March 28th, 2011
Without hesitation, let me say Westchester County does an amazing job of establishing and running recycling events throughout the county; many thanks to County Executives, past and present for establishing and continuing this support.
BUT-it is not enough that we get all whipped into a frenzy in mid-April. Think thoughtful choices year-round, and plan ahead for the stuff you no longer need.
Here is the direct link for the entire 2011 Recycling Event Schedule, and here are some suggestions you can do to make a difference:
Open link and save as, or cut/paste and make link part of your email signature
Mark your calendars NOW of all the events
Send it to your clients or co-workers; submit to any company newsletter, or e-bulletin board
Share with the lacrosse moms, book club, PTA, scouts, etc.
Top/right on menu has link to Treasure Hunt, a free service to post and give-away-or get-unwanted, but usable items.
Link will keep you apprised of the upcoming events, like the launch of the facility that can process #3-7 plastics, and the opening of the permanent household recovery center, sometime later this year.
For out of the area friends/family/colleagues-suggest they go to their municipality’s website and get/forward that info to their friends…remember…we’re all in this together!!
March 26th, 2011
Daniel Patrick Moynihan served several Presidents, and was a four-time NY Senator.
Google him and most of his pictures show a similar image: hand to chin-very thoughtful, eyebrows raised in almost a bemused expression, and often in a bow tie. I just liked this one.
On his passing, 8 tears ago today, TIME Magazine noted he was one of a fading breed of politicians: someone who did not toe the party line, and never shied awy from serious debate ‘no matter how messy it promised to be’.
He was not a manufactured politician; he was smart and thoughtful, known for his wit, and nimble mind. There are a number of popular quotes attributed to him, but I have 2 favorites:
“You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts”, and “They will blame you for the rain, take credit for the sunshine”. Exact context of either is unclear, but good guess for the latter would be a nod to the fickle nature of politics, but with lots of other applications.
March 25th, 2011
We are ohsoclose to this season bursting into bloom, been hearing from lots of new people with an interest in getting their home to and outdoor space look it’s best, so created a 3 Part Series: Your Greater Outdoors-your best ideas for spring fix-ups.
First up is Spring Painting
There are several components to a house having curb appeal. Paint is arguably what is seen first, will make the biggest impression, and is one of the more costly investments a homeowner can make. There is a lot riding on getting it done right, and well, the first time around.
Bob DiMaggio is the owner of Brushworks of Rye, Inc. and has been painting all types of Westchester homes for almost 20 years. He has seen probably close to it all. According to Bob, if an exterior paint job has failed the homeowner, it usually comes down to one of three reasons:
Wood is one of the most common substrates found on homes. Wood is porous and can retain moisture. The surface may be dry to the touch but still needs to be tested daily to ensure the substrate is ready for product. Painting over a surface insufficiently dry may cause the the paint to prematurely peel.
Insufficiently Cleaned and Prepped Surfaces
a. Cleaning the surface
All surfaces to be painted should be cleaned before product is applied with warm to hot water and at least a mild soap. In cases where there is mold or mildew, a bleach solution should be added in order to kill the spores. If you don’t adequately clean the surface to be painted, you will wind up painting the dirt and not painting the surface which could lead to premature paint fail.
b. Prep the surface
Make sure to scrape off any loose paint and repair any soft, rotted wood or missing shingles, etc.
Some painting contractors apply incorrect primer/ paint for the surfaces they are covering. It is very important to use not only the right product but also a premium product. Premium products, while usually more expensive, cover better, protect longer and are less likely to fade over time.
A good paint job protects the surfaces and adds value to your home. With spring painting season around the corner, now is the time to make your move.
Be sure to protect yourself as a homeowner: Painters should easily be able to provide you with a current certificate of insurance and any required licensing by your municipality. Here in Westchester, painting contractors must be licensed and insured.
NEXT: Top WOW Factors To Improve Your Landscape
March 25th, 2011
Late last year I went thru a big learning curve…not about doing the job, but in how to market to, and reach the people I want to work with.
I was not happy with how things had been going, and I was angry and frustrated.
Then, I found ‘her’.
Months later, it is spring. Lessons have been learned, smarter choices have paid off.
People-buyers, seller and realtors-are feeling better, less fearful. And I am also feeling DARN GOOD about things in general-so I have brought her back.
This time-confident, powerful, passionate, and all about getting the job done. And ohyes, now she is -
Your Interior Decorator and Home Stager With A Mission!!
March 25th, 2011
In this business, seeing is believing, but the #1 corollary is that they have to like you, and trust you, first.
Recently I got a call from a Realtor I met last year-he was the listing agent on a property my Staging clients bought, after they sold their house.
He had a seller whose house needed help…not a new story-it had been on the market, with no success. It was a neat and clean space, no conditional issues. They had done some updating, but more needed to be done to make it competitive in this market.
I was there 2 days later, and sent them my report the next day. This was the email the agent sent me:
Thanks so much for all your time and care of the Smiths. I enjoyed being with you on the presentation – you have a velvet boxing glove, that’s for sure.
I have wanted to say something about the ‘nothing’ colors in the bathrooms and the kitchen, but they were already a little overwhelmed by my suggestions; it was a relief that you felt the same way, and addressed it with them.
I will catch up with them today, but I think they were very impressed with you and even better LIKED you and TRUSTED you. The changes you suggested are not ‘impossible’ and I think they will help set the property for a definite sale!
I will be in the office tomorrow, let’s talk more then.
Realtors: I know you invest months, often years in educating people, nurturing relationships. I totally get all that is on the line when you make the giant leap from listening to me, to actually bringing me into one of your transactions.
Sellers: I also realize all of what you have at stake. When we meet, I will understand and respect your situation, and all you have gone through. I will be your partner, and show you how to get to the other side.
I have made a successful living working in people’s homes for 30 years.
I know nothing to be truer than no matter what, people will always care about their homes. So four years ago I made my own leap and created the refreshed home.
My business model is not the most traditional. I have never ever chased dollars, so goals are not set or evaluated on sales figures.
My business has grown by simply striving to make people smarter and happier by showing how to make their space and stuff work better, so they can get on with their lives.
Solidly connecting with a responsive, professional, knowledgeable and now trusting Realtor was a home run.
Not a home run that is an insurance run, or even wins the game.
Because he can now comfortably speak with his other sellers and fellow agents about how Staging with the right person can work, this is a bases-loaded, bottom of the 12th, walk-off home run. In the playoffs.
Except in this scenario, everyone wins!
If you have a home you need to sell, let a professional Stager help. All you have to do is just start the conversation.
March 24th, 2011
Did you ever wonder where the tradition of shaking hands came from?
In early times, people carried weapons in their right hands.
When someone wanted to show another that they wished to be friendly, they extended an empty right hand showing that it held no weapon.
To make sure that neither could suddenly draw a weapon, they grasped each other’s hand firmly until sure they were in agreement.
The actual shaking of the hands may have been for the purpose of dislodging any hidden weapons.
STILL won’t chalk a bone-crushing shake up to a bad gene re-surfacing, but if only tactics, and weaponry were this simple today.
March 22nd, 2011
We’ve all heard that saying…but do you know why?
More importantly, do you want know how it can help sell your house?
There are three parts to the equation, the first being that the eye is drawn to color and light. Always, and immediately.
It is not a conscious decision- it’s a reaction, in our DNA. It’s easier to identify things, and is probably a survival instinct from our earliest days as a species. (You may need to stand back from the screen, but photo above is a shot of an orange, a tomato, and a butternut squash. Hard to tell in B&W, huh?)
We see something colorful or bright and shiny, it gets our attention, arouses our curiosity, and we look. This is the begining.
There is a (necessary) story to this next part.
Almost 20 years ago, I was recruited by a design client, and for a very brief time, I sold fairly high-end cars. I knew something about cars, so it was not that much of a stretch; the retail grind was getting to me, so I was ready for a change.
Part of the training was a 3 day event at a professional race track in Lime Rock, CT (where Paul Newman used to race), where we drove these high-performance cars.
Professional race instructors were in the car to ensure our safety, but we were definitely encouraged to…push the car to whatever our comfort level was.
I was one of the more fraidy-cat drivers, concerned that on the turns, my steering skills would not keep up with the speed/shorter reaction time.
I will never forget what the instructor told me: “Look ahead, look into the turn. The car will go where you are looking”.
He was right! That’s why no matter how vigilant we are, if we look away from the road as we are driving, the car starts drifting in that same direction.
The same is true of our bodies-they follow where our eyes are looking. That’s why professional sports players practice their shot or swing, to get into that groove.
So we’ve got color (and light) catching buyers’ eyes, and bodies moving toward what they are looking at…here’s the connection, and how it is going to help sell your house:
Color-via paint, artwork, draperies and accessories-and different types of light are used skillfully positioned by a professional Stager, to call attention to the room’s best features, and to draw people into the room.
When buyers are actually IN a room-not just standing in the doorway, peering in-all sorts of good things can happen:
They notice things, and it registers: Mouldings, the view, and in and in this NYC apartment, the charming built-in mini bookcase. Supermarkets know the longer you stay, the more you buy.
They experience the space. They see hosting holiday dinners, then immediately wonder if they have a big enough table…or if their rug will go with that wallpaper.
They compare ideas: Against what they know or own, the-always-knows-what-to-do sister in law’s house, or those shows on TV. Against all those other, sloppy, un-staged houses they have been seeing.
They’ll open closet doors, sit on the sofa, maybe see how the shower works in the bathroom. Touching is one of the clearest buying signals, showing ownership.
In other words, they will bond with the space, and try to see it as their own.
March 21st, 2011
A few hours ago, a fast-moving fire took the life of an elderly woman in Yorktown Heights. It was noted several time throughout the newscast that firefighters did all they could to rescue the lone resident of the home.
While the cause is still being investigated, firefighters told News 12 that the amount of debris in the house made searching for, and the attempted rescue of the victim very difficult.
In January 2008, under eerily similar circumstances, an elderly couple in Yonkers also lost their lives when their home caught fire and firefighters could not navigate the home to search for them, due to piles and piles of debris-many 5 feet tall or more.
While we are probably all guilty of letting clutter accumulate from time to time, this much stuff is not clutter, it’s a deadly hazard.
In the event that any emergency worker is needed in your home, precious moments are lost when clear access to, and through rooms is not available.
Children’s toys, too much furniture, piles of paper or magazines, even ‘neatly’ stacked boxes-anywhere in the home-can contribute to a tragedy.
Senior citizens, often with diminished mobility and limited social contacts seem to be the most as-risk.
They may not have the strength or funds to remove things, they may be embarrassed to ask for help, or they may just not recognize the danger. To that end:
-Clean out: sell, donate, recycle what you don’t want/need, and get off-site storage for what you must keep, but don’t need or use regularly.
-Make sure you have the correct number of smoke, fire and CO2 detectors in place. It is simple, cheap and smart; it is also the law. Test the batteries monthly, vaccumn dust out regularly, and change batteries at least once a year.
-Reach out to your neighbors, especially the senior citizens. Check in, know who-and where the rest of their family is, and how to reach them.
The town of East Rochester NY will always have my deepest gratitude: their keeping a collective eye on Grandma Stella let her stay in the town she always lived in, and gave us-7 hours away-real peace of mind.
If they need help with chores, offer- or research it within your community. Most high schools have community service as a requirement for graduation now, and here in Westchester, the Volunteer Center can point you in the right direction.
-While you don’t want to interfere, or violate any one’s privacy, if you do notice any dangerous conditions, let family, and/or officials know. And spread the word! As the poet Robert Louis Stevenson once simply noted, “Take care of each other”
March 19th, 2011
My client was expanding into a new territory, and wanted the building to match his vision.
The exterior needed a classic look, one that complimented the stone base and it’s architecture.
We painted the columns and trim bright white, this brought attention to the graceful and generous windows as well.
Wall color was a deep taupe that picked up and worked with the base color of many of the individual stones, and the existing roof color, giving it a smoother line.
An accent color typically covers about 10% of the total space, but adds 100% more interest.
Classic black was used here to give a more tailored feel, add a richer contrast against the stone and new wall color, while highlighting the different tones of the stonework.
We used this color on the existing green metal railings, as well as the signage and lighting, to complete the look.
NEXT: Creating a serene and welcoming interior
March 16th, 2011
“Defending Your Life” is one of my favorite movies of all time. Released in 1991, it starts Meryl Streep and Albert Brooks. It’s a comedy, but with profound moments.
The movie opens with Albert Brooks meeting an untimely demise, driving his new convertible on his 40th birthday.
BOOM! He finds himself in Judgement City, kind of a cross between Club Med and Disneyland, where lives are examined, but not by standards you might expect.
My head is very full these days, kept busy with all sorts of things. I keep this scene from YouTube on my Favorites list-for when my Little Brain takes over, thought you might enjoy it as well.
March 16th, 2011
OK, so by now we are good with overly-doting parents, refrigerator clutter, and ‘the party house’; sex, religion and politics-right?
EXCELLENT!! Onward, then!!
QUESTION: What do pets, kids, people who smoke and cooking have in common?
ANSWER: Easy answer is they…ummm emit odors.
QUESTION: How to help a seller come to terms with, and remedy this condition?
A) Elevate the discussion, and focus on the positive first. Acknowledge that at the very core, in the majority of cases, these odor-emitters are also what bring light and love into a home and a life.
B) Separate the sin from the sinner. Understand-while buyers will smell wet dog, nasty sneakers, stale smoke and lingering fish.
Sellers think of the wagging tail that greets them every morning, the pride of their kid making the jump shot at the buzzer, perhaps their beloved spouse who is so struggling to quit, or who very romantically made the grilled salmon or scampi for dinner the night before.
C) Early on, everything is about getting the house sold. Period. It is the motivation, rationale and answer to everything. It allows for kindness, compassion and forthrightness to be present simultaneously.
D) …is for ‘de-personalize’ it. The reality is that today many people have allergies, asthma, or some other sort of respiratory ailment…why shrink the buyer pool unnecessarily?
E) “We are all in this together” My sellers know I am with them, every step of the way. So they truly get that while it may be hard for them to hear of their odoriferous conditions, it is just as hard to tell them.
March 13th, 2011
I love trivia.
Sometimes just little bits of information, easy to remember can add to a conversation, or fill in some blanks to a story or situation, bettering your understanding.
Other times it’s a simple fact that you just find thought-provoking, something that puts a new spin on how you see or think about something.
Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most famous and easily-recognized artist of all time: we all know his sunflowers and his irises; his starry nights and his cafe scenes.
DID YOU KNOW….
Vincent Van Gogh sold exactly one painting while he was alive, Red Vineyard at Aries.
In his lifetime he created upwards of 1100 drawings, and 900 paintings…yet sold only one, and he died never having any sense of his impending success.
In our real-time-is-not-fast enough mindset, that is an awesome thought. Persistance…Confidence…Faith…Purpose….all worth remembering if success is not ours when we think it should be.
March 8th, 2011
Have talked about ActiveRain before…it’s an online community of real estate professionals, now aver 200K strong. Have been an AR member a little over a year, active with it about 9 months. I’ve learned a lot, adding both smarts and polish to my repertoire.
Technology options and applications is a skill that does not come easily to me; I personally know and have worked with ARers numbers 1-3 in our area, and a big shout-out to each has generously helped me:
White Plains’ Ruthmarie Hicks has helped me understand Google juice is not a new sports drink (although if someone was looking to develop one and market it to realtors…); just yesterday Debbie Gartner of Floor Coverings International recognized a need and offered to show me how to wrap text around graphics on my posts, and Phil Faranda even volunteered to go to the Verizon store with me and rough them up a bit on my behalf..what pals!!
Now I know Phil is really excited about mixing it with those Verizon folks, but truth is I know them all, and friends help friends. What about people who don’t really know each other?
Last night I tested the whole professional help and support thing out. Felt kind of sheepish, but thought WTH and went with it. W-O-W!
Did a post titled I Need To Upgrade My Phones, Any Recommendations? and only sent it to 2 AR groups I joined moments before, Tech Corner and Gadgets, Tools and Extras. (Checking in with groups you had no strength or expertise in-and asking for help-IMAGINE!)
Literally within moments I got my first reply; over a dozen within the half-hour. Plus two others who had the same questions I did, and was just as interested in the feedback. At 1am on a Sunday morning, EST.
I learned 2 things from this: yes-about phones/service, but more importantly, it was a real gut-level learning moment-how to ask. Have found the fellowship among AR members to be both supportive and challenging, thank you, thank you, thank you!!
Looking to make a move this week, watch for the post script!
March 8th, 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- OR YOUR SELLER- have made the decision to sell your house (and get on with your life!)-please join me at 11am on Saturday March 12th, in the Community Room in the Mt. Kisco Public Library, 100 Main Street.
ALL ARE WELCOME!! 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 help demystify the process, and help you see your property through the eyes of a buyer, so you can get your house SOLD!
March 3rd, 2011
In most any room, walls- all vertical surfaces, including windows-make up the largest surface area, followed by floors. Depending on the quality of the product and wear it’s received, 8 to 10 years is an expected life span for most broadloom.
WHYOHWHYOHWHY do sellers wring their hands, whine and gnash their teeth when the Realtor and Stager suggest replacing carpet from the last millenium?
Here are ten reasons there is no reason to keep old carpet:
-Old carpet-and old padding-retains odors and allergens from stains long dried, pets long gone, and former smokers.
-It can be so reasonable. Many carpet stores now stock rolls of nice, neutral carpet for just this purpose. This means qui
ck delivery and a better price.
-Old padding breaks down after a while, especially in high traffic spots-which makes that part of carpet wear faster.
-New padding of the the highest quality is a mere pittance (about $3.50 a square yard in our area). It is so luxurious, and provides sound-deadening benefits to the rest of the house.
-Buyers will often over-estimate what it will take to replace icked-out old carpet, which sets the stage to arm-wrestle about an allowance…just what you’re looking for.
-It is the quickest and easiest way to deal with flooring issues-no dust/fumes/drying time…you will also know for sure what condition the wood floors are in.
-The crud that blows out of HVAC vents just does not clean up, no matter what anyone tells you. Really. Trust me.
-If you are decluttering and moving furniture around, traffic patterns, stains and fading become more apparent with less to look at.
-Even if it’s in good shape, outdated colors or styles suggest to buyers that other things in the house are outdated as well…perhaps they need to look harder??
-In New York State, it’s allowed as a cost of selling the home, taken as a deduction against the profit when the house sells.
An 11 x 15 room will need about 20 square yards of carpet, even at a padded/measured/installed reasonable to generous price of $35.00 a yard, it’s less than $750.00 ..one fifth…of one percent…of the price of a $400K house. What part of that does not sound like a great idea??