This week I had a little chat to fellow Brisbane girl Imogen Brown from Home Staging Brisbane.An ex Londoner with a knack for marketing and real estate, she has made Brisbane her home and settling in just like a local.
Imogen is like the go to girl when you need a little help selling your home. She is the staging diva of Brisbane and is booked out nearly all the time. One of the most impressive things I love about Imogen is her ability to give out her advice and experience to other stagers/stylists in the hope of boosting the industry. Not afraid of competition (she has a quiet confidence) she is always there to lend a helping hand and feels that the more people know and respect home staging the better it will be for everyone. She has a very good point.
In an industry that is now booming, it wasn't always like that for Imogen but with hard work and persistance her efforts paid off. Home Staging Brisbane is one of the leading property staging companies here in Brisbane and Imogen can now finally be assured that her business is here to stay..
Tell us a little more about you, your background and your family etc?
I moved to Brisbane from London in 2006 with my husband and 3 kids. My kids were young when we moved and now have morphed seemingly overnight into 2 teenage girls and a 10 year old boy. My background is in Advertising. I spent a fabulous 10 years in London working in the media departments of top advertising agencies. When kids started arriving I re-trained as a business coach. I did this until our move to Australia. After arriving my job was settling everyone in and training for a marathon (bucket list, gladly now ticked off). Then my Mum died quite suddenly and the inevitable re-evaluation that followed led me into home staging. I’ve always loved interiors and real estate, love helping people, being my own boss and being creative plus I needed a job that was flexible around my kids.
I started my business in 2011 at exactly the same time as the floods in Brisbane. The worst timing.
Where did your interest in real estate and interiors come from? Has it always been there?
I remember wanting to be an interior designer when I was still at school (I was dating an architecture student at the time!) but chucked that idea when I realised it was going to be more about building and specifications than throwing a few cushions around.
I’ve always been interested in real estate. Pre internet, I couldn’t walk past a real estate office without looking in the window and even now I check realestate.com every day. Not just for my work but because I’m interested in what’s on the market.
I was never that child who decorated her own bedroom, never really the student who transformed her digs, but when I bought my first house with my husband we decorated together and still have some of the items we bought over 20 years ago. Give me an interiors magazine though or program on TV or an instagram feed full of luscious interiors and I could get lost for hours - even after a day selecting interiors at the furniture warehouse.
Please explain a little more about what “Home Staging” involves..
Home Staging is simply the merchandising of a property before it lists in order to capture the hearts and offers of potential buyers. No one lives in a magazine shoot but everyone’s property can look its best come sale time. I help sellers show their property at its best so that they sell quickly for a great price.
There is certainly more talk about home staging in the media these days, are you finding more people are engaging of the idea of staging their property for sale?
Yes I think they are. I think many people though still see home staging or property styling as just putting hire furniture into empty houses. It is this but it’s also so much more - from bathroom upgrades, exterior re-paint, re-arranging furniture and storing a lot away. It can be a simple 2 hour consult to a full reno and staging costing thousands of dollars.
Would most of your business come from the real estate professionals or home sellers needing some help?
Although I have some great relationships with a number of agents who give me business most of my business still comes from home owners direct. There are still many agents who see a house as a commodity to be sold. If they drop the price by $30k to get the sale their commission is hardly affected. That same $30k equity means a lot to the sellers. I don’t need to ‘sell’ this to my clients.They get it.
What would a typical day be like when you are staging a home?
I have 3 typical days!
Day 1: Consults and measures. This could be a day spent giving a home staging consultation or measuring for hire furniture and often a bit of both
Day 2: Selecting furniture. My favorite day as this is where I get to be most creative pulling a look together for a whole house and working with what’s at the furniture warehouse (or often what’s not at the warehouse!) on the day I’m selecting.
Day 3: Install day. I meet the delivery truck, oversee the furniture going in then style the property ready for photos.
No two days are the same as no two houses are the same. I love that aspect of my job.
What challenges did you face in the early days growing Home Staging Brisbane and how did you overcome these?
How about no business for the first 6 months! It was slow, so slow.
My husband sat me down at one point and said ‘this seems to be a lot of effort for not much reward.’ I can’t explain it but I just refused to give up. I set myself daily tasks, treated it like a job and slowly the business started coming in. 4 years later and I’m earning good money and I’m booked out the majority of the time.
You would have seen a great deal of houses in your profession, is there one in particular that stands out in your memory and why?
Yes, a house that had been on the market on and off for 5 years and wasn’t selling. My client rang and told me “you’re my last resort”. No pressure then! The house, when I first saw it was a heart sinker. Too much to do - every room a different color, overgrown garden, timber kitchen, dated furniture. My clients did exactly what I told them and I added in some hire furniture as the final piece. The house sold within weeks. The houses that stick in my memory aren’t the multi million dollar ones. They are the ‘heart sinker’ houses that I turn around, make beautiful and sell so that my clients can move on - literally and emotionally.
Where do you see your business in 2 years time?
Hmm, good question. I love what I do. I could grow my business but just because you can grow a business doesn’t mean that you should. What I’ve created is perfect for where I am in my life right now. So, I’ll answer, more of the same : )
You obviously have a talent for interior styling as well, how would you describe your personal interior style at home?
I’m English so I love that whole British Colonial style, with Australian country and a bit of industrial thrown in too. Anything that has a story or patina. My house is a Queenslander. It’s a work in progress. It’s a family house. I pour a lot of love into my client’s houses so my house suffers sometimes and that’s OK. As long as I have my family and my health, a hot shower, a warm bed and food in the fridge (my kids will laugh at that one), I have a home.
If you weren’t Home Staging, what else would you love to do and why?
I would have a shop. I’d call it Patina and sell old stuff. I’d take regular shopping trips to England with my husband.
Please share with us the top 5 “must do things” to prepare your home for sale..
1. Move out emotionally before you start the process
2. Be objective. Your house is a house to be merchandised. It’s no longer your home
3. It’s not what you put in, it’s what you take out. We all have too much stuff. You are selling your house, not your things
4. Make your house move in ready. Buyers want to buy your house not your ‘to do’ list
5. Think about your most likely buyer (and they might not be like you). Set the house up to appeal to them.
Do you have a favourite place to visit when on holidays?
Cities. The kind where you can walk round all day, explore, eat, get lost. New York, Paris, London, Amsterdam, Marrakech, San Francisco. Ok, that’s it - I’m off to buy a plane ticket!
If you would like to get the handy tips and advice for your home, you can follow Imogen's blog here and contact her via her website here.
Her blog site also has some amazing before and after photos and inspiring stories from past clients.
Home Staging Brisbane also has a Facebook page and you can follow Imogen's journey on Instagram also.
Thanks so much Imogen for giving up some of your time to have a chat with me about Home Staging and look forward to seeing your next project!