EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 11, 2013

Woman puts houses on center stage

Woman helps make houses more attractive to buyers

By Alex Lippa

---- — HAMPSTEAD — When Robin Webster looks at a house up for sale, she knows exactly how appealing it will be to buyers.

A longtime Realtor and appraiser, Webster recently decided to use those skills in a unique way.

Webster recently started Great Impressions Staging. She looks at the interiors of sellers’ homes and rearranges furnishing, lighting and accessories to help attract buyers.

“Buyers buy with their emotions,” she said. “When they walk into a house, they have to envision themselves living there.”

Webster has had an office in Wolfeboro for two years, but opened up an office on Gigante Drive earlier this month, in hopes of attracting Southern New Hampshire residents.

She said she hears from Realtors and homeowners who are having trouble selling houses. Webster will then go into the house and start identifying layouts which present a cleaner look.

“Presentation is just so important,” she said. “Sometimes you can’t see beyond the house as opposed to what’s in the house.”

Webster said the biggest problem that sellers have is that they have unneeded “stuff” just lying around.

“A lot of what I do is decluttering,” she said. “Everything is just all over and it makes the room feel smaller.”

Webster uses furniture already in the home or brings in items from her own inventory.

“Often times, people who are leaving their homes just say, ‘I wish my home was always like that,’” she said.

The changes vary from simple measures, such as adding a lamp to make a room brighter, to more complex ones such as adding a bed or removing a dresser.

Webster said the art of staging houses started in Seattle in the 1970s, but is fairly new to this region.

Not only does she try to create more space inside the house, she also wants to appeal to the tastes of prospective buyers.

“I recommend people take down taxidermy, religious items or remove a gun collection,” she said. “Some people can be really offended by that. You try to neutralize the house so it is attractive to every buyer who comes in the home.”

She also will take vacant houses and furnish them.

“People see just two walls and a window and they have no idea what they would do with it,” she said. “They can’t visualize what would actually fit into the room.”

In addition to staging, Webster does renovations and consultations.

“Sometimes it’s paint, sometimes it’s flooring, sometimes it’s exterior issues which need to be taken care of,” she said. “Pretty much, I give advice on how to present your house at its best.”

She said she has had homes sell for $10,000 more than an original offer after she came in and rearranged the house.

“These houses sell faster and they sell for more money,” Webster said.