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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Staging Then and Now


Everyone has to start somewhere and this is where we started in 2003 (photo on left). Pretty embarrassing to see it now, much less to share. But staging evolves, changes and grows and our style and technique have improved along the way.

Back then, staging was new to Portland. Most agents had never heard of it - much less used it. A lot of education was necessary. Thankfully, one brave broker, TC Cairns, gave us a break and our first job. It was a very white condo in Mountain Park and needed color. It was staged during the winter months and sold a couple months later as I recall. When I look at the staging, I cringe but it worked and got the ball rolling. We built our stock one project at a time and word spread. The market was stronger then and many realtors had the attitude that their property would sell, so why stage it. They didn't realize that they may be missing opportunities for multiple offers and a higher sales price. But one success built upon another and soon we were building our reputation for quality and results.



In 2005, we took another leap forward with Laurie Thiel, staging our first high-end property in Dunthorpe. It was a Silver Oak property and we staged it just before an ice storm in January. Despite the ice storm, Laurie received an offer during her first Sunday open house. That was the beginning of a great relationship and other successful projects. The photo on the left is from our second project with her, a $3M property that sold in the first 30 days. I invested in my first high-end sofa by Ferguson-Copeland and procured a baby grand piano with the cooperation of Moe's in the Pearl. We were off and running!




2006 and 2007 were banner years - our sales doubled every year since inception. Word was out that staging was hot and became an essential selling tool. Our style continued to improve and builders such as Eslinger and Renaissance became valued clients. At our peak we had 50 properties staged and builders were keen to have us as marketing partners. We moved into a warehouse in Lake Oswego and shopping for a burgeoning demand became a fun part of my job. We have always spent more on furnishings than others, but it kept us at the top of the competition (which was growing but not affecting us). To this day, it is imperative to keep new infusions of stock coming to keep current and fresh and we continue to turn over old stock and replace with new, exciting items. We never tried to be the biggest staging company, but always the best!




I won't lie. 2008 and 2009 haven't been nearly as much fun. Our biggest account declared bankruptcy, people have pulled back on spending money, and business declined with the downturn in the real estate market. Also, we've had a lot more competition than before - everyone decided it would be fun to be a stager from watching HGTV! Upstarts with their inventory in their garages cut into our market share and they could undercut us with lower overhead - but also lower quality that doesn't produce the same results. People decided that maybe they could do without staging.






But as the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping - I mean, get going! ;-} So it's been a good time to re-evaluate, trim unnecessary expenses to become lean and mean, and explore new directions such as this blog to stay connected with our clients and meet new ones. The amount of stock that we had built to service so many accounts isn't necessary so we are selling the 'clothes' in our 'closet' that we never wear- some good buys to be had - and keeping our favorites while sprucing up with new goodies! The silver lining is an increased commitment to serving our clients and rewarding their faith in us with more for less. We have so much great stuff to work with that we can use more in our projects without shortchanging ourselves and you are the beneficiaries of that. Our prices are lower than ever - most prices include the first month of staging free! And we continue to push ourselves to improve the staging, always trying to outdo ourselves, and get properties SOLD! And those efforts are working - we have had 5 of our luxury properties sell in past couple months in a market that was previously stagnant. We must be doing something right!

I hope you have enjoyed this little trip down Transformations' memory lane. We are at a turning point in our history and are more determined than ever to be here on the other side of this economic challenge. Please let us know how we can better serve you. We are dedicated to your success and, thereby, our own. Let us know what questions about staging, market preparation for properties. or anything we can do to make this blog more fun for YOU. So much yet to learn!!








3 comments:

  1. Great blog, Rebecca! Can't wait to see what you do with it!

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  2. Great article. Keep them coming.

    Angela Todd
    www.nwinteriordesigner.com

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  3. Thanks so much, Lizzy and Angela! From 2 great bloggers, I bow to you...Lots to learn!

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