Katie Meisenger looked twice at a Batavia home for sale in 2013, but she could not see herself and her family living there.
Meisenger wanted to move her family from a smaller space in North Aurora and had her eyes on a nearly 5,000-square-foot home in the Tanglewood Hills subdivision on the city’s west side. Since the home was vacant, all she could see was the wear and tear until Showhomes, a home staging company, worked on the space.
“The Realtor took us in the third time, and that’s really when it came alive,” Meisenger said.
The furniture, hanging pictures and other decorative accents added to every room gave the home a certain warmth and sparked ideas for what she could do with the space. Two days later, Meisenger and her husband put in an offer, and they have lived there with their three children since November.
The Meisengers’ story is one of many that demonstrate the benefit of home staging. Staging involves strategically changing the appearance of a home to make it look more desirable in the hopes a buyer will make an offer.
Home staging can bring in 10 percent more offers and speed home sales up to 78 percent faster compared to homes that are vacant, according to the Real Estate Staging Association 2012 Annual Report. The number locally is generally 50 percent faster, said Mike Callahan, owner of the Showhomes Fox Valley franchise with his wife, Janine.
“The idea of real estate is to give that impression of a perfect home that everyone wants but no one really has,” said Tiffany Riehle, a real estate broker with the Berkshire Hathaway Starck Real Estate office in St. Charles. “You’re trying to show buyers what could be in that space.”
Riehle said she almost always refers sellers to St. Charles-based Finishing Touches Interior Design, which offers staging services. She said she and other brokers turn more often to home staging in the current real estate market.
Homes are selling close to their list price and receiving multiple offers from buyers, Riehle said.
Since buyers can be pickier, staging can be helpful to set a property apart from others, she said.
Home staging companies contract directly with sellers, and real estate brokers see them as valuable to their marketing, said Margaret Gehr, owner of Chicagoland Home Staging. The way homes look on a computer screen is important, especially in today’s digital age, Gehr said.
Gehr said a home staging project typically involves a consultation that involves going room to room and deciding on an action plan. Staging companies either will redesign rooms using the home’s existing furnishings or bring in their own.
Showhomes will contract with people to actually live in staged homes.
“An occupied home looks better, feels better and smells better,” Mike Callahan said.
The Callahans themselves have lived in an 8,000 square-foot staged home since October in the Crane Road Estate neighborhood in St. Charles Township. They have lived in about 10 houses since they sold their Batavia home and purchased the franchise in December 2008 in the midst of the Great Recession.
Mike Callahan uses his mortgage banking background, and Janine Callahan uses her decorating background to lead a team of eight people. They figure they eventually will go back to a permanent home, but they call the current phase in their lives an adventure.
“The results for the homeowner just bear out time and time again,” Mike Callahan said of home staging. “It’s a wonderful tool for them to utilize.”