September 2009

Staging Your Home...

Author: Roslyn Farhi

You know it’s a buyers’ market out there, but you still want to, need to, have to, sell your home. And you know there are hundreds of properties equal to, or better than, yours—homes listed for over a year. How do you position your home so it’s irresistible to the limited number of buyers out there? Before you hire someone to stage your home, check to see if you’ve done all the things realtors put on the “to do” list prior to hitting the multiple listings or hosting an open house.

Have you trimmed those hedges and cut the grass? Fixed that cracked tile in the kitchen? Cleaned the house thoroughly and eliminated any stale odors? Kay York of Tate Realty reminds homeowners, “Buyers want to picture themselves living in the home, not wonder what the sellers are like or how they live in the home. The sellers should pack away any items that are of special value or that are easily broken.”

Okay. You’ve done everything your broker has suggested to enhance your property and it still hasn’t sold. What now? Enter the “stager,” the person who can accessorize your home to resemble the attractive model home which always gets the “sold” sign.

Heddy McCraw is a stager, the perfect someone who can arrange your furniture, color coordinate your home, accessorize it, enhance every good point of your property and minimize any negatives. When McCraw stages a home for sale, she has a definite vision of how to incorporate all the elements of a house. She chooses to make the fireplace a focal point of a room, and she believes good decorating shows itself in all the small details—a beautiful chandelier in the dining area and rich fabrics in the bedrooms.

All this knowledge about designing, decorating, landscaping, gardening came together in “Accessory Connection,” a business this nearly 70-year-old, extremely attractive and energetic entrepreneur started in 2004. “Call it karma or call it fate, but the day after I made the decision to start my own business I ran into Glenda Morgan, vice president of sales for Del Webb, at Home Depot,” said McCraw. “She said, ‘Heddy, help me out. I’m going crazy trying to decorate all the model homes Del Webb has put on the market. I need your expertise to organize everything.’”

McCraw jumped in; within a month, she had 12 homes fit for showing, and “Accessory Connection” was launched. She went on to decorate homes in Moss Creek and Belfair, always referring back to the basic principles of decorating from courses she took at community colleges in Chicago and at the Atlanta Art Institute.

Surprisingly, McCraw’s fees are very modest. She states that she is able to stage a home in two hours for about $100. In many situations she buys the fabric for drapes or curtains for the homeowner and sews them herself. She dashes around on buying sprees to purchase artwork, pillows, vases, lamps for the homeowner. Carol and Arden Chilcote of Sun City recently hired McCraw to stage their Egret model on Sunbeam Drive. Carol said, “Heddy went through our house like a hurricane, but there was no chaos, only a metamorphosis from plain and drab to elegant and dramatic.”

There are certain design principles McCraw passes on to her clients, friends and neighbors. She tells everyone to use soft panels on each side of windows and absolutely no vertical blinds. She’s a strong believer in color, and in the Chilcotes’ home, she created a palette of soft greens, yellows and browns. The paintings she bought for Arden and Carol carried out the nature theme—soft, natural and charming.

Her operative words for decorating are “graceful” and “timeless,” with pillows, plants and paint standing in for more expensive pieces. Another inexpensive addition she often suggests is to use large sized pillows with patterns to “warm up” leather sofas and chairs.

Many local realtors have used “Accessory Connection” to help their clients sell their homes. Roy Grossman, a realtor with Charter I Realty & Marketing, is an exception. He has never used a stager, but when he learned of all the services McCraw offers, he was interested in contacting her. “It’s a tough market at this time with many homes in Sun City up for sale and a limited number of buyers out there. I always consider price and location the most important two elements in selling a home, but in this competitive market, you want your home to stand out as the most attractive one on the market. I’m going to suggest a stager to one of my clients.”

In her five years of business as a successful stager for both developers and clients, McCraw likes to hear those words. “I want people to be happy in their homes! It’s become my goal in life,” she said.

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