating clients, if you order a large number of specific (item and color code specific) furniture and accessories at a furniture store, there has NEVER been a time when I could have everything ready for pick up tomorrow and I have commercial accounts set up with larger furniture companies in the city! There is always a wait of a few days for stock to be pulled at the warehouse to 3-6 weeks for spec furniture to arrive in the city. Just because they have it on their website or on the showroom floor doesn’t mean they have it in stock. That is no different for myself, just because it’s on my website doesn’t mean I have it in stock today at the warehouse.

Incidentally, I also do not allow clients to “shop” at my warehouse and transport my furniture themselves. I hire a professional mover to ensure my furniture is protected from weather and damage. I would never allow clients to throw my furniture into the pack of a pick-up truck no more than any other furniture rental company allows their rental furniture to be transported by clients in this manner. It quickly causes damage to the furniture if it is not properly wrapped and covered.  Let’s not even consider rain or splashing from mud puddles! Sorry!  Not happening! 

If you are impressed enough with a Stager’s portfolio and quality of work to hire them to do the job, then let us do what we’re good at! We design and decorate rooms that make people pay attention! If you liked what you saw enough to call us, then trust us to make your home just as gorgeous! If you want a high end look, but not necessarily the high end price, let us know so we can share the options with you to give you the look you really want at the price you are comfortable with! If you have a tight budget, let us know and see if we have any options for your budget.

To Stage or NOT to Stage? How Much has NOT Staging Really Cost You?

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Should we stage our home or not? This is always a huge dilemma for sellers. It is an investment and an expense in getting your home ready for sale. Is staging really necessary? Some of the most common hurdles we face are sellers who “already have furniture” or believe “it shows the space better vacant”. However, study after study (including one done here in Manitoba a number of years ago) shows us that staged homes DO sell faster and often for a higher selling price than non-staged homes!!!

Staging is all about customizing a design plan to your particular space to BEST showcase that space to potential buyers. You may have furniture, but how much furniture do you have, are there too many pieces? Is it the right scale for the room? Does the furniture layout showcase the room properly, making it appealing to buyers? What subconscious message does your furniture placement send to buyers? How we live in a space is very different from how we show a space for sale! 

When showing a space for sale, we want to optimize room size and function. How you place your furniture and what furniture you have makes a huge impact on both the function and perceived size of a room. Too many pieces of furniture in any space will make that space appear smaller. Having a welcome open and welcome furniture placement with adequate room for natural “traffic flow” through the room will leave buyers impressed and interested. Having a closed furniture placement often turns buyers off and gives the impression there isn’t enough room for their “stuff”. Does your furniture placement invite or turn away buyers?

Using a bedroom or dining room for a dual purpose by placing a desk in one corner has now changed the function of the room and made it appear smaller just by having the additional furniture pieces required for the “office” space to function. Add the clutter and computer lines and wires and suddenly it simply doesn’t look too appealing any more. An in home staging consult will take between 1-2 hours and usually costs in the range of $150 – $250 and will give you a complete step by step guide for how to get your home ready for sale, including furniture placement and suggestions on everything from basic repairs to updated light fixtures and where to buy the necessary items to best showcase your home yourself! Complete value for a few hours of your time and a few hundred dollars!

When it comes to vacant spaces, I cannot count the number of times a client has decided to “try” to sell without staging it first, only to have no luck and then stage a few months later. There is only one problem with this approach. Real estate is very much a timing game. When you list, what competition do you have? How many other homes are on the market in your neighborhood in your price range? Are those homes staged? If average DOM (Days on the Market) are 34 and you list in mid-May, then wait 5 weeks or so and realize you may need to stage, by the time you book and furniture is moved in and pictures are taken and the home is re-marketed you’ve lost an additional 2 weeks. You are now in July and all your buyers have either purchased or are leaving on vacation! The Winnipeg market always picks up in March, April, May, June and then slows down over the summer and picks up again September and into the fall. If you are gambling that buyers will be able to “see the space” the reality is that most buyers CANNOT visualize rooms in their head. Most people have a very hard time determining if their furniture will fit in a space. This is the single most important reason that staging has become such a prominent and permanent part of the Real Estate Industry! It’s also the same reason most restaurants have photos of their main menu selections on most menus! Buyers want to SEE what they are buying! No they are not buying the furniture but they are buying the space and want to SEE how they can use the space! 

I cannot count how many times someone has decided to sell a vacant home only to come back a few months later and stage. What they don’t consider is how much those few months cost them…mortgage costs, utilities, taxes, insurance – all these add up. If you try to sell vacant wait for a few months, then stage, are you really ahead financially or did you just cost yourself a few more months of expenses? Add to the mix the time of the year you are listing, and Presentation and timing are critical in getting those offers. It’s the typical law of supply and demand, if you are part of the excess supply and there are simply not enough buyers (demand) and your home doesn’t make the short list, how much has NOT staging really cost you? Then when you finally stage the buyers have slowed down and you are left trying to appeal to a much smaller pool of buyers because you chose NOT to make the effort when there were more buyers, what has it cost you? 

Finally, although we do not see bidding wars as frequently as in past years, a number of our staged properties have sold in bidding wars already in 2015! In all these cases, timing and presentation were critical in getting those OVER list offers in a matter of days! So, the question becomes, what will NOT staging cost you?