July 27th, 2010
“Home” is both universal and intimate in nature. People get involved in Real Estate for a myriad of reasons. It’s not just a product or a paycheck, it’s a way to assist-connect-facilitate-another’s happiness and sense of security. Some times are easier than others (!!!), but deep down, true Home Professionals know this is where they are supposed to be.
The Heart: People who come primarily from this place are not just nice, they really are all about others-their comforts, concerns, issues and needs come first.
Great quality in a friend or spouse, but depending on the degre and the other personalities involved, it can slow, stop, even reverse a business transaction.
Polar opposite of The Gut, they are pleasant to deal with, but present a real challenge in business. To make decisions and move forward, the decision makers need to well, decide…which means taking some stands and putting their needs ahead of others-not their comfort zone.
They are deliberate, speaking, moving and thinking slowly. They consider all options, and rebel if you try to nudge things along before they are ready. They want you to like them.
These sellers still have every report card, lost tooth and piece of macaroni art from their grown children; these buyers find something special about each house and the people who live there…which then makes them reconsider, just where the heck did they get this crazy idea to buy another house and move in the first place??
It takes longer for these sellers to get their house ready for sale. Slow and steady win the race, but their being highly motivated to start with is a close second.
They know how easy it is to get wrapped up in someone elses’ “stuff”-and understand how it would take attention away from the business at hand, getting their house sold. Also-focusing on the prize at the end:-a yard for the kids, rooms for visitors to stay, or one-level living for a loved one-will be what moves this seller forward.
Buyers who come from the heart will linger when attention is paid to the ‘secondary’ rooms-kid’s room, guest rooms, even the powder rooms.
They will appreciate the fresh towels, nice soaps and fluffed bed pillows. These are the people that we light fires in the fireplace and put out homemade cookies for. Welcoming kitchens, and discussions of how many people could fit in the Dining Room will put a sparkle in this buyer’s eye.
They can frustrate agents and annoy more quickly moving people on the other end of the transaction, but remember the parable about the Wind and the Sun?
They disagreed who was more powerful, and decided the winner would be whoever could make a passer-by remove their overcoat The Wind went first….stong and blustery, he blew and blew, trying to blow the coat off; but the passer-by only wrapped the coat around themselves more tightly.
Then it was the Sun’s turn. He shone and radiated, and in short order, the gentle warmth induced the coat to be taken off.
NEXT: Behold The Head
July 25th, 2010
In the initial stages of a RE transaction, there are 3 main players: the seller, the buyer , and the REALTOR(s).
Researchers have defined four main ways people make decisions. For fun-let’s ID them by parts of the body: the head, the heart, the gut and the smile.
No one style is ‘best’, and while we have characteristics of each, there are one to two styles we typically operate under. Multiply it out, there are dozens of potential personality combinations in a transaction.
In personal relationships, we tend to gravitate to people who we can identify with. Business decisions modeled to our own tastes would connect well 25% of the time, but would effectively miss the other 75%.
Recognizing these different styles, and understanding what makes each tick gives you a fighting chance to make good connections, across the board. Here is Part One, of Four on how to reach your widest audience.
The Gut These are people that operate quickly, on confidence and instinct. There is no dilly-dallying, they are direct, and all about business. They know what they want, and they usually want it right away. They are punctual and prepared, and expect the same of others.
Whether your agent is representing you as a buyer or a seller, to a degree you want this quality to be present in your agent. This type could also be a dream buyer: they will usually know right away if they want to buy your house, but they have no interest in ‘trying to visualize’.
You usually have one shot to reach these buyers, and if they don’t see it in it’s best shape first go-round, well-they’re off to see another house that is worthy of their time. They are not mean-spirited, just efficient, and unimpressed with people who don’t give it their best the first time.
Sellers who typically operate in this manner have a big challenge in this market. Resistant to input, and used to being in charge, they are in the unfamiliar position of having to…well, consider what other people (buyers) want to see, and then wait for them to make an offer.
I’ve found that clean spaces, and sometimes stronger lines and accent colors appeal to these buyers; organization, as well as regular and concise communications-usually by 9am-give comfort to these sellers and agents.
NEXT: The Heart of the Matter
July 22nd, 2010
Summer into fall is one of the most popular times to paint your home. The hottest color story continues to be the use of saturated colors-colors that can range from light to dark, but have a lot of pigment and have a dense and mellow feel.
No frothy pastels, brights, or hard edges; they are complex colors with depth and nuance. Benjamin Moore Affinity and Historical Colors as well as the spare, but well-edited Farrow and Ball palette are great examples.
Those who will be making choices, but with an eye toward getting their house ready to go on the market might feel some apprehension, but warm neutrals have universal appeal.
1. Color sellls! The tan/khaki/muted greens/soft golds are very livable, and read well in listing photos. They are warm and sophisticated, and appeal to men and women alike, and will snag the buyer’s attention as they click their way thru all the online listings.
2. White walls do not make your space look bigger. Instead, they make it look cold and uninviting. Under even the very best of circumstances, the nuances of Linen White or Cameo White do not come across in pictures, either in print or online; instead it reads as old and dirty.
3. Color on the walls actually can make big furniture appear smaller. When we see furniture against white walls, it looks enormous, because of the contrast. Because the eye registers less contrast when there is color on the walls, the furniture seems to recede into the walls, and it’s a smoother look.
4. Keeping doors/ceilings/trim work in a white, with color on the wall, you will now see the architectural details.
White on white, this was one big vanilla space. On the left is a condo that is just starting to be painted, on the right, about 4 hours later.
In the photo on the right, you now can see the beveling detail on the doors, the crown and baseboard moldings. Using different but complimentary colors, we have slso created separate spaces.
5. Color on the walls bring the eye up, and adds stature to a room. It commands your attention, and your respect-you can’t not look at it.
And yes, these really are the same room.
July 11th, 2010
This is why you need to talk with a Home Stager.
Dobbs Ferry Road, Greenburgh, Sunday July 11th.
July 11th, 2010
We’re busy people, we live our lives; and human nature, when a space becomes familiar, we just don’t ‘see’ the things that we actually pass by every day. A a result, little things add up to big things and one day we wake up and wonder just what the heck happened
Sellers often rebel, those staying usually head to Home Goods. Neither is particularly productive.
A clean, maintained and detailed exterior does more than keep the in-laws happy, and provides more than curb appeal: Staying- it’s comfort and peace of mind; selling-it is your cheapest and most effective marketing tool: 24/7, it demonstrates to the rest of the world how you care for your entire property.
the refreshed home believes that when you are in charge of your space, you are in charge of your life. Also, that changing one’s circumstances often begins by changing one’s attitudes. Staying or selling, here are my favorite easy ways to show your house some love, in zero to $50.00.
Wash your windows, inside and out. Depending on the kind of detritus that is on your screens-vacuum or use the garden hose to clean out the cobwebs/dead bugs/etc out from the sill and screen.
Clean out the gutters. Sticks, seedlings, etc all need to go. Get a broom and walk around the house/garage and knock down all the cobwebs/etc.
Turn over the dirt in garden bed and make sure roots and base of plants are covered. Better than just weeding, it aerates the dirt and looks good, and offers better supprot for plants.
Clean all the exterior light fixtures, removing bugs and washing any glass. Make sure all bulbs work and are as bright as can be (creates ambiance for evening drive-bys)
$15.00 or Less
If you have a dog who has the run of the property, make the rounds with a pooper scooper every single day. Besides being unpleasant and unhealthy, acid from urine and feces can kill the grass. Hose down any ‘very favorite’ spots, and re-seed.
Give your older white porcelain tub a lift using Mr. Clean’s magic sponge. Freshen sink and tub drains by pouring 2/3 cup of baking soda down there, then follow with 2 cups of white vinegar…drains will run faster, too.
Using Qtips, detail your kitchen and bath. Around the faucets, around the drains, around the rubber gaskets in the fridge and dishwasher.
Buy a new Welcome mat. Simple and classic will elevate your home. If selling, stay away from images, as well as cute, political, or otherwise personal messages. Paint your front door.
$15.00 +, but Priceless
Color draws people in. Cheap annuals like marigolds, impatience, coleus, petunias and wax begonias are fairly low maintenance, produce a lot of look for the money, and will last til the first hard frost.
Hit the garden shop, buy and plant lavishly where you want to engage people-make a small grouping by the curb/walkway, a big pot by the front/back doors, corners of the deck or patio.
BONUS-July is considered past the peak of the planting season, you should see lots of SALE signs.
July 5th, 2010
Decorating is about making your space work better for you, while Staging your space is about making it work better for everyone else. In either case, re-evaluating your space/needs, and coming up with a plan can feel like a daunting prospect.
Current market conditions have created hybrid projects; in the last year more than half have had one goal, but keep an eye to the other.
Decisions that would shine the best light on a property and engage buyers-like new bed linens, lamps (pun semi-intended), or a new area rug, are totally transferable, can reflect a simpler/updated version of the homeowners’ taste, and are a good investment.
Saturated colors on walls have been hot for some time now. Many read as warm and light in person, and will, by contrast point up to architectural trim details, but in the end, will also add a vibrancy and interest to listing photos. (Trust me, off-white, looks old, and dirty white in photos-don’t go there).
To quote Oliver Wendall Holmes, ‘it’s not so much where we stand, but in what direction we are facing. This is the mindset of a successful project. Key is facing forward, take one step at a time, and just keep the conversation going-you’ll get to wherever you want to be.
July 4th, 2010
Born here in Westchester, but an 100% Irish ‘Egan’, I married a 50% Scottish ‘Graham’, so you’d think certain things would be part of my world-things like bagpipes, plaid (umm, I mean TARTAN), a fondness for sturdy carbohydrates, or a somewhat respectable sense of the heritage in the Celtic region.
Well, not really, but every few years I get a little closer, thanks to the Round Hill Highland Games. Having originated in Greenwich, and now held in every July in Norwalk, this was the 87th annual gathering, one of the oldest Scottish festivals in the US, http://www.roundhill.org
Hundreds of proud Scots of all ages demonstrated both strength and grace as they wrestled with unwieldy musical instruments (those would be the drums and bagpipes), and competitively marched, danced, and lifted heavy, simple objects-like afore-mentioned sturdy carbohydrates-all while wearing great quantities of heavily pleated, mostly-plaid wool.
Here’s Doug in front of the regulation size kabers, called ‘toothpicks’ by manly men, they are 15 feet long, and weigh 105 lbs. The object, shown above is to lift it, steady it, move forward as much as you can, pull it up enough to toss it so it flips over .
Other competitions include the hammer toss, sheaf toss, and weight toss. Pretty much as it sounds, weights are tossed for either height or distance.
Above at right is a heavyweight competitor who is lifting 56 lbs, tossing it over his head, over a bar that gets higher in each round. REALLY. Hard to see, but follow this guy’s upraised hand and you will see the circular handle of the weight, slightly out of frame on top is bar, set at 14′.
Of course those staffing the fish and chips stands and beer tent showed substantial endurance, too.
At right, Kensico Dam Plaza, Saturday July 3rd. Happy 4th everyone!
July 2nd, 2010
When I was in sales, I always tried to put my best presentation forward. Even in soft markets, or with choosy, unmotivated or non-commital shoppers. In fact, if typical times got my A game, the more challenging circumstances got my A++ game.
Sales can be physically demanding, and in more difficult times, I found many of my competitors were letting shoppers lead them; that is, fatigued or distracted, they accepted casual interest, or ‘just looking’ at face value, nothing worth pursuing. I found these to be very productive times.
In my capacity as Sales Manager for furniture stores, and now, in my own business, during my one to ones, if somone was unhappy with their situation, I always ask one question: Is there anything you think you could do to change things?
I’ve found that serious home sellers and people who choose to work in commissioned sales are both already highly motivated, and that in some cases I’m just steering, with the wind at my back.
So if their answer is yes, we discuss specifics, and how best to implement. Occasionally, the answer is no; then we talk about acceptance, the satisfaction of knowing they were being the best they could be, and faith that this, too will pass…I mean, let’s face it, you can always re-assess, and sometimes no matter how hard you work, things don’t always roll the way you want.
I am not channeling Pollyanna, nominating myself for Sales Guru of the year, or imploring anyone to hang tough and soldier on.
Opportunity excites me; communicating with other engaged and motivated people about business really excites me; and personally I see the next 6 months as a real juggernaut of opportunity. Steady and low mortgage rates, # of transactions and average sales prices both inching up, and ohyes, all that pent-up demand!!
But for all the deadline-weary, battle fatigued people in the housing market, I also sense a potential pull to the dark side: it’s summer/no one buys in the summer, tax credit over, still waiting for the market to ‘come back’, it’s summer/no one buys in summer…these can be self-fulfilling prophecies.
None of us know for sure what the next 6 months will bring in this market. But-OK, now channeling Oprah-what I do know for sure is that successful people take responsibility for their success. They challenge the status quo, they plan and expect the unexpected. Bottom line, they don’t follow the herd or react as much as they trust their internal compass to explore and establish what works, re-evaluate, adapt and implement.
What I know for sure about my business is that if I can make your space work better, intrinsically your life will be better. So to that end, looking to engage other take-charge DIY-type people, have roughed out my next few posts, starting with 10 free, or very cheap and easy ways to take charge of your space-and life-, whether you are selling or staying.
On this absolutely glorious Friday July 2nd-and throughout this long holiday weekend, whether you are seller, buyer, or RE professional, it is my hope you are trusting that if your mind/body/spirit needs a break you will somehow find some time and allow yourself this.
Then when you are feeling more-well, refreshed-you will refocus on what you can do well, and then proceed, confidently.