Archive for the ‘home staging statistics’ Category

How to Define Your Buyer When Staging Your Home for Sale

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

When preparing your home for sale, it’s important to define who the potential buyer will be. You want to stage your home specifically for them so they feel loved and feel engaged in each scene.  So how do you get to know your customer or buyer?  Generally speaking, most staging is just a blank slate. People will come in with a little boilermaker template and they’ll continually stage the same way without stopping to ask who’s going to be buying their home. When you stop and truly define who your buyer is, you can stage much more effectively and get results, which is why you’re reading this book. So the first thing you want to know is who your buyer is.  Below you will find a list of typical categories that should act as a guideline to help you further define your buyer.

  • A young family, first-time homebuyer. Maybe they are newlyweds or are about to be married.  Childless or with a toddler and/or one on the way.


  • A family with the parents in their 30’s or 40’s with 2-3 children and possibly one on the way.


  • A young single executive, possibly only looking to be in the area for a few years


  • Empty nesters that are downsizing or buying the home of their dreams


  • A single parent home


  • Second home or vacation home buyers


  • Upgrading to the next step


You have to stop and ask, “Who is buying my home? Who are these people? How old are they? How many people will live here? What’s the makeup of my buyer? How do you do that? How do you find out who they are?

Look around the neighborhood. Walk through your neighborhood and determine who has bought homes in the last three years. If you’re not familiar with who’s bought homes in the last three years, then you can go to a title company or a real estate agent and ask them to help you in determining who purchased homes in your neighborhood within the last three years and what trends they can decipher from those purchases. You can even go to your local county planning office to determine what the plans will be over the next five years for this area.  They will show you what has been slated thus far which will, in turn, give you a very strong indication as to who is moving into your neighborhood.

When you are ready to define your buyer, look at what surrounds the neighborhood. Is it an office complex or a downtown environment? If so, chances are you’re going to have young up and coming executives in the area. Is it malls, grocery stores, schools and churches? Then you’re probably talking about Middle Class. Take a look at the kinds of stores located there. Are they Nordstrom’s and Saks Fifth Avenue? You’re talking about a more affluent client and, generally speaking, affluency means they’ve been around a little bit longer. Of course this is a generalization, but chances are your buyers are going to be in their 40s, 50s or 60s.

To further research, take a look at the schools. What types of schools are in your neighborhood? Is it a nursery school? Is it a grade school? Is it a high school?  By knowing the types of schools in the area now you know the age group of the kids of the families that will be moving in.  Now take a look at the churches. What sort of churches are in your neighborhood? How many churches? This will tell you a great deal about buyer.  If there are several of one denomination it tells you about the beliefs of an entire community.  If there are a wide variety of different types of churches this indicates an eclectic or possibly a multi ethnic community. How accessible are you to conveniences or are you in a remote area? Is your house on a lake? Perhaps it would be a second home. So take a look at your environment. Talk to a real estate agent, talk to other people in the neighborhood and ask them what trends they’ve seen.   People like to live where they work, play and connect with others. Once you understand their needs and present your home accordingly, your sale will be a cakewalk!

The next thing to do once you determine who your buyer will be is to ask yourself, “What do they like?” You have to understand what they like in order to set the stage for selling, effectively.  Let’s use the example of the young family that we reviewed earlier. We have a mom and dad in their late 30s and three children under the age of 10. Chances are they’re probably going to do a little bit of TV watching, game playing or have family movie nights. You might want to think about staging with love using a big flat screen TV. This flat screen TV can be the existing TV of the family that’s living there if the home is occupied, or it can be brought in by a home stager, or you can bring it in yourself as well. You can also use a resource called Box Props or Turbo Props  and use a fake TV, that’s absolutely fine as well. Sometimes this can even present itself as fun and intriguing. You can create a great scene with the TV, some movies and popcorn and stage a fun family night scene. It is important to thoroughly understand what your family likes. Because they have three kids under the age of ten, they might like bicycles, sports equipment or great meals in the kitchen. You must determine who they are, what they do and what they like. Then, because you know who they are and what they like, you can stage with love and give them what they like.

What is important to them, what do they cherish? If their children are really important to them, which of course they are, then you want to speak directly to the children as well. Focus on what you can give to each of the children in their individual bedrooms and tie it in to an overall theme so the parents can enjoy the experience as well. Sometimes it can be about telling them of the activities in the neighborhood, the community and the schools.  Or it might just be about the really amazing features of the home such as a pool, tree house and big backyard.

Look at other defining facts. What kind of car do they drive up in? Is it a big fancy car, if so they might be a bit of a car aficionado? You might have some kind of an emblem, photo, or logo item of a Mercedes, Jaguar or Lexus in the house to speak to this car buff and possibly more affluent client. There is no detail too small when it comes to clearly defining your buyer.


Steps for Cleaning Your Home When Preparing to Sell

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

The first thing you always want to do when getting ready to sell your house is to make sure the entire home is clean within an inch of its life. Clean every single part of the entire house. Most of the time, because we’re used to living in our own dirt and with our own stuff, we don’t realize that things aren’t clean; we don’t realize that we haven’t cleaned light fixtures, baseboards or heating vents. We’ve just lived with it for so long that we don’t see it. There is a checklist in my book “LoveSells”, on every single item that needs to be cleaned throughout your house prior to putting it on the market. This includes things that people can see but also things they can’t see, especially in a buyer’s market.

Stand in each room and take a look at every feature of the room;

Walls                                 Paint                               Furniture

Ceilings                            Curtains/Blinds             Decor

Lights                                Curtain Rods                Vents

Light Fixtures                   Flooring                         Special Features

Switch Plates                    Windows                         Media

Baseboards                       Window Sills                  Plants

Look at each item and stand back and evaluate it.  Ask yourself this question; If I saw this in a store would I love it or be put off by its dirt, color, condition or style?  Depending upon your answer you will now know whether or not you need to address the items or areas.

Remember you are not trying to evaluate it based on taste, you or your buyers, but rather on whether or not it is appropriate for the selling goals you have for your home. If you are not sure whether or not you are being objective, find someone who is and brace yourself for tough love.

Hot Tips on getting every home buyer to fall in love with your house

1)      Clean your home like you are up for the ‘cleanest home of the year’ award

2)      Stand back and evaluate all features and areas of the home

Don’t evaluate based on taste


Choosing the Right Scent When Selling Your Home

Monday, April 6th, 2015

What does your front door look like?  Is it a good experience for your potential buyers? Is it clean? Is it attractive? In what condition is the door handle? The front door is your first opportunity to give the buyer a good experience. That is really what this is all about, the experience for your buyer.  The right experience will lead to a sale. In adding to each experience, you might add one special extra touch right there at the front door. One of the things I really like to make sure happens is some fresh fragrant flowers. I love putting a basket of lavender at the front door because it reminds me of very fond memories of my grandmother, her lavender plant and lavender sachets. You can do the same thing with any type of flower or fresh.  If you have a fresh basket of lavender at the front door, create small lavender sachets with the property address and agents phone number tied to the bag.  Make sure each prospect gets a sachet and now they will remember the home.   The sense of smell stays with them longer than any other sense they have so they carry that special thought with them throughout the home tour. Keep in mind this is not overpowering because it is on the ground, not in their face, and it will be a very quick experience. Sometimes they may not even necessarily notice the basket of lavender or lavender plant at the front door, but they carry the thought, the scent and the memory with them. So upon entering, their first impression is, “Wow, this feels really good,” or “This just feels right,” or “Don’t you love this?” Sometimes they’ll turn around and say, “Did you smell that? Do you remember my grandma’s lavender sachets?” So right away, they’ll already be making great memories in the home.

The best thing you could possibly do is make your home fragrance free. What I mean by that is to remove the inorganic scents from your home. Many people will be tempted to put fragrance enhancers everywhere, but today, the majority of people find those fragrances overpowering and they can offend anyone with allergies. People will want to spray air fresheners and the same thing happens. Someone like me, who has bad allergies, would walk in and feel as though I couldn’t even walk through the house; I’d have to turn around and walk back out.

The other thing that people like to do is light heavily-scented candles. During the holidays they’ll have pumpkin, cinnamon, spruce or vanilla candles lit and the same thing happens. The scent is overpowering and many times instead of attracting people it offends people and they don’t want to look through the rest of the house.

When there is such a strong scent it seems like you’re covering something up. It might make people wonder what the house really smells like if there are 16 scented oil dispensers everywhere. If you like that kind of thing, I recommend that you only use fragrances that are labeled or named linen or ocean, rain, spearmint, or something along those lines so that it’s very subtle and only use them in select areas. I don’t recommend that they’re all over the house. You might have one in a bathroom or one in a kitchen. That is absolutely fine.

Organic fragrances are wonderful. What I mean by that are fresh fruit and herbs. They are perfect for a kitchen, bathroom, patio or deck. Other organic fragrances can be fresh flowers, pinecones, or fragrant wood in a fireplace, mudroom or a basement. You can also use fresh fruits, like a big bowl of oranges, lemons and limes. It not only looks visually appealing, but it smells wonderful. If you want to get a little extra scent out of them, take a small grater and grate the bottom of one of the pieces of fruit. Put it back in the bowl, of course with the bottom down so people can’t see it, but then it really has a nice natural fragrance that will be very appealing.

If you have cigar or cigarette odor, pet odor, or any other type of odor that would be considered ‘unfriendly’ there are a few things you’ll need to do. If it’s a gentle odor a good cleaning may do the trick. You may have to get your walls and carpets professionally cleaned and steamed to remove the odor. Another thing you can try is charcoal briquettes, just like you use on the barbeque. They actually absorb odor, so you can get a big bag of charcoal briquettes, fill up a couple of big tin pans and put them in the affected areas. I’m not saying put them directly on your carpet, because the charcoal briquette will stain, but put it in a tin pan like you’d cook a turkey in and put those in affected areas. If you really want to get a little extra bang for your buck, sprinkle that with some baking soda and then also sprinkle the carpet with baking soda. These naturally absorb odors and over time, will do a great job but they are not instant. There are also specific deodorizers that you can find in Target that will also absorb odors. They’re not perfect, they take some time to work, but they will help, especially if the odor is very gentle. If the odor is really, really strong it will help to minimize it while you’re trying to take care of it in other ways.

If the odor has gotten into your walls and a good washing does not do the trick, you will probably need to paint the walls with some kind of deodorizing paint like Kilz. And, I really hate to tell you this, but chances are you will probably have to rip up your carpet, replace your carpet pad, paint your floor with Kilz and then put in a new pad and new carpet. I know this all is very extreme and, of course, it is your choice. You can just let it smell and take the chance of your house sitting on the market for a long time and continually lowering your price or you can go ahead and take care of the problem, list it a little bit higher and sell a little bit faster. Either way, you have to be prepared to deal with the scents of the home. There are good scents, which are organic scents, fruits, fresh flowers, fresh herbs, etc. and there are bad scents. Too much of a good thing is never good.


You Never get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression when Selling Your Home

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

You’ve all heard the expression ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression’ and that is certainly true with your home. So many people are willing to list or put their home up for sale prior to it being ready to sell. I never recommend this, because you’re wasting your time and you’re losing potential buyers for your home. When you are ready to list or sell your home, make sure your home is ready to be listed and sold.

How do you make sure you are ready to be listed and sold? Your first step is to simply decide.  Choose your selling partner, whether it is to be yourself, an investor or real estate agent.  Make sure they are right for you and your home.  Secondly, you want to work with your selling partner to ensure a great marketing plan.  Your plan should clearly define your goals and duties as well as those of your selling partner. I would also suggest that you track the timeline and results.   Once your plan is in place, review your marketing and make sure it speaks to your defined buyer and is placed in areas that they will see often.  This is when ‘Message-Market-Match’ comes into play. Your message should match your market.  The job of your marketing is to act as a home buyer attraction vehicle, so you want to make sure that the message you are delivering is well received by your prospect and in a media that they see, use or experience often.  If you were listing a really great downtown loft in a newly revitalized area of town that is close to a University you may not choose to advertise your home in the AARP publication but rather in the University newsletter.

Again, it’s about defining your buyer, speaking directly to the prospect and making sure that your message matches your customer’s needs and desires and it’s in a place where they’ll see the message often. The first impression they get of your home is, of course, in the marketing, so does the marketing say what it needs to say? Also, how does the home look in the marketing? What do the photographs look like? A good real estate agent will understand the necessity of good photos and take the time to get the right photos instead of just accepting what they get with a ‘point and shoot.’ It’s very important that the first photo that people see is the very best attribute of the home.  This may be the gourmet kitchen, pool, or curb appeal.

Curb Appeal and the first piece of marketing that people need to see must capture their attention. So don’t settle for second best when it comes to Curb Appeal, get ready to knock it out of the ballpark.  Again, a good real estate agent, investor or home stager can help you with excellent curb appeal, photos and marketing.

Speaking of marketing, let’s get back to it! In creating your flyers, you not only want a compelling headline that speaks to the customer, you also want a really ‘sexy’ photo of your house. There are two components:  1.) A compelling headline in all of the marketing. Most people are inclined to say ‘for sale’ or ‘for rent’. Well hello, we already know that because we see it in the for sale section or the for rent section of the newspaper or we pulled the flyer off the for sale sign. So you don’t need to say for sale, for rent or even 123 Main Street at the top of the flyer. Instead you need to say, “This is the only house in a blue ribbon school district under $200,000,” or “Historic Home…Lincoln slept here” or “5 minutes to Beach.”  Your marketing has to be sexy with its very first approach and then, also, in its overall initial presentation.


Captivating Curb Appeal When Selling Your Home

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

Enhancing curb appeal on a property is among one of the most important aspects when trying to sell your home. Why? Well, think about it. Who would want to enter a house that doesn’t appeal to them from the outside? Why on earth would you ever go inside if you don’t even like the outside? Nobody wants to do that. A property has to capture a perspective buyer’s attention and ignite their curiosity to make them want to check out the inside of the house. If you don’t create really sexy and compelling curb appeal, guess what? No matter how much love and effort you put toward the inside of your home, no one will ever see it. Enhancing curb appeal is among one of the most lucrative steps you can take in selling your home quickly for the most amount of money.

Curb appeal can involve things like painting the exterior, planting some herbs or flowers in the front yard, polishing doors and windows, putting a nice doormat at the front door, landscaping, lighting and new hardware. Sounds simple, but it has a massive impact. In fact, no home staging can be complete without working on the curb appeal. You have to make sure that you’re literally defining your curb appeal for the buyers, so we always go back to that first step of the APSD® ( home staging pyramid. Step number one is ‘define the buyer,’ and if you do this correctly, your curb appeal should speak to them.

If you have a home that’s selling for empty-nesters, your curb appeal should look clean, neat, beautiful and easy to maintain, because they may not necessarily want to take care of a property with lots of details and upkeep.  If you have a home that’s being sold to a family, you might have some nice flowerbeds and maybe a fun area for the kids like a sand box or swing set. Again, something that’s not necessarily high maintenance but that looks nice that a family can enjoy. Then you also always want to make sure that you’re creating a scene for the buyers to really, really enjoy and participate in, just like the interior scenes.

One of my favorite curb appeal scenes to create is with birdhouses. I go to a hobby store like Hobby Lobby or Michael’s, get little feathered birds and hot glue their feet to the perch on the birdhouse. Then I might hot glue another one onto a tree limb or onto the corner of a birdbath. I love creating fun curb appeal, because people will pull up to the house and they’ll look at the birdhouse and they say things like, “Sssshhh, do you see the bird?” They whisper to each other and watch the bird. When they notice it’s not moving they get out of the car and start creeping up toward the birdhouse. They’re engaged, having fun, enjoying themselves and really partaking in the experience. Once they realize the birds aren’t real they have a great laugh and they’ve already started to fall in love with the property.


How to Raise Your Prices

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

In the last month or so, I’ve staged a couple of high end homes. The last one that I honestly just finished today, I charged about $7500 for and a lot of people are charging high prices and a lot of people are still sort of mystified about how do I actually raise my prices.

But the one that I just did, it’s a great house. It’s about 3500 square feet. We only did the great room, which is like a living room, the kitchen, the dining room, the master bedroom, master bath and an office. So the rest of the house we didn’t do, just so you know. The fee is about $7500 and a lot of times, people will say to me, “Well Karen, how do you charge so much for your services?”
Well, let me tell you about the three different ways you can actually charge more for your home staging services. Now, the one thing I will tell you is you might start out by doing one and then take another leap and a third leap. So even if you don’t do these all at once, and you do them sequentially, you will continue to make more money. But you have to have the confidence to stand behind lifting up your prices and you have to be able to back up your service with extraordinary value.

So first of all, raise your prices. This is what normally happens. I’m going to tell you what to do and what not to do, right? So number one, raise your prices, right? How many times do we have to say it?
But they came to me initially and they were like, “Well, I’m charging $40 an hour,” or something like that. First of all, it was just like horrible to me because number one, you always want to have some kind of formula or a flat rate versus an hourly rate because you will make a lot more.

Also when you’re hourly, people want to rush you and they look at you as an hourly worker. So you don’t want to do that. You definitely want to be able to flat rate your prices or have a formula for your prices, like a square footage formula. But if you are ready to raise your prices, it’s hard to just randomly raise your prices. You can just go, “Well, I’m charging $100. I’m going to charge $1000. So as of December 1st, we’re going to charge $1000.”

Boom! Well, all of a sudden you will lose every client you have, right? That’s what people are afraid of. They’re afraid they’re going to lose – how many of you are afraid? If you’re afraid of losing customers because you raised your prices, and I think that’s always a huge, huge thing, right? So that’s the number one question people say. Well, what will happen? Well number one, you may lose customers. OK? So I’m just letting you know that upfront.

Number two, chances are if you position this effectively and correctly, you probably won’t and you will make more money. But it can’t be random. So, that’s how not to do it. You can’t just randomly raise your price. If you decide to raise your prices, you have to have a reason. So sometimes the reason has a lot of credibility and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes you will raise your prices and this happens a lot in the last few years where people said, “Well, gas has gotten so expensive. So I need to raise my price because of the price of gas.”

Well, your customer doesn’t care about that. They still have to pay out for gas too. So that’s kind of a reason that I don’t really think holds water. Sometimes people will say, “Well, I’m going to have to charge a distance charge on that.” Again, I don’t think that’s a great reason for raising your prices. I think that that’s part of just doing business. You should charge accordingly if it’s going to be a good distance away. One of the things that I realized with my clients and why I’m able to charge more is they don’t like to be nickel and dimed. People don’t want to know, “OK, well, we’ve got this fee and that fee and this fee and that fee.” They just like, “What is it?”

I think that’s why I’ve been able to charge more is because then I say, “That includes your drop-off, your pick-up, your move-in, your move-out. We carry insurance on this. It also includes a monthly touch-up if it needs it. It includes this and this and this.”

I kind of go down the list and they go, “Holy cow!” That’s way better than what anybody else is doing. So a lot of times, if we give a reason, and then we break out the services, now we can justify raising our prices.

So if we have a real reason why we’re raising our prices, then we can break out the services and say, “Here’s everything that’s going to be included.”
So you want to have a whole list of everything that’s included, everything from drop-off, pick-up, a monthly reset fee, travel feel, shopping, et cetera or you can work it in reverse.
Now, the other part under number one in terms of raising your prices is obviously increasing your monthly fees.

So again, you can just randomly do that or you can have a reason for it. So you could say, “We’re going to raise our monthly fees as of December 1st,” or you can say, “We’re going to raise our monthly fees and here’s why.” Then give them a very solid reason as to why you’re going to raise your monthly fees. Now, here’s another thing you can do with your fees. There are a lot of home stagers who will include the first month of monthly rental fees in their staging price, which is what I always recommend. But you don’t have to.
So if you want to raise your fees but you’re having a hard time increasing the staging price, just start having a monthly holding fee from day one as well. So that’s another way. So that’s all under step number one in terms of raising your prices.

So number two, number two is all about adding value. So the first thing, we talked about raising your prices. You can raise them randomly or have a reason, right? We talked about the breakout services, whether you want to include those upfront or charge for all different kinds of things as well as your monthly fees.

Now, what I would do is, I would add value and that’s what I normally do with all of my clients. So I always talk about everything my service includes and not only do I say, “Here’s what my fee is and here’s all the things that it includes,” so I give them a pretty lengthy list of everything that it includes. But in addition to that, I always offer a small – a modified I should say color analysis and curb appeal consultation. So then you can do them as independent services or very simply you can add them as a value. Now when you add something as a value, it gives you and your services more value.
So now you can say, “Well, I know Sally charges $2000. I charge $2500, but here’s why,” or “We’re going to change our prices. Now you can still get everything you’ve always gotten before at the same price or if you would like to step up and sell your house much faster, I will also include the other services.”

Now instead of being $2000, it’s $2500 or $2250. It doesn’t have to be a huge increase because if you think about it, you’re just charging an extra $200 and you do five staging’s that month, that’s an extra $1000 and you’re already there anyway and making it more valuable, because most home stagers aren’t willing to do a value-added service or they don’t have the knowledge or the know-how to do it.
Now, the other thing that I think you can offer people that adds a lot of value is letting them be a preferred member. Now this has been very successful for a lot of our home stagers and our home stager trainers. Kristy Morrison does a beautiful job with this, where you really have a preferred membership, I should say. It’s just like being an APSD member when you get preferential treatment for being an APSD member.

A lot of people are welcome but you have special benefits, special perks for being a member. So in terms of preferred membership, what I would do is, I would show the agent, the investor, and the seller your preferred membership pricing versus everyday pricing. So your preferred membership pricing might be $1000 for up to 2000 square feet and five rooms and whatever, however you want to lay it out.

So they really feel like they’re getting something but in order to make that work, they have to commit to using you exclusively for the next year. They have to fill out a form.
They have to give you a credit card so they know they’re auto charged every single time you work with them or they work with you, so to speak.
They have to commit to you and you have to commit to them. They may say to you, “Well, I don’t want you to stage these other people,” and they might assign those people.
Then you decide. Does that work for me or not? Now generally speaking, they won’t ask you to do that. But you should ask them to commit to exclusivity and then give them an exclusive price.
So now all of a sudden, you’re adding a lot of value because you give more than other stagers. You have more confidence. You have more know-how because you can include these other additional services and you’re able to give a better pricing structure because you get more business.

Now that doesn’t mean that you’re the Walmart of home staging or that you have to give away your services. It might mean you’re still more expensive than everybody else but with members, you give a very, very good discount for every single staging.

The best part about this is if you had 10 clients and each one of them has five staging’s over a period of a year, you have 50 staging’s that year or even better, they had 10 staging’s. You would have 100 staging’s that year. That’s just like managing 10 preferred clients.
Now a few of you are going to say, “Credit cards? I don’t take credit cards.” Well, if you don’t ladies and gentlemen, you need to. So go to PayPal and set up an account. That’s what professionals do. That’s what you need to do. You need to be able to accept credit cards.

You may always get checks. That’s fine. It doesn’t change the fact that you need to be able to accept credit cards especially with your preferred members because part of them being preferred, a benefit that they get, is that they don’t have to worry about the payments.
You just do an auto charge and you automatically send them a receipt. They learn to expect that so they don’t have to try to dig out a check or a credit card every time. They don’t have to worry about, “Did I pay you or not pay you?” et cetera. That’s part of a service that you offer or you can do it in another way or you can add this to it that they get a punch card just like when we go to the coffee shop. We get a punch card and with every staging, every seventh staging, they get one free or every 10th staging, they get one free.

Think about you. How many things are you a part of? How many things do you like to be a part of? Because you like to join things. That’s who we are. We’re social animals. So that’s what you have to think about. People like the preferred membership.
Number three, create celebrity. So, this is something that about a year ago now I guess I decided to do because, well, I had a lot of good credentials. I really wanted to build this. I wanted to build my celebrity.

So, two things happened for me. Number one, RE/MAX Europe got a hold of me and they said, “We would like you to create our Luxury Marketing Training System for all the real estate agents in all of Europe in 33 countries that RE/MAX is in.”
So that was a huge kudos for me. It was a point of celebrity for me because now in the real estate agent world, I can say, “You know, by the way, I’m the creator of the Luxury Marketing Training System in all of Europe.”

Now the other thing that I did was I wrote a book. I wrote Love Sells and then I marketed it like crazy and it ended up being an Amazon number one best seller.
I know what a lot of people are thinking right now. Yeah, Karen, I can never do all those things. Well, of course you can. Why do you think I’m different than you? I don’t normally just know how to write a book. I don’t normally know how to just create an entire training system for 33 countries. I dug my heels in and I did my research. I worked hard. I did everything I needed to do.
So you can do the same but it doesn’t have to be that intense. It could be pretty mild.

So those are the best few ways on how you can actually make more money on your home staging services. But you know what? You got to get out and do it. You have to add something behind you. You have to add something behind you that allows you to continue to raise your prices. Of course the more you go, the more well-known you will become, the better your results get. All those things lend themselves towards you increasing your price.

This article is taken from a transcript of the ASPD Monthly Pro Call, Nov. 2014
Karen Schaefer Founder, APSD The Association of Property Scene Designers
Go to to request a complimentary Digital copy of our Session #1 Certified Home Stager Training Program

According to a recent study, homes located near Open Spaces will yield best investment today and in the future.

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

According to a recent study, homes located near Open Spaces will yield best investment today and in the future.

As the real estate market slowly begins its ascent once again, buyers are starting to look for more open spaces to enjoy which is quickly paying off for the current owners.
In a May 3, 2013 article by Sanette Tanaka of the WSJ, she found homes built in land-conservation developments sell for 29% more than homes built in traditional rural developments.

That’s the conclusion of a Colorado State University study of home prices in conservation developments, where residential real estate is limited and a substantial amount of land, usually 50% to 70%, is set aside as open space. “That could mean wildlife habitats, agricultural lands, important cultural sites, open space for scenic vistas,” says Sarah Reed, co-author of the study and associate conservation scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society.

The problem with this is locating the right home with the Open Space that is best for you and your family as once buyers are fortunate enough to own this type of home, they traditionally don’t want to sell for 10-20 years.  However, the cycles are changing and the opportunity is strong to currently look for homes with designated Open Spaces.

As proof, Karen Schaefer, Amazon #1 Best Selling Real Estate Author, asks home sellers, home buyers and real estate agents, to consider these three viewpoints when looking for a new home, investment or vacation home with surrounding open space.

  • “ reports that the rebounding vacation home market includes scenic mountain, oceanfront or golf communities throughout the country…. Based on the current economic recovery, second home sales have picked up dramatically. Bloomberg sources estimate sales of getaway homes will increase between 600,000 and 650,000 units annually through 2015.”

  • “Researchers compared 2,222 home sales in five counties in Colorado between 1998 to 2011… Based on the analysis, homes in conservation developments sold for 29% more than homes located in conventional residential projects.’’ Sanette Tanakah, WSJ

  • “For a homeowner, this means that the value of their home will be greater just by being in a development with open space,” Prof. Sarah Reed.

This is easy to see when homes such as the one at have the best of all worlds with a 700 acre reserve boarding the property, 360 mountain views peace, serenity and you are still only 20 minutes to a big city.

“This type of lifestyle, whether for everyday living or as a second home or vacation home is simply what people are striving toward in the coming years.  Needless to say, because of this, it is a sound investment.

Now is the time to take advantage of homes that border open space and conservation developments.  The home at epitomizes open space living for the ‘outdoorsy’ family looking to ‘get away from it all’ but be back in it within 20 minutes.

Karen Schaefer is the author of Amazon #1 best seller, ‘Love Sells; How to get Every Home Buyer to Fall in Love with YOUR House,’ and a trusted authority on the luxury real estate market, the creator of the Luxury Real Estate Training System for RE/MAX Europe and its 12,000 agents, real estate investing, real estate sales, real estate marketing, home staging and curb appeal. She is also the Founder of APSD, The Association of Property Scene Designers, a home staging and marketing training company in 14 countries along with being the owner of Simple Appeal Home Staging and Design. Ms. Schaefer has been featured in over 25 Major newspapers, blogs, TV Channels and press releases spanning the US, Canadian and European Markets.


  • Wall Street Journal
  • Victoria Times
  • Calgary Sun
  • RIS Media
  • San Francisco Chronicle
  • HGTV

…along with many others and has spoken in front of thousands on such topics as marketing homes for sale, massive open house events, selling vacant and distressed properties, effective home staging and curb appeal, investing in real estate and building home staging and real estate businesses.

For a complimentary Open Space Home Experience DVD visit

Setting the Stage

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Setting the Stage

As we know today’s buyers are very savvy and know what they want and are willing to pay for it. Since 98% of buyers start their search on line pictures are worth a thousand words, so before pictures are taken the scene needs to be set for each room.

Making sure the look and feel of the home appeals to the target buyer is one of the first steps in properly preparing the home for sale. Before setting the stage make sure to determine a realistic budget for the seller so that they will receive the best ROI (Return On Investment). Consider focusing on the main selling rooms (Entrance, Living Room, Dining Room, Kitchen, Family Room and Master Bedroom and En-Suite) if the budget is limited.

I always recommend try and work with what the seller has in their home first before bringing in anything. This will keep the budget to a minimum as it is about helping the seller make money rather then spending it. Consider your focal points and what you need to bring in from your inventory, from a furniture rental company or move from other rooms in the home to create the WOW factor in each space.

Buyers only see what is put in front of them so staging each room for its intended use will allows them to see how their furniture will fit. Make sure that the furniture and accessories compliment the style of the home, so that it will show the homes best features.

Having a well dressed home prior to going on the market will allow the real estate agent to do their job, which is market and sell. A well dressed home will sell faster and for more money. In the end it is a WIN WIN situation for all parties involved including you as the stager. You are part of the agents team so making sure to always put your best foot forward will in turn help you grow your business because agents really do recommend their stagers to other agents and agents want to work with stagers who make their job easier.

Setting the stage will get you noticed!!!!

Carla Woolnough

Carla Woolnough is the founder and owner of Stage to Fit Inc a furniture rental and sales company specializing in short term rentals located in Mississauga Ontario, Canada. She is also the founder and owner of professional home staging, decorating and renovation company Nex-Step Design. Carla has staged thousands of homes for resale, maximizing potential selling prices and minimizing on-market listing times for her clients.

Carla is also the co-creator and national spokesperson for RE/MAX Canada’s Fit to Sell program which educates agents and home owners about the necessity of preparing their home for sale. Committed to educating homeowners and realtors who would prefer to stage their homes or listings themselves, Carla has created the self-help How To Stage Your Own Home DVD series. This innovative series includes step-by-step “how-to” teaching tips which will help maximize equity and minimize the listing time. Carla grew up in a real estate family and resides in Guelph, Ontario, Canada with her contractor husband Scott Woolnough.

Scene Surprises

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Scene Surprises

This month, I am really placing great emphasis on effective scene staging.  You will notice, I said ‘effective!’  When it comes to scene staging, many people do what I refer to as a ‘drive by staging’-tossing in random plants, candles and towels and thinking that suffices as scene staging-just so we are clear, it does not.

While there are very specific steps to scene staging which I cover with the APSD 6 step home staging pyramid in the Certified Home Stager Training course, I think one of the best elements is the ‘surprise’ that you incorporate into the scene.

Recently, I was in Florida where Pete and I met his family for a few days who had flown in from the U.K.  His nephew, Oliver (Please note…cutest 6 year old in the world that calls me Auntie Karen) was there and just completely fell in love with Pete—he would sit with him, swim with him, eat with him….you get the idea.  When it was time for us to leave, which was a day or so before Oliver, he became very melancholy.  He walked around thinking for a while and then finally asked him Mum for his bag of candy that he kept in the refrigerator.  Keep in mind that until this time—he had not offered to share these ‘priceless’ reese easter eggs…but he took the bag and pulled out 2 pieces (thankfully both were well wrapped in foil!) and stuck one in my suitcase and another in Pete’s.

When we arrived home and opened our suitcases, it was so much fun to see the candy and it reminded us immediately of Oliver and his devilish ways.  In other words, it was  a great surprise!

Effective scene staging will do the same thing- especially when you surprise your buyer. It will endear your clients to you (the agent, investor, seller AND buyer) and it will make the home you staged, memorable.  So each time the buyer considers which home to buy, yours will be on the top of their mind.  That is why in our APSD Certified Stager Pro training, we focus on effective scene staging unlike any other scene staging you have ever experienced!

It is also why, this month—we are offering the training for ½ off!  Hurry though, it is only good for 7 days!  Happy Staging everyone and enjoy this month’s edition of The Home Staging Report.

To your home staging success,

Karen Schaefer

Founder, APSD

The REAL Secret to Transforming your Home Staging Business

Friday, April 12th, 2013

April 2013 | Volume 2, Issue 4
Note from Karen
By Karen Schaefer, Founder and Creative Director APSD


This month our APSD Home Staging theme is ‘Transformation.’ Many of you committed to being ‘ALL IN’ with your home staging businesses this year and I think part of being ‘ALL IN’
means that you are committed to transforming your business in order for it to really be an exceptional home staging business.

Well our team here at APSD is committed to helping you transform your home staging business forever which is why this month, all the articles have to do with business transformation, last month’s pro call with Mannie Tantawy was all about what it takes to really transform your home staging business (just like she has done!) and just like we have done with our all new APSD Certified ‘In Person’ Home Staging Training program.

Plus, be sure to join me and Real Estate Investing Expert, Richard Roop for this month’s Pro Call (April 17th) as we discuss the much-asked about topic of handling Real Estate Investment opportunities while acting as a Home Stager.

Life is about transformation and while it can be scary it is always SOOOO GOOD in the end!

So, get ready to pull up your big girl panties and transform your home staging business into the most amazing business ever!

Oh–and don’t forget to transform your mindset and skill set–the best way to do this is to get yourself into the next APSD training and associate with all the right people! I’ve included a calendar below. I’ll see you there!

Enjoy this month’s edition of the APSD Home Staging Report!



Founder and Creative Director; APSD® – The Association of Property Scene Designers – “The World Leader in Home Staging Training and Certification”