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Setting the stage for a sale in the city

A softening real estate market means sellers have to come up with creative ways to set their property apart from the rest. That's where Joanne Castilloux and Wayne Potter want to come in.

A softening real estate market means sellers have to come up with creative ways to set their property apart from the rest.

That's where Joanne Castilloux and Wayne Potter want to come in. The couple have a company, J&W Inspired Home, that helps sellers stage their property - a service that helps buyers see themselves living in a space.

"I feel this is more of a buyer's market than a seller's market," Castilloux said.

"To help you sell, the best thing you can do is to get it set up so that people can just walk in and you just have a broader appeal to a potential buyer."

All of the pieces of the homeowner - trinkets, pictures, clutter, make it tough for buyers to see themselves living there.

"It can't be a distraction from the eye of the buyer," Castilloux said. "If they walk in and there's weird animal frames and heads or stuff on the wall . it's distracting and they almost forget why they are there."

The perfect prototype of a home that can benefit from staging is her father-in-law's house, Castilloux said.

The house hasn't changed much since the 1970s. He's got flowered couches covered with sheets, the little "weird" pictures too small for the wall with trinkets everywhere, she said.

"When he sells, I will definitely do it," Castilloux said, clearly excited at the prospect of getting her hands on the dated home.

Castilloux said people see the aging furniture and it's hard for them to see themselves in the space.

That's key to staging - making it possible for buyers to envision themselves in the property, so Castilloux recommends sellers erase themselves from the picture, which is sometimes hard to do.

"A staged home is not the way you would live in it," she said.

Staging is a worthy investment for sellers, though not everyone sees the benefit, Castilloux said.

"I did a consultation for someone who, in the end, he just didn't understand . (he didn't) want to spend the money, but his home could have really benefited from it," she said.

The property sat on the market for more than year before Castilloux came in at the recommendation of a realtor. The seller listened to her suggestions and declined her service because "he didn't get it," Castilloux said.

The seller eventually reduced his price by thousands several times.

The other service Castilloux and Potter offer is home redesign - taking a person's existing furnishings and decor and reworking it.

"You use their own furniture to make their home more functional and visually pleasing," Castilloux said.

J&W Inspired Home recently performed the service in a home in New Westminster for a family that was expecting another baby. They moved a piano from the baby's room to the living room and switched around the dining room and living room.

The homeowner loved the switch-up.

"She came in and she couldn't shut her mouth for about three minutes. She loved it," Castilloux said.

nhope@royalcityrecord.com