After a decade’s work at one of the city’s premier home staging companies, Eric First had learned every trick of the trade.
His open houses were curated down to the last meticulous detail, and he was well known across the GTA for his grayscale, minimalist approach to staging.
“My work was spotless and immaculate,” recalls First. “And clients were convinced that I was the one to stage their home in its most sellable light.”
First was convinced too. That is, until he met April.
April Andrews was a maverick mannequin designer for one of the city’s flagship department stores. Unlike her colleagues, April believed that a mannequin should be reflective of the typical human body, with its myriad shapes, sizes, and cosmetic frailties.
“I felt the average shopper didn’t relate to a mannequin with a great body and perfect hair”, April explains. “These people wanted to know whether a certain turtleneck would cover their goiter… Or if that cute designer sundress could somehow complement their varicose veins.”
April and Eric met in 2016, and not only did they fall quickly in love, they soon found kinship in their professional lives.
“I immediately saw the value in April’s naturalistic approach to shopping,” says Eric. “And I knew that if the same ideas applied to the home buying market, we were sitting on a goldmine.”
First and Andrews married that summer and shortly thereafter opened First Stage Homes, with April’s very same behavioural theories in place.
According to the website, First Stage Inc. will present your home for sale in ‘trurealistic™ fashion’. They pride themselves on presenting a house as it will look on day one hundred after purchase, instead of day one.
“All that super clean, organized work I was doing in the past was counterproductive,” confesses Eric. “April taught me that shoppers respond more to the relatable than the aspirational.
“Except for balding, middle-aged men,” offers April. “They seem to think they’ll look cool in a Porsche.”
First Home’s approach to staging is simple: do what makes the buyer feel at home. Whether it’s a juice-stained living room couch, or a front hall closet overstuffed with clothes that only looked good on the mannequin, the Firsts are targeting reality.
And disrepair and clutter are a homeowner’s trureality™.
“A potential buyer has to be able to picture themselves in the home,” explains April. “And more likely than not, that potential buyer is a bit of a slob. So we make them feel welcome with a sink full of dirty dishes and an unwashed laundry basket of unmentionables.”
What does require mentioning is First Stage’s exclusive ‘Money Pit’ package. For an added staging fee, the First’s will rewire your air conditioner to only blow warm air. And that smell in the basement? That’s an Eric First signature sewage backup.
“I’m using the same eye and ear for detail that I always did,” says Eric. “But now I’m using my nose, too.”
A Leaside home staged by the Firsts in early February sold for a half a million over asking in the middle of the open house. The elated owners were quick to credit the Firsts, who had procured a Rogers Cable van to block the driveway, and a family of raccoons to continuously upend the Green bin.
It does beg the question of why anyone actually needs to hire First Stage? You could simply put your home on the market and just…not bother to stage anything.
But you’re no fool. If you’re actually thinking about ‘trurealistic home staging’, then it has to be April First.