Tulsa resident readies her home of 28 years for the market
BY BRAVETTA HASSELL World Scene Writer
Saturday, April 07, 2012
4/07/12 at 4:12 AM
Related story: Setting the stage: Home-staging allows buyers to see the potential of the home.
For Deborah Bendler, home-staging means getting out all the stuff that says "you" and bringing in what says "possibilities."
Easier said than done for the retiring Tulsa Public Schools high school English teacher who's spent 28 years putting her fingerprint on every inch of her Brookside home. It is the first place she bought on her own. It is the place she enjoyed raising her two sons.
"It's not going to be my house anymore," Bendler said. "And it's a hard thing to get over."
The floor-to-ceiling bookshelf in the hallway leading to the bedrooms and bathrooms - that's come down. The Wedgewood blue in the living and dining room has been painted a neutral color, and a host of other projects, big and small, inside and outside Bendler's house have been taking place over the past few weeks.
These are the things that are part and parcel of home-staging - whether done professionally or by the homeowner.
"It is always an emotional experience," said Cindy Gasior, owner of Transitions Home Staging and Interior Design. "There's just something about taking family pictures off the walls. It's hard to take the leap." But when your home is ready and open house begins, "people don't care about your things."
It's a hard but honest truth that home-stagers in Tulsa and everywhere have to break to clients looking to sell their lived-in homes. It's a necessary first step: getting the home in a shape where potential buyers see the selling points of the property, its value and potential, and hopefully picture themselves in it.
To stage a home is to create an environment within and even outside a residence to be sold that attracts potential buyers, appeals to their tastes and at the same time leaves room for them to imagine themselves as the homeowner. For the occupied home, this means depersonalizing. For the vacant house, it means bringing in an inviting warmth.
The biggest perk of home-staging to the seller is less time on the market. According to a study conducted by the Real Estate Staging Association in 2011, homes that are staged before being listed sell more than 70 percent faster than unstaged homes.
A troubled economy has made for a buyer's market, and for sellers, the stakes are high for setting their homes apart and getting them noticed, seen and sold.
The immediacy and reach of the Internet has meant more sellers going online to list their homes and more buyers hitting the web to start their search.
"The homes that aren't staged just stick out like a sore thumb," said Gasior, who has been staging Tulsa homes since 2005.
Emily Brown, co-owner of Sell Smart Home Staging, also in Tulsa, cautions against attributing a property's short time on the market solely to staging.
Other things factor in, as well, including whether the house is appropriately priced, has been sufficiently marketed and is in good shape - low on fix-up costs for the homebuyer uninterested in having to come in making a lot of repairs, said Brown, who met Bendler at a two-session home-staging workshop she taught in February.
'Paint them a picture'
Bendler's home is a three-bedroom, two-bath ranch with a built-on deck and cozy kitchen.
But it's also smaller than many homes Bendler sees in the pictures shown at Brown's workshops. So emphasizing the benefits is key.
At the workshop, Bendler asked Brown about her bookshelves, about the interior paint in her living and dining rooms, about the piano she'd be keeping in the dining room.
"Dining rooms should be dining room, not offices or play rooms," Gasior said about room functionality. "Put the piano away."
The way you live in your home is not the same way you show your home, she said.
The gold hope chest in her bedroom would go, but the purpose pieces, the bed and sitting chair and dresser that once belonged to Bendler's grandmother, could stay for the showing.
Bendler and a friend painted over the living and dining room's blue with a creamy gray called Notre Dame. It isn't her choice, she said. But then again, this isn't about her taste anymore.
A lot of people need a picture to show them the purpose of a space. Every room should have a distinct and obvious purpose, whether it be a living room, entertainment room, kitchen, office, or kid's room.
"Paint them a picture," Gasior said.
Time to move on
Bendler is hoping to have her house sold and her closing complete by the beginning of June, which is why she sat among the 20 or so attendees at Brown's workshop. She ultimately hired Brown to give her a staging consultation but chose to do the staging herself.
Hence the painting. And the now-gone bookshelf. She emptied all of the books that she wanted to keep, then arranged the others in another spot by color for the showing.
Ethan, one of her sons, and a friend re-did the back deck and did a substantial landscape upgrade. They had planned on putting up a fence around her yard but time ran out, Bendler said. Brown told Bendler that the future buyers of her home would probably be 30-somethings, buying a home for the first time and interested in privacy. Bendler's home hits the market in a week.
Another outdoor issue is the gardening on which Bendler devoted a lot of time. There's the one azalea bush, the golden forsythia, large and wiry on the side of the house. She also has hydrangeas, phlox, mountain bloom, prairie star flowers, roses and irises.
The flowers are beautiful to look at, but Brown said they could be overwhelming to the potential buyer who doesn't want to be bogged down with yard work.
So out came the west garden bed.
It will be the gardens that Bendler misses most. But she will get over it, she knows.
"I want to sell (the house), and I want to sell it fast," Bendler said. It is time to move on.
Original Print Headline: Moving on, moving out
Bravetta Hassell 918-581-8316
Midtown Tulsa resident Deborah Bendler separates magazines in a bedroom of the house she is trying to sell. Bendler has elected to stage her home to help it sell faster. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
Midtown Tulsa resident Deborah Bendler stands in the living room of the house she's lived in for close to 30 years and is now trying to sell. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
Bendler's son Ethan installs a new back deck as part of the staging process. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World