That is where Amy Wagner comes in.
As the owner of Décors by Amy, her home-staging business' goal is to improve that home's appeal so that it makes a great first impression for potential buyers.
Wagner's home-staging goal is “to make the home feel welcoming and appealing to potential buyers. I do this by using my knowledge of decorating and playing up the positive aspects of each room.”
While staging is not new, the idea has grown in recent years in a market where sellers are looking for any market advan tage.
“You need an edge,” she said. “Studies show that homes professionally staged sell over 50 percent faster, attract buyers, and command a higher selling price.”
Wagner is a certified interior decorator and has been in the business of helping people sell their homes since 2007.
She specializes in staging vacant homes, and her 2000-square-foot ware house is stocked with furniture, accesso ries and just about anything you might expect to find in a home: lamps, pictures, artificial plants and artwork, dishes and glassware. She has carpets, tables and chairs, bedspreads and comforters, cur tains, draperies and throw pillows, and maybe even grandma's hand-knitted afghan.
Where does she get all this stuff?
“I am a huge bargain shopper,” she said.
Wagner admits that her interest in inte rior decorating might have started when her Barbie dolls were the center of her life.
“I loved my Barbies,” she joked. The dolls and all the accessories are still tucked away in the attic.
For years, she was a stay-at-home mom, but when her children got a little older she took an online course in home dec orating and that led to her interest in home staging.
“That is when I learned all about stag ing . . . so I approached a Realtor and he let me stage my first house. It sold in 45 days, so he was convinced that it worked,” she said.
He suggested she attend meetings of his staff as a way for her to learn more about the business and for his people to learn about what she had to offer, she said.
“It gradually grew from there, as I started doing more and more houses and, as the econ omy grew, there was more of a demand for vacant home staging,” she said. “I know some Realtors use prop stag ing, where they might put a picture over the fireplace and have a chair and a plant . . . I'll put in a whole liv ing-room set. I make the houses look more like model homes.”
For example, adding a twin bed in a small bedroom allows people to see there is space for a dresser and maybe a toy box as well, she said.
“When I go in and set it up, then people can start visualizing, ‘there is space in here' or ‘you can walk through,' if there is a question of traffic flow or the layout,” she said.
Software allows her to show clients the rooms in different colors, she said.
It's not just the interior of a house, it's the exterior, too.
“I'll say to people, ‘you need to trim back your shrubs, you need to repaint your front door.' . . . If they look at your front door and the paint is peeling, they think if you can't take care of that you probably haven't kept up with maintenance of the furnace and other things.
When it comes to cost, Wagner charges an initial setup fee and a weekly rental fee, which is billed monthly, she said.
She works with Realtors, contractors and private individuals, and her most recent job is a glass factory in Harrisburg that has been converted into studio apart ments.
“It was a challenge but it was fun,” she said.
It involved shopping for new items and she discovered some shelving units and other items that worked perfectly. She searches for things wherever she goes, even on vacation in South Carolina, she said.
She has done close to 500 properties and right now has items in 35 or 40 places.
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Family helps out
Wagner's 23-yeaer-old son, Nick, works for her full-time and is her right-hand man.
“He has thought of pursuing real estate but has chosen to help me grow my busi ness. I feel very fortunate as a mom to have this time with him and share in all these experiences,” she said.
Her husband, Davie Wagner, lends his IT experience and takes on a variety of other jobs, including moving furniture and other items, especially when they get a last-minute call that a settlement date has moved up and the buyers plan to move in the next day. Her daughter Abby, 21, helps out when she is home from college.
“My parents helped me in the begin ning before they had health issues. Since then, Davie's parents are retired; they have been great to chip in and help when ever I need them,” she said.
That chipping in includes father-in-law Dave Wagner's electrical experience and mother-in-law Sue Wagner, who sews cur tains and tablecloths and reupholsters fur niture.
“I'm very blessed to have a family with so many different talents that contribute to my business,” Wagner said.
What is it?
HOME STAGING is preparing a home for sale in a way that it appeals to buyers, which means a quicker sale at a higher price.
· Buyers will have a better first impres sion of your home.
· It eliminates clutter and creates a better flow.
· It enhances curb appeal.
When looking for a home stager:
· Ask around and get referrals.
· Check with your real-estate agent.
When you contact a home stager:
· Ask for an estimate. Some charge an hourly rate and some have a set fee for the entire job.
Source: Real Estate ABC.com
What they said
URAL THOMBLIN, a real-estate agent for 26 years, said staging can prove very bene ficial when selling a home.
“I needed a home staged and had seen some of the work Amy (Wagner) had done. You get an itemized list and very complete proposal,” Thomblin said. “She does what she says she'll do, she puts in all in writing and there are no unexpected surprises.”
With online advertising of real estate and more people going there in search of a home, staging is more popular than ever. A house with furniture and accessories means more attractive online photographs that, in turn, make a much better first impression on a buyer.
Amy will also work with people who are living in the homes while they are on the market, he said.
“If a home is not vacant, she will come in as a consultant and make suggestions that will help make the home more attractive and make the best first impression,” he said.
“I can't say enough good things about Amy. She keeps things simple and you get exactly what she says you're going to get,” Thomblin added.
SCOTT RHINEHART of York said he con tacted Wagner for her help with several of his homes.
“That girl is amazing. She helped us sell three different homes,” he said.
One that had been vacant for some time sold quickly after Wagner made some sug gestions, such as new kitchen appliances and a few other minor adjustments.
“She brought in furniture and accesso ries, and within a week it was sold,” Rhine hart said.
The story was much the same for two other properties, and Rhinehart is convinced that home staging with someone like Wagner is the answer to selling a home.
“She can come in and make changes so that when a potential buyer can imagine living in the house, it feels like it is theirs,” he said.