RISMEDIA, March 6, 2007-(MCT)-Bobby Owens didn't ask for his dining room to be painted two shades of lavender.
That was courtesy of the home's previous owners. But the unusual paint scheme is now Owens' problem as he works to sell the home before moving to Alabama.
Enter Caryl Smith, owner of Southern Signature Rooms. The lavender room was one of several things she flagged at Owens' Evans home during a visit earlier this week.
Other turnoffs to a potential buyer include the home's dated lighting fixtures and even Spiderman curtains in the children's room.
It might sound harsh, but Smith's job is to make the residence less like a "home" and more like a house in which potential buyers can see themselves.
Smith, who is accredited through the Society of Decorating Professionals, just launched her Evans business.
Staging a home to get it ready for sale isn't a new concept. But sellers of older homes are having to market their properties aggressively as new homes sprout up like weeds in the Augusta-Aiken area.
The goal is to help homes sell quickly and for as much money as possible. Staged homes sold in half the time and for about 7% more, according to a 2004-05 survey of 200 homes from Stagedhomes.com.
And to meet the need, new business have started to pop up.
"My job isn't to make friends, it's to sell the home," said Maria Theresa Bezubic, a Stagedhomes.com accredited staging professional who started her firm, Augusta Home Staging LLC, in May.
Bezubic said some of her main clients have been investors trying to flip a house or builders wanting to stage a model home.
Homes in Augusta sat on the market for an average of 82 days last year, said Tom Horner, a Realtor with Sherman & Hemstreet GMAC Real Estate.
Realtors and home stagers alike say it can be hard for clients to hear their home needs some changes.
"You have to teach your clients that selling your house is different than when you live in it," said Owens' Realtor, Barbara Crenshaw, of Keller Williams Realty.
Owens, who has lived in the home 1 1/2 years, did not take the suggestions personally. He had expected more work would be needed before he and his wife, Becky, decided to move. They have been trying to sell since December.
"I couldn't care less. We want to sell the house," he said.
Crenshaw said even though she helped Owens with a lot of staging work, a fresh pair of eyes helps.
While the industry is big in other markets, such as Orlando or Atlanta, Realtors say it hasn't caught fire in Augusta.
But with new homes to compete with, sellers should aim to make their house look like a model home.
"(The buyers) might like the resale home better, but if there's any cosmetic work to do" they might change their mind, said Kim Hankins, a Realtor at Sherman and Hemstreet.
Area residents also are becoming more aware of the industry though programs on HGTV, increasing its popularity, Bezubic said.
Hiring a staging professional can cost a couple hundred dollars for the consultation, more if you hire them to do the work.
But not all changes have to break the bank.
Smith gave Owens easy ideas Wednesday, such as switching out light fixtures, touching up paint, rearranging furniture and replacing a worn-out welcome mat.
Bezubic said she often scours Goodwill stores, Habitat for Humanity and yard sales for lamps, artwork and other inexpensive goods that can spruce up a home.
"Some of us just have a creative knack," she said.
Copyright © 2007, The Augusta Chronicle, Ga.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.