Meet Gabriella Miller, our Occupied Staging Specialist.
When people think about home staging, they often think of vacant home staging—furnishing an entirely empty home or apartment. But occupied staging is just as beneficial to selling a home for it’s best value.
Occupied staging is staging a home that’s at least partially furnished by the seller. The seller is living there and “occupying” the home while it’s on the market.
At Rave Home Staging, we have an Occupied Staging Specialist. Gabriella Miller does all of our occupied home stages. Below, she shares some of her most-frequently-asked questions.
How does occupied staging work?
“First, we start with a consultation. I come to the house, take pictures, evaluate the curb appeal, and do a walk-through of the house. While I prefer to walk through on my own so I can focus on taking pictures and writing down suggestions, the homeowner is always welcome to walk with me,” says Gabriella Miller, Rave’s Occupied Staging Specialist.
Understanding motivation is the key to enlisting sellers in the process. “I also try to figure out why they’re selling the house. Once I see what kind of person I’m working with, I know how to explain what to do and why.”
We will be asking the seller to separate their feelings, and often comfort, throughout the process.
“It can be sensitive sometimes. For instance, I might have to ask them to take their family photos down. It’s important for potential buyers to be able to imagine themselves, in the space, and not see it as someone else’s house,” Gabriella explains. Helping homeowners understand why the recommendations are so important, and not offending them, at the same time, is a skill.
“After I walk through the whole house, I explain the options we have. I email them my report. They can make the changes themselves, or I can come back and stage for them.”
If Gabriella does come back, it’s for a half-day or full-day stage, depending on how large the house is and what’s needed. If they decide to go with staging, we often provide a quote on accessories and furniture. This extra piece allows the house to show as well as our vacant projects. Home sellers frequently don’t have enough large-scale pieces, like artwork, lamps, and 8×10, or larger, rugs.
“Once we agree on a price, I come back to the warehouse and start picking things for the stage.”
“We try to stage the house BEFORE it goes on the market because the first impression is super important,” She explains. The best buyers, the ones who are willing to pay the most money for the house, are the ones who see the house in the first two weeks of being on the market.
If the house is occupied and already has furniture, can’t you just use what the homeowners already have?
Rave Home Staging is different because we focus on understanding the market demographics, psychograhics, and lifestyle. Our goal isn’t just to make a good looking house, but rather to make the house have an increased perceived value by potential buyers.
“My main goal is to use whatever is already in the house, but in some cases we have to bring stuff in,” Gabriella says.
Understanding that buyers are typically 10 years younger, or more, for a given house, helps us to understand what changes may need to be made. Additionally, not all sellers have homes full of furniture.
“We have to create a cohesive look between what the homeowner has and what we bring in. That can be kind of a challenge, but I like it! It’s usually easier to design a look that the buyer demographic can fall in love with, when we bring pieces in.”
“Empty-nesters often have a few empty rooms. We bring in furniture to make the house fully staged. It’s important for the whole house to be staged, so that a potential buyer can visualize how furniture would fit in the space,” Gabriella says. Divorces, family separations due to job moves, can often leave a property with a bad vibe. This may lead potential buyers to think the seller is in financial distress, leading to low-ball offers. Home staging changes that perception. After staging, buyers focus on the house, and whether someone else will get to it first, rather than wondering why the house is being sold.
Can the homeowners use the furniture you bring in?
“Yes! Everyday use is fine, just don’t break anything,” jokes Gabriella. This is still their home. We want the sellers to be as comfortable as possible. If there is major damage to a piece, or it is broken, then just like any other company, we will have to bill for the damage. That almost never happens, however. The more common circumstance is that either the seller, or the buyer, loves the look so much, that they want to purchase some of the items. Because we own 100% of our furnishings, we can do just that!
Is occupied staging worth the money?
“When we stage a house, we don’t just bring furniture in. We make sure the house is exactly what the buyer demographic is looking for. I don’t think of it as an expense, I think of it as an investment. You’re making the house sell faster, for more money,” Gabriella explains.
Home staging, while still a slow-moving trend, is catching steam as more and more Realtors, and homeowners, understand that making a small investment into the sale of your property can reap significant benefits. Staged properties sell an average of 78% faster than comparable non-staged properties, and sell for 6-15% more, according to the National Association of Realtors. Best of all, the investment is usually much less than the cost of a single price reduction.
Gabriella Miller moved to the US from Budapest, Hungary in 2000 and started her career in the banking industry. Prior to joining Rave Home Staging in 2018, she launched two successful businesses and was elected to be the treasurer for her local chapter of RESA (Real Estate Staging Association) National. In her free time, Gabriella enjoys good food, wine, and spending time outdoors with her pets, Boci, Mokka, and Lemon.
If you are interested in her occupied staging services, please call us at (904) 379-5523 or fill out our contact form.