How can floor plans help resale properties?

When searching for a new construction home, buyers request flyers and view builder websites to see not only images of the properties, but also to see the floor plans.  When looking for property to lease, potential tenants do the same, always requesting a list of amenities and a floor plan.  They work for new construction and apartment units; they can work for resale properties also!

When buyers talk to others about their choices in resale properties, many times they will show images and try their best to communicate the layout, and then rely on the comments of their friends and family to make their decision. Why not provide similar marketing material and floor plans for resale properties?  Floor plans are inexpensive to produce and can be used for marketing material, online viewing, space planning for your staging efforts, and give realtors a tool for explaining the use of modified or unusual layouts with the help of a property presenter.

Floor plans allow buyers to create strong visual and emotional connections as to how they will occupy the space by combining the images they see online with what they experienced in person and connecting them to the floor plan provided.  The more we allow buyers to visualize their life in a property, the better chances we have of them falling in love with it.

To request more information on floor plans for resale properties, contact us today at info@bryansuarez.com

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Photographing Interiors with Point-and-shoot cameras.

Although I would highly recommend photographing interiors with a SLR and a lighting kit, many realtors and sellers

do not have this type of equipment.  So, in turn, they will be using their point-and-shoot cameras.  A couple problems may arise from using this type of camera. 1) If you are shooting inside a low lit room, the image may not be in focus. 2) If you shoot toward an area that is emitting a lot of light, the image will be dark. So why do these things happen and how can you fix them?

1) Out of focus – In low lit rooms, it is difficult for automatic cameras to find something to focus on, a pattern, a crack in the wall, the corner….something!  In order to fix this problem, you will need to find something in the room that is at the same distance as the shot you want, to focus on. Now there is a trick to this that we will discuss in a moment.

2) Dark images – You will find that when you point the camera in the direction of light, everything else around the light will darken.  The reason for this is that the camera thinks there is too much light entering the lens, so it closes what is called the aperture, exactly the way the iris in our own eyes gets smaller when looking into light.  This causes a dark image.  How do we fix this?  When you are taking a picture of a room that has a window with light coming through, you will need to point the camera toward a darker part of the room, maybe the wall next to the window.  You will notice that the image in your preview gets progressively lighter as you pan from the window to the other walls in the room.

Now, in both of these examples, we have asked that you move the camera to focus on something other than what you actually want to photograph.  Now we will tell you how to get the photograph you wanted. After pointing the camera in the areas we have recommended, you will need to hold the shutter button down only half way.  If the picture snaps, you have pressed it all the way.  If you hold it down half way, you will see and hear your camera focus and meter the light.  Now, while holding the shutter down half way, position the camera back to the shot you really wanted to take, and squeeze the shutter the rest of the way.

How do you become a property stager?

Wow, what a question! Let’s think about that for a minute.  Do you have to have a degree?  Are there special schools just for staging? What qualifies someone to stage a property?

 Do you need a degree?

In order to stage a property, one does not need a degree.  In fact, there is no degree program for staging!  Some may challenge this statement and say that obtaining an interior design degree would qualify a person to stage properties.  The degree alone will not qualify an interior designer to stage.  It does not even qualify an interior designer to be an interior designer. (Interior designers must pass the prestigious NCIDQ exam in order to obtain a license and the title of “Interior Designer” and/or practice interior design in many states)  The practice of property staging is almost the complete opposite of interior design.  Although some technical skills are similar, the design concepts of stagers are intended for the marketing of properties and may not be functional to living.  Interior design concepts are intended for interacting in a space or living. (Speaking of residential interior design)  Interior designers look after the interest of those who will be living or occupying the space long term.  Stagers look after the interest of a seller who has a product they want packaged and sold.  On the other hand, interior redesign is a growing trend among stagers.  Interior design is the process of creating a visually pleasing, functional, and organized space for living; using existing furniture, lighting, accessories, and art, while keeping cost of purchasing new items down.

 NOTE: This is not to say that interior designers are not qualified to stage.  Many interior designers have come to understand that when they combine their expertise with knowledge of marketing, real estate, and most important, depersonalization; they make great property stagers.

 Are there schools for staging? 

Yes there are! Unfortunately, there are so many, and each with their own accreditation!  Many people recently have been drawn to this industry because of the glamorous portrayal of staging on networks such as HGTV.  People must understand that these shows are for entertainment only.  The stagers and designers on these programs spent years learning and perfecting what they do.  There is so much work that goes in to each job that is not shown on TV. (i.e. 5 day projects condensed into a 1 hour show, how much are you missing?)  With this increased interest in the profession, many established stagers have created courses for those who have a desire to become a stager.  Many of these schools are simply correspondence, online, and seminar courses.  In my opinion, these courses lack many technical skills that are becoming critical for a stager to establish themselves as professional, and creditable in the real estate industry.  With that said, however, many people have used these courses to add to the marketing and real estate knowledge they have already acquired.  And many others view these courses as a milestone in their ongoing staging education to becoming great stagers.

 NOTE: This is not to say that people who enroll in these courses are not great stagers, or that the courses themselves are not practical.  Nor is this to say that stagers coming from these courses are in any way less qualified than an interior designer with a degree!  So what the heck am I saying?

 What qualifies a professional to stage properties?

Because real estate staging is a cross-industry profession, a professional must have a good understanding of basic principles in each industry they represent.

 The Design Industry:

A professional stager must have a good understanding of basic principles of design.  In addition, technical skills such as space planning, color theory, drawing (basic sketching and drafting), contract administration, budgeting, furniture styles, architectural styles, basic construction, building materials and uses, and how to work with trades such as carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and painters.

 The Marketing Industry:

A professional stager must have a good understanding of the marketing process.  Since stagers do not simply go into a property and design according to the design industry principles alone, they must acquire additional skills such as conducting market research to understand the property (product on the market), its competition, and the buyers.  What are the strengths and weaknesses of this property?  What does the competition have that this property does not and can we compensate for it? What about the buyers, what/where are they currently buying, what do they want to see and feel when they come to the property; how can we, through our concept, give them that feeling?

 The Real Estate Industry:

A professional stager must have a good understanding of the real estate industry as this is the industry that many stagers will be classified under.  Understanding the process of buying and selling property, the agency relationships, and contract administration, help stagers to better serve the sellers and realtors when it comes to educating them on how they can fit staging into the marketing plan.  Also, understanding how real estate agents conduct marketing analysis on properties give the stager much needed information for creating the packaging concept for the property.  Real estate comes in many forms and agents for those properties vary just the same.  There are many kinds of agents and how they work is very different. (Experts in luxury properties, commercial, residential, multi-family)  Understanding how they work with their clients can have a positive effect on how the staging is carried out.

 There are many other qualifications to consider, however, my goal here was to explain what it takes to become a property stager, whether we come from an interior design background, or we jumped into the industry though a staging course, the requirements are and should be the same.  It is the proof of practice, references, and code of ethics that currently qualify the stager.  It is my hope that soon, we will have our own regulation and standardization of educational and accreditation requirements that are in the best interest of our industry, clients, and professional allied partners, and not to a particular educational program or its students alone.

“So, like a decorator?”

When I tell people I am a property stager, which is what I consider myself, many times I get a confused look.  When I say that I am a real estate stager or home stager, I get the “Ahhhh, like on HGTV” or “So, like a decorator?”  The truth of the matter is that staging is a completely different discipline than that of decorating, just as decorating is a completely different discipline than interior design.

We all share the same design principles just as with any other designer. (i.e. graphic, fashion, photography, art, architecture) however, we all apply them for completely different reasons.  Interior designers and decorators apply these principles for the personalization of interior spaces.  These designers create wonderful interior spaces for specific persons, or a specific type of person if commercial.  Property stagers apply these principles for people they do not know yet, and strive to create an interior environment that appeals to the widest range of personalities.   The goal of interior design and decorating projects is to solve a design problem with a specific person in mind.  The goal of staging is to solve a marketing problem with many people in mind.

Another question i am asked, which I will write about next, is:  So, how do you become a “stager”?