May 31st, 2013
While it’s provenance is uncertain, the validity of it’s logic is not: It is the sizzle that seals the deal, not the steak. Accessories have always brought the sizzle to our homes, except now creative is the new sizzle.
Aside from hearing a property quickly received multiple offers, the best compliment is being told my Staged property doesn’t look/feel “Staged”; that it feels real, and warm. For many reasons-most of them reflecting our new-found economic sobriety-big and flashy doesn’t cut it anymore, quality and authentic does.
Buyers want to identify with a space, to be able to see themselves living there. They want to see some personality in a property, but not so much that it’s distracting, or so far removed from them, or what they’d be aspiring to in this house. Yes, that’s right-a fine line that’s subjective, too!
Home Staging is about getting your property sold quickly, and for the best price. To that end, this Westchester County Home Stager will always work with what someone has, UNLESS its’ at odds with this goal.
SOMETIMES we’re super-duper lucky where the homeowner already owns or can procure the right touches, but more often than not, very personal and sentimental things abound in, and define spaces; with the only other options being to buy, or rent generic things from the furniture rental companies. The former can be pricey, the latter-while ‘better than nothing’-is almost always flat and disappointing.
But now thee is another choice. Announcing The Refreshed Home’s newest service: thoughtful strategy combined with clever and creative pieces to add sizzle to your listing. Linens and lighting, art, tabletop and other tschokes: current, fresh, and fun; all thoughtfully collected, then hand-picked for each room, delivered, installed and rented monthly.
Like children, each property has the ability to shine in its own way. Empty space, old, listless or under-performing listing? Creative is the new sizzle! The Refreshed Home considers all the factors and develops a plan of action to work with homeowners to have their space be the best it can be. Could be buying, could be renting, could be borrowing. Want to know more? I KNOW YOU DO! Call today, start the conversation-let’s talk about getting your house noticed, and SOLD!
May 24th, 2013
If you’re planning to sell your Westchester County house sometime next year, don’t make this mistake!
48 hours ago this tree was in full bloom, its white flowers gently gracing this pathway, on a beautiful, sunny day. Today it’s remaining flowers are few, the rest are in various stages of decay, plastered to the walkway by a heavy rain.
Three days ago this azalea bush was a brilliant burst of color, an unambiguous sign of spring. Now it’s transition mirrors the day- blah and non-descript.
Buying is always about the future, about hope and promise, and what could be. It’s never too early to start planning to get your Westchester County house ready for sale.
While your Realtor will usually be responsible for having the listing photos taken, why be at the mercy of the weather or the available lighting at the time of the appointment? Instead, The Refreshed Home recommends picking a few scenic spots, or views from/on your property, and keep your smartphone/camera handy to record it’s best days, it’s most beautiful moments for your buyers to embrace and appreciate.
A number of years ago I worked with an agent on a wonderful listing way up on a hill in the north country. The outside was a huge selling point: Spacious wrap-around decks with great views, a generous patio that was beautifully landscaped. There was a pool, koi pond, thoughtful and mature plantings throughout.
Early in the conversation, he had the forsight to advise his sellers to capture these photos throughout the year. They got that delicate lacy first frost on the ornamental grasses, the hummingbirds at the feeder, the unobstructed mountain views on the clearest of days, the setting summer sun, filtering through the pine trees. He used some in the MLS listing, but put them all on a DVD which he played on a loop on the monster TV in the Family Room during Open Houses and showings, probably even emailed them to potential buyers who contacted him about the property.
That was forward thinking at the time…but today’s photographic and video technology is quality, and so much more accessible. And IMO a decent picture of something compelling that evokes positive feeling is better than no picture at all. Think of expanding the topic to what makes your neighborhood special…an upcoming holiday parade or nearby summer fair? Kids building snowmen, or playing in a nearby playground? The applications-and benefits!-are many, and the effort is minimal.
May 5th, 2013
Words matter, and the right one is priceless. Have written about ’Staging’ (vs ‘preparing’- several times, in fact), but today let’s re-think ‘de-personalize’.
‘What do you know about Home Staging?’ is how I start out my Home Staging classes.
‘De-personalize’ usually come up right away. Asking what that means, the answers come less quickly, are usually self-deprecating (‘No one else will appreciate my fine taste in ___’) or quietly sad (‘No one cares about, or wants to see my family’).
There is nothing constructive or positive about it. It’s sweeping and un-specific, finding fault without offering a solution, and sounds judgemental and arbitrary to the homeowner. YET I know removing personalization is a truth to getting a house noticed and sold. Well, at least a partial truth.
Very personal personalization in a property for sale is never a good idea-it distracts buyers, and can provide buyers with way TMI regarding the sellers and their circumstances, information that could be used against them. BUT-less really is less, and a flat, pale space void of warmth or character isn’t received well, either.
People sell for all sorts of reasons, but in buying-and yes, even in downsizing-there is always the desire for a better place, and hope for happiness. The secret to successful Staging in Westchester County is to attract, touch, and engage buyers in very real ways, in ways they do not expect. The Refreshed Home champions RE-PERSONALIZING a space, here are some ways how:
Clever looks for and demonstrates value:
- Has the patio/deck looking good now, and keeps it in shape til the first snow: Patio furniture scrubbed and out, grill ready to go, even buying a fire pit to extend living space.
- A desk in the corner of the family room-away from the TV< but near so a parent can multi-task.
- Dresses up the garage or basement by cleaning and painting the cement floor
Aspirational points to all the things that could be, in this new house:
- Kitchen accouterments that support visions of cooking adventures and healthy eating: specialty/vintage cookbooks, herb plants, colorful legumes in glass canisters
- Good books add soul and character; who doesn’t want to be smarter, or yearn for more time to read?
- Color-ordered closets with matching hangers: almost magical, a sophisticated, unexpected luxury
Whimsical adds delight. It makes people pause, smile, and feel good.
- A live goldfish
- A puzzle, or poker game in progress
- Really cool-colorful, sexy or fun- toss pillows
Knowing who the buyer will be is the Realtor’s job; knowing how to attract buyers (and other agents!) is mine. Some sellers have a pool of suitable items, but many don’t; accessory shopping, and accessory rental have consistently been the fastest-growing segments of The Refreshed Home’s business. NEXT: Accessories and Home Staging: Creative is the New Sizzle
May 5th, 2013
Sure, we all have heard of Home Staging, but how does it work, and what is a Home Staging Consult? Welcome back to FAQs, the series where short and simple answers to your Decorating and Home Staging questions are the specialty of the house.
Home Staging-preparing your Westchester County property for a quick and rewarding sale-can unfold in many different ways, a Home Staging Consult is the best way to get started.
Once you’ve decided to sell, the questions about getting market-ready can be many: How does it work? What needs to be done, what can we do ourselves? What makes sense for our market, what will reinforce the price we want? Who will do what, and what will it cost?
The Refreshed Home believes sellers can do more than they might think they can, and offers Home Staging Consults as a platform for ideas, information and discussion that lead sellers to their own best answers. Interactive and collaborative: the sellers’ needs, goals and expectations are considered, resources are explored, while current/local market conditions and comps are discussed with the Realtor.
Home Staging Consults are up to two hours on the property, with refined and detailed notes emailed to all parties within 36 hours. It puts many tools in the sellers’ hands for $285.00. Even better, it adds peace of mind and a trusted advocate to your equation.
The Refreshed Home has been helping people make better sense of their space and their stuff since 1981. Whether your listing is languishing, or you are thinking of selling next year, it’s never too early-or too late-to start the conversation!
April 19th, 2013
Shortest FAQ answer in this series yet: YES. But perhaps you have a more burning question: Why would this be part of a discussion with a Home Stager?
Home Inspections-where a trained professional goes through a house checking and evaluating the systems and infrastructure of the house- are typically initiated by a buyer, most often after their offer has been accepted by the seller. But the number of sellers now choosing pre-sale inspections are increasing: one inspector, speaking at a local WCR meeting recently estimated it was 25% of his business now.
Financing still takes months, even for an above-average qualified buyer, so it’s in no one’s best interest to spend any time going down that road, only to find conditions that could derail the deal.
Properties that show a clean bill of health in from Day One stand out, and shine a little brighter in the eyes of a buyer. Sellers can also remedy any conditions found to need attention faster, and almost always for a bunch less money than a buyer will estimate. And in that vein, you are not training the buyer to look for problems.
Buyers will often pay to have their own separate inspection down the line, but that is a conversation best left to the principles, their attorney and their agent.
Still wondering how Pre-Sale seller inspections are part of this Westchester County Home Stager’s inital consult?
The Refreshed Home believes preparing a property for sale is a thoughtful strategy that considers ALL the circumstances. Homeowners and agents hire TRH to address and develop a plan where together, we examine and discuss what makes sense, as well as what looks good. Why spend time planning, why advise a seller to invest funds on anything of cosmetic or discretionary value if a buyer’s inspector is going to find there’s about 45 minutes of useful life left on the roof, or the basement has mold?
Sometimes Home Staging IS about adding the green flags that add visual appeal, but making sure the red and yellow flags are remedied have got to be a sellers’ first priority.
March 30th, 2013
FAQs are usually a one-shot topic: a quick answer to a single question, but renting furniture for preparing a Westchester County property for sale has several facets, so in this first (of three) we will address WHY consider renting, even if you already have furniture.
Two truisms about Home Staging: Preparing a property for sale is like sending it out on it’s first date. You do what you can to put it’s best foot forward, so buyers are first attracted, then engaged, so they notice, and see the value of all it’s best attributes. Also, how you live in your HOME is different from how you will get your HOUSE sold.
For many reasons, what you already own might not be the best for the house: the purple sofa, Nanna’s mahoghany china cabinet-complete with all 24 place settings, the dresser you had as a teenager and never got around to replacing as an adult, and ohyes…that bachelor pad recliner.
-The purple sofa could be a real statement piece…in perfect condition, it’ll be the centerpiece of your new living room. But if it’s such a standout, it’s distracting, it’s what buyers will remember about your house. And which will put more money in your pocket-a house with a great sofa, or a house with wonderful light, tall ceilings and lots of closets?
-Most buyers favor a particular style of house. Sentiment might make an uber-traditional china cabinet work for you in your contemporary home, but it doesn’t reinforce what brings buyers to see your house in the first place.
It’s generous proportions might be a terrific function for you-all the better to display Nanna’s 24 place settings!-but very few people have the spatial skills to evaluate a space beyond how it appears. SO-if it crowds the Dining Room, it diminishes the main purpose-how big a table will fit; and the buyers’ takeaway is that there is not enough storage.
-Buying a house is someone getting a step closer to fulfilling their dreams, so the rooms need to be all they can be. Your childhood furniture may be perfectly suitable for you and your needs, but Barbie-sized furniture is neither inspiring or representative of value or worth. Major rooms should have expected furniture pieces of the proper scale.
OK< we don’t really need to discuss that recliner, do we?
NEXT: Re-Thinking ‘De-Personalize’
March 30th, 2013
Welcome back to FAQs, the series where quick and specific answers to your most-asked questions about Interior Decorating and Home Staging are the house specialty.
Selling your Westchester County house, coop or condo? Questions about renting things to make your property look its best have probably come up. Previously we looked at the IF and WHY of rental furniture, today HOW renting furniture works. .
Thanks to HGTV, many homeowners believe Home Staging must include renting furniture. This Westchester County Home Stager always seeks to work what is already owned, but with the caveat that it is the right choice, and puts the property in it’s best light.
Rental companies pretty much work in the same way: contracts are a minimum number of months, and a minimum monthly dollar amount. Additional costs are delivery and pick-up, damage waivers, sales tax and a refundable security deposit. Like loans, the longer the term, the lower the monthly rate…but the more you will end up paying net, it’s just in smaller, managable increments.
Most offer pre-chosen room ‘packages’, but also let you choose individual pieces, too, and in my experience there is no big price differential.
After 25+ years in the furniture industry, TRH knows this is a highly specialized service-inventorying, maintaining, storing and delivering-best left to other professionals, and insteads facillitates the process on behalf of the homeowner: First setting a strategy: editing, and choosing what stays and goes where, then what is needed to complete the look, and will yield the best net ROI for the homeowner.
While consumers can typically rent furniture themselves, directly from most rental companies, here are a few ways this Westchester County Home Stager will make the process painless and the results stellar:
Strategy: What stays, what goes (or goes into storage)? What can be borrowed, re-worked; would buying something-that you’ll take with you-be a better choice? Prioritizing rooms to be prepared that align with comps, and desired time/price benchmarks.
The Right Stuff: Considering not just what looks pretty online, but what will work with existing walls/floors/items-or coordinating new choices; what is the correct look and scale, and OHYES besides fitting in the space, will it get in the door, up the stairs, and around the corner?
Better Rates: Dealing with a known, professional Home Stager streamlines the process for the rental companies, they will pass these savings on the client.
Vetted Vendors: While the process is the same, the type and quality of furniture, the level of customer service has been road-tested.
NEXT: RE-personalize (instead of de-personalize)
February 23rd, 2013
Preparing a property for sale is a very personal experience, there is not one absolute standard. It’s a collection of decisions that correlate to your needs, goals, and expectations.
Further complicating things-most everything you hold dear in this world is on the table: Family, your values and relationships, money and time, your hopes, dreams and fears. All this considered, critical thinking skills are essential, which is why I started running free Home Staging workshops a few years ago.
Free*, interactive and open to the public, The Refreshed Home is very pleased and excited to share the Spring 2013 schedule of upcoming Get Your House Noticed and SOLD! events.
Bronxville Adult School Monday March 18th, 7:00-9:00PM *There is a class fee for this event, click link for details
Mamaroneck Public Library Wednesday April 3rd, 6:30-7:30PM
John C. Hart Memorial Library (Shrub Oak/Yorktown) Thursday April 11th, 7:30-8:30PM
Tarrytown Warner Library Monday June 3rd, 7:00-8:00PM
My presentations are geared to the hands-on home seller: interactive and flexible, combining Q&A, easy ideas most everyone can implement on their own, and a slide presentation-including the perennial crowd favorite-BEFORE and AFTER photos!
While the local market is rebuilding, that’s no reason to assume buyers will now be taking their house-shopping any less seriously. The reasons a homeowner would choose to prepare their property boil down to this: to get a better price, and quickly. Homes that have been thoughtfully prepared garner the most buzz early on, and often attract the most qualified, serious buyers-saving you hassle and carrying costs.
Above links will bring you to each venue’s site, with registration info. Mark you calendars, and bring your questions, even your pictures-hope to see you there!
February 14th, 2013
In business most everything IS about money, and today the financial rewards in embracing, and moving forward with updating a commercial space are many. Fresh color on the walls, flattering lighting, new carpet all send the right message: internally to employees and externally, to new and potential clients and employees, as well as agents and buyers in the case of real estate interests.
These projects pays triple-plus the dividends a private project does, and decisions are made with not unfamiliar parameters. SO-if we assume the location and size/suitability of space works just fine, and it’s not about spending a reasonable amount of money, why do so many deciders NOT decide?
TRH believes that most people will choose well, when pointed in the right direction. Helping clients untangle their thinking and prioritize is my specialty, and clients with commercial spaces are no exception.
A simple, but critical thinking error derails most projects. It usually happens early on, before the client finds me. Simply-they’ve lumped the question of what it should look like, with the issue of who will be involved, and how decisions will be made. Entirely different issues, so in attempting to be efficient, they pretty much guarantee getting stuck in the hamster wheel mode of thinking.
Deciding who will be providing input, and how it will be presented to the rest of the staff perplexes many owners/managers, but it’s what should be established first, way before breaking out the paint chips or swatches, even before conversations about the money. Taking it on by default-or assigning it to an employee based on (sorry) their gender, or level of interest can be just as counter-productive as unfettered open discussions among staff, and there’s no guarantee of success-only that time and money will be spent.
Just as in residential projects-the chemistry is different with each client, knowing it and working with it comes first. My projects have included funeral homes, law offices, and a church. I’ve met with and guided the sole proprietor-with, or without their spouse/SO, as well as partners; a designated assistant; co-op Board Presidents-solo, and with other Boardmembers, a rectory full of priests, and yes, even moderating a group meeting for smaller, more intimate offices where everyone’s input was wanted, early on.
Updating a commerical space might seem like an intimidating project, but it doesn’t have to be. A few hours with an intuitive and resourceful professional will free up your time and untangle your thinking, help you establish process and priorities, as well as the vision.
February 13th, 2013
It’s that time of year. Perhaps it was a New Year’s resolutions we haven’t gotten around to yet…a long-awaited move…or just that cooped up, we are forced to face the sheer volume of STUFF that is in our lives. Deciding to clear out is one thing, how to approach it and get it done is another.
Knowing whether to donate, or sell some things is a common challenge. It’s a personal decision-your mind needs to be clear on your goals and priorities, as well as your time to get this done; you also need to be informed about the demand for what you have.
The 80s and 90s were a time of great procurement…and many people are doing the same thing you are. Costly items like furniture or designer duds abound in the market place, this affects value/desirability. And value is always in the eye of the beholder.
If you decide to sell, research a bit first. Depending on what it is, check out Ebay and local shops. Appraisers will give you an unbiased current price. Sometimes for free if you’re just looking for a verbal/ballpark type of thing; or for a fee that’s a percentage of the value if you need something in writing, say for settling an estate, or divorce.
Ebay sellers or consignment shops will share the sometimes brutal truth quickly, and for free…most specialize, and they are in the business of recognizing value, and make their living by being able to move things quickly, but work on a percentage basis, so they have your best interests covered, too.
If you decide to donate, it’s green AND greater good. Most charities are 501c3, meaning they are recognized by the IRS, and can give you a receipt for tax purposes. Understand the valuation is not up to the charity. The IRS has guidelines of accepted values for different items. If you feel the value of what you are donating is beyond that, you will need documentation, speak to your accountant before you do anything.
Libraries often have book sales in the spring and fall, which means they collect donations for a brief, pre-determined time period beforehand. You’ve got to time it right, but it’s a great fund-raiser-check out your local libraries online for details.
Donating clothes and other household goods you no longer need or want can be a win-win-win situation, but you’ll need to take some time, to plan and sort things out, so your items get to their intended destination(s).
Make sure your donations fit the needs and criteria of the charity-call ahead and ask, before you start packing things up. Items should be clean, and in gently used. Regarding business clothing, and baby items like car seats -being current is important.
Remember, some items do have specific life/use expectancies, and just wear out. Do not confuse your ‘cleaning out’ with ‘donating’.
LAST-plan ahead, and be patient. Most charities are run by volunteers, serve a specialized need, and on a shoestring budget; they might have limited hours, and an office that consists of an answering machine and an email address. But if time is not your friend, consider a eco-concious clean-out service like Junkluggers, where they will remove, sort, donate and recycle on your behalf. There is not a shortage of good causes, or people who are in need, seeing this through is a good thing.
February 12th, 2013
Feeling bound by ‘things’ in our lives is a relatively new phenomenon. It was only 1981 when George Carlin first performed his oddly prophetic routine on “Stuff”. Quite comedic at the time, it framed the buying orgies of the 80s and 90s perfectly, but became less funny as Boomers started dealing with things they inherited, as well as their own assortment of things.
30+ years of working with people-in their homes, with their possessions has taught me the best service I can offer clients is to help them think through their choices, and prioritize their decisions. I’ve never seen ‘just because you can’ be a good reason for anything. If you’ve read this far, chances are you’ve stood at those same crossroads too: feeling bound by too much stuff, what to keep, and why? Here’s a few ways to add perspective:
Separate the emotion from the event, and the item. Just as a no-longer fashion choice had no relationship to my choice of life partner (19 years, in April!), being held hostage to an uncomfortable wing chair in your living room is no way to remember your beloved Aunt Claire.
Let go of what something cost you (or someone else) way back when. It’s money that’s already spent, and probably enjoyed many times over. Let it go.
Or what something would cost to buy today. If you didn’t like something to start with, why would you think about this? Will it help you like it any more?
Focus on what will make you happy in the long run: Life is too short, and guilt, or the ‘shoulds’ are a horrible rationale. But if keeping your stuff will make you genuinely happy-do it-just make it work better for your life/space: Convert VHS tapes and photos to discs, scan the report cards and such. Plan to repair or re-upholster that chair, alter that suit, or otherwise refurbish what is not right in it’s current condition so it is whole, usable, and of value. If you have the need-and the funds-think about off-site storage.
Consider working with a professional. If self-improvement was as easy as just knowing what to do, we’d all be slender, healthy and such…we all could use some help sometimes, a few hours with a professional who can stand shoulder to shoulder with you as you edit down together could be money very well-spent.
Explore alternative to just tossing things out. To ease the separation if you decide ‘not’-give or donate to someone who will love or need it, or sell, and donate the proceeds to a good cause. (Click here to read about the ABCs of Selling and Donating).
Yes, ‘the outfit’ was donated to a local thrift store, and I comforted myself by thinking the happy memories would transfer to the new owner. But if time is not on your side, and you just need to clear things out, consider a service like Junkluggers, who go through and donate/recycle for you.
February 12th, 2013
Cleaning out some closets last week, advice I have often given to clients was ringing in my own ears:
“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
Certainly sage advice when it comes to things like that last slice of pizza, or that late movie on a weeknight, but harder to embrace when contemplating keeping things of sentimental value, or incorporating things whose attraction is marginal into a new project.
Came across the outfit I was wearing the night Doug and I announced our engagement to his family. This photo was taken in his mom’s kitchen, in the house on Sparkle Lake. Thanks to my sister in law’s having her camera handy-the outfit reminded me of one of the best days of my life. Funny, just never found myself reaching for it the rest of that summer…then packed it away.
After a few summers of this unpacking, not wearing, then packing the outfit up again, I noticed it didn’t quite fit anymore, so another ‘keeping’ rationale was added-motivation for ‘when I could wear it again’. Fast forward to last year when some lifestyle changes got me back to that magic place…the body size, that is. The outfit itself was so out of place for so many reasons: a print not in my colors, or my taste anymore. But I kept it this summer anyway. Any of this starting to sound familiar?
When we find ourselves stuck, unable to move forward, it’s often because old rationale doesn’t serve the here and now. “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” is one way I guide clients to develop critical thinking about their project-determining values, and making their own best decisions about keeping, letting go, and spending money.
Experiencing the beginnings of economic stability, choosing to keep and work with something we own is an understandable first reaction. OR-the opportunity to finally accomplish something we’ve been unable to up to now can be irresistible.
But I urge clients to think big-picture: Will your actions align-or conflict-with your your current needs, goals, or circumstances? And, when the project is completed, will you be happy for the money you’ve spent? In thirty-two years of working with people in their homes, I’ve never seen guilt a.k.a. SHOULD-work out to be a good rationale.
Often I’ll see clients who’ve never been happy with the colors or layout of their living room drift into ‘decorating’ mode when we start planning how to prepare their house for sale-making way too personal choices for colors or updates. Or those who’ve had to postpone changes-start to make choices based on ‘should’. TRH finds separating out the decision of what to do with something from the memories it evokes adds perspective. That I could now fit into the outfit did not make me like it, or want to wear it…but that didn’t negate the memory of the day, or my choice of life partner, either (19 years in April!!).
Home is a personal place, and emotion, as well as dollars and cents all figure into the decision process…in what proportion is unique to each of us. Helping you come to your own best decisions is one of the most rewarding parts of what I do.
NEXT : Some ideas for easing the process, and (maybe) a COLOR photo of the outfit!!
January 29th, 2013
It’s been quite a year for Westchester County NY homeowners on the cusp of selling: many prognosticators were urging homeowners to be content with small but forward moves towards recovery, while some markets were quietly going from zero to 60.
Now the chatter is about wide-spread shortage of inventory, and sellers who are sitting back, waiting to see how high it can go.
SO-is now finally the best time to sell your Westchester County NY house?
Choosing when to list your house for sale is a decision best made with the counsel of a good Realtor. The Refreshed Home believes deciding to have your house READY, for when you’re ready-is a different choice entirely.
The act of pricing and listing a house is a relatively quick process; of making sure it is market-ready: ummm, not so much.
Doing whatever needs to be done to be ready to sell doesn’t just support a selling scenario: needed repairs and modest updates will enhance your quality of life should you decide to stay. A coat of fresh paint, some new bed linens, or clearing out closets, garages and the like never hurt anyone.
The point is: if your house is ready, you are. You hold all the cards: you’re free to decide, and make a fast move when it is your best time to sell your house. You’re poised to respond to demand-or take advantage of a great property you want to buy!-but also able to relax, wait and pick your time.
The Refreshed Home knows getting a property ready for sale is not just about a good visual, it’s just as much about the people and the process. If the thought of selling your Westchester County house has crossed your mind, this Westchester County Home Stager recommends separating out having the house ready from the myriad of all your other decisions. You’ll find your life will be easier, your mind will be eased, and your other decisions will be a lot easier to make.
January 26th, 2013
“How much do you charge?”–I can see, and read the thought bubbles over a potential new clients’ head, as we exchange initial pleasantries.
“What does Staging cost?”–asks the agent who I’ve met about 5.8 seconds earlier.
It’s a fair and important question…but not necessarily a simple one. Preparing a property for sale is a service, not a fixed commodity, and projects can unfold is so many different ways.
“Is Staging expensive?”–asks the potential seller, nonchalantly, after the ice has broken.
“Well, can you just give me a quick range?”–presses the agent.
“My house could use the help, but I can’t afford it”–states the homeowner.
The thing about Decorating, Home Staging, or anything else you’re not real familiar with…when you’re in new territory, you just want a snippet of information-just enough so if it’s not where you want to be, you can make a graceful exit. Exteraneous conversation feels like you’re being pitched.
But I learned a number alone never did it, because it doesn’t complete the equation-it’s just a number. The Refreshed Home had to present a complete picture: a specific number for an understandable product that would work in many scenarios, and be adaptable for the rest.
“Interactive in-house consults start at $285.00. That’s two hours in the house, with a detailed written report emailed within 36 hours.” –replies this Westchester County Decorator and Home Stager with a smile. ” And look how much more space we have now that the elephant in the room is already gone!”
January 23rd, 2013
In 2008, I understood, respected, and embraced agents who also prepared their own listings for sale. Ditto 2009-2011.
2012, it started getting old, and now, here, in 2013, I suggest that *most* agents who do their own Staging are diminishing both our jobs.
Agents who have kindly, graciously chosen to extend themselves in an extraordinary way to sellers who really don’t have a lot of other choices are similarly respected, as are agents who are pleased with how their systems work. My suggestions are meant for agents looking for a better way in this new market.
It has nothing to do with territory, taste, or ego. SURE> indirectly it’s about money (when the topic is real estate, everything is about money at some point), but more to the point, it’s about updating a business model.
To support this premise, it’s important to first discuss what Staging is, what it entails, so wrote about some of The Refreshed Home’s latest projects: YES! New Toilets, CO2 Detectors and Clever Signage: All Part of Staging.
YES>it’s wonderful for an agent to be comfortable having ‘the talk’ with a seller… and a quick perusal of any MLS site will demonstrate there is no shortage of properties could be bettered….so isn’t any effort better than no effort?
Perhaps- short term, and for that seller and agent. But big-picture, and for the most part, in 2013, I suggest agents’ getting involved in the minutae of getting their sellers’ property ready for sale is counter-productive to their business, and diminishes both our jobs.
Research has proven 55% of a messages’ impact comes from non-verbal communication, what we do says more than what we say. Jumping in, you may think you’re being productive…saving them money…showing you care. In shaky 2008-12 that was a message with real value. But in 2013…?
IMO it helps reinforce most every misconception about our jobs (FUN! EASY! MAKING HOUSES PRETTY!) , most every bad behavior sellers show, and any casual attitude they have about their own responsibility preparing and maintaining their house for sale.
- You may very well have that kind of talent, but do you really have that kind of free time? Do a full job once, you’ll see how demanding and interactive it is. And what other-more productive activities/opportunities are missed, because you are discussing paint colors and lighting fixtures?
- Do you not know, or work with any good Home Stagers? Your sellers know a little about this mysterious entity called Home Staging, but they expect you to know more.
- Don’t have anyone you know/like near you? Talk to me about Remote Consults
- When there’s a hole in the roof do you throw on some overalls, and climb up with a roll of tar paper and a nail gun? Do you think your sellers expect this? or might be more impressed if you did? NO, (and hopefully no, and no!). Here it’s enough you spot a problem, address it with seller, and discuss in terms of how it’ll affect saleability-why not approach Home Staging in the same way?
- Just because we can make something look easy, it does not make it so. You and I have both worked years to be good in our chosen fields. Just rolling it into the deal diminishes both our jobs. It tells sellers it’s an easy giveaway, the RE equivalent of Ginzu steak knives. No one will appreciate the gravity of the task-or the value of getting it done if you don’t ‘tell’ them> by showing it needs to be handled by a trusted professional.
Again-if what you have works, that’s great. But if you’ve read this far, chances are it doesn’t. Time is not a renewable resource. Talk to this Westchester County Home Stager today, let me show you how quickly and easily make your clients happier and have better looking listings, while you ease into a more satisfying, more productive MO.
January 18th, 2013
When you got your last electronic gadget, did you just take it out of the box, and start using it? Well, you probably wanted to. Maybe you even tried to.
But new model have different programs and capabilities. Even early-adapters had things they had to set up, and personalize. Many in the middle took the time to play around, and see, as a practical matter-how this would really work for them.
Maybe you were like me, a slower-adapter. You found features you had NO idea existed..or even any idea that you needed? But once you got how much easier and enjoyable your life was when you found an online GPS app (!!), could stay current with email, or instantly capture/share photos, this new gadget had value. You respected the process, and were a believer.
Technology today is a vital, but amorphous entity. It affects us profoundly, and is all around us. It can embrace and baffle us, engage and frustrate us. We each have different needs, and understandings of it, but one constant: If it’s set up right, and works, it’s effortless, and life is grand. But if-when!-it fails, it’s hard to think of anything else til it’s made right.
OK>think of your home as that individual and universal element: A center of our days, in specific ways that are different for everyone.
NOW>substitute a living, breathing, charming and experienced Home Professional as your new i-Whatever device….with an extensive app store!
Decorating, and Home Staging are not just about a visual. It’s not a singular destination, a standardized entity, or a one-size fits all solution.
It’s a personalized experience, typically consisting of several different elements-but the goal is always the same: to serve your own, unique circumstances. As far as this Westchester County Decorator, and Home Stager is concerned, your needs, goals-even your own abilities-are factored into solutions as much as cost, and your expectations.
Like any other app search…umm, personalized service-Decorating, and Home Staging both start by looking for a different, better way to do things.
If your flip phone (i.e. your space, or stuff) works for you as it is, that’s great, you’re set. If it’s not-if you think it could be better-or even if your hand is somewhat forced-say, your husband lost his family plan phone, had to upgrade!-think of me as your new i-Whatever, and just start the conversation.
NEXT: Think of The Refreshed Home as your favorite pair of black jeans
January 13th, 2013
Less than two weeks in, 2013 has a number of Westchester County Realtors and Brokers walking with a spring in their step. While I’ve yet to hear anyone actually whistling (yet), it’s clear they are feeling and seeing a positive shift in the housing market.
YES>buyers are showing up! Financials in order, and they’re making offers. And inventory is dwindling. Excellent news, right? Well, how about 2 out of 3?
Demand and prices tend to rise when inventory is lowered, but once they’re gone, they’re gone. And now the dinner bell rings for those who’ve been on the fence, thinking ohyes, NOW they are ready to sell.
SO-Westchester County Realtors and Brokers-are you ready?
Just because we want something to be simple will not make it so; selling (or any of the people involved!) are no exception. Just because someone thinks they are ready to sell does not mean they-or their property-are really ready. Practical questions, like calibrating and reconciling numbers, figuring out where they will go have not yet been broached…and ohyes, there is the matter of the property itself.
Westchester County Realtors and Brokers: Even if you have the comfort level, and the skill, do you have the time to add/keep this on your ever-growing list of things you need to do to get a propertyl listed and sold?
The ability to comfortably introduce the topic of getting a property ready for market early in the conversation is key to getting a a solid, and appealing listing.
But-like roofing repairs or code issues-why not be comfortable knowing enough to address it, discuss, as it affects saleability of a property, then recommend a known, trusted, solid professional they can work out the remedy with? You may know the place could use a fresh paint job, new lighting fixtures, or some solid editing. Why risk ‘what paint color’, ‘what fixtures’, or ‘what’s wrong with my pictures?’-becoming the focus of your interactions?
Long gone are the days when sellers in our market woudn’t hesitate to move into their new house first- because selling their current house was just a formality. There is a lot of ‘stuff’ -tangible, and not-within every transaction. The real estate shuffle-who is moving out when, and how-has taken on the complexity of a Bolshoi production. The people, and the process is just as important to a solid, smooth and satisfactory close.
Sellers have heard of this mysterious entity called ‘Home Staging’. They know a little bit about it, but guess what-they expect you to know more.
Now is the time to start the conversation. Now is the time to build a relationship with, to find out how this Westchester County Home Stager can help build and support your business. Don’t believe me? Your colleagues know.
Westchester County Realtors and Brokers: 2013, it’s going to be GREAT, be READY!
January 2nd, 2013
If you’re reading this, I want to thank you for your interest, and support in 2012.
It was five years ago this past weekend-December 31, 2007-that I became a small business owner, and registered The Refreshed Home with Westchester County. Yes. December. 2007.
Not sure if anyone really had any sense back then of how badly the economy was damaged, or how long the aftershocks would continue. Even if they did, it just didn’t fit into my timetable. Having given myself permission months earlier to make my escape from mediocrity at the end of that year, it’s doubtful even the Four Horsemen could have deterred me.
After the economy, the other thing I had under-estimated was all that’d be entailed in establishing my brand. Naively, I thought the aura of my past positions with pedigreed employers would linger-perhaps manifesting as a soft glow, accompanied by the gentle tinkling of windchimes?-automatically drawing clients to me, like children to an ice cream truck in July (sigh).
A major shout out to Rick Whelan, design and branding zen master, and founder of Ditto!Design! is in order. I came to him with the name of the company, a color scheme, a bag of trinkets and magazine photos that represented what I wanted others to know and sense about the business; and the rest is history. You’re the best Rick, thanks for getting me on the map, in such an appealing way!
2012 saw brisk demand for some specialty services: Accompanied Shopping, Accessory Rental and Remote Consults. A series of workshops led to some nice local press, and one of my stage properties was featured in the NYT over the summer. It was a strong year for The Refreshed Home in many ways that don’t end up on a ledger sheet-but here are some that did:
2012 saw 22 TRH properties close, with a combined selling price of $14,906,134.00
- $850K of that were two remotely staged properties
- Three were 7-figure properties, and one was just over $200K.
- Several had multiple offers, two went over list.
- Two needed to rent furniture, everyone else used what they had
- The average was $677,552.00; the median price slightly less, $655,000.00
Additionally, three more properties, with a combined selling price of just under $1.35M are in contract, scheduled to close early 2013.
Not too shabby! So again I say-if you are reading this, I thank you for 2012…2011…2010…2009…and 2008!
December 21st, 2012
POP QUIZ !!
Test your Staging Savvy: True, False, Maybe or IT DEPENDS ?
- Staging is for vacant houses only
- I’ll sell if I can get the price I want
- All my friends love my house, so will the buyers
- Offering a buyer allowance is a better idea
- White walls will make a space look bigger
- Staging is expensive
- Buying, renting, and borrowing can all be part of Staging
- Buyers should use their imagination
- Bathroom and kitchen renovations will attract buyers
- Wallpaper is coming back
- It’s still my house, and I have to live here
If you’re like most people, you got more ‘maybes’ and ‘it depends’ than anything else. That, in a nutshell, is the real challenge most find in Home Staging. The look is just the beginning. The heart of successful Home Staging lies in defining a strategy, and making a plan for how it will work for YOU.
You probably wonder: What makes sense for my situation…my property, my market? What options align with my needs, goals and resources? What are viable ideas that will provide the best ROI? And how to even start thinking about it all?
Yes, HGTV has brought ‘de-clutter, de-personalize’ into our everyday lexicon, but after you shut off the TV, can you translate that to your space? With your pets…kids…smokers…less motivated spouse? To your vacant…average…short sale, distressed or estate sale property?
That’s why The Refreshed Home is hosting two Free Home Staging Workshops at the Mt. Kisco Public Library next month. Two different sessions: Saturday January 5th 1-2PM, OR Thursday January 24th, 7-8PM. Free, and open to the public: pick the one that works for you, and mark your calendars now. Program is subject to minimum attendance, so please reserve your spot with the library 914.864.0137.
Learn how to see your house through the eyes of a buyer. We’ll cover all the hot button topics, show you simple but impactful things you can do yourself.
Whether you’ve had disappointing results with a listing already on the market, or are starting to plan for maybe 2014-this workshop is for you: it’s suitable for ANYONE who has a vested interest in getting a property sold quickly, and for the best price (and that includes you, agents and lenders!)
Our local market is recovering, most indications are this will continue-even expand-in 2013, why not have your house be ready when you are? Come to a FREE Home Staging Workshop at the Mt. Kisco Public Library now-you’ll be glad you did!
December 16th, 2012
Buying Upholstery Is A Lot like Buying Underwear (Part Two)
There are a lot of little choices to make when it comes to choosing both upholstery and underwear, most not covered by either HGTV or Victoria’s Secret… so here are a few other tips on what to consider in evaluating fit and feel for the former.
If you’re good on proportions and the pitch, let’s move onto the arms.
- If you’ll be reading, working on the laptop, or crossword puzzles in your new upholstery-bring said products to the store. Spend a few minutes using them… are your elbows and shoulders both relaxed and supported at a natural height? If your shoulders are hunched up-arms are too high; if you are forcing your shoulders down, arms are too low.
- Will you be laying down on the sofa at all? Make sure you are wearing good socks, clear it with your salesperson, and stretch out. This comes up under ‘arms’ because a low, gently rolled arm is MUCH better to lay your head on-to wedge a pillow against- that a wide flat track arm.
Natural materials-latex foam, down feather, and (ok, many years ago) horsehair were all common upholstery materials. Latex fell out of favor a few decades ago-it’d dry out and ossify; then urethane foam became uber-pricey overnight, post-Katrina, when the refineries were wiped out (it’s a petroleum-based product). Down and horsehair have little body and no resiliency, but it’s what Nanna knows to ask for.
For a nice blend of support and cush, The Refreshed Home likes cushions with a spring embedded in the dense foam core, then wrapped with Dacron fiberfill to make them pretty and full. But one word: ALLERGIES. If anyone in your household-or regular circle of visitors-has allergies, ask a lot of questions about all the construction materials.
This post came about because Aunt Lucy was asking my advice about surprising her son with a recliner for Christmas. My advice-DON’T. Lucy is about 4’9, and likes to see dainty, pretty things. My cousin Joe is about 5’10, all arms and very very leggy.
- In addition to all the above, if the footrest on a piece of motion furniture is too short, the weight of your unsupported foot will stretch the tendons and ligaments in the ankle.
- Similarly, it’s the weight of the upper body that allows the sitter to open, close, and keep the recliner steady. And when you lean back, the head and neck need to be supported so you can read, watch TV, etc without undue strain-all things only the sittee can determine.
Not sure what Aunt Lucy is going to, but here’s what I suggested: As lovely as it might be to see the actual something in the house on Christmas morning, you’ve got a good chance of guessing wrong…and that can be a pricey proposition. Instead, stop by the hobby shop, and buy the doll house version instead. You’ve got thoughtfulness, surprise and good intent all in a nice small package; chances are you’ll get some nice January sale prices as well as exactly the right piece!