Homes Made Ready For Market

Staging Business Simplifies Process
-- and the House Itself -- for Sellers

By Karen Dandurant

Hampton Union, Herald Sunday, January 29, 2006

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Paula Klane sits in her newly renovated work area within her kitchen. Klane's home is on the market and is pleased with the help she has received from home staging agent Susan Argue. [Staff photo by Amy Root-Donle]

HAMPTON -- Selling a home can be time consuming and stressful. Sue Argue has launched Staged First Impressions, a home-staging business she says is common on the West Coast and is finding its way East.

Argue said there are 640 accredited home stagers in California and just six in New Hampshire. Of the six, she said only two -- herself included -- are not Realtors, making them available to all clients, no matter who handles the property.

In essence, a home stager removes a home's clutter, simplifying it and doing whatever necessary to make the home more attractive to potential homebuyers.

Argue said staging is a marketing tool that can result in a home selling faster and maybe even drawing a higher sales price.

"The way a person lives in their house and the way it needs to look to sell are two entirely different things .... Moving is a big transition," she said.

Sometimes a move is precipitated by a death or illness in the family or even a financial crisis. Having someone take care of a home's preparation can relieve stress.

"And the home-staging concept is simple -- less is more."

Argue said she started the business because she wanted to do something creative. She thought about interior design, but after learning about home staging, she decided it was for her.

"Having a background in nursing is an asset," Argue said. "I am good at working with people in a crisis mode."

One of Argue's current clients is Paula Mane, owner of Rock Ledge Manor, located in Rye. The stately Seacoast home includes a main house, a bed and breakfast, and a carriage/guest house. The 2.12 acre property is currently on the market for an asking price of $2.2 million.

Mane had nothing but praise for Argue's work. She said she read about the business and discovered Argue.

"It's worth the investment," Mane said. "I needed a catalyst to do more than I was doing. When people come to see the house now, it offers a welcoming feeling. If you're not innately creative, it's hard to visualize ..."

Mane does her part by baking every day, something she said she does anyway because of the bed and breakfast.

"It's another welcoming thing," she said. "Sometimes, people are looking at houses all day and they might cut it short at a showing because they're hungry -- they need to get something to eat."

Rock Ledge Manor in Rye is part of the original historic Ocean Wave Hotel. The prime lot offers spectacular ocean views from most locations of the three parts of the property.

"It's easier for people to visualize their own things in the home if the (presentation) is simpler," Argue said. "It's an 'I can live here' feel. The best feature of this home is location, the ocean views, so I try to maximize the enjoyment."

Klane's Realtor Barbara Dunkle, of Carey and Giampa Realtors, said she believes the simpler environment makes it easier to sell a home because it offers a more relaxed, "clean-mind" atmosphere.

"A cluttered space is like a cluttered mind," Dunkle said. "The same goes for a home."

Who: Susan Argue
What: Staged First Impressions, Hampton
Telephone: (603) 926-2676
On the Web:
When: Meet Sue Argue at the 2006
Seacoast Home, Garden and Flower Show
at UNH's Whittemore Center, March 31-April 2.
She'll be at booth No. 106.