Interview: Center Stage Homes of Louisville

In an effort to keep Louisville home sellers on the leading edge of national real estate trends, I was happy to meet with Melissa Marshbanks of Center Stage Homes to talk about home staging and how it can be used to help homeowners better market their property and get a leg up on the competition.

Elegantly Staged Living Room
When done well, exceptional staging puts your home above the competition. Stage your home like a pro, and it will sell faster and for more money, period.

For starters, could you give us a quick overview of staging and what it entails?

Home staging can take on many different forms. It can be as simplistic as removing clutter and reorganizing a home before it goes on the market or it can be as involved as bringing in furniture from an outside source to add dimension to the home. And, of course, it can take the form of anything and everything in between such as painting, landscaping, etc.

When did this kind of service begin in the United States? How about here in Louisville?

Home staging started in the U.S. in the 1980’s however it only gained momentum over the last ten years or so. We began our marketing a year and half ago and found that most of our clients did not know the service existed in the Louisville area. With the housing market being as flooded as it is home staging is becoming a necessity in order to set a home apart and make it memorable to the buyers. We were recently told by a Realtor in Nashville that she does not list a home until it is staged and that is becoming the standard in her area and we believe that philosophy is coming to the Louisville area.

What are the most common questions you receive from people asking about staging?

“Why should I hire a home stager and not an interior designer?”
Interior designers are experienced in making a house a home. Their job is to customize a home with things that make the owners happy such as favorite colors and things that bring out the owners personality. Home staging is the exact opposite. The goal of home staging is to turn a home back into a house that can be marketed to a wide variety of people. The wider net of potential buyers home staging can cast the quicker the home will sell!

“If I hire Center Stage Homes are you just going to tell me to paint everything off white to make it ‘neutral’?”
I tell them, “No!” While a home has to have colors in it that will appeal to most buyers it also has to be modern and up to date. Also there is much more to home staging than just repainting.

“I have read on the internet about how to stage so why should I hire a professional?”
As the seller you are too emotionally attached to the home. You need an objective eye that is going to tell you how the public is going to perceive your home. A professional can look at the whole picture, everything from the perception upon pulling into the driveway, to walking in the front door, etc. Other aspects may also include things such as odors, something that is you live there day to day may never be noticeable to you. Remember potential buyers are only in your home 15 minutes or less, so first impressions are critical!

“What type of success have you had in Louisville?”
We are proud to say we have had much success. A recent success story is for a developer of a community. He asked us to stage some of his model homes including the unit they were having the most trouble selling. We staged it and have since sold 4 of that particular model in the past 3 and a half months.

“Are there different ‘stages’ I can purchase?”
We can do a consultation were we give you a list of suggested changes and the seller is in charge of completing those changes or we can do all the work for you.

So, is staging right for every homeowner who’s looking to sell their home?

Staging is for every seller… it does not matter if you are selling your home for $100,000.00 or a million dollars, one year old or fifty years old, there are things we can do make your home stand out!

How long does it usually take to complete your work?

The length of time depends on what you want or need done. If we bring in furniture from an outside source that is going to take a few days to get it to you and set everything up. If the home only needs to be de-cluttered and organized then we can typically do that much faster. However we try to do what we can to meet the clients needs. We once had clients ask us to completely stage a home, including furnishings, for an open house that was five days away and we were able to meet their timeline.

What separates Center Stage Homes from other staging companies?

Several things set Center Stage Homes apart. For starters we are a Louisville based company so we have a vested interest in the community. The most exciting difference is that we have an exclusive partnership with Burforf’s Furnishings and Flooring. This is exciting for us because we are able to offer our clients a much higher quality of furniture at a better price! In addition, our partnership has made us able to offer much more flexible contracts to our clients, again resulting in a better price, than others can. Others who do not have partnerships may ask you to either buy the furniture or rent from a rental company. Another fantastic advantage of Center Homes Staging is that we do not charge by the hour!

Last but not least, do homes that are professionally staged really sell for more money? If so, does that increase cover the cost of hiring your company?

There are several statistics that prove home staging to be nothing but a benefit to the clients. One that I always like to point to is (Editor: no longer active). It states home staging will result in a 251% return on investment. I like this statistic because it comes from a source that is independent of home staging, therefore it does not have a bias.

The best thing about home staging it pays for itself and then some! Staged homes typically sell for more than homes that are not staged. Estimates on how much more can range anywhere from 3% to 12%. For example, a $300,000 home would net $9,000 from home staging using the low end at 3%. This will leave the client with a net profit after the cost of home staging.

There are other ways that home staging weighs into profit. Staged homes make buyers look at the overall picture of the home and make the home appear to be in “move in condition.” Buyers are willing to pay more of the asking price for a house that is in move in condition. If a home is not in what the public perceives as move in condition buyers cannot visualize themselves moving in. Thus the home will stay on the market longer causing the seller to pay more months of the mortgage which plays into the overall profit if the seller has already moved to a new house. And homes that are not in move in condition are way more likely to receive a low ball offer.

I want to thank Melissa for her time. If you’re interested in hiring Center Stage Homes, please contact Melissa at 489-4840 or her partner Angela Braye at 435-1158. You may also email them at Tell them you heard about their company through Tre Pryor’s blog.