“All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up” – Gloria Swanson, Sunset Boulevard, circa 1940.Those famous words helped immortalize the great Cecil B. DeMille. And it got me thinking. How many times have you had photos taken of yourself where you really were not prepared for that “close-up?” Or worse, been on television with a camera inches from your face showing every pore? It reminds me that there is nothing like preparation – lighting, makeup, positioning – that allows us to take that great photo or be on television without fear of looking “bad.” When applied to Home Staging we have to ask . . . How many Sellers are ready for their Close Up? My experience as a professional Home Stager tells me – not many. Even with the glut of television shows on Home Staging that should help educate the public to do SOMETHING to their houses before putting them up for sale, the fact remains, most Sellers are NOT prepared for their close-up. However, when Buyers come in to a house, they notice EVERYTHING – and they do get Close-up. They notice not only the floor-plan, but how well cared for the house is. They notice smells. They look at grout, window tracks, windows, sinks, toilets, carpet stains, caulking in the tubs or showers – and if there is mildew, dirt, or debris, the assumption is that the house is not well-maintained. This causes a Buyer to be hesitant about purchasing a house – because they assume that they may have deeper issues to deal with should they purchase a house that is not “Show Ready.” Why aren’t Sellers ready for their Close-up? In most cases, it’s because Sellers believe that their house is “fine the way they have lived in it” – and don’t fully understand the WHY behind prepping it for the Buyer. In other cases, the Seller allows emotions to cloud the need for prepping their house – feeling slighted or insulted when suggestions regarding cleanliness or de-cluttering are made. And in some cases, it’s because the people involved in helping sell the house lacked the courage to tell the Seller the truth about their house. Telling the Truth can be Tough It can be tough to tell someone the truth – but are we truly helping a Seller when we refrain from letting them know about key issues or concerns we KNOW will impact the Sale? NO. We have an obligation to help Sellers – and the key is to use proper timing and couch it in kindness. This is where someone that is trained to handle Sellers – stands out from those that use criticism and sarcasm (like on television) to tell the “truth.” How do we get a Seller ready for their Close-Up? Sellers need an HONEST assessment of their house – and independent third party that is able to be subjective in the house and come up with a plan of action for the Seller. Sellers need to be willing to implement the independent suggestions – in order to make their house appealing to ALL Buyers. Where do Sellers get an Honest Assessment? Sellers can hire a professional Home Stager who will come in and prepare a detailed Home Staging Plan – that addresses how to prep the house room by room, inside and outside. The Home Stager can also help implement the Staging Plan based on how much time and effort the Seller has. The best place to locate an individual who can provide accurate recommendations is through the www.Stagedhomes.com directory of professionally trained and Accredited ASP Home Stagers. Clean is a Relative Term We need to help Sellers put aside their feelings and realize that Clean is a relative term. But when it comes to Selling, there must be a high standard of CLEAN applied to the house, and a Seller that truly wants to sell will be willing to put added effort into the preparation of their house so that the house stands up to the highest level of Cleanliness. How much does it Cost? Typically, a Home Staging Plan ranges from $150-$450 nationwide for an average size house (2,000-2,500 square feet), and is based on the size of the house and the time it takes to prepare the Plan. Hands-on Staging could be an additional $200-$2,000 or more – again, depending on what is needed and depending on your market, size of house, etc. What you want to stay away from is the “Stager” that tells you to remove everything from your house and replace it with trendy, costly decorations and furnishings – a tactic employed by those intent on Selling their “stuff” and not your house. Around the country, these “Stagers” charge in the tens-of-thousands of dollars to Stage a house – which is a disservice to Sellers. Vacant houses do require a higher investment than when a Seller has things to work with in the house – with rental of furniture and décor. However, the statistics show that even having to rent furnishings and décor to Sell a house in most markets costs less than a price reduction. Ask for Credentials and Insurance Policy As a Seller – you can ask to see a Home Stager’s credentials – and ask them what they mean. An Accreditation is the highest form of training for the Home Staging industry. Only one reputable company offers this form of training, and is linked to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to provide education on Home Staging. The Accredited Staging Professional® (ASP®) Course has been around for over 10 years and has nearly 40 years of experience behind it. That company is Stagedhomes.com (www.Stagedhomes.com). Also – be wary of Stagers on blog sites that have a lot of “points” – this does not make them an expert Stager – just someone that blogs a lot online. Think about it – if they are online blogging all the time they could not be “out there” actually Staging. Ask for references and referrals. A quality and qualified Stager will be able to produce both. Lastly, make sure the Home Stager is INSURED. Without a valid insurance policy, YOU are at risk when you invite this person in to you house. If something is damaged or broken, and the Stager has no insurance policy, the repair costs will be on you. Follow the advice above and you will have no challenge locating a qualified and quality professional Home Stager that will help you achieve your goal of Selling your house in the quickest time and at the best price – even in today’s market.