January 31st, 2011
Why should I spend money to decorate a house I’m just going to sell?
If someone doesn’t like my collection of ____, well, that’s just too bad!!
Can’t buyers just use their imagination?
Sound familiar? I hear these things every day. Home Staging is not a new concept-it’s an idea that has been around since the 70′s, but for various reasons, it’s been slower to gain traction here in the northeast.
TV shows that feature empty trophy houses filled with high-end furniture, or re-dos with unrealistic budgets and timelines has not helped, either.
Selling your house is a high-stakes proposition. And today, because more people need to live in their house until they sell it, it’s become even more important to find creative, effective reality-based solutions homeowners can live with.
If you have made the decision to sell your house (and get on with your life!)-please join me at 10am this Saturday, in the upstairs conference room in the Ossining Public Library, 53 Croton Avenue.
Bring an open mind, along with your questions, a pad to write on, even some photos of your spaces, if you’d like. Let me demystify the process, and help you see your property through the eyes of a buyer, so you can get your house SOLD!
January 31st, 2011
East Rochester NY is just under a mile and a half squared, southeast of Rochester proper, and in close proximity to Fairport, Penfield and Pittsford.
Originally a planned community, with the NY Central running right through town, it was home to the Aeolian Piano Factory, until it moved it’s offices to Memphis in the early 50′s. Despite being a small community, they are known for their winning sports teams.
Robert Trent Jones, the famous golf course architect once lived there. The spring is glorious, with more lilacs that you can imagine in bloom during their annual festival in late April. The summers are too short, and the winter, well…
My in-laws met and married there, my husband was born there, and it was the life-long home for Stella Dudinski Vogler, my husband’s grandmother. She lived in the same house on West Filbert Street for almost 60 years.
In the almost 18 years we have been together, Doug and I made the trip up together about a half-dozen times; plus Doug on his own, at least that many times, mostly in the last 8 or 9 years.
This past April I wrote about he and I surprising her for her 96th birthday, as she was walking into lunch at her assisted living facility.
This past week, after a fall, and an ohsofast decline, we lost Stella.
The hands that made thousands and thousands of cookies for 8 grandchildren, that held and rocked 19 great-grandchildren, but would still beat the &$!& out of you in cards were stilled.
I had often told friends that ‘if you are going to be old, you want to live in East Rochester’, because it seemed to me that for every 70+ resident, there were 3 or 4 younger residents who were more than willing to look out for their neighbors, and I wanted to thank them for helping Stella lead the life she wanted.
Most I will never know, but a few I do. SO-if you manage to score a seat for breakfast at Steve’s Place over on Penfield Road (officially in Rochester), tell Steve you know what a great next-door neighbor he was-and congratulate him on his upcoming wedding!
If you know of St. Jerome’s, let Father Frank know you heard about how his sensitivity and compassion united and touched us all.
Even though she never let any of you win at cards, thank you to the staff, and all her companions at the Senior Center. If you’re visiting anyone over at Maplewood Estates on Ayerault (in Fairport), know they are in a great environment, and say hi to Priscilla and Bob, the managers.
And if you know of anyone associated with Highland Hospital in Rochester-well, let them know their kindnesses and professionalism is a comfort that won’t ever be forgotten.
January 23rd, 2011
Staging is the art of making someone’s space, and their stuff look their best. With more and more sellers needing to stay in their house til it sells, you are working with their things, that more often than not, need a little TLC.
Take a good look at the next few kitchen/dining sets you come across. Specifically, the legs and/or bases of wooden tables and chairs, especially if they are painted or finished in a light color.
In a home that’s really lived in, these really can get scuffed up. While there are lots of creative solutions and specialty products out there, I’m very fond of quick, easy and cheap…and of instant gratification.
On a very damp-but not dripping wet- sponge, or even paper towel, make a small amount of toothpaste into a watery paste, and rub GENTLY on the offending marks, along the legnth of the leg.
The dissolved abrasive will break up the mark, then just wipe and dry. Each chair might take just a few minutes, and when you’re done, they’ll not only be scuff-free, they’ll be minty fresh as well!
This is one of the projects I do, or assign to the homeowner, very early on. If they see how simple and easy it can be to make a difference, it’s a lot easier for them to get behind this big, mysterious thing we call ‘Staging’.
January 22nd, 2011
Here in the lower Hudson Valley, we are snow-weary. That giddy “snow day!” excitement we all had is long gone. Instead we are re-calibrating our schedules everyday, and there is salt residue, clunky books and bulky outer garments everywhere.
What a great time to look at houses…and I mean really look AT them.
With most of the foliage gone, or buried under the white stuff, you have a clean palette. There is very little to distract the eye, you can see every detail…which, in the end, is a good thing.
If you are staying in your home and thinking about painting or updating, drive around and check out color combinations and trim, and other details. Shutters? New front door? Hmmm maybe that slate blue color you love isn’t the best choice for your southern-exposure house…
Less than 5% of the population can comfortably visualize anything other than what’s in front of them, and you’ll see things now that would not be as visible the rest of the year.
Some you’ll love, some maybe not so much, but guaranteed: you’ll develop your style, and your confidence to make decisions when the springtime rolls around.
If 2011 is the year you are going to sell your house, same principle, same idea, different focus. Take a long, hard look at your house, then drive around and look at other homes…which ones would you want to buy?
All this snow is a great filter that will help you see your house through the eyes of a buyer; very easy to see the difference between the houses that have been maintained, and those that have deferred the maintenance.
Dirt/mildew on any of the surfaces- missing spindles on decks- peeling, faded or outdated paint- gutters in need of repair-overgrown landscaping-even old mailboxes or undersize house numbers-buyers will see it all.
Talk it over with your Realtor, make a list, and start interviewing contractors-you want to be ready to roll when the weather permits. (And if you need further encouragement, have your accountant confirm how much of your list is a deductible expense!)
Again, same idea if you’ve decided to buy in 2011. Looking at lots of houses will develop your eye, and give you insight into what you like and why; excellent time to get a good sense of specific houses and the property; how it has been cared for, and what might need to be done.
For all of us, really ‘seeing’ something is a call to action. Whatever decision you might be contemplating, this is a good first step.
January 19th, 2011
Not quite 3 weeks into it, I continue to feel very good about this New Year.
Last weekend, on behalf of a client, I went to one of those ‘Starving Artists’ trunk shows…you know the ones, they set up in a local hotel.
They advertise like crazy a few days before, and they sell wall art for not a lot of money, like $5o.oo for a 2′ x 3′ painting.
Had never been to one before, but this client swore by them, and being we had a deadline to meet, so what the heck.
Walking towards the room, a steady stream of people holding wrapped canvases passed me…good sign, I thought. But when I got there, I was stunned.
There must have been 500 people in this huge room, most holding several canvases quite possessively already, and all were intent on the mission on hand.
Husbands were off to the side, dutifully guarding numerous canvases, while wives were making a second trip around the room; babies were being carried while canvases were in the strollers.
I couldn’t get near the table with 12″ x 12″ canvases for $8.00, it was like a hot craps game was going on behind the throng. Are you seeing how many canvases these people are holding??
And they weren’t just holding them, they were buying them, along with pre-made frames, also value priced.
So why, might you ask, does a feeding frenzy on inexpensive art make me feel so darn good?
I always believe that art can make you happy, but this was more. These were people who were excited about their homes and their space again. They were looking to be happy, and to have things they like around them.
These people are engaged and moving forward; their mood was palpable- upbeat and invigorating, this is a good thing for us all.
The subject matter was 99% landscapes, and a few funky geometrics, I never did find anything suitable for my client. But I did find this little guy…is it my imagination, or is he winking??
January 16th, 2011
Things in a home that show they need maintenance do not go over well with buyers.
Even things that are small and or easy to fix, it tells buyers that if the sellers can’t or don’t take care of it-well, what other horrors are there that they just haven’t found yet??
But when the details are taken care of, it’s part of the magic of finding ‘the’ house. SO-in the trunk of my car is a kit of things I have found to be helpful to indispensable when I am out and on a job to quickly and easily take care of such details.
While not always used for their intended purpose, it’s made of up things that are easy to find, inexpensive, and most importantly, WORK.
This week’s product I am absolutely over the moon about.
Kitchens are a big selling point in any home. Stainless steel is still very popular, and we all love the look of gleaming, well-kept appliances.
However-let’s be honest, it’s not the easiest look to maintain, especially when a house is being actively lived-in. Smudges, drips and fingerprints can come out of nowhere.
If you have stainless appliances, run out and buy these now. Available in spray, too (but I like the wipes) and in most supermarkets, less than $6.00 for a container of 30. One wipe will remove most of what’s on a major appliance and leave a smooth, polished-finish that seems to repel said detritus, at least for a few days, without any residue.
January 12th, 2011
Recycling and re-purposing are words we generally start hearing around spring…you know, when we start feeling alive again, and want to change the world.
Recycling statistics for Westchester are very impressive, and IMHO a lot of credit goes to both past-and present-county administration for making, then keeping recycling front and center to county residents.
But sorry, I still think we can all do more. Could there be a better New Year’s resolution than to make greener living a bigger part of your and your family’s life?
To get a quick start in the New Year, here are links on Westchester County site to recycling info, Curbside Recycling Guide, and Household Material Recovery Guide, including schedule of events for 2011.
If some of your ‘stuff’ has outlived it’s useful life cycle, please do look into arrangements for breaking it down/re-purposing it responsibly.
If you are in possession of goods that seem to still have some usage in them, but just not needed in your life or household, re-purposing them could be the answer. Here are some links to check out and get more info, and donation guidelines.
United Way of Westchester and Putnam has the 211 program that serves as a clearing house, connecting people with stuff to county agencies that need them.
Freecycle is probably best described as a free, online swap meet. You need to register, but free of cost and spam. Simply people who have-or want- stuff post it, people who can help respond.
Furniture Sharehouse accepts your basic furniture and some furnishings to be re-distributed; free to clients of about 3 dozen local agencies.
Pets Alive (previoulsy Elmsford Animal Shelter and SPCA of Briarcliff are both no-kill shelters, and will gratefully accept your sheets, towels and blankets to lend warmth and comfort to the animals they rescue.
Even if you are already lean and green, please consider bookmarking and sharing/forwarding this info to others in your circle…every little bit adds up.
January 8th, 2011
Have gotten some feedback about the first part of this series….let me just say I have nothing against HGTV> In fact, I love HGTV.
A 24/7 TV network that devotes itself entirely to all things home-oriented that entertains and educates, while raising all our profiles is a good thing. But as a practical matter of actually getting things done in your home….
As the network has grown, the beast must be fed. Some concepts get stretched a little too thin, or you are spending a lot of that half-hour wading through semi-celebrity personalities (or is it celebrity semi-personalities??), product placement plugs, teaser trailers and repeated video, to get to those good ideas.
IMHO, setting Sabrina Soto’s programs aside, viewers for the most part have to really work at culling root concepts.
Which might be ok, if you are one of a minority that can distill it all down….visualize it for your space…. exclude the typically unrealistic or not even mentioned issue of budget…translate it into specifics that meet your space, needs and circumstances…on your own.
Like I said…as a professional Decorator and Home Stager, I love HGTV.
January 6th, 2011
The other day I received one of those oversize glossy postcards from a local agent, announcing they had sold a local home.
I knew the owners, had wished them well when they were moving out; and know it’s great tool for agents to remind neighbors-and Stagers!-who is successful in your area.
What was surprising was who it was addressed to:
TO OUR FRIENDLY NEIGHBOR AT
Really. Anyone else get a little bit of a mixed message?
This was from a nice-size agency who is known for their luxury properties, both domestic and international. The agent is experienced and successful; as a Stager, this agent was on my ‘want to meet’ list.
Is this really the best that could be done to address these cards? Is this a common salutation, does it sound like an oversight, or is this just what happens when you try to please (reach) so many at bulk mailing rates?
Happy Bunny exaggerates. I don’t for a second believe that was the agent’s intent, but as a recipient, I was not impressed. It addresses the hyper-sensitive tightrope many in business come up against: how best to reach out to many, hoping to connect with a few, in a cost-effective manner?
I am very curious. Agents-how do you make choices like this? And other friendly neighbors/residents-does one salutation over another make any difference to you? Inquiring minds want to know!
January 3rd, 2011
There are very few things that are more at the heart of who we are, than our homes. At the end of the day, people want to be home.
Because the last few years has been so very trying, I believe 2011 will be a year of shared purposes and goals, and with that-better communications.
The right words can inspire great things. Here are some more words that I think we will all be hearing a lot in the New Year. They are a little different, and I like the sound of them.
We are all in this together, and one’s success-a rising tide-will lift all our boats. May 2011 be your best year ever!!
Comfort, sanctuary, authentic: “HOME“ is both a universal and very personal entity. These words go to the core of what we all crave.
Mentor, support, engage, collaborate: Good relationships build trust, and creativity. Interactions will be quality, and rewarding.
Wanderlust, adventure, dream: I want to live a few moments of each day like a 3 year old, seeing the wonder of something for the first time.
Cellular, visceral, intuitive: We are all ohsotired of the intense and frenzied, but we will still think about, and feel things deeply.
Evolve, thrive, grow: Forward motion that with time, brings better things.
Yes. Because I like the sound of it.
January 2nd, 2011
Recently there has been a different tone and tenor in jobs I’ve had, and people I’ve been speaking with. There is a willingness to believe. I see and hear more confidence, less trepidation.
Many are tired of being held hostage to this market; they want to put the past behind them, and get on with their life.
NOW is the perfect time to embrace a new plan of action!!
Too many sellers-and sorry, agents too-still think inside a very small box-i.e. what they see on TV. The extremes of the market make for the best TV, but don’t really address the needs of the majority of sellers.
Staging is not an intellectual discussion, it is a verb, you just get your hands onto things and start to make some changes. SO-get off the couch, and turn off HGTV; here are some really quick/easy/cheap ways to get you going.
Now, more than ever, buyers buy homes they want, homes they connect with on an emotional level. Good Home Staging starts by knowing who the buyers will likely be, then the strengths of the neighborhood/property that’ll draw buyers there in the first place. Then visually, tangibly taps into those motivational forces, to complete the picture for the buyer.
You are selling a lifestyle A low pegboard with a few bright yellow slickers, or attention paid to a spacious eat-in kitchen could be very appealing to a parents of a growing family.
A few touches of luxury inside-even as simple as new white plush bath towels- could really speak to downsizers who are ready to enjoy a life not ruled by durable, practical and kid-friendly choices.
Cute pet bowl-empty, please-reminds buyers this could finally be the opportunity to comfortably add a new member to the family
Offer the unexpected Buyers will linger in and bond with a room where there is something clever or engaging for them to see.
Nothing fancy/blingy/personal, but think signs of life: how about a simple goldfish bowl in a child’s room, even an in-progress jigsaw puzzle or Scrabble game on a game table?
Draw them outside Whether the property has a 4×8 balcony, a million-dollar view, or falls somewhere in between, buyers need to be outside and experience it to fully appreciate it. Give them something to look at, touch, and be engaged with to make that impression.
If there is a yard, in 3 of the 4 seasons I like to set up a volleyball net, horseshoes, even bocce ball-what better way to take the pressure off than to have the buyers toss a few shoes?
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean buyers should take your word for how great it is to have a deck and a grill-show them it’s a year-round benefit.
Shovel a path to the grill and keep it looking good; buyers will be reassured they will be just fine in the next power-outage, even see themselves hosting the next Super Bowl party!!
Decorating some tress decorated with bird and squirrel-friendly treats will be entertaining for kids, while adding color and life to your property.
This market is extremely saturated with condos and co-ops. All the more reason to find something to make the space stand out.
A mini herb garden on the window sill points to light, and a fragrant rosemary tree would probably do well year round on any patio or balcony, and few could resisit touching it to release it’s aroma.
A string of white lights adds a nice touch year-round, but would be most charming and memorable at winter time showings.
NEXT: Multi-anything is GOLDEN; even golden is GOLDEN…except we’ll call it Pittsfield Buff, OK?
January 1st, 2011
Conceptually, New Years Day is one of my favorite holidays. I like thinking about the future, and the way I want to get there; individual words propel me.
Unexpected and nuanced words are the ones I hear best. As intangible touchstones, they linger and invite possibilities; open up the imagination; forge, define and illuminate the path.
2010 brought a lot of challenges, but it was a wonderful year. Thinking it through, here are some of the words-and the whys- that will continue to color and shape myself, my business, my writings and my interactions in 2011.
Resonate, ponder, profound, thoughtful: Courses charted and decisions made in 2011 will be meaningful and personal
Whimsy. Big in 2010, keeping it, adding joy and delight. Why? Why not ?? I like things that make me think first, then smile.
Wisdom = Knowledge + understanding + experience + confidence.
Promise, hope, opportunity: I will probably always believe our best days are ahead of us.
Kind, heart, compassion, philanthropic: Lessons learned from the last few years.
Re-: Just add the verb of your choice, it’s doubly empowering. Recalibrate, rejuvenate, refresh, refine, rededicate, re-evaluate, refresh…
Passion, relish, zeal: Life is too short not to grab every opportunity to be intensely happy.