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Friday, April 17, 2009

The Importance of Floral Design to Real Estate Staging

What is the one common feature in rooms showcased in decorating magazines, regardless of design style? Floral Accents!

Everyone would agree that flowers and plants are beautiful decorative accents to these stylish rooms. But please consider that flowers are so much more than decorative room jewelry. With more than 80% of home buyers shopping on the internet, shouldn’t we all be paying attention to what the decorating magazines already know? In the same way that I say that, "staging isn't decorating, staging is marketing,"

Attractive floral design isn’t optional – it should be a key component of staging. I believe flowers and plants help sell real estate!

Recent Research:

Did you know?

  • Scientific research conducted by Rutgers University, The Emotional Impact of Flowers Study, has proven that flowers improve emotional health, having a profound effect on mood and well-being.
  • At Texas A & M, research showed that a change as simple as adding flowers and plants can be important in the most meaningful way to businesses. Workers’ idea generation, creative performance and problem solving skill improve in workplace environments that include flowers and plants.
  • Research by The Color Institute showed that people start forming impressions in the first 90 seconds and that up to 60% of that impression can be based on color alone.

For more information on this groundbreaking research visit www.aboutflowers.com

Given the powerful impact of color and emotion, flowers in different color combinations can enhance or adjust feelings. When we stage a house to sell, our goal is to transform the home to a living space that will appeal to a broad base of potential buyers. As we set the stage in various rooms, we aim to create positive emotional responses from potential buyers. Flowers can help us accomplish our goals in a subtle yet highly effective way.

From the first, all-important, impact of curb appeal, a beautiful garden will tell buyers that this is a well-maintained, well-loved home. And when the front door is opened, flowers will instantly welcome visitors. Think of the grand hotels. What do they all have in their lobbies? Fabulous floral arrangements! Think of fine restaurants and special events – flower arrangements! These businesses invest in floral design as a key component of their marketing budget, because of the positive response from their clients. If they weren’t achieving a significant return, they wouldn’t waste their money.

Given that up to 60% of the first impression is based on color alone, pleasing color palettes are key in the first 90 seconds. A pretty flower arrangement on a foyer table will become an attractive focal point and have enormous impact on the potential buyer’s emotional response.

Throughout the rest of the rooms of a home, floral accents, plants and trees should be integrated to draw the buyer’s eye to key strengths and away from weaknesses. They also add instant vitality and color to any space. Color theory teaches us about the impact of color on emotions. Floral accents can enhance the desired color palette of any room and help evoke the desired emotional response from potential buyers. While white orchids can add a sense of calm and a spa-like feel to a bathroom, vibrant tropical flowers will instantly energize a loft space.

However, poor floral design can have a hugely negative impact on potential buyers, Dusty dried flower arrangements and wreaths should be removed. High quality silk floral accents look remarkably authentic and photograph extremely well, but cheap "fake" flowers will draw the buyer’s attention like a magnet. Also critical is attention to style, scale and mechanics.

I believe professional floral design should be a key component of real estate staging. Before becoming a real estate stager, I achieved my certification in floral design from the prestigious New York Botanical Garden. I interned and then freelanced with a top New York floral designer and gained invaluable experience in event staging. I bring this specialty and experience to all my staging projects and staging training.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Certified Staging Professionals - Helping Hands in Tough Economic Times

As a Certified Staging Professionals trainer, I am always truly impressed with the amazing transformations our trainees create on Day Three of our staging training program. Although we all pride ourselves in the incomparable learning experience CSP offers our trainees during our three-day, intensive staging training "boot camp", we are also equally proud of the talent, creativity and work ethic of our class teams. After two days of classroom teaching, everyone feels tired and some are a little overwhelmed. But on Day Three when the class receives their staging challenge, the adrenaline and creative juices kick in, and within a few hours, with very limited resources, miracles occur.

Experiencing these staging transformations is always so gratifying for all of us. When the homeowners and agents return to assess our staging work, there is always apprehension. Will they like what we have done? Will they object to any changes we have made? Of course, we hope that everyone will be happy with what we have created. Stagers thrive on enthusiastic positive reinforcement. However, in some cases, the rewards are far more meaningful.

Recently, one of my classes staged a home for a family in unfortunate circumstances. The husband had been badly injured in a car accident and had been hospitalized for months. In spite of regular physiotherapy, he was still unable to resume work in his own small business. Sadly, this had caused financial hardship for the family and had led to the need for them to sell their home. After two months on the extremely tough real estate market, the house had not received any offers.

My class of five incredible CSP trainees rolled up their sleeves and got to work. Room by room, they edited excess items and carried them to the basement, re-arranged existing furnishings, searched closets and cabinets for optional linens and staging items, and then showcased each room. The result was transformational. After four and a half hours, the home felt more welcoming and spacious, and focal points and key strengths were highlighted.

The husband came home first and was extremely happy and complimented us all on our hard work. He called his wife to tell her about the changes and she came home to see for herself. They were truly overwhelmed. The wife said her home had never looked so beautiful. They were such a lovely couple and our class was truly touched by them and their situation. As we left, the husband took my hand and said, “God bless you.”

The market is extremely competitive these days and we cannot guarantee that this newly staged home will now sell quickly. Although we left them a list of additional recommendations, it is doubtful that they will be able to follow through on these due to their financial circumstances. Undoubtedly, the house is far more marketable than it was before we created our CSP staging magic. But what we do know for certain is that in a brief moment in time, CSP touched the lives of these wonderful people and brought them pure joy in the beauty of their home. It is so gratifying to me that not only are we providing the best staging training in the industry for our CSPs, but we are also helping so many deserving home sellers in the process.

In this tough real estate market, home sellers and real estate agents must integrate professional staging services in their marketing plan. Some agents are saying, if you don’t stage, you’re helping to sell the competition. In this buyers’ market, the key success factors are: realistic pricing, optimal presentation and savvy marketing. Certified Staging Professionals collaborate with home sellers and real estate agents to ensure that their properties can be marketed to full potential. Our goals are to maximize the return on the sale of our clients’ most valuable assets and to minimize time on the market. Our professional services are now more important than ever.

I feel so fortunate to have this opportunity to work in a profession that has such an important role to play. As the president of Ingenuity & Pizzazz, Inc., I have collaborated with home sellers and real estate agents on the staging and marketing of over $500 million in real estate, and as a CSP trainer, I can share this diverse experience and expertise. And I am very proud to be a member of the Certified Staging Professionals team because I sincerely believe that this is the best staging training program in the industry, with unparalleled after-training support. Christine Rae, CSP’s visionary founder, continues to set the bar higher for the entire professional staging community as her exemplary organization expands in North America and now Australia

For more information on our upcoming Certified Staging Professional classes, please visit www.stagingtraining.com.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Staging to Sell

Pricing your home correctly is still key to selling quickly, but there are many steps that owners should follow before putting theirhomes on the market to ensure that they will get the best price possible in a short period of time. Once the decision has been made to sell, owners must be ready to shift from how they are used to living in their home to how they should market the house or apartment to a broad base of potential buyers. This requires an objective assessment and a willingness to edit, repair, paint, clean-up and "stage."

Edit: You're selling space. Your home is not a furniture showroom. If you plan on giving away some furnishings before you move, do it now. And if the pieces are important to you, consider moving the excess to mini-storage. Rooms that feel spacious with good flow have high appeal. Pack away all but a few personal photographs and reduce the number of accessories and knickknacks on display. Worn bedspreads, shams, mats, towels and shower curtains need to be replaced.

Repair: You will need to call the plumber and have the toilet that's been leaking for six months fixed. And all those other "minor repair" jobs you've been putting off need attention. A lot of small nuisance items can add up to an impression of a house that needs a lot of work. If you have cracks in your walls or buckling floors, potential buyers will assume major renovation is required.

Paint: Nothing lifts the energy of a home as instantly as a fresh paint job. There may be no better short-term investment you can make than to paint your home in a light color that will appeal to a majority of buyers before you put it on the market.

Clean up: Get rid of the clutter! Books can be donated to libraries and charitable thrift shops are pleased to take items of value. Throw the rest out. Mini-storage is another solution if you can't bear to part with your clutter immediately. Now make sure the entire home is clean, and that includes carpets, draperies, blinds and windows. Bathrooms should have a spa feeling and kitchens should be immaculate. Mustiness, smoke, dampness, strong food and pet odors are instant turn-offs to potential buyers, but there are cleaning and air filtering products on the market that solve these problems.

Stage: Now you're ready to showcase your home. If you don't have enough lighting, purchase additional uplights and lamps. You've edited your furnishings and accessories, so you will probably have to do some rearranging and rehang some pictures. Don't overcrowd the walls. Remember you're selling the room not art. Add color to your rooms with fresh or good quality silk flowers, green plants or trees, throw pillows and bowls of fruit.

Checklist: Go through your home as a potential buyer. Take note of what you are seeing in the first 90 seconds - because potential buyers are already forming impressions during this initial viewing. Are the best features of your home showcased? Is everything in good working order? Do the rooms feel light and fresh and welcoming? Your home may look so fabulous you won't want to move!