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From the October 28, 2005 print edition

Setting the stage for a sale

Home staging works to depersonalize a residence, making it more attractive to potential buyers
Sarah Gleim

Home staging, the practice of making improvements to a house on the market to increase its selling power, is catching on in Atlanta.

Wanda Hickman, an accredited staging professional, president of the International Association of Home Staging Professionals Atlanta Regional chapter (AIRC) and owner of Customized Home Staging LLC, said the intent behind home staging is for potential buyers to be able to see the home as theirs.

"In home staging, we depersonalize and de-clutter a home to accentuate the architecture and space to the best advantage of the seller," she said. "We're looking at the house through the eyes of the buyer, who doesn't want to do anything but move in."

Hickman said the basics of home staging involve simple tasks like cleaning, removing and rearranging furniture when traffic patterns don't flow well, and even packing up belongings to allow buyers the ability to imagine their possessions in the home.

The focus is on lighting, color and enhancing focal points.

Melinda Anderson, secretary for AIRC and owner of Southern Home Organizers, said home staging is about preparing a home for sale so potential buyers can come in, walk through the home and feel comfortable.

"As a seller, you don't want buyers to feel like they're intruding on your family's private space," she said.

Cleaning out a home's permanent areas like kitchen cabinets, closets and storage areas also is important, Anderson said.

"A home is a product when it's on the market," she said. "Buyers need to be able to feel like they can look anywhere when a house is for sale."

Hickman said of the 35 homes she's staged in the last 15 months, the average time they spent on the market was just 26 days and they sold for between 98 and 99 percent of their original asking price.

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