A real estate stager makes a home look its best so the owner can make
more money from selling it.
A real estate stager may visit the property when it goes on the market.
Or they may be called after the house has been on the market for a while and
"It's easy for me to come in with an objective eye and see right away how
a room can be enhanced," says Wendy Dilda of San Antonio, Texas. Her company
caters to clients who are moving and want to fetch top dollar for their house.
"When I drive up to a home, I am looking at the yard," says Dilda. "Is
it tidy and neat or are there overgrown weeds? I look at the front door. That
alone is important, because the client stands there the longest while the
realtor opens the lock box. I ask myself questions like, 'Does it need paint
or should I place a plant by the entryway to greet the potential buyer as
they walk in?'"
Both the homeowner and the real estate agent are usually happy with the
work Dilda performs when she gives one-day makeovers. Still, she has to tread
carefully. "I'm the bad guy that goes in and says get a lawn service, get
a cleaning service and paint this house!"
That takes the pressure off the real estate agent. When people are paying
you to come in and evaluate, they usually don't mind criticism, says Dilda.
"I validate rather than criticize the homeowners' choices of furniture
and of accessories," she says. A realtor can pay real estate stagers, but
the clients pay about 80 percent of the time.
By arranging things differently, Dilda sees thankful clients who get a
reward from seeing the house redone. It also benefits them because potential
purchasers like to walk into a house and mentally visualize themselves living
"It's hard to do that with personal photographs up on the walls or decorations
specific to the family," says Dilda.
Real estate stagers get jobs such as the one Dilda received when she got
a call from a realtor. The realtor needed her help because of the way a living
room was set up in a house that was on the market.
Because the occupants of the home used it mostly for an office and a library,
potential buyers couldn't see it as a living room.
Dilda explains how she got into this line of work. "I originally started
doing this when I took the five-day course through the Interior Arrangement
and Design Association class called the art of placement.
"That consists of emptying a room completely and working off the architecture
of the room and the lifestyle of the client. Real estate staging is an offshoot
of the art of placement."
She also helps elderly clients who move into a smaller place because they
have outgrown their home or a spouse has passed away.
"They may be afraid to take the larger pieces of furniture with them, because
they don't know if they will fit in the new living space. I help them decide
what to take and where to put it in once they are moved in," says Dilda.
She moves most of the furniture herself with special skids, sometimes surprising
herself at the amount she can move with them. "My brother-in-law and sister
came to a job with me recently," she says. "He couldn't believe what I was
moving with those skids!"
Real estate stagers figure out how to make a house look, feel and smell
more appealing. This takes a strong sense of creativity, a flexible schedule
and the ability to move large furniture. Real estate stagers must be good
salespeople until they build a good reputation.
Dilda was surprised at the trust that was placed in her when, on a referral,
she went into a home, rearranged the whole place, then left without ever meeting
the woman who owned the house!
She also needs people skills and a lot of tact. "We obviously don't want
to insult anybody by bluntly saying that something would be more effective
over there," says Dilda.
"I explain it by telling the client that living in a house is different
than selling a house. It's now a product."
"You definitely have to have a creative eye and a solid interior design
background, too," says Marnie Warman, owner of the Discount Interior Design
"Some interior arranging is common sense, just painting or redoing the
carpets. Simple things like that sometimes make the difference between selling
According to Warman, when people see decorations in a home, they are wowed
if it's done properly. "Buyers should be aware, though, that their furniture
may not match with the accessories within the house that make it so beautiful,"
"When decorating, keep it simple, especially something like the bathroom
fixtures. Try to keep those a neutral color -- either white or bone color
is good, because the non-permanent fixtures can be changed. It's easier to
paint a wall hot pink than to replace a whole hot pink bathtub," she says.
Real Estate Staging Association
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