Home selling: Slow-market success story

Two realtors managed to sell their own home in just five days for close to asking price, a feat they attribute in part to staging.

By Kate Nugent, Money Magazine

(Money Magazine) -- Marci Miller's funky, just-renovated Boise bungalow (circa 1905) had personality to spare. But the 1,200-square-foot house lacked the elbow room she and fiancť Dave Roth, 43, needed.

The pair, both realtors, were ready to trade up. "The house looked nice, but the floor plan felt too small for us," says Miller, 40.

The market
This bungalow sold for $337,000, just 3% below the asking price. Time on market: 5 days.

Boise's once-hot market has cooled in recent months, a fact that the couple knew all too well from their work. Houses are sitting longer - an average of 74 days vs. 66 days a year before. Sales fell 37% from September 2005 to September 2006. And prices have slumped too, down an average of 3.5% between July and September, according to the Intermountain Multiple Listing Service.

What Miller did

Miller wanted to make sure her house looked buyer-friendly before putting it on the sluggish market. So she called in Jim Meadows. A professional home stager, Meadows uses interior design principles to make houses look appealing to buyers.

This bungalow had plenty going for it already: a prime location and $50,000 in renovations, including a new kitchen. But the combination dining room/living room made the house feel small, says Meadows. So he first removed some furniture to make the space less cluttered; then he brought in a couch, positioning it at an angle to form a pathway. "This created flow, like a magnet drawing you through," he says. To help buyers visualize options, he turned one of the extra bedrooms into a guest room and the other, which is small and oddly shaped, into a reading nook.

What it cost: $1,200

Staging can run anywhere from $750 to $5,000 - on the higher end if more furnishings are needed. To find a stager in your area, go to iahsp.com.

How it worked

Miller received a cash offer after five days on the market, a success she credits in part to staging. "We showcased the possibilities," she says.

Indeed, says Meadows, his work is all about feeding the imagination: "If you demonstrate that a house is warm and inviting, buyers will be better able to picture themselves there."

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