LESS IS MORE
FLUFFERS DECLUTTER TO MAXIMIZE YOUR SELLING PRICE
Real estate sales in Toronto show no signs of slowing down. Adding fuel to the fire is a new component to the selling game: staging. Also known as redesigning, it’s even been called primping or fluffing, a term that induces smirks and eye-rolls. Just for the record, it has nothing to do with adult film prep – it’s all about getting your house ready to put on the market. Armed with measuring tapes, drills, colour charts and boxes, stagers, or ASPers, for those with an accredited staging professional designation, will sweep into your home and tell you what’s gotta go, get moved, get painted, get put away or put on display and, of course, get cleaned. “We aren’t decorating,” says staging guru, entrepreneur, industry leader and teacher Christine Rae (Christine@decoratingsolutions.ca). “We don’t just turn on a few lights and add some flowers. We have to create broad appeal for all buyers, and we do that by helping you sell your space, not your stuff.” Rae has turned a passion for design into a second career. Not only does she herself stage locally, but she also travels all across Canada and the northeastern U.S. teaching her three-day staging course to folks from all walks of life. Most of those signing on are women, plus a few gay men, but the number of realtors and disillusioned worker bees looking to start their own businesses has grown tremendously. Rae doesn’t see demand for her services changing any time soon. “This isn’t just a trend; it’s becoming a standard part of the selling process. California, for instance, has more stagers per capita than anywhere else in the world. Staging budgets are par for the course there,” she says matter-of-factly. The industry has taken off in the last two years. ASPer Ruth Parkinson has worked for Executive Furniture Rentals for 13 years and took a course from Rae at Executive’s enormous space at 81 Tycos Road. “All of us have taken Christine’s course,” says Parkinson, who has watched the boom grow. “We were just at a real estate trade show, and the stacks of cards for stagers we got was unbelievable.” It’s no surprise that the company would do well at such a convention. Executive rents entire rooms of furniture for a month at a time to stagers, realtors and homeowners. Although it mainly does rentals, clients often come back to buy furnishings like those used to stage their homes. It has to be asked: “Is it worth spending the money on staging?” The answer is a resounding yes from every realtor, stager and recent seller asked. Kelly Soaré of the Primping Company Ltd., 416-7387764, has nothing but success stories to share. This stager, a former realtor, recently worked on a home that got listed at $10,000 more than its original price and sold for $28,000 over the asking price. Soaré charges a flat rate per hour and most often rearranges, de-clutters, organizes and primps a home to show off its best features. “I’d been doing this sort of thing for years for friends until they all got together and pushed me into starting my own business,” says Soaré, whose business has blossomed. She likes being her own boss and can pick and choose when, how often and where to work. Has she ever turned down a job? “I was asked to stage a home with 25 cats. I just couldn’t bring myself to go in there,” she laughs. That sounds like a home in need of resurrection, not a redesign.
firstname.lastname@example.org Meaghan Clark is a Toronto-based freelance writer who writes about design and retail initiatives and spends far too much time researching European shelter magazines.
A GOOD HOUSE STAGER SELLS YOUR SPACE AND NOT YOUR STUFF