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The Humphrey Team
(Reprinted from Ventura County Star)

For team, all the world is staged

ASP Realtor feeds creative drive, helps sellers, by sprucing up listings to show like model homes.

By Amy Stroba,
Special Sections writer

For many Realtors selling a house is putting a sign in front, placing ads in the newspaper and the listing onto the Web's MLS. Not for Sandy Humphrey. Sandy and Bill Humphrey and the Humphrey Team take it yet another step further by staging listings to show like model homes. It is a service that few provide homesellers.
A self-proclaimed "seminar

and tape junkie," Sandy became interested in staging homes about 15 years ago when she attended a home staging seminar by Barb Schwarz, a well-known interior designer who was in the leading forefront of staging homes.
Sandy is one of very few real estate professionals in Southern California to have achieved the Accredited Staging Professional designation (ASP) after
a recent two-day seminar in Las Vegas. "It was grueling training," she says. "The first day was 12 hours of learning staging techniques and the second day we totally redid a home. It was a neat experience."
The designation is a national Interior Design industry specialty, but recognized by the National
Association of Realtors.
Every little detail helps when staging a home. Sandy Humphrey,center,Rene' Hultine,left,and Julie Gangwish of The Humphrey Team prepare a home for market with model home touches including floral arrangements and ceramic accessories.
"Usually Realtors will hire an ASP which will add to the cost of the selling price anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000," she said. The Humphrey Team offers staging services for no extra charge.
A shopping and home accessory aficionado, Sandy enjoys picking up items in the off-chance they will add to the ambience of one of her listings. "Staging really feeds the creative part of me," she says. "Our goal is to have each home show like a model. When a home is staged buyers can walk in and imagine themselves in a home," she said.
Her husband and partner Bill shares in the concept.
"The way you live and the way you sell a home are two different things," he said.
And all staging professionals will agree confirming the fact: spaciousness sells, clutter doesn't.
Sandy and Bill and The Humphrey Team with RE/MAX Gold Coast Realtors in Thousand Oaks were featured in Broker Agent magazine as its broker/agents of the month.
Other Realtors will say a home will sell itself in this market. "We say it'll sell, but there's more we can do to get our clients more money," Sandy said.
The time and effort to stage a listing and to take it down is very little compared to the success it brings in the long run.
"It's amazing how we can transform a home," Bill said. "People are busy today. Most sellers don't have the time for the decorating expertise to stage their homes to bring them the most money possible."
Staging professionals also will agree -- in a hot real estate market there is even more of a need to stage homes. "It gets so much more money.
We can pick and choose the best qualified buyers," Sandy said.
The staging concept began some years ago on the West Side where wealthy homeowners would hire decorators and pay them handsomely to move, remove and rearrange furniture to neutralize the home and decorate it before presenting to the marketplace. Although this service was very expensive, sellers found it worth every penny when they saw the reaction of the marketplace.
And it seems to be growing in popularity with programs like "Designed to Sell" on HGTV and in hot real estate markets including the San Francisco Bay area.
It has been documented that houses that have been staged, sell faster and for more money, on an average, 6 percent or more higher than homes that have not been staged.
Sandy & Bill Humphrey
& The Humphrey Team
Sandy tells the story about clients who had just purchased a new home. They had two weeks to sell their current home or lose the new one. To top it off, they would be out of the country for two weeks.
"The best surprise we could get would be a phone call while we are overseas saying we had an offer," the client said.
For the Humphreys it was no problem. Sandy and the team went to work. The home was staged, photographed and put on the Web site http://www.humphreyteam.com.
Soon there were two offers on the house. She called to tell them the good news and asked if they had seen their home on the Web. The clients had and were amazed. "But what we saw on your Web site doesn't look like our home," they said.
"Our goal is to have buyers walk into a home and be amazed at how
incredibly immaculate and beautifully it is put together," Bill said. "When buyers walk into a home that has been staged and shows beautifully, they can almost see themselves living in the home and can imagine that's how they will live if they buy it."
Sandy and Bill and the team have a reputation among the real estate community for having listings that show beautifully. Realtors know that when thy bring a buyer into one of the Humphrey Team's listing they can be confident it will show well.
"You want to give the impression that no one lives here, making it look as much like a model home as possible," Sandy said. "We want the buyer to imagine their furniture and things belong in the the homes. They can't visualize themselves living in the home if it is filled with a great deal of other people's personal items like family picture or children's artwork on the refrigerator.
Sandy is reminded of a $1.8 million listing the team had a year ago with 5,000 square feet. "It definitely needed staging," she said. "There were too many of the sellers personal items including collections etc. You couldn't see the beauty of the home.
When taking the listing, the Humphrey's advise sellers to go into camping mode. "We help them pack up early. We bring them moving boxes and hire someone to pack up the items they will not need until after thy move. We then have the home professionally cleaned and staged at no cost to them," Sandy said.
Occasionally, they recommend to sellers to have the home painted and/or carpeted and even minor landscaping prior to putting it on the market. "We have negotiated wholesale prices not paid until the close of escrow in these cases," Bill said.

"We don't recommend doing anything that won't get them at least $5 back for every $1 they put in," says Sandy when she counsels home sellers.
"We don't recommend doing anything thst won't get them at least $5.00 back for every $1.00 they put in," says Sandy when she counsels home sellers.
Such efforts can pay off. "We typically find that as a result of the staging that we provide free of charge, for every $1,000 the sellers invest, they gain at least an additional $5,000 in increased sales price.
But don't they want to stay once it's fixed up? Sandy smiles. "A lot of times what we suggest in upgrades -- new and/or lighter carpets, lighter, paint etc. -- after having lived with it through escrow, the sellers often realize they like it and go on to try some of the suggestions in their new homes," she said.
Sandy and Bill's contractor relationships through the years make the task easy. "They generally will drop what they are doing to help us get the property ready for market," Sandy said. The longest a listing has taken to get ready for market is approximately one and one-half weeks," Bill said.
Many of the items used to stage their listings come from the couple's home. "You can tell how many properties we have going by the sparseness of our own home," Sandy said, with a smile.
Bill agrees. "There are times when there are many empty nails in our walls."
"I don't mind going without for a couple of weeks," Sandy said, "especially if it helps a listing sell."
The type of staging depends on the size and condition of the house and the entire team can be a part of the process.
The team concept has worked well for the Humphreys. "With a team you have someone in the office all of the

time," Bill said. "When clients call they get a live voice at the other end."
And because of the true team spirit, everyone on the Humphrey Team is familiar with all of the clients.
Along with Sandy's ASP designation, she is a Certified Residential Specialist and a Luxury Homes Specialist. From luxury homes to townhomes, staging works with all price ranges.
Formerly from the Midwest, The Humphreys moved to Ventura County from Chicago.
Sandy began her real estate career in 1984 to bring in some extra income. They grew to love the coastal beauty, great climate and family-friendly environment.
Bill was an engineer with Vetco Offshore in Ventura until the company moved to Houston. Neither of them wanted to leave the area so Bill asked Sandy if she would like a partner in real estate.
Sandy began her real estate career in 1984 to bring in some extra income. They grew to love the coastal beauty, great climate and family-friendly environment.
Bill was an engineer with Vetco Offshore in Ventura until the company moved to Houston. Neither of them wanted to leave the area so Bill asked Sandy if she would like a partner in real estate.
They weren't sure if they could actually make a living in the real estate industry -- never having great experiences with Realtors themselves. They wondered if they could make a go of it because, as Sandy said, "we didn't have pushy personalities." What they were able to do was to provide clients with a level of trust and service far beyond what they had formerly experienced.
"We were excited at the prospect of owning our own business and we knew we could be successful as a team if we worked hard, worked

smart and educated ourselves on all aspects of the real estate industry," Bill said. The Humphreys opened their own company --Cam-Oaks Properties -- in Newbury Park and eventually trained 18 agents. "We found we were so busy with other agents that we missed having clients of our own," Sandy said. Working for RE/MAX the couple found they could retain the flexibility they enjoyed similar to the way they ran their business, but with the freedom from administrative details.
The couple sells approximately 80 to 100 homes per year. "Each one of our sellers feel like they are our only clients," Sandy said.
They currently have between five to 10 listings at one point in the process.
Of course, there always be sellers who are skeptical of the necessity to stage their home. "A buyer in Connecticut saw our seller's house on Realtor.com. He told his agent and they contacted us and within a short time the deal was done. The seller isn't skeptical any more," Sandy said.
If staging is so important then why aren't more Realtors using it? Sandy speculates perhaps one of the reasons is that many Realtors are intimidated by sellers and are afraid they will lose the listing if they recommend making changes.
The other reason could be the very difficult and expensive service staging can present. Having someone on staff with the ability to "redesign" listings and transform them into model homes and maintaining thousand of dollars worth of decorator items to complement almost any decor can be a major financial commitment.
For more information about the services provided by Sandy and Bill Humphrey and the Humphrey Team, call 917-4163, or visit the Web site http://www.humphreyteam.com/.




 
 
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