There’s an App for that!

With the popularity of today’s home staging television shows, many are fooled into thinking they know all about home staging principles, that it is as easy as downloading an app to your SmartPhone. Unfortunately, there are a lot of well-intentioned homeowners who have been greatly misled!

While the general public has received their home staging training in one-hour television increments via HGTV, it doesn’t mean they know how to stage a home. There is so much more that goes into preparing a house for sale than what is shown on television. So let’s set the record straight.

MYTH: I can stage my own house.

FACT: Perhaps, but it is so very difficult for homeowners to look at their own home objectively. When you live in your home, you become accustomed to its sights, sounds and smells to the point where you no longer “see” or notice anything amiss. Asking a professional stager to evaluate your home with trained “buyer’s eyes” will allow you to get a sneak peek at what buyers will be focusing on — the good, the bad, and the ugly.

MYTH: Home staging costs too much.

FACT: Of course home staging isn’t free, but did you know it can keep your money in your pocket where it belongs? The average cost of a complete staging project is always much less than a price reduction. In fact, statistically speaking, homes that have been properly prepared for the market usually sell before a price reduction is needed. Can it get any better than that? Oh yes it can! On average, the rate of return for a staging project is around 300%. That means if you invest say $500 – $1,000 in staging, you could receive $1,500 – $3,000 in return when your house is sold! Statistics also show that staged homes sell in half the time and for 6-17% more money than comparable unstaged homes. Staging is an investment for the homeowner and the agent to realize a higher selling price. And here’s the beauty of your staging investment, it can be adapted to any budget!  Sometimes the least expensive changes make the biggest difference.

MYTH: A decorated house is a staged house.

FACT: Decorating is done to incorporate the existing home owner’s tastes and styles into the house in order to make it their own. Staging does just the opposite by taking specific tastes and styles out of the house, so the decor is neutral and appealing to the most buyers possible. While your home may be decorated quite nicely … it is done so in YOUR taste and style. It is quite likely your style/decor will not appeal to the broadest range of potential buyers. Buyers’ tastes are so varied it is best to give them a more neutral palette to begin with.

MYTH: I will save time and money if I list my house first and then stage it if it doesn’t sell.

FACT: Whenever possible, it is always best to stage first, list second. The greatest buzz about a house is generated when it first hits the market — think of the importance of first impressions! Referring again to real estate statistics, homes that have been staged first, then listed, sell quicker than homes that were listed first, then staged.

MYTH: It’s better to sell my house vacant because it will look roomier to buyers.
 
FACT: Empty homes can actually confuse buyers because they have difficulty visualizing how the home will look with furniture…“Will my sofa fit here?” “Is my bedroom furniture too big for this space?” It’s difficult to get a proper sense of size when a room is vacant. Erase all doubt from their minds… demonstrate to buyers how easily furnishings will fit in a home and in the process actually end up making rooms appear bigger!

MYTH: Home staging is just a fad.

FACT: While many people were unfamiliar with the term home staging until the recent influx of staging shows on TV, it has been around since the 1970’s. In fact in some areas of the country, specifically the west coast region, staging is considered a no-brainer that is routinely and intuitively done in order to get homes sold. The rest of the country is finally beginning to wise up to the benefits and value of staging and therefore, sellers are starting to reap the same rewards as those of their west coast counterparts. And not because it is trendy, but because it works! Home staging is becoming one of the fastest growing industries because people are beginning to realize that they are throwing away money they’ve invested in their home by not presenting it properly when they sell.

So after more than four successful decades of helping homeowners sell their properties, I think it’s safe to say that home staging is here for the long run and not just a passing fad, but a highly effective tool savvy sellers are using to get their homes sold faster and for the most money possible!

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WOW! Factor Home Staging & Interior Redesign

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MLS = Mighty Lousy Snapshots (oftentimes)

Well, here I go again, harping about bad MLS photos. Why don’t I just “give it a rest,” “chill out,” “forget about it?” Well, believe me, if I thought for a moment that there wasn’t any truth behind the fact that 90% of home buyers begin their search online I would do just that. But in reality, home buyers ARE searching online first. And while the market may be showing signs of recovery in some areas, for the most part, it is still a buyer’s market. Therefore, sellers must be sure their home is shown in it’s best light online first in order to compete with some pretty stiff competition.

Talk to your Realtor and ask to see the photos they plan to use in the listing. If the images are blurry, taken from a bad angle, poorly lit, or just downright nasty, insist they be retaken — do not accept inferior photos! And don’t be fooled or pressured into thinking you must! After all, photos are the digital invitation sent out to perspective buyers asking them to come view your home.

That said, how many “RSVPs” do you think this seller will get?

A basement with obvious water problems is NOT inviting to potential buyers! Why would any Realtor or home owner in their right mind post something like this? I just don’t get it.

Following is another pic of this “lovely” basement albeit from a different angle – yet equally horrendous.

OK, OK, perhaps I should give this “fixer upper” as it is referred to, another chance. Maybe, just maybe this home does have some redeeming qualities.  If so, I, and about a hundred or so home buyers, would love to see them. Actually a hundred or so home buyers would have passed on this “gem” by now, and moved on to the next home for sale, but curiosity has gotten this home stager, so let’s go upstairs and take a look around shall we? Gotta’ be better than the basement right?

WRONG! Check out the living room. Why oh why would a Realtor post a picture of a trashed out room with an abandoned chair shoved in the corner?? How is this going to attract buyers? What about this room is endearing to buyers?

Then there is the kitchen — couldn’t the trash have been picked up at the very least and the lower cabinet doors closed before the photo was taken? I mean seriously, how labor-intensive could that be?
These are actual MLS photos, posted online right now for potential buyer’s viewing pleasure. Yup, all these photos are just beckoning buyers to come and take a closer look … NOT!!

I dunno’ maybe it’s just me, but I’m thinking this house isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.

Signed,
Continually Dumbfounded in MI

Scoring the big Real Estate Trifecta: three things that sell a home fast

Sometimes when the universe smiles down on us, and all the planets align just right, we find ourselves smack in the middle of a Trifecta — a perfect grouping of three.

For instance, an entertainer having garnered a platinum record, a hit TV series, and an Oscar would have a show business Trifecta. In horse racing,  Trifecta betting, which involves picking and sequencing the top three horses correctly, can pay off big. But what about in Real Estate, is there a big pay off Trifecta for home sellers? The answer is yes, yes, and YES!

So how can you score a perfect Trifecta when attempting to sell your home? Well, it’s a lot easier, and faster, than waiting for the planets to align nicely in your favor. That scenario is after all, left to the fates. But as a homeowner, you have more control over your destiny than you realize and it’s as simple as making sure you have the following Real Estate Trifecta working in your favor:

1. Listing your home with a professional Realtor. Here are 10 reasons why this is a crucial step in achieving the perfect Real Estate Trifecta.

2. Listening to your Realtor’s pricing suggestions. Contrary to what some people believe, agents do not simply select prices for sellers or buyers, but rather they use a complex set of tools and methods for pricing, that help guide clients toward making the right choices.

3. Having your home professionally staged. And actually I would suggest doing this before you contact your Realtor, or at the very least certainly before you place it on the market! Staging enhances your home’s appearance and creates broad appeal. In today’s competitive real estate market, the small investment in home staging has shown dramatic payback both in terms of average selling times and more importantly higher selling prices.

See, I promised you it was easy! No consulting with a psychic, no wishing on a four-leaf clover,  no knocking on wood. Nope, in fact none of that matters as in reality, luck favors those who are prepared. So be prepared! Make sure you have the Real Estate Trifecta working for you. When you do, you’ll have everything you need for a fast, successful, AND profitable sale!

Are the Holidays a Good Time to Sell?

Are the Holidays a Good Time to Sell?

Most definitely! Let’s face it, the only people house hunting during this time of year are the serious home buyers. So while the quantity of home buyers may dwindle a bit, the quality of those shopping for a new home greatly increases. Go ahead, if you’re a motivated seller list your home now, you just may be surprised at the results you get.

And don’t forget, always have your home staged by a professional stager in order to maximize your home’s potential for a quick sale.  A stager will increase your home’s sale-ability quotient and add an inviting holiday feel with understated, tasteful holiday decor.  Remember you don’t want to go overboard with holiday decorating as it can easily become a distraction as opposed to an element that draws buyers in and helps them experience that “homey” feeling.

Merry Christmas & Happy House Selling!

“Leaf” it to Mother Nature to help get your house sold

Autumn is a great time of year to sell your home (the best time of year in my opinion) because Autumn with all its natural beauty can really give your house a shot of curb appeal — for next to nothing! 

Just a few weeks ago, you were probably enjoying the fruits of your labor in your garden and flower beds, visually drinking in the unmatched beauty of the full-blooming dahlias, brilliant-colored sedum, black-eyed Susans, the deep pink to white echinacea, purple salvia, and bold-colored canna, to name just a few, when it may have hit you … literally.

Yup, there it was, that first autumn leaf floating down from its tree branch high above. It may have brushed  lightly against your shoulder before flitting away and racing upward again, then slowly, methodically swaying to and fro downward it came once more until finally coming gently to rest on the lawn far below its original perch. For just a brief moment you may have found yourself mesmerized by its dance, your eyes fixated on its every move. But then realty reared its ugly head as you remembered with a grimace and perhaps an audible groan, that this singular brightly hued pretty little leaf would soon be joined by thousands – nay millions – of other leafs just waiting to ruin a perfectly good Saturday afternoon parked comfortably in front of the TV watching your favorite football team stomp the competition.

Sadly, there’s no getting around it. If you have any bragging rights what-so-ever about your yard and especially if you are attempting to sell your home — you gotta get out and rake. Ah, but did you know you can have the last laugh (well sorta) on all that spent foliage by using it as free mulch?  That’s right, free!

Seriously, leaves?

  • Yup, because leaf mulch enriches the ground by returning nutrients back into the soil.  And here’s a bonus – your lawn and gardens will require less fertilizer and other additives as a result!
  • Leaf mulch helps retain moisture by lowering the soil’s exposure to sun and wind thereby reducing evaporation.
  • By managing your leaves on site, you reduce the need to buy paper yard waste bags.
  • When you add a thick layer of mulch (2 to 3 inches) to your garden it reduces the need for herbicides and can help prevent the growth of weeds.
  • Leaf mulch prevents compaction and erosion of soils from wind and rain by acting like an insulating barrier from the heat in the summer, the cold in the winter and from the wind all year round.
  • And in terms of much-needed curb appeal that when selling your home helps it stand out from the competition, leaves look great all crunched up as mulch. Your mums, ornamental cabbages, and all your fall blooming flowers, will “pop” against a leaf mulch backdrop!
How do you take advantage of this free landscaping bounty?

  • Keep your mower blade sharp and set the blade to about 2.5 inches high and only mow leaves when dry to prevent clumping.
  • Push the lawnmower slowly to give it time to chop up the leaves and be sure to mow leaves when there is no more than 1 inch of leaf litter.
  • When adding mulch to gardens, do not put mulch right up to the base of plants or trees.Try to make the mulch no deeper than 2 to 3 inches.
  • If your lawnmower has a bag attachment, remove the bag to spread mulch evenly over the lawn, and then use the bag to collect some of the mulched leaves in order to easily empty it around trees, shrubs and gardens. If your mower doesn’t have a mulch setting, you may be able to convert your mower to a “mulching munching machine” by purchasing a mulching blade retrofit kit, available at hardware stores and garden centers.
  • If you are fortunate enough to have a lawn service, ask them to leaf mulch.
Oh and don’t forget, before you add mulch to your flower beds, go ahead and plant some eye-catching pops of color with beautiful mounding mums and showy ornamental kale.
 
And there you have it, free mulch, clean yard, and some added curb appeal most home buyers will find hard to resist!

Every picture tells a story, unfortunately, not all stories have happy endings!

Homeowners, listen up! Your Realtor is your Realtor, and in most cases, NOT a professional photographer. It’s up to you to be sure your agent is either capable of taking good pictures of your home themselves or have a professional step up to the plate. Ask to view the images of your home BEFORE your agent posts them. If the images do not showcase your home, then demand they be retaken.

In today’s Real Estate market, nearly 90% of home buyers begin there search online. Therefore, it is imperative your home shows well in that medium first.

Let’s take a look at exhibit A — would you prefer potential buyers saw this image as a representation of your home (this was an actual image used to “showcase” a home on Realtor.com as were the other before images shown below) …
or perhaps this one?

Not yet convinced that a picture’s worth a thousand words — or potentially thousands of missed dollars? Then I offer exhibit B.

Pretend you’re a buyer, which is more appealing, this  …

or this retake of the same bathroom by someone with an eye for photography?

As a seller, why would you think that fuzzy, out of focus, horribly cropped  pictures will attract buyer interest? Quite simply, they won’t. Don’t be fooled into thinking you must accept substandard imagery! If your Realtor can’t get the job done right, then insist they enlist the services of someone who can!

Your house is up against a LOT of competition — it HAS to look good both in person and online! Your home is arguably, your largest asset, why would you settle for sloppy, second-rate photography as a means of highlighting its best selling features?? Crappy online images will NEVER catch buyer’s eyes, NEVER entice them to make an appointment to view your home, NEVER be the crucial first step toward getting an offer on your property!

FYI? The home featured in this blog received 3 requests for showings within 24 hours of re-posting the new and improved images. It would appear as though the seller can begin to start thinking about “living happily ever after.”

Home Staging ROI: The numbers don’t lie!

With a near 300% R.O.I., home staging continues to be one of the best tools in a harsh real estate market for preparing a home for a quick sale at top dollar! As we enter into the fall selling season, you owe it to yourself to be sure your home/listings stand out in a fiercely competitive real estate market.

Take this simple quiz to see how your property stacks up.

Home Improvement Calculator – HomeGain

Calculate the top 10 home improvements and the expected value to your home’s price, customized for your zip code. Get your home ready to sell with HomeGain’s Home Sale Maximizer tool.