After years of in-person and hands-on staging with Debbie Lea of Showcase Home Stagers, our team quickly adjusted to doing business virtually because of the pandemic in order to prioritize everyone’s safety.
Because of Debbie’s incredible eye for design -- even through video chats and emailed photographs -- and close collaboration with our nimble agents and marketing staff, our sellers continue to reap the benefits of home staging services (free of charge as part of our complete marketing plan).
In a previous post we shared what sellers can expect during a virtual staging consultation with Debbie. As a follow up to that blog, Debbie and agents Ann Raschein, Maureen Moran, and Shelley Lazzareschi reflect on the importance of making a great first impression with property photos, working as a team, and going above and beyond to help clients turn staging ideas into reality.
With you every step of the way
As with every other component of our selling and marketing plan, our team is happy to help you in any way. The added bonus when it comes time to stage your home is that you’ll have the pleasure of getting to know Debbie over video chats, emails, phone calls, or even text messages if that’s your preference.
“The process starts with the clients or agent taking photos from all four corners of each room, and then Debbie dives into those online and schedules a virtual consultation,” Ann explained.
“It’s as if I’m in the room with them,” Debbie said of the video call, noting that even though it is more labor intensive for her to stage a property virtually, the “transition has been almost seamless.”
Debbie said Mad City Dream Homes is like a “one stop shop” that makes sure all the details are taken care of and that the houses are prepped and ready for the market. “It’s amazing the time and energy that the team puts into it. I give the tools I have to the agents to put into motion what they do best, which is market and sell your house, so you’re not alone in this.”
“That kind of symbiotic relationship is really fabulous,” Maureen said. “Debbie’s talent and presentation to sellers paves the way for our team’s success.”
“We’re all part of a puzzle that makes it work. It’s a team effort,” Debbie said. “No one has an ego -- our mindset is we all work for the client and want to make it successful. We’re very supportive of each other, and it’s a wonderful feeling.”
Tapping into our bag of tricks
What helps cut down on the added time during the staging process is having our team ready to help pick up, arrange, or remove items if necessary, and Debbie being responsive to any question that may arise along the way.
For example, Ann recalls when some of her clients were vacating their house prior to putting it on the market, so she planned ahead by arranging a meeting with them and Debbie before they packed. That way, her clients knew exactly what items to leave behind for the photos rather than having to find them in a box or purchasing anything new for staging. “They also had time to paint some walls and move furniture before they moved so not all of that stress was there in the two weeks before they listed,” Ann said.
In other cases when time is tight and a house could benefit from minimizing, Shelley has helped coordinate moving items to a temporary storage unit and then focusing on star pieces that help the home shine.
Debbie tries as much as possible to have clients use their own furniture and possessions to decorate the home for staging, but sometimes reinforcements can be helpful. During these times when online shopping can be slow and expensive, Debbie and our agents share some of their go-to items and techniques.
For example, Debbie said a couple of gray pillows and a throw can do wonders to spruce up a living space, as can a bowl of apples and a cookbook in the kitchen, or a flower like an orchid in the bedroom. And if a bedroom doesn’t have a headboard, propping up pillows on the wall and adding a piece of horizontal artwork above the bed can create the illusion of one.
Ann keeps a “bag of tricks” in her car that contains her favorite white waffle weave shower curtains for the bathroom, big mason jars filled with black beans and pasta for the kitchen, and nice pops of color for other rooms in the house. Maureen volunteers at the Habitat ReStore, so she keeps an eye out for any snazzy mirrors, picture frames, and decor that could be useful for staging, and she also brings along her favorite flat white sheets.
Shelley also has a storage unit that she routinely pulls big and small items from for staging, including loofahs, towels, pillows, rugs, bedding, artwork, tables, and chairs, and in the end it’s a “complete transformation.” With an eye for detail, she is known to go the extra mile before photoshoots by hiding cords and trash cans out of sight, ironing table runners and bed skirts, straightening comforters, and making sure windows are clean.
Staging from the eye of a camera
In some ways, staging is more important now than ever before, because the way a house photographs can often tip the scale between buyers scratching it off their list of favorites, scheduling a showing, or writing an offer sight-unseen.
“Photos are extremely important because they could be the first showing, last showing, or all your showings,” Debbie said. “We want to showcase your home immediately. Photos should translate to when you walk in so that you don’t feel like the house is staged.”
Most open houses have been canceled and many sellers prefer to limit the number of people walking through their home for showings, so having photos of well-staged properties can help attract serious buyers and reduce the risks for all parties involved. Debbie’s vision for staging paired with our professional photography has produced amazing results.
Debbie appreciates the pride people have in their homes, and she is more than willing to show clients a picture of what her kitchen looks like on any given day if that helps put their mind at ease with proposed changes. “There’s a difference between selling and dwelling,” she said. “And sparkle sells.”
That often means pulling out dated furniture or using rental furniture, as well as making simple fixes such as updating light fixtures or adding artwork. “That kind of jewelry, if you will, makes it a real fashion outfit versus just a dress,” Maureen said.
If clients wonder why some furniture or decor should be moved in certain spots that may not seem user-friendly, our agents help them understand that Debbie is providing input based on the perspective of a camera. “Then they are happy to make any suggested adjustments, and 100% of the time they love it,” Shelley said. “In fact, often they’ll say, ‘Why didn’t we live like this before?’”