Another sign of the times down in Olympia, where this story posted on October 22nd highlights the difficulties some would-be sellers are having finding interested buyers.
The plan was to buy a steal-of-a-deal house on the east side of Olympia, remodel it and resell it quickly for a tidy profit – pretty much like they do on TV.
But that was 10 months ago, back when South Sound’s real estate market seemed almost un stoppable. After nearly four months on the market – and a few painful price reductions – Arle and Elisa Seaton of Tumwater, and their agent Craig Gunn, recently decided to enlist the services of staging professional Karen Nielsen.
Her mission: to bring the vacant, architecturally dated 80-year-old house to life – to help make it look more like a “home” by employing rented furniture, plants and accessories.
“I thought if anything is going to sell this house, that’s what’s going to do it,” said Gunn, who has worked as an agent with Olympia Real Estate for about four years.
“Your house is a commodity now,” said Sterling Stock, an agent with Windemere Real Estate in Olympia.
“Yeah, you’re staying there until it sells, but it’s a competition, and you are competing for a limited number of buyers. They’re going to compare your house to all of the other houses they’re looking at.”
Earlier this year, Stock hired Nielsen to stage a home that had sat on the market for about four months. It didn’t need much work.
“We added some window treatments,” he said. “We took out a bunch of their furnishings that just didn’t lend itself to showing very well.”
“It sold in seven days,” Stock said.
The Seatons are hoping for similar results after they host an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. today. The 2,375-square-foot home at 1008 Tullis St. in Olympia is listed for $329,900.
Since the story was posted ten days ago, I was curious to know whether the magic bullet of staging did the trick for the Seatons. Apparently not, since the home is still listed as “active” on the MLS. Bummer.
Unfortunately, I get the feeling that the Seatons (who paid $239k for the home last November) are going to need more help than a staging can offer. The most recent (September) MLS statistics for Thurston County show residential listings up 95% from last year, sales down 17%, and a median sold price up just 2.4% since they purchased the home—essentially stagnant since hitting $250,000 in February. Furthermore, a search of the Thurston County assessor’s office shows that just three properties in the neighborhood have sold for more than $300,000 so far this year.
I do think that the business of staging stands to increase as the real estate market continues to slow, but it’s definitely not a cure for a house that is just plain overpriced. Incidentally, my wife recently completed the Residential (Interior) Design program at the Art Institute. Maybe she should start her own staging business.
(Lisa Pemberton, The Olympian, 10.22.2006)