NOW Magazine - Toronto Living - - Front Page - by Meaghan Clark

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.

toron­to­liv­ing@nowtoronto.com 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.




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