Home staging makes buyers feel like they’ve found “the one.”
A typical day for Susan Corbo and Bernadette Flaim, both of Leonia, involves taking a methodical walk through strangers’ homes, carefully poking through crowded garages, peeking into dusty storage areas, and looking at every detail in their primary living spaces. All the while, they’re jotting down notes, making quick sketches, and taking a slew of pictures.
The pair are part of an industry that a growing number of New Jersey home sellers are turning to when they decide to move. Corbo and Flaim have owned Attention 2 Detail, an organizing and home-staging business, since 2004.
Home staging is the technical title for a movement that was started 30 years ago in Washington by a real estate agent named Barb Schwarz. According to Schwarz’s Web site, Stagedhomes.com, staged properties routinely sell faster, and for more money, than non-staged homes.
So what do home stagers do? According to Corbo and Flaim, they are interior designers, space planners, logistics coordinators, and moving men, with a healthy dash of diplomat and counselor mixed in. Their job is to frankly assess the condition of a house or apartment and make specific recommendations that will maximize its positives and minimize its negatives to help make a quicker sale and get the very best return possible.
The home-staging process begins the moment Corbo and Flaim drive up to a property. They assess curb appeal, surveying the outside, and then it’s on to the interior. They prepare a detailed report with recommendations that may include painting, removing worn carpeting, trimming hedges, putting items in storage, rearranging furniture and accessories, and cleaning high-traffic, high-profile areas like the kitchen, bathrooms, and living room.
The key, says Flaim, is for the homeowners to understand that their property is no longer a home, but a product: a property that will look a lot more enticing to prospective buyers if it’s clean, uncluttered, and decorated in a way that’s homey, but not too personal.
”When we stage a home we subtract; when we design, we add,” says Corbo. Hurt feelings are a common part of the mix. “We constantly find ourselves apologizing, because we don’t want to offend anyone,” says Corbo, who explains that they don’t judge anyone’s tastes, but instead deliver an honest list of things that should be done. The homeowners can choose to handle some or all of the tasks, or they can place Corbo and Flaim in charge.
The best part? According to Corbo, it’s helping people go from “stressed homeowners” to “happy sellers.”