Today I am interviewing Monika Thiels, managing partner of Staged to Sell Atlanta, a home staging and interior design firm that guides clients through the essential process of preparing their homes for the today’s market. I’m a big fan. Monika has helped my clients put their homes in market-ready position with great success. There is no doubt that staged houses sell faster and for a higher value than homes that go on the market with little effort put into the process. Executing a pre-listing action plan definitely increases your home’s value.
Monika, how does your firm help home sellers?
We have repeatedly boosted the sales price of clients’ homes by making them appeal to the broadest potential pool of buyers. We assist with small renovation projects, de-cluttering, furniture arranging, space planning, lighting and accessorizing to make homes stand-out in today’s very competitive market.
How far in advance of listing do your clients contact you?
Between one week and six months.
What is the ideal lead time?
Three months. Enough time for repairs, paint, and de-cluttering. but not too far ahead to lose momentum.
Describe your fee structure and your typical consultation.
My initial 1 1/2-2 hour consultation fee is $160.00 in which we develop a pre-listing action plan. The hands-on seller takes good notes and executes it. If I prepare the action list, there is an $85 charge. Additional consultation time is $85/hour or $65/hour for two or more hours. The rate for purchasing trips for draperies and accessories is $35/hour.
In most cases, I go back for 1-3 hours a few days before the house is professionally photographed for the listing to hang art, style bookshelves, and tweak for photography. Additional expense is incurred if we need to move a lot of furniture which requires outside labor. My team will then help with moving large pieces and hang heavy art or mirrors.
What are the principles which guide you in making recommendations?
Less is more! Light and neutral colors please 90% of the buyers.
List the major expenditures necessary to list?
In order of cost:
- Maintenance-related work
- Hardwoods and Carpet
- Accessories including lighting, drapes and plants
What is the profile of the client who is most likely to implement your suggestions?
Action-oriented decision-makers between the ages of 35 and 60.
Why do today’s buyers want “perfect” now rather than the opportunity to build value by performing cosmetic updates?
Two reasons: financing because it’s hard to finance a remodel immediately after financing the home purchase, and the busy lives of today’s buyers. With small kids and two working parents, families are looking for a turnkey move.
What about children’s rooms during photography and showings?
Leave the décor as is but keep it tidy. I encourage mothers to buy several IKEA wicker trunks for the family room and other living spaces so toys can be scooped up and placed there immediately before a showing. Other toys can be placed in attractive plastic crates, and stacked in the basement or playroom. Toiletries can be placed in baskets so they can be stashed under the sink before each showing.
What do you suggest to a client who has a dated house and little money to spend?
- Neutralize with paint; removing dated wallpaper
- Enhance curb appeal by cleaning up the landscaping, add a few containers or window boxes for color.
- Replace dated drapes with neutral ones from IKEA. I used over 100 sets of IKEA drapes last year. Remove valances.
- Replace dated lighting with fixtures from Home Depot, HomeGoods, IKEA or Ballard Designs
- Replace shiny brass with black/bronze. chrome or brushed nickel.
- Edit Oriental rugs and runners.
- Remove silk flowers and fake trees and replace with living arrangements where needed.