In the early 2000s, when staging was a fairly new idea in the Maine real estate industry, a very successful southern Maine broker was asked whether he was staging his clients’ homes, or whether he planned to do so.

“Nah,” he answered. “I just tell’em to take the Christmas lights down.”

Which may or may not have been good advice, because even in 2015 this is still Maine where some clients may prefer the year-round Christmas lights left in place and conveying with the property.

But for the most part, it’s a very rare home whose on-the-marketing cannot benefit from staging – “the process of visualizing preparing your home for sale,” said Elizabeth Polanksy of The Styled Home.

Polansky, whose background is in design and interior decoration, added staging to her Portland-based business in 2004. She now employs four assistants at The Styled Home, whose services have grown to include consulting on renovations, help with moving (in or out) and more; and manages a 3,000-square-foot warehouse with $150,000 in inventory (furniture, pictures, etc.) to place in homes to help them show to better advantage. She estimates that she has staged or decorated more than 750 homes in the past decade.

Her most expensive job was just last summer, staging a “re-invented” farmhouse in Camden that was offered for about $1 million but had languished on the market for a year with little activity.

Polansky applied her expertise to the home’s interior, which included two master suites. The property sold in two weeks and fetched its asking price. The buyer was an out-of-stater whose eye had been caught by the attractive new photos.

The staging fee was naturally made heftier by the moving services and the amount of furniture needed, and well exceeded $1o,000. It is the seller who typically pays the fee, Polansky said, but it is common for realtors to stump up for a consultation to help clients recognize the value of having a home staged.

The Styled Home’s range of fees begins at $295 for preparing a home for its listing photographs. Illustrated here is Polansky’s re-casting of a Portland home to prepare it for professional photographs to be taken immediately following. “I want the photographer walking in just as I walk out, so the home is picture-perfect,” Polansky observed.

That’s how things went last week at 35 Buttonwood Lane in Portland, where Polansky and associate Holly McQuinn spent an energetic three hours “staging for the photo shoot. I am assessing each room through the lens of the camera,” Polansky said.

The home had previously been on the market but had received no showings. Older photos led Polansky to expect an unattractive home. “Then I walked in and thought, ‘this is the coolest, neatest house!'”

Finding that the abundance of furnishings and their placement tended to conceal rather than highlight the house’s attractiveness, Polansky made it her goal to reveal the many charms of the architect-designed custom contemporary in the Stroudwater neighborhood. This involved everything from removing little appliances from kitchen counters to re-arranging artwork and hauling furniture and taking down window treatments.

In the staging process, “We work to create a visual balance that had been lacking in the previous house photos,” Polansky noted. In doing so here, she and McQuinn used only furnishings found in the home.

Did they bring Christmas lights to put up, just in case?

“Nope. Nope. Nope.”

 

For more information on The Styled Home, visit  thestyledhome.com.

Photographs by Melanie Sochan, staff photographer.

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