Staging as Merchandising

By Tracey Chareas, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
Tracey is a Residential Sales Specialist with a background as a designer and former CPA. She provides staging services as part of her listing package using an extensive collection of vintage furniture and home accessories, leveraging her unique and specialized skill set to analyze and effectively merchandise properties to achieve their fullest potential. Growing up she was involved with her family’s real estate development and interior design firms in Pennsylvania, through which she developed her passion for real estate as both an investment and a lifestyle. Tracey is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and has lived in various parts of the country, but has called the Boston area home for over ten years. A lover of antique houses, she lives with her husband and two young children in a Victorian farmhouse in the small village of Byfield within Newbury.
Tracey Chareas
Tracey Chareas Designs, Newburyport MA

As one of the staging specialists on Robert Bentley’s real estate team, Robert asked me to write a post to introduce myself and give my thoughts on the importance of staging as merchandising, which (due to my background) I like to refer to as “merchandising.”

There is a lot of talk about staging in recent years, almost a hype going on with it. There are so many real estate shows on the air showing how to do it, with people talking about “greiges” and “pops of color” and “repurposing” furniture that it probably either intrigues you or totally annoys you.

The truth is that it really is a powerful sales tool when done right, and even though there is so much information about staging available now, there are still far too many people who truly do not understand why it works. In fact, within the real estate industry it is a fairly controversial topic! I recently read some comments by a successful agent in which he claimed he did not believe in it because he felt it created “artificial value” by making houses look nicer than they would typically appear. Not a very good reason not to do it if you are selling a house, in my opinion.

But the real problem is that many people still think staging is only about trying to make a home look more beautiful or about “depersonalizing” a home (which is a borderline waste of time in my opinion). Instead, what we are trying to achieve is a proper staging as merchandising of the home so that as a product, it can be seen in its best possible light.

The flow of the rooms, the size of the rooms, the light coming into the rooms, the ceiling height, window size… all of these attributes need to be highlighted, and they can too easily be overlooked when you have too many things in a house, not the right things or no things at all. By highlighting features or showing that a small – looking bedroom can actually fit a queen size bed and dressers too (done it!), we can bring tremendous value.

I’ll share one great example I have (shown in the featured picture) which is a recent successful project I worked on with Robert. It was a fantastic loft condo in downtown Newburyport that was (I thought) a perfect mix of original rustic detail and modern conveniences. But after working many open houses it became clear that it was a challenge for people to imagine themselves actually living there, and numerous times I heard that the space was not practical.

I realized that we needed to physically show just how functional and well designed the space really was. So Robert, the developer and I came up with a plan to stage, using properly scaled pieces from my collection of vintage modern furniture, along with very limited “décor” to show this property to its fullest potential. The result was that not only did the property look aesthetically beautiful, but all the rooms looked bigger, the space flowed beautifully and it really got people talking about how they would decorate it if they had the chance. The excitement at the next couple of open houses we did was palpable and it went under contract shortly thereafter.

So the takeaway? Well, I believe so strongly in the results that we get that I actually stage my own listings so I urge you to not ignore this vital step in the pre-selling process. And if you have already listed but feel like you need a little help, we can always come in and help you. Proper design and new pictures makes a big impact no matter when you do it!


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