Vacant Home Staging – An Effective Marketing Tool

I can’t believe we’ve turned the clocks forward already.  It always makes me feel like Spring is right around the corner . . . and then it snows.

It’s been a mild winter, and I am not complaining – I stage even in the snow.  So, if we have less snow and warmer temperatures, I’m okay with that.  All the homes I staged in December and January were ready for de-staging in February.  We’ve spent the last few weeks de-staging from Pataskala to Upper Arlington and everywhere in between. The warehouse is stocked and ready for the Spring Market.

Last week I staged a downtown condo.  It’s the perfect home for a roommate situation, a younger or older professional (single or couple) or someone downsizing.  There are many possibilities with 2 full bathrooms and 2 large bedrooms on 2 floors.  I don’t think this one will last long.  You can see the listing at:

When I went to view the condo, the homeowners were meeting with their Real Estate Agent.  The wife introduced me to the agent and said to him, “do you think we need to stage this before listing”?  Without hesitation he said, “No”.

Staging is still an enigma (according to Google: mysterious, puzzling, and difficult to understand) to homeowners and to many Real Estate Agents.

It is important to remember when selling a home that the first impression will almost always be the online photos.  If a buyer is looking through a number of MLS listings trust me when I say the ones that they will be drawn to are the ones with professional photos of trendy model-like homes.  Staging is as much a part of marketing the home today as the MLS listing.  Here are four of the top reasons why staging a vacant home is critical:

The number one reason a buyer purchases a home is because it “felt home.”  It was warm, inviting and the buyer made an emotional connection with the home.   When have you ever heard of an empty room described as warm and inviting?  Sterile, cold and uninviting are
the three most popular words to describe an empty room.

A good example of this is found in one of the homes I staged in January.  This homeowner was in the middle of updating when I took the before photos.  It gives you an idea of what the home would look like if it were listed vacant.    

Here is the same (Professional) shot after it was staged.  Which one gives you that warm and fuzzy, emotional connection?  

#2 – Without Furniture, There Is No Frame Of Reference
How big is the room?  Without furniture it’s incredibly difficult to tell the scale and size of a room. When the buyer does not have answers to their questions-they walk away.  What is this room for?  Many times a buyer can’t even tell if it’s the living room or dining room in an unfurnished home.  Don’t keep buyers guessing; it only distracts them from considering the home as a purchase.

A different view of the same room.  Before staging; it doesn’t look that big.  Looking at the size of the wall with the windows, would you say your sofa would be a tight fit in that space?

After staging

Of course the professional photography makes a huge difference too.  It’s actually a large space.  It was staged it with a large sofa/chaise arranged it so that buyers were able to walk around the “chofa” with plenty of open space remaining.  Now buyers can “imagine” their own furniture in the space.

#3 – When A Room Is Empty, Buyers Focus On Negative Details
Can you imagine a brand new Mercedes without a paint job?  Do you think people would notice the beautiful car or the missing paint?  It’s so much easier to notice that crack in the wall, or the chip in the tile or anything, for that matter that might need updated or repaired when there is nothing else to look at.  Home Staging capitalizes on the positive aspects of a home, while de-emphasizing negative aspects in order to position a home that will make an emotional connection with buyers.  Staging shows buyer’s “what could be”; and that’s important
because . . .

#4 – Only 10% of Home Buyers Can Actually Visualize the Potential of Your Home
Nine out of every ten people walking in your home have no imagination of the wonderful possibilities your home has to offer them.  They can’t picture it.  Have you ever watched HGTV and seen Drew and Jonathan showing buyers homes and the wife says, “No, this isn’t the one, I don’t like the paint color”?  I’m the one screaming at the T.V: “DON’T GO!  YOU CAN CHANGE THE COLOR”!!  Not only can they not imagine a different color, but they can’t imagine what it would look like with furniture.  Don’t let a simple thing like no furniture or limited furniture ruin your sale.  Don’t take those odds; they will hurt you in the price significantly!  

Here’s a before and after of the living room in the same house

This house is a mainstream, average size, family home located in a Columbus neighborhood.  Staging helped this home sell fast and for more money.  

In just 3 days, the homeowner received 17 offers and this home sold for $15,000 over list price!!  

If you’re thinking of selling your home, or if you’re a Real Estate Agent who would like to learn more about how staging can help your clients, call me today.  Spring is right around the corner . . . really!

The Silent Home Stager

The days have been flying by and I’ve not been keeping up on social media – it’s been a busy beginning of the year to be sure.  Besides the usual stagings and de-stagings, I’m making time to attend the Greater Area Worthington Realtors Association meetings again.  It’s good to hear what’s happening in the world of Real Estate from Agents themselves.  

I’ve also been preparing for my upcoming class I’ll be teaching at the Dublin Community Recreation Center, Home Staging for Homeowners.  The class is taking place this Saturday, Feb. 18th.  There are still openings if your interested but if you’re unable to make it this week, I’ll be teaching 2 classes a month through the summer.  Next to staging, talking about staging is one of my favorite things to do.  Educating homeowners and Realtors, helping dispel myths about staging is something I enjoy.  There are so many benefits to staging and just as many misconceptions.

In the last 2 weeks I’ve also working on an exciting project.  I’ll be staging 2 apartment models for a complex on the Northwest end of town.  A complex that has been around since my apartment days (that’s a long time ago); but it’s been completely remodeled.  Like many homeowners, they bought new furniture and some accessories but it was far from what they thought it would look like.  

Having the correct scale of furniture is especially important in a smaller space.  Not enough or too small (as in the kitchen) can make a space look empty.  While too much or too big (as in the living room with the sofa and lamp) can make a space look too small or crowded . . . and having both in the same open space looks awkward.

Apartments can be more challenging because of the small space.  You definitely have to know the measurements and plan accordingly.  And anyone who knows me . . . knows I love when a plan comes together and this one is coming together beautifully!  I’ve purchased all the furniture and art and will be finishing with the accessories and bedding today.  

Because of it’s location to a certain campus, I’ve been asked to use red as a pop of color, (the paint is gray).  Red is not my normal M.O., but I’m up for the challenge.  Here’s a small snap shot of part the design board I put together for the living area.  Watch for more about this project in an upcoming blog.         

I’m still working to help form a local Real Estate Staging Association chapter here in Columbus.  We started working on this a year ago and unfortunately it didn’t take place for various reasons.  But we have not given up and hopefully are very close to seeing this finally come to fruition.  I hope to be able to tell you more about this in the near future.  

For now, it’s back to shopping and lots of de-stagings of homes that were staged and listed in December and January.  They have sold and are on the way to the closing table. 

Element One Home Staging of Dublin

Awarded Best Of Houzz 2017

 Over 40 Million Monthly Unique Users Nominated Best Home Building, Remodeling and Design Professionals in North America and Around the World

 Dublin, Franklin, January 17, 2017Element One Home Staging of Dublin, Ohio has won “Best Of Customer Service” on Houzz®, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. The Dublin, Ohio home staging company was chosen by the more than 40 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among more than one million active home building, remodeling and design industry professionals.

The Best Of Houzz is awarded annually in three categories: Design, Customer Service and Photography. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among the more than 40 million monthly users on Houzz. Customer Service honors are based on several factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2016. Architecture and interior design photographers whose images were most popular are recognized with the Photography award. A “Best Of Houzz 2017” badge will appear on winners’ profiles, as a sign of their commitment to excellence. These badges help homeowners identify popular and top-rated home professionals in every metro area on Houzz.

“I’m grateful to be awarded Best of Houzz for the fourth year in a row.  Exceeding our client’s expectations is a top priority,” said Lori Murphy, owner of Element One Home Staging.

“We’re so pleased to award Best of Houzz 2017 to this incredible group of talented and customer-focused professionals, including Element One Home Staging,” said Liza Hausman, vice president of Industry Marketing for Houzz. “Each of these businesses was singled out for recognition by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts for helping to turn their home improvement dreams into reality.”

Follow Element One Home Staging on Houzz

About Element One Home Staging
Element One works with real estate agents, homeowners and investors to prepare homes for sale.  By showcasing the best features of the home and making it appeal to the broadest range of potential buyers, they offer homeowners a competitive edge making the process of selling a home faster and more profitable.  For more information about Element One contact:

Lori Murphy

(740) 972-4714


About Houzz
Houzz is the leading platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish – online or from a mobile device. From decorating a small room to building a custom home and everything in between, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world. With the largest residential design database in the world and a vibrant community empowered by technology, Houzz is the easiest way for people to find inspiration, get advice, buy products and hire the professionals they need to help turn their ideas into reality. Headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, Houzz also has international offices in London, Berlin, Sydney, Moscow and Tokyo. Houzz and the Houzz logo are registered trademarks of Houzz Inc. worldwide. For more information, visit



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A Last-Minute Christmas Gift

Last week I talked about how staging helps homes sell even in the winter months.  I reported that 99% of the homes staged by Element One in November and December were in contract.

On Christmas Eve, the home owners of that other 1% received an offer on their home!

Bexley – This home was on the market for 135 days vacant prior to staging.  It had been somewhat updated prior to listing.  But the real issue was the open concept living and dining areas.  I know, that’s what everyone is looking for these days.  So why was it an issue?

Even though everyone wants open concept, when it’s presented vacant buyers aren’t sure how they would arrange their furniture.  As I’ve said before, when buyers have unanswered questions, they move onto the next house.

Staging this home helped potential buyers see “what could be” and see the true size of the areas.  And by doing so, helped the homeowners receive an offer in just 43 days!

Staging helps homes sell faster; eliminating months of carrying costs and putting more money in your pocket.

100% of the homes staged by Element One in the months of November and December are in contract! 

There is no need to wait till Spring; stage and sell your vacant home today.

Staging Helps – All Year!

Remember the question mark on my last post Last Staging for 2016?  Call it intuition . . . we’ll have at least one more vacant home to stage before we say good bye to 2016.

The real estate market was hot this past year; with homes going into contract as soon as they were listed.  Then right before the election it came to a screeching halt.  What is typically our “slow season”, was suddenly busy.

For anyone who has/had a home that seems to be taking it’s time to sell, you know the frustration and worry.

Homeowners always ask, “should I wait until after the New Year or Spring before staging and listing my home?”

In the months of November and December homeowners who put their trust in Element One Home Staging had these results:

Upper Arlington – listed vacant and lingered on the market for 113 days.  We suggested a little bit of painting and it was staged and in contract in a little over 30 days.

Dublin – staged before listed; in contract in 8 days for over asking price.

Hilliard – listed vacant for 60 days; homeowner changed to a Realtor who works with Element One.  We suggested some painting and staged the home.  Professional photos were taken, it was listed, and in contract in less than 24 hrs.

Bexley – This home took about 60 days to receive an acceptable offer.  However, this was a unique situation.  It’s located in a desirable neighborhood, with at least 3 other homes for sale very nearby – all in different price ranges. The homeowners knew they had a quality product and that the staging added value.  Their patience paid off; the home is in contract at full asking price!

The listing prices of these homes range from $219,000 – $599,000 and are located from Hilliard to Bexley.  One thing they have in common – they were all staged by Element One.  For the months of November and December, 99% of the homes we staged are now in contract!  That’s a great way to end the year.  Not only for Element One, but more importantly for the homeowners who can move on in the New Year!

Don’t wait – stage your vacant home today.

It’s been a pleasure helping homeowners sell their homes in 2016 and we’re looking forward to 2017 –


Last Home Staging for 2016?


Happy Holidays!  Home Staging happens all year round.  Winter, and the first snow of the season arrived yesterday. Of course, we had a de-staging scheduled.  Congratulations, to the Dublin home owners!  Their home sold in under 60 days.

We also had our final staging of the year. . . maybe.  We started yesterday and put the final touches on today.

Today we started early to complete the staging for this lovely home in Hilliard.   With an open concept great room for entertaining, a spacious master suite and a nice outdoor entertaining space, this home is perfect for families of all sizes.


Professional photos are being taken.  I will post them on the Staged Listings tab when they’re ready.

For more information about this home contact Lori Hicks, HER Realtors, at 614-332-4391, or

Home Staging for the Homeowner

Learn what home staging is and why it is the essential element to getting your house sold quickly and for top dollar; even in a hot real estate market. Central Ohio’s award winning home stager will teach you ten staging tips and techniques to get your house ready to sell on your own, as well as provide guidance on when you should bring in a professional.
 Home Staging for the Home Owner Instructor Lori Murphy

Lori has been in the homeowner’s shoes before. She wanted to know “why isn’t my home selling?” Going through the process sparked her interest in home staging and redesign. Lori is passionate about home staging and is ready to share her passion with you!headshot

Lori Murphy is an HSR Certified Professional Home Stager and Redesigner and has completed the most comprehensive home staging and redesign certification course in the country provided by the Home Staging Resource. The HSR Certification program is accredited for the home staging industry. The Home Staging Resource is the first and one of the only accredited staging training courses available for the staging industry.




Whether you’re a homeowner or a Realtor, understanding how to make the most of professional home staging is important.  If you’ve decided to invest in home staging you’ll want to read on.

Along with photos, flyers and online promotions, home staging is another great marketing tool but, it is at times under-utilized.  It’s like writing an e-blast and not hitting “send”, creating a flyer and not posting it or holding an open house without advertising.  The goal of home staging is to help buyers visualize themselves living in a home.  Staging achieves this by highlighting a home’s best features, making it comfortable, welcoming and visually appealing.

1. Eliminate Multi-sensory challenges: Home stagers are experts at making your home visually stunning. However, buyers use all of their senses when making a decision, including buying a home. A professional stager will assess the home and items that may affect the other senses as well.

  • Temperature: Is the home too hot or too cold? This happens frequently in vacant homes where the thermostat may be off to save money.  If it’s uncomfortable, buyers will be turned off no matter how good it looks.  Make sure the thermostat is set at a comfortable temperature during showings, even if that means a slightly higher utility bill.
  • Odor: Are/were there pets in the home, or pet odor?  What about a musty smell in the basement? Home stagers will give honest feedback on how the home smells.  If necessary, they’ll suggest that carpets and upholstery be cleaned and pet beds, cages, and litter boxes be moved into the garage or basement, if possible.  If the basement smells musty, have a professional identify the source.  Sometimes the fix is as easy as covering an open drain or putting in a moisture barrier.  If the house smells, staging efforts will not pay off.
  • Noise: Is there a floorboard that creaks when you step on it or a toilet that runs? These are things that sellers may have adapted to over time but potential buyers will notice immediately.  Make these easy repairs before you list.  It won’t matter how great the house looks, if the home buyers are distracted by a list of things “to-do”.

2. Don’t Under-Stage – choosing to leave the dining room as a sewing room or leaving a spare bedroom as storage, is a waste of staging dollars.  Though your home stager likely will not suggest staging every room, he/she will give you advice on how to optimize each room and suggest its purpose is clear.

3. On-line Photos matter – Now that your home looks amazing, make sure the photos do it justice. 95% of buyers are looking on line before they call their agent to view a home. On-line photos are the first impression and the number one tool buyers use to gauge their interest in a home.  If the photos are too dark, too small, or inconsistent, they’ll move onto the next listing.

  • Update Your Photos After Staging – If the home was listed before you staged, eliminate confusion by replacing the old photos with the new ones. For example, don’t post both the un-staged dining room and the staged dining room photos.  This will confuse buyers as to which way the home looks now.  Here is an example of the same room before and after.  If both photos are still posted, how do buyers know which one is today’s version? 

  • Limit the number of photos that are posted on line. Chances are buyers won’t take the time to look through 150 photos.
  • Double Check Your Listing Photos – Are they all the same size? Are any of them upside down? Are there repeats?  Are they in order?  You don’t want to make it this far and fall down at the finish line.  Details matter.

4. Communicating = Marketing – Double your marketing efforts by staying in touch with your stager. Chances are good that you both have social media accounts and, if you’re a Realtor, a website for your business. Your stager can help promote a property “coming soon” or an “open house”. Your stager is most likely also connected through their social media page(s) to other Realtors who maybe representing buyers.  If you think your stager did a good job, share the news and ask them to return the favor.

5. Get Feedback – Ask agents who show the listing to give feedback on the home and the staging. This will help identify the value of your investment; and by sharing the feedback with the stager, it will help identify any challenges buyers may still have and give you the insight to determine whether you have chosen the correct professional. Like a real estate agent, a professional stager should know the market and the potential buyer for the home.  As you wouldn’t have the same buyer for a $700,000 home as you would for a $200,000 home, your stager should also know the difference, and stage accordingly.

Home staging is an investment and you expect a return.  Follow these tips so you and your realtor can make the most out of your investment.