“It happens all the time,” David Painter said. “I stage the property on Wednesday, and by Friday, it’s sold. And then there are also a bunch of times where a property was on the market for six to eight months, a year, and then I go and stage it and it sells in a week.”
Painter and Bradley Walworth are co-founders of Exit Stage Right, located at 626 ½ W. Barry Ave., 2S, in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. The team of experienced creative professionals has staged more than 50 properties with values from $180,000 to $6 million throughout the Chicagoland area.
They have vast experience in home staging, model home staging, redesign service, move management, professional painting, residential and commercial interior decorating, kitchen and bathroom finishes, furniture design and lighting selection.
Painter said transitional design trends seem to work best. “This means it’s between modern and traditional,” he said. “The reason that it works for staging is that staging should really be middle of the road and really not a definition of the house. You are trying to make people notice the house and not notice the furniture.”
He advises sellers to declutter their homes and remove personal photographs before they put their homes on the market. Furniture and other belongings that would be best to be removed before showing the house can be placed in temporary storage or the home of a friend or family member. All the projects that sellers meant to do but never started or completed, like painting the front door, or cleaning up a closet, should be taken care of.
Sometimes it can be difficult to explain to sellers why their personal objects should be removed. “I just simply say to them, ‘Are you selling these items with the house? Then why are they are important to be there? Your house is a product that you are putting on the market. Everything that I’m telling you to do will help you sell it quicker,’” Painter said.
Exit Stage Right offers different types of staging. If it’s a vacant property, then Painter stages it with his own furniture and accessories that he owns. If someone is living there, “then we try to use their items as much as possible,” he said. “Some things just don’t work, like Dad’s old beat-up recliner. So I will need to bring something in there that will match the other furniture in their home.”
“When you are staging, one thing not to do is declutter too much, where you basically devoid your house of everything,” Painter said. “You do need something to add warmth to the room, like tossed pillows and a little accessory there. Don’t forget about the outside of your house. If you live in a condo situation or you live in a single family home, you need to make sure that the outside of your house looks as good as the inside because it literally is the first impression. So take care of everything, because people do see things subliminally that they don’t catch onto (the first time), that they can’t verbalize as to why they don’t like it.”
Painter also said it’s best that sellers not be at their house or condo when prospective buyers are coming to see it.
The end of summer is a busy time of year for Exit Stage Right. Painter said he is scheduled probably two months out. When it’s not this time of year, he is usually scheduled out a week in advance.
When a potential client contacts him for staging work, he visits the property, makes suggestions on what should be improved and/or changed, and then, once those changes are made, sets up the staging area.
Clients can sign either a three-month or six-month contract. At the end of the contract, if the home hasn’t been sold, then the client has the option of re-signing the contract on a month-to-month basis if they choose to use the furnishings.
“If the home goes under contract and they clear all of their contingencies and the attorney review, then the agent will give me a call and it’s time to pick up the furniture,” Painter said.
Victoria Marty has written for newspapers and magazines for more than 15 years and recently moved to the Lincoln Square, Chicago area. A frequent runner who loves learning and exploring new places, she has perfected the art of getting lost while simultaneously finding unique landmarks, boutiques and out-of-the-way nooks worth writing about. Her blogs are geared toward the newly transplanted who want to learn as much about Chicago as they can, as quickly as possible.