Who’s Responsible for the Listing Photos?

July 21st, 2014

“Who’s responsible for the listing photos?” Usually asked regarding the cost, scheduling or physical taking of photos, but rarely asked, and IMO insufficiently addressed regarding quality.ae-im-21

Each of us is responsible for our own success. It’s always dandy if you can turn it over to the pros, but that’s not doable for many.

This isn’t a call to invest in costly equipment, of the moment technology or other extended services, but preparing and marketing a house for sale is serious business. Whatever you can do, you need to do, in the best way possible, from Day One; ALL interested parties to get their Big Boy/Girl pants on, focus on what they can do, and do it.

In every MLS examples abound where no one took a few extra moments to care. Things that cost nothing to remedy yet carry a huge price tag: unmade beds, uneven towels, raised toilet seats, dishes in the sink, burned out lights, the list goes on.

Agents are responsible to address it at the first seller meeting. Honestly, and directly. Not doing so is a grave error of omission that will haunt you: an underwhelming listing at best; wasted resources, and sellers who’ll use your reticence against you to excuse their own culpability are certainties.

Don’t know what to say, how to do it? No one is born knowing these things….but get over it, and find someone who does: Shadow a colleague and develop your own style. OR suggest your sellers speak with a Stager! Having “these talks” with sellers is part of what what we do . (BTW, TRH also coaches and mentors agents who want to develop their own style, comfortably!)

Meryl_as_Julia_choppingBrokers are responsible for establishing, and maintaining standards within their brokerage. YES I know your time is diced more finely than Meryl Streep’s onions, and YES I know everyone has their hands in your pockets and YES I know how hard this business is…but sorry, you’re blowing it at the finish line.

Listing photos drive traffic and inspire showings, DO NOT try to convince me your agents’ thumb in the picture is an OK photo. Make the time to lead by example, and insist your agents follow.

Make sure your photos are the best they can be. Choose to either approve photos before they go up, train-or hire someone!-to work with your agents, developing their eye for detail, composition and even technical prowess with their smart phone. That whole teach a man to fish thing really works!

Sellers are responsible. As a Stager I drive this point home in every consult I make, and every CE class and workshop I lead. Use common sense, and be open to suggestions from people who know what they’re doing, who have no vested interest other than your success.

This is not a cerebral process, asking you to contemplate if you’d buy your house is not helpful. Look at some listings online, and take some of your own pictures. Are you stunned to see how much “crap” other people have in their photos? OH, WAIT>that’s YOUR Living Room…?!

Staging a house is a business decision. Whatever you can do, ALWAYS do the very best you can, from Day One. So who’s responsible for the listing photos? If you’ve read this far, really, you already know.

Marie Graham is an Interior Decorator, an Accredited Home Stager, and owner of The Refreshed Home. She puts her Big Girl pants on every day, helping people do what they can to better their space and circumstances. Contact her directly 914.607.2895 marie@therefreshedhome.com



Decorating FAQs: What is Redesign?

July 5th, 2014

A good economic indicator>untitledDecorating FAQs are popping up all over!  Today’s question centers on a popular buzzword, “Redesign”.

Written or spoken, we communicate with words. The best word choices convey nuance and details, they also attract and engage listeners when they are different, or unexpected.

“Redesign” popped into our consciousness probably about 5 or 6 years ago; pretty much when the economy was fully on the skids. The prefix  ”Re-” meaning back, or again  gave us us this new word, meaning to create something new from at least some existing items. Un-specific, but snappy and less-indulgent sounding, it appealed to those craving change in their decor, alluding to dollar-centric change,  i.e. solutions based on creativity, not purchases.

On the other hand, Decorating, and Interior Decorator are words that carry a lot of baggage-even in sophisticated circles!- and IMO need to be un-demonized…ah, I mean further clarified.

The Refreshed Home considers Interior Decorating as a personal service, and anything that improves the look, feel, and function of a space,  and elevates the happiness level of its users. And yes, that often includes re-positioning furniture or art, re-upholstering a chair, re-glazing tile,  or re-evaluating the use/flow of  a space.

Further,  an Interior Decorator as one who evaluates all the circumstances, needs and goals of a client;  creates, and generally helps execute (at least some of) a plan that’ll lead to that level of  Spatial Nirvana.

Speaking practically, Redesign and Decorating both describe the process of bettering your space, Redesigners and Interior Decorators each as the people who’ll help you get there.  Chosen to describe what you think you want, how you want to get there, or how you want people to see you, but neither is a guarantee of price, or a defined approach…at the end of the day it’s about the individuals, how they click; the conversation and the relationship/framework they establish.

Personally, I chose the name The Refreshed Home to represent ‘bettered spaces, regardless of price point’, and describe myself an an Interior Decorator not because of my training, experience or accreditations, but because my focus is on solutions, not on a price point or market.

TRH is guided by three principles: working with nice people, who want to work with me, and want to get things done. Budget-conscious, but not budget-driven, bettering Westchester County spaces since 1981, your inquiries are always welcomed!

I’ll Tell You What You Want (What You Really Really Want)

July 1st, 2014

imagenes de James Dean 7We romanticize mavericks, and secretly relish the image of rebels or non-conformist, but home at night in our bunny slippers, deep down, we crave order, yearn for accomplishments, and welcome new beginnings.  YUP, it’s what we really, really want.

This week saw the first day of the month, a new quarter, the start of the second half of the calendar, a new fiscal year….lot of markers for fresh starts!

Nearly a dozen newsletters greeted me this morning, and more have arrived every day since. No spam, none were unsolicited, the common focus was quality of life, including my newest favorite, The Valley Table-eating and living local here in the Hudson Valley (check it out and subscribe, it’s great-this issue has a Fair calendar!)

We all wrestle with the question of  making good choices, and how to make the most of each set of 24 hours. As a Stager and Decorator I see how profoundly our spaces affect us first-hand.

Whether thinking about buying, selling or just staying and improving your Westchester County property- here are my best suggestions for small projects to take on this long weekend that’ll make a BIG difference…MAYBE even help you get this song out of your head!

Clean out a closet:  and do some good!  Thrift shops abound locally, they’re great sources for general donations of items in good condition. Google for options in your area, and call ahead for summer hours, and that they’ll take what you want.  Consider Maizie’s Consignment for any unwanted designer duds, or donate current womens’  business wear to Career Closet in Briarcliff,  and in a bit of serendipity, Men’s Wearhouse Annual Suit Drive starts TODAY!

…Or a bookshelf:  Most any Westchester library will gladly accept your hardcover books, even CDs and DVDs for their fund-raising book sales, find them here.

Buy new towels or bed linens: Remember the last time you stayed in a hotel?  Chances are you were delighted by fresh, fluffy, matching towels; clean, crisp bed linens with nice plump bed pillows.  With all the discount home stores and holiday sales,  you can easily wake up to a new and wonderful space tomorrow, for not a lot of money. (Your old and mis-matched linens are welcomed at most animal shelters, too!)

Wash your windows: Clean windows improve your entire  outlook, no matter what.

Organize your work space. Whether it’s your desk, your work bench, your spice rack>an organized space is a happy space that clears the mind.

Paint something: The front door or shutters, the powder room, the garage floor…completing a small but meaningful project will feel surprisingly rewarding, and you’ll be floored to realize how much energy you’ve spent putting it off vs actually getting it done!!

Marie Graham writes on, and consults about space, stuff, getting un-stuck, and on with your life (what Interior Decorating and Home Staging is really, really about!)  Owner of The Refreshed Home, contact her directly marie@therefreshedhome.com  or 914.607.2895


California Chrome: Colors, and Destiny

June 6th, 2014

images5Never been a horse person…but what drew me in enough to read California Chrome’s story, chuckle at the story behind  “DAP” on the silks, then be genuinely touched by, and interested in this story was this photo of him winning the Derby, resplendent in purple and green.

See, I’m a little partial to purple and green….when I quit my paying job (with benefits!) to start The Refreshed Home in 2007, I had the name, and the colors, purple and green.

Can colors influence your destiny? Not suggesting  California Chrome will run faster because he’d decked out in purple and green (for the record, horses aren’t colorblind, but don’t see colors as vividly as humans do).  Nor do I work any harder just because those colors are on my letterhead.

Instead, consider this: Each color has an energy and an essence.  When chosen well, the right color will naturally attract the people who will ultimately make the entity-or goal-successful.

In a nutshell purple is both regal and whimsical, the stuff dreams are made of; green is fresh, life and energy. Works for me and my business, and if you know the back story of how this horse came to be, how  hands-on, and lovingly he was raised, you’ll probably agree it’s worked for him too.

Can colors influence your destiny?  Well, as a Home Stager, I’ll choose  specific colors to resonate on listing photos, engage buyers and draw them  through the entire house. As a Decorator, I help you get your makeup on right in the morning, be more productive in your office or business, help you feel all cozied-up at night, and ensure you throw lively, vibrant parties on the weekend. Those all sound like important things to me!

Will wearing purple and green help California Chrome win the Belmont Stakes-and the Triple Crown-tomorrow? Well, I think these colors have helped draw the kinds of people who’ve helped him get this far…and now he’s got my heart, too!!


Three Things Amateur Home Stagers Miss

May 11th, 2014

Rooted in the word ‘love’, Wikipedia defines amateur as someone who loves doing something, but does it casually, three_thingsis unpaid/under-paid, new and inexperienced, and/or often self-taught. TRH heartily supports homeowners doing things on their own…when they know what they’re doing. Three things amateur Home Stagers miss:

The Sellers Brain

We all know  ’de-clutter, de-personalize’, but without first understanding the real whys,  it’s a decidedly judgmental mantra.

Sellers often need to re-align their thinking to see their house like a buyer does. Putting your house on the market is like a first date. Getting ready, is your mindset firm,  ’____is all I want to do’ ,  or do you consider ’how can I make the best impression’?

Dating (and RE) is emotional and delicate territory. Rare is a second date-or showing!- when it’s clear on the first one the other person is more concerned with themselves and their needs that they are with you. No one gets plastic surgery for a first date, but caring enough to do the best you can-whatever that may be-resonates with Buyers.

Who is the Buyer? 

OK, so you know it’ll be  a young family in your Cape Cod starter…guess what-so does everyone else!

Buying is about the future, hopes and dreams of brighter days. Don’t coast-dig deeper, think beyond ‘who’. Where they are coming from?  What is their motivation?  What are their dreams?  What great things can happen when they buy this house? Simple ways to engage buyers:

  • A desk, a good lamp, and books in a childs’ room inspire wonderful thoughts for parents
  • A spice rack, some mini herb plants and well-loved cookbooks elevates any kitchenIMAG0406
  • Pay attention to the workbench, and the garage, someone will love it for that as much as you do

This property above was located in a school district  where lacrosse was hothothot.  The yard was broad and flat, we borrowed a goal from a neighbor. A/O in 3 weeks, from a family with  3 kids who all played.

Good Vibrations  

Pleasing visuals are vital, but missed, or dismissed are details can telegraph waaaay TMI to buyers, compromising a sellers’ position.

Buyers buy for the future: for better days, and to be happy, but sellers sell for all sorts of reasons. Under the best of circumstances there is still a sense of loss, even if it’s an acknowledgement of time passing by, but often there is more: illness, death, financial distress or divorce.

If it’s your house, it’s hard to hear, but truth is old/sad linens and bed coverings, sparsely/oddly furnished rooms, medical equipment, an empty his (or hers) closet in the Master Suite are off-putting at best to buyers, and will fuel speculation about why you “need” to sell, generating low-ball offers at worst.

The Refreshed Home knows the importance of having these specific, and sometimes difficult conversations with Sellers early on; it’s experience, kindness and discretion that makes them less stressful, and more productive. About to list? Have difficult circumstances, or an old, under-performing listing? Talk to me today about how we can get your property noticed, and SOLD!