All the home's a stage for Burnaby property stager
Don’t invite Kristy Mattiazzo to a pillow fight. She has a seemingly endless supply of ammunition.
Dozens of pillows in every colour of the rainbow, and some that defy it, fill floor-to-ceiling shelves in a corner of her Burnaby warehouse. Plain pillows and frilly ones, square and round, big and small. They share space with scores of bedding sets, towels, floor and table lamps, dining chairs, easy chairs, couches, end tables, candles, vases and even paintings.
Mattiazzo isn’t a hoarder run amok.
She’s a property stager for Private Property Staging, filling vacant homes with stylish furniture to make them more alluring to potential buyers.
As a realtor herself, Mattiazzo knows the importance of good presentation of a property as a marketing tool.
Empty houses take a lot longer to sell, she says, especially in a market where there are more sellers than buyers, as has been the trend in Metro Vancouver this summer. In a hot market, a staged home can sell for more.
But staging a property is more involved than just plopping furniture and accessories into empty rooms to make them look occupied, says Mattiazzo, who was recently named the 2012 Real Estate Staging Association’s North American rookie stager of the year among other accolades.
“You have to create an emotional attachment.”
She does that by choosing furniture that appeals to the demographic that might be attracted to a property. For instance, an urban condo will likely attract buyers who do some work from home, so a room will be staged as an office.
A five-bedroom home for a family will have a bedroom furnished for kids, complete with an assortment of toys and a giant teddy bear.
How that furniture is placed and accessorized is also important, says Mattiazzo, who staged her first property using items from her own home, and opened her warehouse in March.
Facing a couch a certain way can draw attention to a feature a realtor wants to show off, like a fireplace or expansive view. Splashes of colour from pillows and paintings can divert attention from undesirable elements like ugly floors.
“You control where people are looking,” says Mattiazzo. “There’s an absolute science to it.”
Staging also invites potential buyers to stay longer, envision themselves living in the space, maybe sit in the living room and discuss making an offer. Sometimes they even want to buy the furniture along with the property.
Mattiazzo says staging is more common in the United States, but is becoming more popular locally as realtors look for new tools in their marketing arsenal. Real estate shows on cable TV are also having an impact, creating expectations in buyers how they want to see and experience a property.
“Price reductions aren’t working because there’s no emotion to it,” says Mattiazzo.
While the cost of staging is borne by the homeowner, it can pay off with a quicker sale or a better offer.
When Mattiazzo’s firm is contracted, her crew of six organizes and boxes the furniture and accessories the night before and then moves it in the next day.
“Every day is moving day for us,” she says.
Once the staging is in place, everything is polished and dusted so the home will look its best for the photographer and videographer shooting marketing materials as well as potential buyers. Most staged properties sell within 19 days, says Mattiazzo. And while that’s up from the average of 12 days in a hotter market, it’s still better than letting a property languish unsold for months.