California real estate updates old ritual into new sale

Anyone who has sold a house knows the trick of baking cookies or boiling apple juice before the prospective buyers show up, to give them that cozy at-home feeling. But the competitive California market has taken the walk-through ritual to the next level.

Called homestaging, real estate brokers and homeowners are hiring decorating experts to size-up their home to get it ready for resale. Staged homes have been prepped and propped to help get buyers the highest possible price. They might pack the homeowner’s possessions in storage and rent furniture if need be, to be more in keeping with the home style.

Although realtors don’t want to go on record, they do admit that sizing up a home’s potential these days involves more than curb appeal.

“What the house looks like on the outside is still extremely important,” says one broker. “That’s the snapshot. The next snapshot is when they walk through the front door.” If the prospects feel they could plop on the couch and feel right at home, it’s a short trip to the bargaining table.

Most homeowners don’t have decorating sense, so realtors bring in the real thing to create that picture book fantasy.

Home glamour mags have been upstyling homes to be photographed for decades. There’s no accounting for taste, and magazine art directors have been hauling out movie star and celebrity homeowners’ prized possessions all along, redressing the home with designer ware.

The fact that this rite has moved to selling the home is a natural progression, thanks to a competitive housing market.

When prospects enter the home and see the iconic trappings of prosperous living, it differentiates the house and improves the chance of a sale.

If nothing else, it gives the new homeowner a picture book fantasy to live up to.