Many people summarize real estate as, “Location, location, location,” but preparation matters. That’s where Terri Rothwell Orlando, part of the Kupferberg Orlando team at Douglas Elliman Real Estate, comes in. A certified member of the International Association of Home Staging Professionals, she specializes in preparing houses for sale.
“I make sure when a prospective buyer comes through the front door they walk in and can see themselves in that home,” Orlando says.
Tracey and Lindsay Kupferberg and Terri Rothwell Orlando work as a team (with the tagline “Buying and Selling Done Beautifully”) in an approach designed to provide more resources.
“When you decide to go with the Kupferberg Orlando team, you’re getting a full opportunity to sell your home from the listing to the staging to the marketing,” says Tracey Kupferberg. “We each play our role.”
Although each house is unique, staging from photographs to tours can influence whether and how much buyers offer.
On the most basic level, Orlando makes sure houses are cleaned and straightened up, but does much more.
A professional stager, she removes items that can make houses look older such as dried flowers and anything dusty. You may love those photographs of yourself, but they can stand between buyers and offers.
“It makes it so people aren’t staring at the photos. They’re looking at the actual room,” Orlando says of removing personal pictures. “It’s distracting to see other people’s families.”
As part of straightening up before photographing properties, she recommends clearing the kitchen counters of all appliances, if possible.
“We’ve seen photos online where the real estate agent hasn’t removed towels hanging over tubs,” she says. “You walk into some homes and you see people’s medications.”
The front door and porch of the home are the first impressions of what buyers can anticipate when they enter. So making sure it, as well as the rest of the house, is clean with no cobwebs, dead plants or leaves is very important.
A nice welcome mat (possibly saying “Welcome Home”) and fresh flowers upon entering don’t hurt. “Maybe it’s a little subliminal,” she notes.
She has even bought cookies from supermarkets and left them in ovens at low temperatures.
“As you walk into that kitchen, you get a warm, fuzzy feeling especially in the winter,” Orlando says.
They sometimes bring in furniture, but typically work with what’s there, possibly adorning them with beautiful throws.
A stager with an eye toward the sale, she also sometimes recommends removing some clothes from closets, to make them appear bigger and less cluttered.
“By removing a lot of those items, it made the closet feel larger and walkable,” she says of one home.
She removes ashtrays, wipes dirty light switches clean with alcohol, puts fresh flowers in kitchens and sometimes leaves a candle burning.
In houses with animals, she often brings in a commercial-grade ozone machine to remove bacteria that can produce odors.
“The buyer might have a dog, but the buyer doesn’t want to smell another person’s dog,” Orlando says.
She recommends replacing recessed ceiling lights with LED bulbs. “They’re brighter,” she says. “They make a difference when you walk into a room.”
Children may not clean up their rooms before a showing.
“Some people think the kids have done what they asked them to do,” Orlando says. “And there are dirty clothes on the floor.”
She sometimes refreshes landscaping, adding chrysanthemums and putting fresh pumpkins by the door during the fall.
“It made a difference,” she says of pumpkins and flowers at one house. “It made the home look appropriate for fall.”
They usually leave art as is, but sometimes recommend replacing images. “If the house is a colonial, you won’t put in abstract art,” she says.
She has furnished new homes for sale including one in Nissequoge, where she told a local custom furniture maker she could display their furniture and business card.
“We had a beautiful dining room table, kitchen table and kitchen chairs and we advertised to whoever walked in that this furniture is available at a local store,” she says. “It worked for us and for the furniture store.”
Orlando also provides feedback from people who view houses, allowing actions that can enhance interest and offers.
“We get back to the seller with any comments, positive or negative,” she says. “The negative comments can be constructive comments.”
A prospective buyer may say a house is too dark, smells of a pet or appears cluttered, all things that can be addressed.
Sometimes people decide they want to donate outdated outfits. “Now’s the time to donate those items,” she adds.
A breast cancer survivor, Orlando often suggests donations to the National Breast Cancer Coalition and The United War Veterans Council.
While the main purpose of staging is to win over buyers, homeowners often enjoy the enhancements.
“I love dealing with the buyers and showing the house,” she says. “I like prepping the house and seeing the homeowner walk in and say, “Should I even be selling the house? It looks so much better than it did before!”