First ImpressionsJackie Hotchkin and Michelle Aleff, the owners of Design 2 Sell, use their inherent talents to stage homes, apartments and condominiums for sale.
By: Holly Henry, Living North Magazine
Michelle Aleff and Jackie Hotchkin have good taste. And they come by it naturally.
Growing up, the sisters remember helping their mother tear down walls to open up areas of their home. They sewed pillows, helped hang wallpaper and repainted walls to keep up with ever changing trends.
Today, as the owners of Design 2 Sell, they use their inherent talents to stage homes, apartments and condominiums for sale.
The pair either redecorates with a client’s existing furnishings – embellishing them with Design 2 Sell accessories and furnishings – or does complete stagings of empty homes.
“It’s a fact that people make an assessment seconds after entering your home,” says Hotchkin. “And anyone who has tried to sell a home after moving their belongings out of it will tell you the homey appeal, and interest of potential buyers, moves out with them.”
“If a buyer doesn’t get excited about your home when they walk in your front door, you probably won’t get a second chance,” adds Aleff. “Staging gives the potential buyer a visual of what the home can look like and it makes a huge difference in closing a deal.”
She cites a house in Congdon Park that had been on the market for more than six months, when Realtor Tom Little hired Design 2 Sell to stage it.
The problem, Aleff says, was that the house was vacant, looked cold and uninviting and had a small kitchen but no dining room. This wouldn’t appeal to most families.
“There was a bedroom right off the kitchen that we thought would work as a dining room so after removing the doors, removing the wallpaper and the Realtor paying to have it repainted, we added a dining room set, curtains, and accessories Now people could envision it as a dining room,” she explains. “We also staged the living room, kitchen, bathroom and master bedroom. The home sold in two weeks.”
Among other staging successes was a Lakeside home that was on the market for more than eight months. “We removed old dingy curtains and shutters which improved the lighting problem, added more interior lighting, staged it and the first person through bought it,” Aleff says. “We do see it over and over again that most homes that are priced right and are staged have a better chance of selling. They just show better than another home that is vacant.”
Design 2 Sell offers these simple staging tips for home owners who may be listing their home:
Check your home’s curb appeal
First impressions count. Many shoppers do their own drivebys before contacting an agent. Keep your lawn trimmed, give your shrubs a buzz cut, keep gardens neat, repair visible damage and keep junk and garbage cans out of sight. Freshen up trim, touch up concrete steps and put a fresh coat of paint on the front door. Make the outside look like the kind of home a potential buyer can’t wait to get inside of!
Clear the Clutter and depersonalize
Inside personal touches must go. You want the buyer to think of this as their own home, not someone else’s. Start packing up all the family photos, knickknack collections, trophies, excess furniture, and excess countertop stuff. Make it look clean and clutter free.
Clean, clean, clean!
Especially bathrooms and kitchens. Nobody wants to see your dirt. Don’t forget to go through all your closets, cupboards, and vanities. Buyers will look and if they see a packed, messy area they may think you’re having storage space problems. Be sure to finish all those annoying little fix-it things on your to-do list.
Make it smell pretty
Make sure your home passes the smell test. Keep your home free of pet odor and smoke. If you have a damp basement, invest in a dehumidifier. Light a fire in the fireplace using birch, which smells good and crackles when it burns. Bake cookies or muffins so the kitchen smells like home and light scented candles in the bedrooms and baths.