Making a home 'marketable'
by Jennifer Cohron
Mar 13, 2011 | 2686 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Crystal Johnson completed her Accredited Staging Professional training last month in Atlanta.  Johnson said many people confuse staging with decorating when the two are actually very different. - Photo Special to the Eagle
Crystal Johnson completed her Accredited Staging Professional training last month in Atlanta. Johnson said many people confuse staging with decorating when the two are actually very different. - Photo Special to the Eagle
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Crystal Johnson is not the person to ask if you want advice about which drapes to buy for your windows.

However, she can help you if you have a house that you need to sell as quickly and for as much as possible.

Johnson recently started her own business, Staged Buy Me. Now she is trying to educate homeowners about the staging services she offers.

Johnson said the biggest misconception about home staging is that it is similar to decorating.

"Decorating is personal. Home staging is the opposite of that. It makes the home marketable for a larger number of buyers," she said.

Johnson said that she tries to create a neutral palette in the home that will appeal to potential customers regardless of their favorite colors or styles.

She added that statistics show that interested buyers only spend two minutes in each room of a house during a walk-through.

Johnson's job is to find ways to showcase each space in its best light.

She said the opinion of an unbiased professional can be helpful for homeowners, who understandably have a difficult time seeing their house as a product instead of the place where they live.

"Potential buyers should feel like they are at home there, not just walking through looking at your pictures and seeing where your dog sleeps. They need to mentally move into the space," Johnson said.

Johnson said homeowners also fear that home staging will be expensive.

In fact, the cost of staging should always be less than the first price reduction that would become necessary if a home stays on the market too long.

Heather and Britt Davis put their house in Guin for sale at the end of October.

When they moved to Oxford in December, they left only a few pieces of furniture behind so the house would not look empty for potential buyers.

Johnson recently spent eight hours staging the couple's former home. She suggested that the pink bedroom and red foyer be painted.

Johnson's other changes used a combination of the Davises' furniture and her own inventory.

The house was shown again last week, and Heather Davis said she is confident that it will sell soon.

"I didn't think that our house could look so good considering that I had to take most of my furniture with me," she said.

Johnson helped her family and friends organize their homes for years. Then she learned that her hobby was actually an industry.

Johnson, who has a degree in secondary education, decided that she could do some home staging in the summer.

Her plans changed once she became pregnant.

"I thought that home staging could be a job I could rely on because I really wanted to be a stay-at-home mom," Johnson said.

Johnson did some research online to find out how to become a professional home stager.

She chose the Accredited Staging Professional Course. ASP was created by Barb Schwarz, who is credited with inventing the concept of home staging in the 1970s.

Johnson traveled to Atlanta in February to attend a three-day training course in home staging.

She received classroom instruction and also received experience staging a home that was on the market.

Johnson said several realtors helped her understand the benefits of staging.

"Most realtors in the Atlanta metro area will not put a home on the market unless it has been staged by an ASP because they sell so much faster," Johnson said.

Approximately 94 percent of homes that have been staged by someone who is ASP-trained sell in 29 days or less, according to www.stagedhomes.com. Schwarz is the site's founder and CEO.

For more information, visit www.stagedbuyme.com.