Real estate may be all about location, but the key to achieving a fast and effective sale could well be presentation. With the proliferation of reality television shows in recent years such as Selling Houses Australia, you’d be hard pressed not to realise first impressions really do count when it comes to putting your house on the market.

Of course, this is hardly a new concept – Newcastle business partners Alana Kelly and Karen Chu have been transforming poorly presented Hunter homes into market-ready masterpieces for the past 16 years.

While the stylishly successful duo may have come from quite diverse backgrounds, their shared passion for interior design - and the sale of Alana’s own house – helped them identify a niche in the Newcastle market they felt they could fill through the creation of their own business, Style Fairies, in 2001.

“Friends and family always commented on how beautifully our homes were presented and when I put my home up for sale my real estate agent said ‘You should be doing this for a living’, and Style Fairies was born,” Alana said.

“I have a background in shipping and Karen’s was in restaurants, but both of us always had a passion for interior decorating.

“Styling is essential for the best possible presentation of a home. Empty houses do not photograph well, a fabulous photo and video will entice prospective buyers to make an inspection."

“Having been in the industry for 16 years, we have definitely noticed an upward trend for styling since programs such as Selling Houses Australia, and The Block have aired. People are now aware of what a difference styling makes to the sale price achieved and swiftness of sale.”

While anyone can try their hand at styling their property for sale, Alana said it often saved a lot of time and money to bring in a professional, especially for those who are not overly confident in their own capabilities.

“We make an initial inspection at which we ascertain how much furniture is needed,” she said.

“The scale, size and colour scheme required is considered. We explain the process to the owner and then forward a quote. Once this is accepted the styling begins.

“House styling usually includes the front landing or entry way and hallway, kitchen, living room and each bedroom. You may optionally request that we style an outdoor area or patio and feature rooms such as formal dining and rumpus or games rooms.

“Most important things to remember when styling your home is to call in the professionals if you don’t have the flair yourself, this will save you time and money. The initial investment will be a lot less than continued price drops due to lack of a sale.”

Alana and Karen have styled plenty of homes in the Hunter over the years and said one of the most common mistakes is people going crazy with colour.

“The biggest selling faux pas is too much colour on walls. Always stick to a neutral palette especially if renovating to sell. Colour can be added with soft furnishings and accessories.”

Alana said every day presented a new challenge, but the biggest reward they get from their job is the satisfaction of seeing a big, red SOLD sticker on the For Sale sign, especially when the house has been languishing on the market for some time.

“We are often asked to style homes that have sat on the market for quite a while, and it is always a great feeling when they sell immediately after styling. After 16 years we still find our industry exciting and fulfilling.”


Pictured top: Alana Kelly (left) and Karen Chu (right)

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