Tips Your Agent May Not Tell You

May 16, 2013 § 2 Comments

Selling your home? saleHere are a few tips from a home stager:

  • Caulk the cracks. Nothing sticks out more as you’re walking through a de-cluttered house than cracks — in the grout on the floor tile, along the baseboards in the bathrooms, in the corners of a room where the walls meet the ceiling — a prospective buyer will spot all of them. A little caulk, silicone, or other repair will make those ugly black lines disappear and make the paint job and floors look fresher too.
  • Up the wattage. I know, I know. Everybody wants to save money by using compact fluorescents or other energy saving sources, but believe me, to sell your house, you are going to need light. And if the house is not flooded with natural light from the windows, the agents will turn all the lights on. Make sure the lights in your house actually light up the house.
  • Raise the ceiling. Obviously if your ceilings are over 9 feet high, you can disregard. But if you have low ceilings, like in a one-story traditional ranch home, then either remove your window valances altogether or mount them just below the ceiling so that only the window molding and any raised shade are covered by the valance. This will add more light to the room and make the ceiling appear higher. Same with the window side panels. Mount them about 2 inches from the ceiling and your ceiling will appear higher.
  • Roll up the rugs. Small scatter rugs around the house break up the visual “flow” of the rooms and make the floors appear smaller. You can have a rug at the entry but ditch the little scatter rugs in the bathrooms and kitchen.
  • Hide the jewels. Once your house goes on the market, strangers will be wandering through. That may seem obvious but you should think about it. Make sure your priceless heirlooms and other treasures have evacuated the premises — that means jewelry, breakable antiques, crystal, precious toys, and anything else that you either a) do not want touched or broken; or b) do not want displayed to the world.

Walk through your house from the front porch as if you were a potential buyer and fix what pops to the eye as you enter each room. Be critical. Believe me — buyers will.

5 Tips Your Realtor May Be Afraid to Mention

March 25, 2013 § 4 Comments

I’ll be blunt. The first thing a prospective buyer will notice upon entering your home is … (drumroll please)… the smell. If any peculiar odor is detected, it can kill a deal in the first minute. Or at least knock thousands off the price. So if you have carpets and plan to keep them and if you have pets, here’s my Number 1 tsaleip:

Hire a professional carpet and floor cleaner. It will make a huge difference. Not only will it rid your house of much of the odor, it will make one of the biggest selling features (your floors) look ready for buyers. Some other important tips:

Don’t burn fragrant candles or use air fresheners. A dead giveaway that you’re trying to mask some mysterious odors in the house. The best way to combat the smell is to clean from top to bottom and inside out, freshen the rooms with paint, and remove old carpets if possible.

Dehumidify your basement. Unless you have a completely dry basement with windows and doors that walk out into the yard, your basement will smell musty. Even if you’re not featuring a Man Cave, the basement needs to show itself to best advantage. Make sure it smells neutral.

Find a pet sitter for your animals. Whether it’s a litter box or a giant dog crate, the animal equipment detracts from the selling features of the house. And some people are actually allergic to cats. (Pet owners will not like this tip — but I’m just telling it like it is.) Move the animals to a friend’s house while you’re on the market — or at least for the Open House and the week following it.

Get rid of the dirty old furniture. This is a tough one for realtors as homeowners can take offense. But listen. Would you buy a house with a living room full of ragged recliners and tray tables? No. Remove the old furniture and let a home stager set up your living room to attract the most number of buyers. Your house will sell quicker if you stage it properly.

Tough love means a quick sale. You heard it here.

Selling Your House? Restore Rooms to their Original Function

November 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

Is your living room a Man Cave? Many of us have reconfigured our rooms at home to reflect our lifestyles: dining rooms may be home offices; family rooms may have movie theater seating and 60″ televisions; and master bedrooms may have more exercise equipment than your local health club. All that is fine and probably a good use of space… until you decide to put your house on the market.

When called upon to stage this home, we couldn’t help notice the elephant in the room. The pool table and its well appointed overhead lighting had to go. We needed to return the living room to its original function with a conversation area that would welcome prospective buyers coming in the front door. (Note: some of you might love a pool table in your living room, but majority rules when it comes to staging!)

With the pool table gone and the rug rolled up to expose the beautiful hardwood floor, we moved the sofa from the other side of the room and brought in two slipper chairs, a cozy rug, and some accessories. The result? A more conventional living room and an easier sale. 

If you plan to put your house on the market, start your prep by returning rooms to their original function. Move excess furniture and equipment to storage. You will get a quicker sale!

Staging: Before & After Photos

July 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

Staging (in the mid-range of home prices — not the very high end) is often referred to as “undecorating.” We take great pains to remove all the homeowner’s treasured collections, family photos, and personalized sense of style and substitute a more generic brand of “decor” that is most likely to appeal to a broad range of potential home buyers. Sometimes the job entails de-cluttering and a little rearranging of the furniture. Other times, we strip wallpaper, repaint, and rejuvenate a house that hasn’t seen any upgrades in… ahem… awhile.

For those of you who are curious, I just posted some Before & After photos of some recent projects to give you an idea of what happens with staging. Most of the homes pictured sold within 2 weeks of going on the market (with the help of superb real estate agents, of course, setting an appropriate price for each property, and very motivated and cooperative sellers who were willing to go the extra mile– it’s a partnership!).

Here’s the link:

10 Tips from a Home Stager

January 25, 2011 § 1 Comment

Whether you’re preparing your home for the market or just yearning for spring, here are some suggestions we stagers use that might give you or your home a jump-start:

1. Box up what you’re not using currently. This process is the hardest if you’ve been in your house a long time, and it may require someone to help you go through everything and decide what to keep, throw out, or give away. That person may be a family member or a professional organizer. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at Step 1, there’s help for you. Ask your Real Estate agent for a referral.

2. Be clear about the original function of each room. If your home office has taken over the dining room table, it’s time to reclaim the room. Move the computer to a spare bedroom or finished basement. At least for now!

3. Neutralize your walls. Neutral doesn’t have to be beige, but light and bright are preferable to dark and moody paint schemes. You will optimize your room size by lightening up the walls.

4. Edit your bookshelves, entertainment units, and china cabinets. Keep out only enough items to display. It’s okay to leave some shelves empty! Space sells! And see number 1 above if you’re overwhelmed.

5. Box up all your family photos and other items of great personal value. This applies to sellers only, obviously, but it’s very important to remove family, cultural, and religious identifiers so that you reach the maximum number of potential buyers. If you’re not moving and you’re just spring cleaning, use this opportunity to group your family photos and feature them where families gather, in the family room area.

6. Highlight key selling features of your house. If you have a beautiful view of the backyard, remove heavy window treatments. If you have a newly restored hardwood floor, roll up the scatter rugs to unveil it. If you have a great fireplace, make sure it’s not hiding behind the sofa.

7. In the kitchen, store all unused appliances and remove artwork and magnets from the refrigerator. Generally a nice coffee maker is fine to leave on the counter during house showings, but again space sells. This time it’s horizontal space on the counter. So toaster ovens, knife racks, dish drainers, and cutting boards go down below.

8. Clean, Clean again, and then Clean one more time. Since kitchens and bathrooms can sell houses, make sure you spend extra time cleaning them and ridding them of all odors and their sources. Squeaky clean and fresh-smelling are the goals. Buyers may overlook the dated Formica in the guest bath, but they will definitely remember the litter box tucked behind the door.

9. Maximize light and create a comfy feel. Open all window shades and turn on the lights for a house showing.  Arrange furniture in conversation groupings away from the walls. Make sure Person A sitting on the sofa does not have to shout across the room to talk with Person B in the chair by the fireplace. You’ll be amazed at how a room can be transformed by simply moving a piece of furniture a few feet forward or to the right.

10. Accessorize. Hang fresh white towels and a new shower curtain in the bathroom, place one large accessory on the coffee table (more effective than lots of little items), and fill a large bowl with fresh fruit for the dining table.

After reaching number 10 on this list of tips, you can kick back and enjoy your  clean and organized house. If you’re selling, you are now ready to throw open the doors to potential buyers. If you’re staying, congratulations. You have a fresh start!

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