I’ve heard it whispered by top real estate producers around town for over a year. Now it goes unstated. It’s just a given. “If you are listing a house for over $1 million prepare yourself to be patient.”
Well we’ve been here before. Remember 2009? Solution then and now? Stage your listing. I caught up with stylish stagers, Tina McMakin and Alyson French, co-owners of AЯRANGE, in the process of staging another Mira Vista residence.
“I really haven’t noticed any cyclical effects on our business,” says McMackin when I bring up the state of the Fort Worth real estate market. “We’ve continued to grow and grow since we partnered four years ago. Our goal is to stage one 5,000-square-foot house per week. And we are on track to get there.”
By any metric, the glam duo have been a thumping success. Currently eleven properties scattered across town from University West, Colonial Hills, Tanglewood, and new developments like Mira Vista are the beneficiaries of their creative talents. And even with that impressive portfolio, their 5,000-square-foot warehouse still yawns with sufficient inventory to complete many additional commissions. And, it doesn’t hurt that they have become the go-to girls for all of the top Fort Worth agents with a high dollar listing.
“We don’t only do high dollar properties,” says Tina McMackin. “We’ve got a house listed at $395,000 that we’re very proud of.”
“It’s so much fun doing what we do,” Alyson French adds. “Each house is so different.”
To that point, it is immediately evident that like polyglots, the pair possess a facility that allows them to fluently communicate in a multitude of styles. If their work is beginning to look familiar, you might be recalling an earlier Fort Worth Friday. Staging is often a seat-of-the-pants affair — maximum result wrenched from minimum expenditure. And yet AЯRANGE rose to the challenge of doing justice to an architectural gem in Mira Vista by Norman Ward on Sahalee. They count among their inventory coveted, vintage Knoll and McGuire pieces.
“If I wanted to do what you guys do, here, I would have a nearly insurmountable barrier-to-entry problem,” I posit.
“Well, and I don’t want to brag, but yeah, we have an inventory which now tops $1 million and we are lucky enough to enjoy the support of many Fort Worth realtors,”grudgingly acknowledges McMackin,
“Don’t you find antique malls morguishly depressing?” I ask.
“We love them! Where else would you find something like this at an affordable price?” says Alyson pointing to a rosewood table with a cloisonné top. It has the look of old Fort Worth and that’s sort of the point. Their houses look like someone cool might actually live in them. Their work has energy and a fresh quality that doesn’t look, well, staged. A recent vacation in Palm Springs yielded a trough of midcentury treasures.
“We try and push the envelope a bit,” says McMackin. “Of course if you make too strong a statement, you start losing potential buyers. Still, we want our work to have an aspirational quality.” They go to the trouble and expense to purchase and use good artwork and books avoiding the ‘Wayfair, you’ve got just what I need’ trap.
They also do long-term leasing. A prominent Fortune 500 CEO lives in a Ritz apartment in Dallas of their design. And fee structure? “We require a three month minimum. We have to. The majority of our stagings sell within that time. The house we staged across the street sold within 3 days,” observes Tina McMackin. ” But Alyson French is quick to point out that clients often recoup their fees in a higher sale price.
I have to add that they are both so damned fun to be around — funny and brimming with energy. That positive vibe shines through in their projects. Their webpage offers little more than contact info, which doesn’t seem to concern them. They’re too busy working.
Eric Prokesh is an interior designer whose work has appeared on HGTV, and in books and publications including D Home, Southern Accents, House Beautiful, and House and Garden. In January 2005, HG named Eric one of the 50 tastemakers in America and D Home has included him as one of Dallas’ Best Designers for 10 years. Having lived most of his life in Dallas, he now calls Fort Worth home and is one of our experts on beautiful Fort Worth Dirt.