Over 150 Years of Service to the Furniture Industry

 Furniture World Logo

Practice of Staging Homes and Offices Becoming More Widespread

Furniture World News on

The staging industry, delivering benefits in today’s tight economic environment for home and office real estate, is experiencing extraordinary growth as the practice is setting the standard for preparing properties for sale. Staging, the act of making a property more attractive and appealing in order to highlight its best features, has never been hotter. From adding furniture and electronics to artwork and a scented candle, staging transforms a house into a home with a “lived in” feel. The reason is simple: making a good first impression can go a long way toward generating interest in a property, increase the sales price and shorten the sales cycle. “The day after programs such as HGTV’s ‘Designed to Sell’ air, there is an almost instantaneous rush of phone calls from home sellers desperate to stand out from the crowd,” said Kathy LaMarr, Corporate Account Executive and Home Staging Support for CORT in the Dallas-Fort-Worth metroplex. CORT, a Berkshire Hathaway company best known as the nation’s leader in furniture rental for more than 35 years, is now affording staging consultants, real estate agents and homeowners throughout the nation with unprecedented flexibility in merchandising their properties through the world’s largest inventory of residential and commercial furnishings. CORT has served the staging industry for more than a decade by providing short-term leases on unique, high quality pieces to match a variety of tastes and styles. “The documented significant return on investment from staging is driving growth in the industry and a number of interesting trends. For the first time, homes that sell for over a million dollars are being staged for sale,” LaMarr said. “Staging of vacant homes is also on the rise, as the slow housing market means people often cannot stay in their homes until they are sold.” Sellers in today’s market are faced with tough competition and declining property values. According to a 2007 HomeGain national survey, staging offers a 343 percent return on investment, significantly higher than the return on making repairs or renovations to a home. A staged house sells, on average, 17 percent higher than an un-staged house, according to U.S. Housing and Urban Development. “Outside of creatively marketing your property, the most critical benefit of staging is psychological,” said Barie Pinnell, ASPM, president of WRE Interiors in Dallas. While transforming an empty house to give the impression of a home is important, staging consultants know the nuances that make the property attractive, such as ensuring a feeling of openness with neutral colors. “When you stage a property, you not only help the buyers envision themselves in the home, but you help the seller detach from the home,” Pinnel said. “Staging takes a property through the transition from a home to a marketable product.” Commercial Properties Also Turning to Staging Many property owners and managers are hiring staging consultants to help set their commercial properties apart. Whether staging a lobby or reception area, cubicle configurations or executive offices, staging operates for commercial properties the same as it does for residential: as a tool to help prospective tenants envision themselves in the space. “In one case, my team went in to an office building which was bare, just concrete floors and metal studs. We came in to this large, open space and built three paneled sections, an executive office and a typical Herman Miller workstation,” said LaMarr. “Similar to staging a home, this allows a prospective buyer or tenant to imagine working and thriving in that space. In some cases, the property management firm leases the fully furnished staged space to a company while their own space is being completed. A staging consultant’s inventory needs are constantly in flux, and partnering with CORT is an alternative to maintaining a costly inventory. “Staging is a physically demanding job, requiring heavy furniture to be transported to each new site and then placed within the home. I count on CORT to provide the large furniture, including the delivery and setup, that supplements my personal inventory of smaller accent pieces,” said Pinnel. “CORT is a fantastic resource because they offer some unique pieces and consistently meet our expectations for quality of service.” Barbara Schwarz, who often is credited with developing the staging concept in 1976, leads the industry’s leading professional organization, the International Association of Home Staging Professionals (IAHSP). To establish a common standard of accountability and professionalism among staging consultants, IASHP created the Accredited Staging Professional (ASP) designation. This designation is attained by attending a three day staging course which teaches not only the psychology and philosophy behind staging, but also how to start your own staging business. “Accreditation is still in an evolutionary phase,” said LaMarr. “Down the road, this will likely be an industry standard, particularly for work within the real estate community which is bound by its own licensing and education requirements.” About CORT: For more than 35 years, CORT has been the nation’s leading provider of rental furniture with a global network of affiliates in more than 50 countries. Today, CORT also provides the nation’s most comprehensive range of rental relocation services, including the most robust apartment search services at www.ApartmentSearch.com. CORT’s customers include more than 80 percent of the Fortune 500 companies. For more information, please visit www.cort.com

Furniture World Magazine-Business solutions for furniture retailers