Working as a Realtor for the first 19 years of her career, Paige Earles learned the value of home staging.
“Research shows a property spends about 78 percent less time on the market if it is staged versus not staged,” said Earles, owner of Pearle Staging & Design, which recently expanded into Memphis. “The benefits of staging are pretty tremendous.”
Earles, who moved to Memphis when she was 15, spent two decades in the city before moving to Atlanta in 2003. When she moved, she built on the real estate experience she’d gained in the Bluff City, landing a job as director of franchise sales with Realogy Corp. But she began to spend nights and weekends studying interior decorating and home staging.
She also got to work on a business plan.
Paige Earles launched Pearle Staging & Design in Atlanta in 2008. Now she’s expanding her business into Memphis.
(Photo Courtesy of Josh Hobgood)
“I always knew I wanted to start my own business,” Earles said. “That was definitely something in my three- to five-year plan.”
She launched Pearle Staging & Design in Atlanta in 2008 and began reaching out to the Realtor contacts she’d established during her years in the field. Now with five years of entrepreneurship under her belt, she’s expanding her business into the city she’s always thought of as home.
“I’ve always felt the tug to come back here,” she said. “I love the energy of Memphis. Atlanta is a great city, too – I lived right down in the heart of Midtown, and I loved that. Part of the consideration of transferring my personal location to Memphis was to have that same kind of feel, vibe. Being able to be right down at the river in the heart of the city is really important to me.”
Pearle Staging & Design LLC is now open on Madison Avenue in Downtown Memphis. As a staging company, Earles and her staff work with homeowners and real estate agents, offering services that range from consulting for do-it-yourselfers to full-service staging.
“We do everything from A to Z,” she said. “We might spend up to a month in a property if somebody, for instance, has been in the property 45 years and has stuff we need to go through, pack up, give away or throw away. Any kind of renovation, upgrade, modification to a property that’s needed – carpet, paint, kitchen or bath renovations – we handle that as well.”
Earles serves as project manager for renovation projects, hiring subcontractors and scheduling work for jobs large and small. She offers a similar range of services for traditional interior decorating clients.
“Anything residential, we take care of,” she said. “It could be they’ve just moved in and have nothing, and we start from square one, providing a design plan and then going out and putting together options from fabrics to materials to tile, whatever is needed in that home.”
Earles currently has two employees, along with a host of subcontractors she calls on for various jobs. Right now she’s dividing her time between her Atlanta office and the firm’s new Downtown Memphis office.
“Business in Atlanta has been really good and really solid, and we’re in a position now where we can expand,” she said. “Looking at where the market is there – there are trends that are certainly giving us some positive signs. Atlanta has had a lot of positive growth in the real estate market for a while, and Memphis is starting to show signs of that, as well.”
In fact, Earles said, she spotted a niche in the city she thought she could fill.
“Memphis has so many positive things to offer, and there are a lot of people within Memphis that want these types of services,” she said. “They need to be able to sell their properties for the highest price possible.”
Earles prides herself in not taking a “cookie-cutter” approach to home staging.
“When buyers purchase something, a big part of their decision to purchase is based on their emotion and how they feel when they walk into that property,” she said. “People have got to be able to walk in and feel a connection to that space, especially when it’s a personal residence.”
That applies to both vacant and occupied properties. For occupied properties, she said, prospective buyers must be able to see around the seller’s belongings and imagine themselves in the space.
“When it comes to a vacant property,” she added, “it’s even more critical that a property is staged with proper furnishings and art so buyers can actually see themselves there, can picture having friends over and having dinners with family and building emotional connections.”
Pearle Staging & Design inventories small items, like rugs, lamps and accessories, to use in staged properties, and relies on rental vendors for large items. Clients pay fees for staging services and, if needed, monthly rental costs. In Atlanta, Earles also provides training for Realtors on home staging and its impact on the home buying market.
“I definitely want to continue that here,” she said. “That partnership with real estate agents is so critical, to help them sell their properties faster. When you have the right agents who understand the benefits of (staging) and they relay that to clients, everybody wins at the end of the day.”