By Susan Brickman / Daily News Staff
Friday, May 12, 2006 - Updated: 02:35 AM EST
As housing inventory continues to swell, sellers with homes similar in style, amenities and pricing are finding that buyers are taking their time, looking at everything available, and making offers only on those properties that appear to match their distinctive tastes.
The competition in all price ranges is brutal, area realtors say, and many tried and true marketing techniques - home warranties, free heat for a year or two, even a car - are no longer luring buyers to make a deal. Houses sit on the market for months, prices are reduced, and still there is little action.
So some sellers, encouraged by their brokers, are moving away from showing their homes based on their tastes and style and recreating them to impress Jane and Joe Public.
"Staging," a concept started in 1978 on the West Coast when a realtor trademarked the word "staged" and created stagedhomes.com, has become the marketing mantra of the times. Realtors are taking courses in re-designing interiors using a homeowner’s furniture and items or renting a few key pieces to spruce up either an empty house or one that - and sellers must put emotions aside - needs some design help, said Judi Teller, a broker with The Homes Connection of MetroWest.
Teller and a group of 30 other brokers and interior designers Wednesday "staged" a home on the market at 20 Holly Lane in Ashland as part of a staging certification program.
Holliston realtor Craig Morrison began offering his sellers staging services about six months ago in an effort to get his clients’ homes sold faster and at the right price.
"There are a lot of homes on the market and buyers can, and should be, picky in this market," said Morrison, a broker with Century 21 Circle Real Estate, Holliston. "Buyers buy with emotion and want to walk in to a home that smells good and looks good. Before, when houses were flying off the market, it didn’t matter. But now they have choices and will focus on the clutter, the chip in the Formica, the mismatched furniture."
Morrison generally works with The Roomhancers of Ashland, owned by interior designer Donna Role and Beth Kniss.
"They will remind sellers to pull their emotion out of the home so they can make it a marketable commodity that best attracts the taste of a particular buyer of that home," Morrison said. The designers will walk through each room, write a report of what needs to be done and the homeowners either will do the work themselves or hire Roomhancers to do it for them, he said.