The latest technique for selling a slow moving behemoth in a tight real estate market is [tag-self] home staging [/tag-self] with actors. Move real family out. Move model family in.
The idea is to show, not just to tell, how a real family can function happily in a home that, well, isn’t in too much demand at the moment.
Recently in one Centrex model [tag-ice] house [/tag-ice] in Santa Clarita, California, the pseudo-dad, mom and the two kids were acting out the mom’s pseudo-birthday, complete with cake and funfetti details.
"We’ve changed the dad once, and we changed the mom once, but we have kept the same kids," explains Amanda Larson, the Los Angeles marketing director for Centrex Homes.
In this case, the new pseudo- dad is none other than Baywatch ex-hunk, Jaason Simmons. And those beloved pseudo-aunts and uncles milling about may actually be clever marketers who are giving that nano-detailed bit of extra advice which can move all that million dollar merchandise right up to the closing.
Too primitive, zoo-like?
Cha-ching. It’s working.
However, some professional [tag-tec] home stagers [/tag-tec] are a little miffed as if their craft has been somehwat pre-schoolized.
Barb Schwartz, considered by many to be the creator of the home staging concept, thinks prospective buyers should not mingle with pseudo-families. A "mental move" as she puts it, has to happen.
"That might not occur if the staging gets too focused on people."
Whoops. Home buyers may actually start talking to the pseudo-family and get sidetracked from developing… "house pride".
Like, new Dad, can I have your autograph?
But home staging has come a long way from the old days. Back then, all a real estate agent had to do was get rid of the family’s wolf dog and bake Grandma’s cookies right before the showing. Not for eating, but for sniffing.
"Smells Sell," used to be then. Provided they were the right smells, of course.
And then it was all about color flow and houses speaking to the buyers’ psyches.
In some extreme cases, whole houses were depleted of all furnishings including furniture, personal belongings, and fav things. Naturally the first things to go were pictures of the real families.
"Fluffing," as staging diva Debra Gould calls it. "And it’s very freeing."
I guess that’s according to who you talk to. Because sometimes some home stagers touch raw nerves when they toss out children’s toys. For those terse parents who don’t seem to get it, more militant consultants are called in to give the in-your-face hard facts of a buyers’ market without the sprinkles on top.
Folks, do you really want to sell this over-priced garage sale warehouse or not?
Still, apparently, model family staging is not for everyone. One person wrote in, "I don’t think it’s representative of a real family. A mom, dad, and two kids might not be your idea of what a family is like."
Uh, oh. Am I feeling some model family discrimination?
But facts are in the constricted markets, creativity reigns. When all the houses and locations start looking pretty much the same something unique has to happen. Question is how far will the movement go?
There are already condos in San Diego being marketed using the hot singles button. In place of the pseudo-families there are attractive pseudo-singles who are giving new meaning to model staging. What’s next may take on a pseudo life of it own.