Staged Victory: Chicago Area Team Stages Its Way to Multi-million Dollar Success

Aug 18, 2014 10:22:41 PM

Kathy Quaid and Maureen Rooney own the most productive realty team in Glen Ellyn, Ill., with a 2013 closed volume nearing $55 million – more than double their 2012 sales. Though they didn’t partner until 2010 when they joined Keller Williams, they were on similar career trajectories. Both were licensed in 2004, each absolutely loved real estate, became rookies of the year in their respective companies, never had backward years and embraced staging as a critical sales component.

Kathy and Maureen full body color

Because they live in a smaller upscale suburban Chicago community with many brokers and agents, they were attracted to Keller Williams’ freedom to brand themselves in a way that would differentiate them from the pack. Quaid and Rooney Distinctive Real Estate was born four years ago and is consistently ranked as a top-producing team in Keller Williams Mid-America Region and in DuPage County.

The team serves a combination of buyers and sellers with a focus on providing some unique services, namely staging for their sellers. A typical day has the pair climbing ladders, unfurling on-trend throw rugs, placing lamps, hanging art on freshly painted walls and replacing bedding. Each has a passion and an eye for design and aesthetic – Quaid even did a stint on HGTV’s “Designed to Sell” – which is why they are fervent about the staging model and use it as a value proposition in their seller marketing package.

Quaid says that if a house sell quickly – usually within the first week or two – a seller can get 98 percent of their asking price. “Each month it sits on the market, it loses its selling power,” she states. “Our experience proves that staging helps a home sell closer to the list price.” Rooney adds, “We see that when a home is staged and ready, there’s a big difference in the percentage of sell price.”

They laugh when they explain that being so involved in the staging process requires some serious energy. “It’s not for the faint of heart or frail of body,” they joke. Their commitment to staging includes conducting a complete walk-through of the interior and exterior
of the home with the seller. Quaid and Rooney are straightforward (“Blunt,” Quaid says) with the owners about the strengths and weaknesses of the property. After the consult, they provide:

  • ƒƒCustomized, room-by-room enhancements that the homeowner can implement on his or her own;
  • Recommendations for repairs or improvements that will benefit the property;ƒ
  • Suggestions on how to prepare the home to sell; and
  • A list of the top staging priorities.

Although the two are very hands-on and involved in cosmetic changes and overall decisions, the bulk of the improvements that come with staging are outsourced to vendors who specialize in the needed updates. “We have a robust network of painters, flooring specialists, countertop experts, plumbers, landscapers, furniture movers and seamstresses,” Rooney offers. “Once we know what kind of budget a client has to work with, we prioritize changes and work our way down the list.”

When a home is show ready, there’s another vital component to ensure it marketing online is visual, so it has to be perfect,” Quaid and Rooney insist. They guide their photographer at the scheduled photo shoot, paying close attention to spatial qualities. “It’s not uncommon for a photographer to virtually stage the home using Photoshop and other artistic maneuvers. It’s imperative to have a photographer who is excellent at their craft. No matter how lovely the home is, there’s an art to capturing it for the screen. It all must work together to lure and attract real estate agents and buyers.”

At first, they laid out a few hundred dollars to build up a small staging décor inventory. Those pieces are in constant rotation in the homes they represent with newer pieces constantly edging out pieces that are no longer fresh or in style. With even a minimal inventory, Quaid and Rooney believe it’s important to invest in some staging accessories that will help to create an inviting home that will attract buyers.

Staging is an integral part of their business and has become one of their trademarks, helping them close almost 100 home sales in 2013. But to Quaid and Rooney, it’s more than a business strategy. “We see this aspect of the business as part of our bigger mission to help people. We’re servants at heart and want to position people to get where they want to go. Staging helps people imagine themselves in the next chapter of their stories, and we want to help them turn that page.”

To keep up with constantly changing consumer preferences, Quaid and Rooney stay closely connected to select buyers. “We have excellent buyer agents on our team, but we each are purposely always working with at least one or two young professionals. These are sophisticated buyers coming from the city to the suburbs for the first time. They’ve seen so much on the Internet and T.V. and have extremely high expectations for impeccable design, style and high-end amenities. It keeps us dialed in to trends and our finger on the pulse of what buyers are looking for. Plus, it’s fun! We love it!”

Designed to Sell: 10 Staging Secrets Revealed

Home staging is about setting a scene, creating a mood, and implementing some quick fixes and improvements to create a positive first impression. Here are some tips and tricks to help your clients sell their homes quickly and for top dollar:

  1. Have the windows professionally washed. Let the natural light stream in through clean windows.
  2. Remove dated window treatments. Have new ones made or leave them off altogether.
  3. Install new lighting. It does not have to be expensive. Look online at what is trending on blogs, Pinterest and Houzz and try to duplicate what you see.
  4. Remove little throw rugs and area rugs if you have hardwood floors. Sometimes, rugs can be distracting and make rooms look smaller.
  5. Remove air fresheners. Just because they call them air fresheners does not mean the air smells fresh.
  6. Update pitted and grimy faucets. This is a simple and inexpensive improvement.
  7. Get rid of all fake plants. They are eyesores!
  8. This should be a given: declutter. Less is almost always more. Clean up, organize and streamline.
  9. Bathrooms and kitchens can make or break a deal. Hire a professional to regrout and recaulk bathrooms and kitchens.
  10. Paint with current, neutral paint colors. For instance, gray is very in right now. You want to use colors that allow buyers to imagine your home as their blank slate.

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