Meet Jennifer Fowler – Reve Agent and Stager Extraordinaire
Jennifer Fowler got into real estate when she and her husband George started renovating homes in 2012. At the time, the New Orleans housing market was very hot, and houses didn’t need to be staged because listings sold so quickly. Eventually, the market slowed, with lots of homes listed in the same price range – the perfect scenario in which staging can give a home a creative edge and a leg up over the competition. How? Staging helps a buyer visualize how each room can be used, and how their own furniture and accessories might fit into the space.
Jennifer started staging her properties because she couldn’t find anyone doing what she envisioned. “I saw a need because there weren't a lot of people offering staging services, and I wasn't seeing the type of furniture that would show the value of a house at it’s highest potential.” Soon, other agents started asking her to stage their listings as well, and her business exploded.
Buyers Need to Instantly Visualize Themselves in a Home
Jennifer explains it this way: “Most buyers have a hard time visualizing, especially when they walk into an empty house. In a competitive market, buyers need to be able to instantly visualize themselves living in that space.”
Jennifer notes that it’s all about helping them visualize themselves and their own furnishings in a house. Staging provides a visual cue, allowing buyers to think about what pieces they have, and how they’ll work in the space. And a staged home keeps buyers in a house longer than if it were empty, which is always a plus. Interestingly, Jennifer stresses that if a master bedroom doesn’t show a king-sized bed in it, many buyers will assume it’s not big enough to accommodate one – even if it is. That’s why she always recommends staging the living room, dining room, kitchen, den and master bedroom.
Jennifer has her own supply of furniture and accessories, and key pieces that work in a vast array of homes, whether contemporary or traditional. She’s a big believer in white. “It’s a clean, minimal look that appeals to a lot of people, even if it’s not their style. They can see themselves in it. If there are dark colors, or lots of prints, it’s hard to see past that.With white furniture and accessories, you create a space without taking away from the space itself. I don’t want them to remember the furniture -- I want them to remember the house.”
Furnished Houses Need De-Cluttering, Rearranging & Refreshing
Staging a furnished home works a bit differently. For sellers who’ve been living in a house for 10 or more years, it’s important to de-clutter, rearrange furniture and freshen things up. According to Jennifer, “We all have too much stuff!” Often, removing excess furniture and personal effects has a big impact. Most of us just don’t know where to start. That’s why Jennifer devises a detailed plan of action with photos and a to-do list. From taking down family photos and moving furniture to cleaning out bookshelves, every step of the process is spelled out. And if she thinks a particular piece of furniture needs to go, she’ll recommend replacing it with a piece or two from her supply.
Working with Jennifer
The listing price, location, and how competitive the house is with others on the market all affect Jennifer’s staging recommendations for a seller. When she’s the listing agent, she tries to offer her staging service as part of the package a seller receives by hiring her. As a consultant, she works closely with other listing agents to address their sellers’ needs. Her guiding principle is doing whatever makes the house most sellable at the highest price in the fewest days on the market.
“This is my creative outlet and where the renovating side of my career really comes into play. I have a vision for what things can be. Sometimes a client will exclaim, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve never thought about doing that!’Changing pillows, changing comforters. That’s all part of what I do. I’m trying to create spaces that people can see themselves living in.”