Click to Watch/Read Interview With Tammy Cunningham – Center Stage Kelowna – Home Staging Tips

Jody Miller: We’re sitting down today with Tammy from Center Stage, she’s responsible for making so many of my listings look incredible, especially if a house is vacant or it just doesn’t quite look right. Center Stage will come in and actually do an evaluation of the house, what needs to be done, and then they’ll make it happen. So thanks for talking. Thanks for being here. 

Tammy Cunningham: My pleasure. Thanks for having me. 

Jody Miller: Yeah, it’s awesome. I mean, just tell us a bit about what you do and ultimately how it helps our clients, how it helps me and just what it does.

Tammy Cunningham: Absolutely. I think the main thing that we do is we try to come in with the most critical eye. What could turn somebody away when they come in? This is a really adorable, but very old house, lots of creeks and bones. And of course, issues because it’s not perfect it’s aged. So, when they come in and the space is vacant, we find that they’re going to pick apart every little detail. When we stage it and we bring in all the furniture and modern accessories and things like that. We just show the potential. We show that everything fits, everything works here and I think that’s what people need to see. They just don’t get it otherwise. So, we just want to show how cute it can be, what the potential is, so that you get your offers.

Jody Miller: Yeah. And that’s kind of what it comes down to is when people are online, they’re looking at the photos. We want the photos to look good. But we also wanted the people to go, yeah, that looks great. I want to go see that in person. So, they look at the virtual tour, they look at the pictures, they like what they see, they come here. The worst thing that could ever happen is they go, ah, it looked better in the photos. And when I send feedback to other realtors, it’s not always, but I bet you probably for every four showings, 25% of the time, every four or five showings, there’s one or two houses where they like it better in the pictures than they do in person. So, when they get here, having it staged just helps things be consistent. So, as long as those lenses aren’t too big or things, aren’t tricky, what they see in the pictures is going to be exactly what they see when they get here.

Tammy Cunningham: Absolutely. And I think yeah, it has to feel the exact same way. It has to feel comfortable. It has to feel like home. Another option that we offer with our staging packages is that if someone wants to come in and buy everything that’s here, they can. Just have a little inventory sheet, they shop off that list, people like that because they may be moving from other areas or other spaces and they can just kind of have it so that it’s comfortable and they can move right in.

Jody Miller: Yeah. And it’s so true because I’ve actually had lots of times where people, they haven’t necessarily bought the furniture that’s never happened, but they’ve joked. They’d sure love to have the furniture included with the sale or what could we do to have the furniture. People have their own furniture that I’ve dealt with. So, they haven’t actually bought it, but I’m sure it’ll happen one day where they go, you know what? It’s so perfect. We just want to move into it, how it is. So, it’s kind of a testament to doing a good job. 

Tammy Cunningham: Well, thank you.

Jody Miller: And to making the spaces work. So, a lot of times you’ll see other people’s furniture, but it’s big. It’s bulky. The colors don’t really work. 

Tammy Cunningham: Absolutely. The big dark leather couch, things that make the space feel smaller than it is or don’t actually work. We take a pride in the fact that we have a huge warehouse full of furniture. So, we’re not just going to bring what we have. We’re going to bring the perfect items that fit the scale of the room because people need to see it. People need to know that everything fits, but it has to be pretty. And it has to be functional. Yeah. You want to be able to live on it as well. So, we make sure that we can show them the potential of both. 

Jody Miller: Exactly. And it works good if you’re selling, even if you’re a buyer, just to kind of understand how that works. So, this is perfect. You come in here, you like what you see, you’re going to feel good about the house and you’re going to feel good about making an offer on the house. But if you go into a house where just the furnishing is tough, it makes the rooms feel really small. Maybe there’s a room that’s empty and it’s a good size, but the photo just looks like a little square and you have no way to really make an idea. Like what could we put into that room by staging it? There’s no thinking required.

Tammy Cunningham: Yeah, absolutely. It’s sort of the idea of looking at a vacant photo online. Is at the bedroom? Is it the kitchen? Is that the living room? Like, you really don’t know, I guess you could figure out which one’s the kitchen, but you know it kind of just puzzles it all together. And it also goes to show when you do those videos and do the walkthrough, we know exactly what each room is used for and what it can be. 

Jody Miller: And not to pick on it, but I mean, one thing that’s been more prominent lately. The last couple of years is virtual staging. So, a house could be empty or maybe it has furniture, but it actually computer generated staging. So, in the pictures on the computer, it might look pretty good but it’s not real. And I mean, I know you’ve got a couple stories.

Tammy Cunningham: Yeah, absolutely. We do virtual staging, but we try never to. The bottom line is it looks amazing on an MLS listing. And then they get to the property and there’s no emotion. There’s like, no, this is not the same. So, we find it does absolutely the opposite of what it’s supposed to. It turns people away because they’re not as excited when they get here. So, nothing like the real thing, they want to come and see it exactly as they saw it in the pictures and it definitely will sell it. I mean, we we’ve been doing this for 15, almost 16 years and I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t believe in it, but it works almost every time. 

Jody Miller: Yeah. Big time. And I mean, it helps people make more money ultimately. Maybe it generates more offers, but at the end of the day, it’s just going to help you position your house better amongst what else is for sale. And even if there isn’t anything else for sale, people are going to love what you’ve got, because you’re showing it to the best of its potential. And people are going to come in and feel like there’s all these pictures of other people in here. The bed’s not made, this is just a good opportunity to make it look as good as possible. And as they say, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. It’s definitely true. So, this is the best opportunity right now to make a good impression on the house and market it as best as you possibly can. So, with regards to staging, if it’s something that you’re considering, it doesn’t mean that I’m necessarily going to  hire someone to do the staging, but there’s going to  be a process where you’re best to talk to Tammy and set up an appointment to meet with her. And she can actually consult with you, I believe, is that how to get started? 

Tammy Cunningham: Absolutely. So, as no two homes are alike, we offer a complimentary visit to the house, takes us 20 minutes, have a look at what we’re dealing with. Take a few measurements, take our photos. And from that the same day we can provide a quote. So, that quote again is based on how accessible the property is what we need to bring, how much furniture, et cetera. And then we base it off of that information. We send out the quote and if you want to go ahead with that, fantastic. And if you don’t, it didn’t cost you anything to get the information. But again, it’s really hard for us to quote over the phone. A lot of people will say how much and it’s like, oh, no two homes are alike. No access is the same. Every house needs different style, different look, different quality. The 10 million property versus the $500,000 property. Totally different packages. 

Jody Miller: Yeah. And that’s same with my business in general, people say we have a house in Glenmore. We have a house here. What’s it worth? You just can’t really give a ballpark without seeing it in person and doing a little bit of homework and same with your service. You want to see the house and plan out how it’s all going to fall into place. But I’ve just always found, it’s worked really good for my clients. It’s helped me a lot because what I’m selling is just portrayed perfectly. And it’s just nice to let someone else take care of those details for you. So, one thing that I didn’t really take into consideration, or hadn’t really thought of before meeting with Tammy and talking about staging is you always go about who your buyers might be, but in this case furnishing the home to suit that potential buyer and maybe for the neighborhood. So, if there’s a school nearby, if it’s a family, maybe it’s just a rancher style house for retirees. You’ll consider that right. When you’re going to do the work for meeting?

Tammy Cunningham: Absolutely. The demographics are one of the first things we think about, and that’s another reason why we like to go out in person to see the space, to see what we’re dealing with. Sometimes we get into a property and there’s a really tiny room and people are like, oh this will never fit a bed. Well, we want to show you that a bed will fit and we’re not going to make it look crowded. We’re going to make it look perfect. We might just use smaller scale furnishings and things like that. So, if it’s a really tiny room, we’ll make it a baby’s room. The crib always fits in there. And then it adds a little element of cuteness we’ll say. And then the same thing, if we know an elementary school is close by, we’re going to do more juvenile, younger style secondary bedrooms but a big formal, beautiful master bedroom is always the goal. Everybody likes to buy kitchens and, and on suite bathrooms and master bedrooms, that’s where we spend the most of our attention on those spaces that are saleable. People want a beautiful kitchen. You got it. We’ll make sure that that happens. So, we kind of focus our efforts there. When people have a budget to deal with as well, we’ll work with your budget. If you want to leave a few rooms empty, we’ll do that. We don’t love doing it because we want to have the whole space, all feel fantastic. When we leave a couple of rooms out, it always feels like we’ve forgotten something. But if budgets are always a thing, well, absolutely. What do we not need to stage? Well, let’s skip the basement. Let’s skip this area and that’s going to make it work for you. Bottom line is this is your biggest investment, typically real estate. Why leave money on the table? Spend a bit of money. You’ll get way more back. Yeah. Way more offers. It’s going to sell quicker, less time on the market. So, for me when people say it’s too expensive, I kind of go, oh boy, you’re actually going to lose money if you don’t stage. Even in big, beautiful properties, sometimes they’re a little sterile, they’re very gray and white and they don’t have any personality. We’re going to bring that personality so everybody’s going to love it. 

Jody Miller: Yeah. And it’s very true because there’s one house in particular, a very nice house, but it was vacant and it didn’t photograph very well. We listed it didn’t get very much in terms of showings, didn’t get an offer. It just was missing something. And that was when we had it staged, brought back on the market, new photos. It was incredible. We had a whole bunch of showings and I don’t know if we had multiple offers, but we had an offer around full price and the people just wanted to buy the house. They liked how it was. And they said, we want it. So, same house but just the furniture and better photos. And then the better impression when they came in was enough to have somebody jump on it and buy it right away. So, it does, you know, speaks for itself. But if it’s not something you’ve considered, you definitely want to consider it. It makes a big difference. 

Tammy Cunningham: Thank you. Thank you. We love what we do.

Jody Miller: Great information from Tammy and super helpful because there are a lot of things that we’re just not going to consider. People are not selling hoses on a regular basis. Maybe if they are, this is something they know, but very seldom. So, for anybody who’s not sold recently, maybe they’ve never sold before. Ideally just have you in for a consult and look at what the options are. 

Tammy Cunningham: Absolutely. A little bit of information goes a long way. Anything we can do to help you sell a little quicker is going to help you get it done right. 

Jody Miller: Lastly, any tips on smells because some houses you go in and they’re just smelly, they’ve got like really strong centered air freshener. Anything you suggest that we do or don’t do?

Tammy Cunningham: Yeah, absolutely. I find that if you are in a house where people do some really fantastic cooking, whether they be curries or onions and garlic and things they can kind of take over the space. And you don’t want to have to sacrifice your good eating. So, my thoughts are always get the house smelling nice and a great way to do that. So, you don’t have to bake a loaf of bread every day while you’re listing your house, is to plug in a glade air freshener. Really important to know though that not everybody likes every smell and you really want to make everybody love it. And you don’t want to turn anybody away by something that’s too scented in the house. So, the only two scents you should be using are vanilla or apple or baked apple. People love food. People love baked goods. Even if they’re dieting, they still love the smell. So, it’s just a matter of making sure that you don’t put anything too scented or over powerful because you’ll turn away a buyer or potential buyer just by having the wrong scent in the space.

Jody Miller: There you have it. So, a little good trick, whether you’re staging your house or not do it, it’s going to be a nice way to show house just to show a little bit better, smell a little bit better. And suddenly I’d never heard of before was kind of those two specific scents because I always have people walk into houses like, oh this smells terrible. So, apple, vanilla. 

Tammy Cunningham: That’s it. 

Jody Miller: Thank you very much. 

Tammy Cunningham: My pleasure. Thanks so much for having me. 

Jody Miller: Yeah, no, it’s awesome that you’re here and Tammy’s going to get out of here. We’re just going to talk about a few things to do just to prep your house before a showing and then we’ll be done. Welcome to our kitchen. Our kitchen’s been staged, not over the top. There’s not like a whole ton of stuff here, but maybe what you notice is there isn’t a lot, which actually makes it better. One of the big things you just want to declutter and get away from having multiple coffee machines on the counter. Having wash cloths that are hung over the sink here, just because someone just did the dishes, they leave it here. So, you just want to show the kitchen off. It’s one of the main rooms like kitchens and bathrooms, people really they’re sold on kitchens. They see a nice and sweet washroom. They’re sold on that too. So, you really want to take the time to make your kitchen look really, really good. We’re shooting this in the kitchen. So, we’re not going to go in every room. But think about that in other rooms too, you just don’t want to have a lot of clutter.

And when you do have a space here, kind of a floating space like this, like have the chair here, have some magazines, show off what it is and what it can be. Don’t have a bunch of things just piled here. You want someone to get excited about it. And like you said earlier, whatever they see in the photos, they want to come to the house and they want it to be a hundred percent of what they saw in the photos. So, don’t change it. Don’t have it looking like, oh, we just did a whole bunch of dishes. We got our dishes drying, whatever they saw in the photos. Keep it that way. So, number one, declutter, maybe an orange, why not have some props, some of this stuff isn’t going to get used. We’ve got some buns here. It looks like they’re big, fresh, but not really, but people aren’t going to know the difference. We just want them to like the place they want, see the place and then get a good vibe when they come in here. So, number one, declutter, get rid of all that stuff. 

Number two, when you’re selling your house, make sure you don’t have too big of pieces of furniture in here. And here we don’t have a kitchen table right here, but you go to a house. You’d be surprised how many people have a little table right there. So, make it all flow, make it work. Number three, if you have time paint the house if you can, it’s not going to you all that much. Some people can do it themselves, but you’d be surprised how many colors there are in a house. When you look at your house, you might have a feature wall that’s Merlo, which was big in the early 2000s. But now that purpleish reddish color is just over the top and really dark. So, find out what some good neutral colors are that people like it’s going to work with their furniture and it’s going to work with your furniture too. So, take the time, paint the house. It’s going to go a long ways. One thing that I always tell people too, if they’re leaving the house after maybe having a shower in the morning, change the towels. Like you don’t want to have, oh, there’s your wet towel drying on a towel bar beside the shower. They go in there, that’s kind of gross. Why not have some nice plush towels? If you’re going to have a shower? Yeah. Still live in your house. But take that towel, tuck it somewhere else. Have some nice show towels out on the counter, on the towel bar, have a nice soap that isn’t being used, not a bar of soap that you’re washing your hands with and you leave it beside the sink and that’s kind of gross. So, think of what you would want to see in a house. And just like the shows you see on TV. You go into these nice homes. That’s what you want your house to be is one of those nice homes too. 

In a house, there’s a lot of times like when I go out to houses, people have lived there for a lot of years. They’ve got pictures of their family everywhere. They’ve got personal things. They’ve got little rhymes and jokes on the wall. They’ve got clutter they don’t even know that they have. But when you have too much stuff there and it’s really just you, a buyer, can’t go in there and imagine themselves in that house. It’s just sort of overwhelming. So, you want to de personalize your house. You don’t need to get rid of every photo. I mean, have a couple pictures, have your grandkids up there. If you want to have a wedding picture, that’s okay. But don’t have 43 pictures on the wall. Just have a couple placed on the wall or maybe sometimes better don’t have any at all. And then the person’s going to imagine their pictures there, but I mean a wedding picture’s good because they might imagine their wedding picture there. A family picture’s good because it’s a happy place and they’re going to imagine this is their happy place. So, a little is good, but don’t overdo it when you see these picture walls with all these different pictures galore, it just makes people feel like where, where do we fit into this house? So, you want them to feel like this house is going to be theirs and ideally they go, yeah like we’re the right family for this and we’re going to move into this house and it’s going to be perfect for us. Just like it kind of looks to be perfect for the people who live here already. 

So, we touched on painting the house. Definitely if you have the ability to do so, it’s not going to cost you an awful lot. I’m pretty sure it’s worth your while to do so. Every house is different so I mean consult with me or consult with your realtor about that. But painting is a big thing and it’s an easy thing to do. Goes a long, long ways. Another good thing is lighting, lighting fixtures aren’t that expensive. The new LED lighting is going to go so well with the nice paint job, illuminate the house, make people feel like a nice bright space. Even if it’s kind of a dingy rainy day, light up the house, people are going to love that. Another thing that’s important is just have the house smelling fresh. You’ve been cooking, your bedroom window hasn’t been opened in three months, open your windows, get the fresh air flowing through the house like Tammy from Center Stage said. She suggested having, if you do have an air freshen air, have an apple centered air freshener, or have a vanilla sent to their freshener and make sure it’s just on a low setting. No one wants to be overwhelmed with weird smells. So, make sure you don’t have some ocean breeze smell that maybe one buyer doesn’t like and it just turns them off as soon as they walk in the house, some people are sensitive to smells too. So, a little bit and just a couple options, but don’t think what you like everybody else likes.

A few more things and we’re not in any particular order here just giving you some ideas of things you can do when it’s time to sell your house to make it just show better and make a good impression when people come in. So, from the outside in, when they drive up, have good curb appeal, take the time. If you have a couple stairs up to your door, you’ve got a door that’s maybe needs painting. It gets a lot of sunlight, paint the door, paint those steps. Just make a good impression. Don’t have garbage cans out front. If you have those garbage cans out front that are like, city of such and such and it’s a recycled bin and a garbage bin and a yard waste bin, it’s going to look trashy in the pictures. Trashy, that’s pretty good. But it’s going to look bad in the pictures. It’s also going to look not very good in person. So, tuck it around the back of the house. When they drive up, you want just to start off with a great like, hey look at this house. It looks perfect. The lawn was just cut. When they walk in, have it clean, clean the windows, clean the floors, clean the outside of the windows, clean the side of the windows. Like just make sure it’s sparkling because people are going to see in the comments like Mr. and Mrs. Clean live here. And those are the kind of houses that like they’re a lot easier to sell. People are excited and they might generate a multiple offer. But if it says that and then they get there and there’s muddy footprints on the floor and the baseboards are covered in dust. No one’s going to be impressed. They’re going to notice it. So, take the time, like clean the house, polish it, make it look, picture perfect. 

Lastly, just make sure everything is how you’d want it to be. So, I touched on this a little bit, but if you’re going to  have a shower before you head out, take that towel and put it somewhere else, make it look like no one’s been there all day. You’re going to have the time to like bake some cookies. Maybe you won’t, maybe you will. But if you could, that’d be amazing. Bake some chocolate chip cookies have them on the stove. Have the house smelling really good. The more you do the better. If you’ve got a kid’s room and the windows haven’t been opened recently, open the windows, get some fresh air in there. So, they walk in the fresh air from outside its just continuous on the inside. So, think about how you want your house to look, if you were buying one, what would turn you off? What do you look for? And just think about the other people that are coming to look and that little bit of effort you make is going to go a long, long ways. So, just make sure everything I’m saying, take it into consideration. And if this is too much in one video, talk to me, I’m happy to tell you, hey, this is what you need to do on your house. And maybe you’ve already done like 80% of it. It, but there’s a couple things you could do just to make it perfect.

So, staging your house, being ready for showings. Those are all very, very important. Lastly, one thing that I suggest, make sure a realtor does this. Have a sign at the front door saying when they walk in, please remove your shoes. Like you’d think people would know better, but it’s amazing how many people they wear their shoes in the house. That’s what they do. They do it at home. So, they’re going to do it here. Somebody walks in with like muddy shoes or just shoes in general, walking through your house. Like you’re not going to be too impressed. So, tell your realtor, you want sign, remove your shoes. And another thing that’s helpful is ask them to leave a business card inside. So, you know when you come home that that showing’s happened, it shows so, and so show the house today. They left their car behind. Now you’re good to go home, enjoy your day. Because you know the showing’s happened already. Hope this is helpful when the time’s right, if you want to give me a phone call and we can talk further about selling your house, have a great day.


Jody Miller

Personal Real Estate Corporation

Royal LePage Kelowna

Independently Owned & Operated


1-1890 Cooper Road,

Kelowna, BC, V1Y 8B7

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