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 21st, 2013
You know that annoying feeling when you can’t find that piece of paper on your desk, or that favorite pair of jeans you want to wear?
What about if you couldn’t find your desk…your closet…if you lost your home, your family pet or most cruelly, a loved one?
Last month I wrote about coming back from the events that we here in the northeast have faced in the last 6 months, and quoted Mr. Rogers…and it bears repeating. Just over twenty-six hours ago one of the worst tornados in recorded history chewed through the town of Moore, Oklahoma. The loss, the trauma, the sheer scale of rebuilding these residents will be facing in the months to come is staggering. They need helpers.
The Red Cross is clear, they need money. Money for food, shelter and medicine, money for rescue and recovery efforts. To help support these efforts, The Refreshed Home announces Working for Moore: Consults for a Cause, here’s how it works:
- Call now, mention this post and book up to two hours of Interior Decorating or Home Staging interactive consult for between 5/21-5/31.
- At the end of our consult, you write a check to the American Red Cross for the rate of $95.00/hour, and I mail it in a pre-addressed envelope
The Refreshed Home helps you make good plans and wise decisions, so you can get on with your life. Together, we make better sense of your space, and your stuff. Consults can be for buyers as well as sellers, remote, or for shopping services and in-home/on-site in Westchester and lower Fairfield county.
Got a listless listing? Looking for a unique housewarming, wedding or birthday gift? Maybe it’s something you’ve been thinking about for yourself? Now is a great time to act.
Do good, get good, call now 914.607.2895
Working for Moore: Consults for a Cause
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: Little Things Make Big Things Happen.
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)
March 17th, 2013
OK, I know it’s been a while-I’ve been very busy!-but here’s the latest new addition to my Staging Kit that will absolutely put money in your pocket.
According to the just-released National Association of Realtors 2013 Profile of Buyer’s Home Feature Preferences, garages are HUGE draws to Home Buyers, a full 78 % purchasing a home with one last year. And according to The Refreshed Home, buyers want their new house to fulfill their dreams, as well as their needs.
At first glance, you might not think of the lowly garage as the embodiment of a dream, but for many it’s the launching pad of other dreams: a place to store the bikes, the yard and garden equipment, outdoor furniture, and can’t forget the ubiquitous work bench!!
A well-lit, cleared-out and organized space will catch a buyers eye…fresh paint on the walls and ceiling take it another step further, but if you want to draw buyers in, paint the floor. Oil-resistant plain steel grey is the expected, but for WOW, use California Paint’s Tuf-On. It’s a waterborne epoxy gloss enamel, and in a separate bag-like confetti-are flakes of color. About 4 different color combinations, all you do is you paint a section, sprinkle, paint another section, and sprinkle.
Completable in an afternoon, walkable in 24-hours, curable and drivable in a few days, it is such a quick, easy and inexpensive way to add value.
It’s a fresh, and well-maintained look, but it’s also QUITE forgiving if the floor is a little rough, or permanently discolored. Abrasion, chemical and solvent-resistant-and so low-maintainence, it’ll elevate and add value to your space whether you’re selling OR staying!
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 18th, 2013
Because we’re in February, both Spring Market and Oscar fever are upon us, so famous movie quotes that resonate with Real Estate are a natural.
Made famous by Gloria Swanson’s portrayal of actress Norma Desmond-”I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille” became a punchline, an elbow and a nudge to someone who was taking themselves too seriously, living in the past, breaking from reality, even sounding delusional. That, in itself probably sounds waaay to familiar to agents who’ve seen plenty of that in recent years, but that’s a topic for another time….
The word “Staging”: you know it. You may love it, or you may cringe-but do you know where it came from?
40 years ago, StagedHomes.com Founder and President Barb Schwarz was a realtor in Washington State. She was trying to get a seller to do some things pre-listing that would put the listing in a better light. Alas, the seller did not see the need.
You know when you ask someone a question, and you get an answer you don’t like, so you ask the question again, in a different way, hoping for a different answer? Well, Barb was on her 3rd, maybe 4th try here. Looking around, she focused on some of the seller’s ’stuff’-namely theater memorabilia. So she took a deep breath, and asked the seller-’well, why don’t we just STAGE it?’
NOW the seller wanted to hear more.
What must have been inspired from above, Barb went on, totally on the fly: “Your house is the star. I’m the director, the critics and the audience are other agents and buyers.” The seller was hooked, and the rest is history!
Good theater-like good Staging-engages, inspires and elevates. It helps us see things in a different light, and we are ultimately better for it. If it’s time to get your Westchester County house sold, have a conversation with TRH first: together, we’ll get it ready for it’s close up!
NEXT: ‘Cruising’ for the truth….
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!!
February 2nd, 2013
Analogies help us understand something unfamiliar, by comparing it with something close to us. In this series, we parallel TRH-style of Interior Decorating and Home Staging with some very familiar things. TODAY: Your favorite pair of black jeans.
There is no pretense: Jeans, and TRH are always been about getting things done, comfortably.
A good fit is important to start. And both fit even better as time goes on.
Black jeans (and The Refreshed Home) flatter. They make the most of what you have.
Both are adaptable, and work well in many situations.
Your favorite black jeans and this Westchester County Decorator and Home Stager elevate the look, but keep it feeling real and accessible.
Neither are particularly high-maintenance.
You can depend on them both to make you look good.
Working with The Refreshed Home and wearing your favorite black jeans both give you confidence and comfort.
They are literally close to you. Being hugged is not entirely out of the question!
NEXT: Why The Refreshed Home is Like a Good Personal Trainer
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 21st, 2013
Home Staging is a popular topic in lifestyle and entertainment circles, as well as in the business and financial sector. So-that means we all understand what it is, how it works, and all it can be-right?
Home Staging solutions are as unique as each client, their property and circumstances are; and Home Stagers-how hey run their business- are just as diverse as the rest of the population.
Not that many years ago Home Staging was renting furniture for an empty property, and adding some (cliched) ’touches’. But with so many living in their house til closing, necessity dictates the focus be on the people and the process. And YES, that includes new toilets, CO2 detectors and on occasion, clever signage.
One of the things I love the most about working for myself is the ability to get things done, quickly; another is I get to say “YES”- a lot! Pre-2007, even as The Refreshed Home was being formed, it was always going to be an information and services-based company. I knew the style would be collaborative and flexible, and it’s strength would lie in sharing hands-on experience, and the names of good people who’d complete the task.
I know trade people who can restore, replace-even re-color!- funky 1960s bath tile, fix metal rails/furniture, and make~fix~alter wood furniture. Quasi-scientists who can wipe out mold, de-moss a roof, save trees, and rejuvenate lawns.
Artists who can make your old sofa new, create a year-round garden~or the exquisite window treatments to frame that view. Visionaries who create order from chaos-in closets, in desks, in kitchens. And a myriad of smart, kind professionals who can guide you through the necessary but mind-numbing financial details of home ownership, and of being a grownup.
Thinking back on some recent projects, here are some ideas/solutions we implemented, and tasks I oversaw to update, to help put a property’s best foot forward:
- Replaced (older, low) toilets
- Repaired windows w/ broken seals
- Add recessed lighting
- Recommended pre-sale home inspection
- Had a mantle built, and a front-door threshold replaced
- E-shopping ‘lessons’
- Selected new finishes-wood floors, interior and exterior paint, carpet
- Met contractors, got quotes, supervised work
- Provided a ‘shopping list’ of things sellers should buy or borrow to make house market-ready
- Replaced builders’ 1960′s wrought iron railing, updating a split
- Powerwashed home, patio furniture, added shutters
- Added birdhouses, bird bath to play up charm of yard
- Shopped for replacement appliances
- Installed clever signage to call buyers’ attention to unusual, semi-hidden features in a house
- Replaced asphalt walkway with pavers
- Bought reasonably priced, quality ready-made draperies and lighting fixtures from Big Box stores
- Replaced/added smoke and CO2 detectors
- Add fresh firewood/utensils to a fireplace, to reinforce ‘yes, it works’
- Arranged for donations and sale of household goods
- Provided quality linens, art, lighting and tschokes for rental
- Borrowed kids’ outdoor toys to show all a backyard could be.
Maybe you’re surprised, or maybe you just never thought about it, but this Westchester County Home Stager says Home Staging is anything that betters the market position of a property, while easing the minds of both seller and REALTOR. So yes, that includes new toilets and CO2 detectors, even clever signage-on occasion.
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!