Not an interior decorator

A modest bungalow on the tree-lined street of Lafonde Crescent has been on the market now for two months and has yet to receive an offer.

But property stylists Jackson West and Duncan Scott are confident that’s about to change very soon.

The pair, along with six of their students, descended upon the property for five hours last Thursday to transform it from a regular-looking home into a space potential homebuyers simply can’t refuse.

It’s called home staging — a technique that has become wildly popular in the world of real estate and is one of the fastest growing businesses in North America.

Home staging is used when a property is vacant or having trouble selling, and the results, according to West, are incredible.

Staged homes sell for an average of seven to 10 per cent more than the asking price, he said, and in about half the time.

But one of the best things about the job, he said, is seeing the gratification from the homeowner once their property is sold.

“I love the fact we get to help people move forward. Selling a house is a very stressful thing for most people,” said West. “When the homeowners come home and see their house, they wonder why they didn’t have their furniture arranged this way. The house feels bigger, more open and airy. Most of them are actually in shock.”

After taking the Canadian Staging Professionals International course four years ago, West, who was born and raised in Alberta, is now the owner of his own business, Reveal Estate Home Staging, based in Vancouver, which has become known for staging properties throughout Canada.

Canadian Staging Professionals is a Canadian-founded company that teaches home staging training courses throughout North America and Australia, and has helped former students like West and Scott launch their own businesses.

For the first two days, students are in a classroom setting, where they learn about business, marketing and staging principles.

Then it’s time to get down to business and transform an actual home in a single day, using only the furniture the homeowner has in place.

It’s a task that isn’t always easy at times and can take the meaning of creativity to a whole new level.

Since a potential buyer is only in a home between three and six minutes, the first impression means everything.

“We want hem to linger in the home, fall in love with it and emotionally connect to the property,” said West. “Most people think that we are interior decorators, but our business stems from the real estate industry. We control exactly where the buyers look and how they move throughout the property.”

Thursday’s home staging at 36 Lafonde Crescent was the second time Dawn Peach has taken the course.

A former realtor turned assistant, Peach has grown very familiar with the techniques of home staging and now swears by it if a home is having difficulty selling.

“If you are not getting the offers coming in, then having it staged makes a tremendous difference,” said Peach, who was among five other students from around the region at the St. Albert home on Thursday.

“If you have a flare for this sort of thing, doing the course just brings it all together and helps you to build it as a business as well.”

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