The owner of this property went with warm, fall colors and seasonal fruit and flowers to bring in the feel of the season without going overboard.


knowledging a particular holiday.

to emphasize how nice and cozy the earlier fall evenings could be. Accent furniture in these spaces with a plush throw or fluffy, all-weather pillows to help potential buyers visualize themselves cuddled up enjoying a hot cup of cocoa or the company of a friend or loved one. Seasonal staging is very different for an investment property than a personal home because you do not have the same personal need to decorate the space for a holiday or to celebrate a change in the temperature. Always remember that less is more, and if you are not sure if a seasonal touch is “too much,” it probably is. •

In the fall, you might use vases of fall foliage to accent the home, or cranberries and holly in winter. As with any staging, however, less is more. You only need a few of these accents in the home rather than filling every room with leaves or flowers. Hint: A bowl of seasonal fruit in the kitchen is another way to bring in a little bit of the season without overtly ac-

NO. 3 LET THE LIGHT WORK As the seasons change and the days get shorter, you will have less natural light to highlight a property’s features. Make sure that you are letting plenty of light in through the windows when possible, and use lamps for additional illumination. You don’t want any dark corners making the home feel dark and

cramped. Nearly every staging expert agrees “dim and creepy” is a bad staging move! Hint: While you cannot make the days longer, you can take advantage of outdoor living space

EYE ON THE PRIZE: REMEMBERING WHY WE STAGE OUR PROPERTIES W hile many investors view staging as some- thing that they can live without, those who do stage tend to swear by it. Whether you are stag- ing to make a rental property look more attractive and garner a higher monthly rent or with a retail sale in mind, the right prep work on a property will usually result in a more polished finished product and hopefully less time on market or a shorter vacancy. When you stage a property, remember that your end goal is simple: Help the potential buyer envision themselves in the home. If a buyer can see themselves living in the home and imagine comfortably cuddling up on the screened-in porch or enjoying family around a bright kitchen island, then they are far more likely to not only move quickly to make an offer and hopefully a purchase, but also to pay a higher dollar amount for the property either in monthly rents or final sales price. In order to enable this important, subconscious, emotional connection to the home, staging needs to be pleasant but somewhat impersonal, what many decorators refer to as “vanilla.” You want your audi- ence to imagine creating their own memories in the home, not feel like they are just spectators to yours. Use colors, scents, and minimal accents to create a bright, clean, attractive palette for a potential buy- er’s imagination.

Carole VanSickle Ellis is the editor of Think Realty Magazine. She can be reached at

The Delicate Art of Seasonal Staging HOW MERRY AND BRIGHT IS RIGHT?

by Carole VanSickle Ellis

s the leaves change from green to orange, red, and gold and the words “pumpkin spice” begin appearing on pack- aging of everything from lattes to pop tarts, we know that fall is in the air. In our own homes, we may crack out the cinnamon brooms, the football-themed front-door décor, and start thinking about whether or not we’ll be purchasing new Christmas lights for the front yard this year. It can be tempting to let this seasonal cheer spill over into our investment properties as well, but is staging with the season in mind really good for your returns? According to conventional wisdom, you need to keep most of your holiday cheer at home. “When I stage, I discourage seasonal decorating because it is really distracting to potential buyers,” said Jan Britt, owner of A

instead of knick-knacks to get your buyers in the mood. After all, we’ve all heard of the strategy of warming an apple pie or popping a fresh batch of sugar cookies in the oven before a showing. Try a fresh pine scent or even “fresh sparkling snow” if you can’t stand not acknowledging the season. Hint: Don’t overwhelm your buyers with seasonal smells. Choose a light scent and make sure that it is not too heavy in the air. Otherwise, they may think you are trying to cover something up or an aller- gic buyer may have to leave before they are done looking. NO. 2 USE YOUR FLOWER POWER Instead of focusing on a holiday, focus on the broader season using fresh flowers.

Jan Britt interiors and a professional home stager. “It’s hard during Christmas to tell homeowners not to decorate for Christmas day, though,” she added. “Holiday staging also dates the listing and alerts buyers to the length of time the property has been on the market,” said Lee Arnold, CEO of Secured Investment Corp. If you can’t resist a little holiday cheer, here are three ways that you can bring in a little bit of the season without dating your listing or overwhelming the positive attri- butes of the home with holiday décor. NO. 1 SCENTS OF THE SEASON If you cannot resist bringing a little Thanksgiving cheer into the house or you just need the sparkle of Christmas or an- other winter holiday, consider using smell

This cheery scene would make great memories, but it overwhelms a potential buyer's ability to impose their own special holiday vision onto the home.

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