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!!
October 8th, 2012
As the economic numbers slowly but surely continue to improve, the question about putting a house on the market this time of year looms large in the mind of many.
Data and anecdotes can support either position…. so “IF” and “WHEN” should be a decision you and your Realtor make together, based on your situation. But here is my point: the process of having a listing go live is relatively quick and easy. It’s getting ready to go live that takes the time.
If you are ready, you are driving the bus. And my experience in this market is If It’s Ready, They Will Come.
In our area, Fall Market was a defined, reasonably successful shoulder season, with buyers shutting down mid-November until maybe early February, coming out in force with the crocuses and forsythia. Today, not so much. Fall market goes as long as the weather holds, and Spring market is currently considered to start December 31.
Factor in buyers who need to first sell their house, a diverse population who might not observe many of the end of the year holidays, and an increasing number of people whose lives just do not hinge on the school calendar – you have serious buyers out looking, 24/7/365.
No matter what season you call it, EVERYTHING about your house will stand out more starkly in the next 6 months. If selling now is something you are considering, here are five easy ways you can make your house shine now:
Clean up the yard:
Feed the lawn, prune the trees, edge and mulch the garden
Plant YELLOW! A high-visibility, uplifting color-bright yellow mums now, plant daffodill and yellow tulip bulbs for spring
Remove all the seasonal decorations…faded garden flags, sunflower door mats, frog figurines in bathing suits
Moderate winter-your house is brighter, greener. Otherwise it’s neater as the snow melts, ready and colorful before anyone else in your neighborhood.
Clean up the exterior:
- Power-wash away any detritus on hard surfaces-the house, the walkway, driveway or deck.
- Clear out, inspect and secure the gutters and downspouts.
- Take a critical look at the paint-there are a few weeks remaining to have flaking/peeling paint remedied.
- Mossy roof? Joel Zdanoff-owner of Zdanoff Services in Pleasantville, and one of the most intuitively clever carpenters I have ever worked with-swears by zinc strips. Install them at the peak of the roof, moisture releases the zinc to travel down the roof, dissolving the moss over time.
WASH THE WINDOWS: Light-filled spaces are very attractive when the days are shorter. Make the most of what you have:
- Wash them inside and out, including the screens
- Vacuum out the dead bugs, cobwebs, etc that have accumulated between windows, and in crevices
- Don’t forget windows in the garage or basement
Clear out the garage and basement…or at least start: January 1st usually sees a spike in activity. I’ve yet to meet anyone who can marshall the focus to do this at the end of the year. Bulk pick-ups are easier to schedule, too.
Think about some updates: Take a critical look at your house. Better yet, drive around and take a critical look at other houses first-you’ll develop your ‘buyers’ eyes’ Then, with an unflinching eye, look at your house and ask:
- Is the mailbox faded, or look wobbly?
- House numbers still there from the last owners?
- Are the light fixtures dated, pitted or rusted?
- Any bare spots in the landscaping?
- Is the entry inviting, or just…there? If it could use some sprucing up-consider planter (s) with a small holly or evergreen
- If appropriate for the style of your house, think about adding shutters to the front, if not the sides as well
- And if you have a patio, leave the outdoor furniture out (or if you don’t have any, purchase a few chairs at an end of season sale) and get a fire pit. AWESOME way to add value by extending the season of your outside space
Bottom line-trust the ”WHEN” to your Realtor, but trust “HOW” to The Refreshed Home!
August 6th, 2012
In sales, many believe objections are just unanswered questions. And that repeated questions about the same topic aren’t really about that topic, they point to other issues that have not been addressed.
As a fairly analytical person myself, I get that, and believe that. For the most part.
“HOME” is so very personal-it holds our hopes and dreams. It’s where we go to face our triumphs and losses, it is the representation of us, and pretty much all we hold dear. It’s tender territory, and in this business, it’s understood that a surprise delivery of emotional baggage can appear at almost any moment. Yet the veracity of online comments to last weekend’s NYT article about Staging really gave me pause.
When I first started this business, I eagerly sought objections (and questions)…they helped shape my business model, and sharpen my message. As time goes on, my ear has become more finely tuned. Am I the only one hearing the one long flat note from people who are just patently unhappy?
It stunned, really stunned me how all the objections were on a purely intellectual basis. By my count, NONE of the negative commenters had any experience with a professional Home Stager…yet EVERYONE who had worked with a Home Stager had a positive comment.
It is not my nature to judge anyone…call me naive (OK, you’re naive!) but I have slowly been coming to the realization that many people with objections don’t REALLY have questions. Like listeners on call-in the sports or political radio shows, they have passionate view points they want to share with the world. They are not about getting anything done, making changes or moving forward. They are fishing for reinforcement, and primed for a fight. They are about their 15 or 30 seconds of fame on a big stage where they get to argue why they are right.
This is their place, and they are comfortable with it. And channeling Seinfeld now….not that there is anything wrong with that! But be very clear on this point: Stubborn and obtuse is not about moving forward, it is being content to stay put, and often, being angry or unhappy.
Everything The Refreshed Home does is about moving forward…be it Staging solutions for your Westchester County property to get it sold quickly, for the best price, or Decorating it so your Westchester home better suits your needs and tastes.
ALL the other stuff, I get. All the emotions that come dealing with going through changes and making decisions, it’s part of the process…in fact, one of the things The Refreshed Home shines at. If something in-or about- your space or stuff is getting in the way of you having your best life possible, bring it on. But if you are looking for an audience to crank on from your armchair-please, turn on your radio instead.
July 30th, 2012
Over the weekend the NYT ran a great feature, Ruthless Came the Stager. Two clients fw. me the link, wanted to be sure I saw it.
Thought the article was good: accurate and fair, sharing insight to the range of things Stager can come up against.
FAR more telling were the comments…what a hornet’s nest! The passion, the indignation, the NERVE!!
Yeah, whatever….where are some of these readers coming from?? I mean, it’s not like it’s pending legislation or anything…
Staging is like any other personal service. Lots of different approaches, lots of different people out there to help. You can choose it, or not. GET OVER IT!
Scanning through quickly, it seems the people whose panties were the most knotted up had no actual experience with this whatsoever…just opinions.
Guess what>>>>LA-LA-LA-I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!
Which actually hits a nerve in this Westchester County Stager that has been raw for some time now…I am so done with the whiners and the naysayers…the crankies who whine and gnash their teeth, or wring their hands and cry big alligator tears about the state of the market, yet will dismiss doing anything on their own-or learning anything new- out of hand.
Confused, fearful, curious, skeptical? Let’s talk. Desperate, fed-up, in pain? Yes, I’m talking to you, call me. Take 15 minutes and find out what preparing your property can be about, and how it works.
Don’t let the whiners get you down. SERIOUSLY!
July 28th, 2012
Welcome back to What’s Wrong with This Picture? where we tie a dollars and cents (sense!?) rationale to constructive comments made about actual listing photos.
Dialogue is encouraged, and as before-claim a photos as yours, and receive a complimentary interactive consult, valued up to $180.00.
This was the last photo, and as AR buds Carla, Tatyana and Debbie had commented, pointed out, it’s a flat and un-inspiring space. All true, but here is how I would present the good ideas they suggested:
Outside living space does not count towards square footage of house.
Iif listing photos demonstrate an attractive, functional deck or patio, this expanded living space is a BIG bonus to buyers who are comparing sq footage, or cost per square foot on similar properties.
“Color” in the furthest corners draws the eye-elevating, and visually stretching the space.
Here in NY metro area, it’s feasible to have this as usable living space at least 6 months of the year. Function translates into value for buyers, and I urge my clients to prepare any outdoor spaces to the max. A fresh net on the basketball backboard, or a boccie set is always a good idea.
Keep the grill clean, and maintain the landscape. Weather permitting, March is NOT too early to get the patio furniture out; and October is not too late to have it still showing activity. If space/location permits, a clay fire pit extends the use-cycle, and adds a lot of cozy-factor, for maybe two hundred dollars.
Here is our next candidate: OK< maybe it’s not ‘bad’-but pulled this one because it’d be so easy-and so valuable-to get to WOW!
How do you feel about this room?
What message does it send to buyers?
What would you advise the sellers to do, and why?
What’s Wrong with This Picture?
July 18th, 2012
- This photo courtesy of Flicka
Welcome back to my new series, What’s Wrong with This Picture?
In Home Staging, a pleasing visual is just the beginning. It’s not just about the stuff, it’s the people. Preparing a property for sale is a business decision, so to that end, it’s crucial to be able to de-sensitize any shortcomings, taking them out of the personal arena, and place them into a business context.
Seeing, and identifying with the issues comes first, but unless this Westchester C0unty Home Stager can then translate them to authentic and meaningful dollars-and-cents disadvantages to the seller, all they have are my (subjective) comments. Which, in the absence of any understanding, becomes a judgement, or a personal attack.
Here’s that first photo.
Had cross-posted this on the online real estate community ActiveRain, and these guys caught pretty much all the issues (click here to read comments).
The question I had posed to my workshop group last week was: is this a Master BR in a $795K, 5 BR house in lower Westchester-or the BR in a one BR $145K coop in older, garden apartment building. Many guessed right, but not after some serious reflection.
This is the Master BR of a five BR house. The poor photo quality tells me the agent lacks skill, and/or attention to detail-with could cost dearly in getting a sale to the closing table.
An unremarkable basic vanilla space demonstrates neither value or worth to a buyer. It is not motivating, there is nothing to ‘want’. Outdated aesthetics can lead buyers to infer the infrastructure of the house is also outdated. Or worse, it’s an estate sale that ‘needs’ to be sold quickly-inviting, low-ball offers.
OK, so keeping all that in mind, what’s wrong with this picture-and why will it not help get the property sold?
February 21st, 2012
2011 was a tough year if you needed to sell your Westchester County condo. According to WPAR stats, annual number of sales were down by almost 11% in 2010 (from 937 sold in 2010 to 835 sold in 2011); and by nearly 17% since 2008, where 1005 condos in Westchester got sold.
Many seemed to be resigned to having to stay put; year-end also found inventory to be it’s lowest in years, 705 active listings, down from 795 in 2010.
But what if you really really want to sell?
Last year I was brought into a property here in White Plains that had a lot going for it, condo-wise. Very convenient, but uber-private. Great light, generous space, and all the important amenities.
The owner was an exuberant sort, loving life, and had traveled much of the world in order to embrace it first-hand. But he also brought a lot of it back with him.
His love of family and friends only slightly eclipsed his wanderlust, so the walls were filled with beautiful original and exotic artwork, and photos of those near and dear.
The walls were shockingly bright, and bore great testimony to these passions, but did little to enhance the key selling points: space, great natural light, and the fireplace. As referenced below, he was NOT PLEASED at my recommendations-pack art, repaint, move some furniture… but he wanted to move into his new place more than he wanted to be right, so that’s how it went. Here are some of the B&As:
Got this email today…not sure yet which is my favorite part…
You know I loved the look of the apartment I lived in for 26 years.
When you suggested these changes I resisted, but reluctantly I made them.
The result were raves from potential buyers, agents, and most importantly a sale.
If you have a property that no one is looking at, or making offers on, there is a reason.
Talk to me now, I do remote consults via phone, email and Skype.
Let’s get that property sold so we can all get on with our life.
January 10th, 2012
I have been wrestling with how the very word “Staging” resonates…with buyers, sellers and agents…and just yesterday I wrote about choosing to use PREPARING as the verb of choice to describe what I do.
Then today a Realtor I respect writes about his buyers’ noticing-then becoming pre-occupied with the ‘faked’ elements in a Staged property, instead of the property itself, and asks if a property could be Over-Staged?
Boy, people give this word a lot of power! But I get it, I really do. Here are some thoughts I’d like to share from 30 years of working with people, in their space and with their stuff.
First, it can not be underestimated how intimidating it can be to have a stranger in your house, touching your stuff, and asking you questions about all you hold near and dear: your family, your stuff, money, your values/goals/etc. For people who care about how their house looks, it’s hard to care only a little, easier to care a lot…. and even maybe too much.
Second, Staging is not a new word or concept. There are probably as many ways to stage as there are practitioners, which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, during the almost 40 year history of Staging, there have been many changes in the world around us. Staging, I would suggest, is on at least it’s third version. Sadly, many people-agents, sellers, and other ummm, preparers stopped paying attention after the first. So to clear the air for us all, here are how I would explain the genesis of Staging.
n the beginning, there were breakfast trays…and pastel bath salts, and candles. LOTS of candles. Furniture was trucked into empty trophy houses, and made to look pretty. It was an up market, procurement was big. Buyers wanted to dream about how they might live in their new home. Baths suitable for Roman nobility became the norm, and manufacturers of all said accouterments leapt for joy. It was the 1.0 version of Staging, and it was good…at the time.
hen a pall was cast over the land. The pendulum swung all the way over, and excess was a testimony to bad decisions. While there was still a passion for domicile-feathering, now every coin was squeezed as hard as possible. DIY shows, pros and tips proliferated like dandelions on a sunny May weekend, and finished projects reminded us of a kinder, gentler time…like when we were in Ye Olde Shop, or Home Ec class… or had a dorm mate. Many agents, already beaten badly, railed against bath salts and candles, or shrunk from insisting on any proper preparation of properties. It was the 2.0 version of Staging, and it was BAD.
Finally, balance and sensibility returned. While budget mattered, everyone saw that quality work attracted a quality buyers…and generally sold the castle quicker, for more coinage. Savvy sellers and agents look to start conversations with clever preparers of properties, to see how they, too, could comfortably speak of such things. Afore-mentioned clever preparers found their voice, and made managing the peoples’ needs and expectations, as well as their stuff -just as important as creating an engaging visual. People just chilled. They decided it was time to make decisions and move on with their life. It is the 3.0 version of Staging, and IT IS GOOD.
Moral of the story: Do not miss the carriage. Stop thy whining and gnashing of teeth, forsake living in the past. Before all craziness of the buying season hits hard, open thy mind, and get thee to your communication device of choice, and get to know a good preparer of properties.
November 5th, 2011
I’ve shared my lack of direct interaction with anything having to do with the military, and with war before. Originally a circumstance of when I was born, then the people I grew up around; while as an adult I was grateful, but also knew it was nothing I was cut out for.
We hear of, or we ‘know’ about the sacrifices military families and their loved ones make, but it seems it’s one of those things: unless you live it, it’s all an acedemic exercise.
Ashley Gillbertson is a New York-based photographer who had been covering Iraq from early on. A few years back he stopped covering combat, because he felt the American public wasn’t responding anymore. Instead, he focused his efforts on the aftereffects of war.
In March of 2010 he published a photo essay in the NY Times called The Shrine Down The Hall, which simply were photographs of the bedrooms of fallen soldiers. Bedrooms the families have largely left as they were, as a memory of, and a tribute to their young son or daughter killed while serving.
Shot in black and white, they full of life, yet, frozen in time. Halfway between childhood and adulthood, there are many juxtapositions….mixed in with sports trophies and stuffed animals are recruitment posters, and items with the image of the American flag. One bed has a half-dozen pair of shoes, neatly lined up underneath.
It’s very hard to look at spaces that defined people who are, abruptly, no longer with us, but I urge you to do so, and then also to share this with others. Click here to see the entire portfolio.
This Friday, November 11th is Veteran’s Day. Thank a veteran, and say a prayer for them, and military families everywhere.
November 1st, 2011
“Change is good” . We’ve all heard or said it, usually as a comfort, to help reconcile the odd assortment of feelings that change brings. Even when we intellectually “know” it’s a good change-why does change-and ”our things”- affect us so?
I left a good friend yesterday. We had been very close for the last 6 years, but things have changed, my needs were different, and it was time to move forward. I am, of course speaking of my car…or rather, my old car.
Many people develop attachments to their cars, even those who don’t drive for a living. Some even give their cars nicknames. Oddly, it was Doug who brought it up, and noticed I never did that with this car…or really, any of the others.
I’ve driven Honda Accords since 1981, and my fondness for them largely had more practical roots: I never, ever got stuck-financially, or otherwise; and am probably alive today because of how two of them performed when other automobiles crashed into me.
If I had nicknamed it, it’d surely be The White Knight. This car was the replacement car that made me feel safe again. On a dark and rainly night in October 2005, a hit and run driver clipped my rear bumper when trying to pass me on the Taconic parkway. My car spun, the other driver then broad-sided me, and took off. I was ok, car was totaled.
There were many other worse-case scenarios that could have happened. There could have been other cars involved. The other driver could have hit me on the driver side, instead of the passenger side. Doug and I had been painting his mom’s house, getting it ready for sale, as part of getting her estate settled. Our beloved dog Bella was with us, and moments before had been in my car. But just before we left, Doug decided to take her home in his car instead. Then there is that whole being left in the middle of a dark parkway, facing northbound in the southbound lane thing.
Leaving this car behind in the dealership, it took a mental nano-second to be right back there: Terror, shock, fear, gratitude, anger; then jubilation, and ultimately redemption …oh, did I forget to tell you? After we both stopped moving, the other driver has passed in front of me, looking straight at me. Got a good look at her, and her car. Ten days later, to the great disbelief of the State Trooper who had responded, I FOUND THE CAR at a local body shop. OH YES< I DID! This, and the description I gave at the scene, led to a driver who cofessed. HA!
Inanimate objects are often a tangible bond to very real people, feelings and experiences, and when change leads us to part with objects or situations, we remember, re-consider, even re-live all that went before. Even reading my own brief story, wasn’t your own heart pounding just a little faster?
Whatever I experienced in 6 years with this car, it’s many time more visceral for many are asked to part with more personal stuff, or who are moving from a home. It might not be everyone’s experience. It’s not logical, but it’s real. And to be respected.
October 11th, 2011
Fifty Is Not What It Used To Be, And Neither Is Sixty
Have you seen the latest cover of New York Magazine?
A take-off of the infamous Demi Moore cover on Vanity Fair, it’s a bit unnerving. But re-defining the who/what/when/why of what makes up a family, and how they live is not news to the Census Bureau, or to those of us in the home and housing industry.
As a young adult, most of us became familiar with the typical milestones in life: first job, first place, first serious relationship, family, career, retirement.
We might not experience them all, but they were familiar, and by and large, this was the order we experienced them in.
Today, people in their 50′s could be new parents-adoptive or otherwise, sending kids off to school at any grade, welcoming back their grads who have not found a job, helping to raise grandchildren. They could also be be care-givers for an ill or re-habbing child or spouse, or tending to the needs of a parent.
Those in their sixties might have many of the same situations-perhaps less actively involved in children living in their home, but they could be retiring just as easily as they’d be starting up their own business…down-sizing their residence, or upsizing into a 2nd, vacation home. Divorcing…or re-marrying, complete with a new blended, extended family.
Economics, medical science and a society generally more accepting of differences have all combined to blur previously understood definitions and accepted timelines. According to the Pew Institute, a record 49 million-or 16.1% of Americans lived in a household that contained two different adult generations, or a grandparent and at least one other generation.
Add in the burgeoning work-at-home segment, rarely does their space and their things best serve their current circumstances. They all have to live somewhere. That is where the value of hiring professionals lies.
Each family presents its own unique situation and challenges. Home professionals know the questions to ask, and have smart solutions. Architects are trained to address changes and updates in infrastructure; experienced Senior Move Managers are a godsend who help make transitions easy for parent and adult children as well.
Having worked shoulder to shoulder with homeowners, in thousands of Westchester and Fairfield county homes, I understand how people live in their homes, and bring a unique perspective to the table.
Trained/certified as both a Decorator and a Home Stager, I understand how to balance the yearning with the reality, and know how to combine the common sense and the dream, the aesthetically pleasing as well as the functional.
the refreshed home supports and plays well with Architects, Movers, Senior Move Managers, Realtors, Contractors/Builders, Property Managers and Landlords.
Because I understand-and can explain-design principles like balance and color, space planning and lighting-the refreshed home specializes in old, unusual and small-to-average spaces, and also works directly with homeowners, tenants, buyers, sellers, and small business owners.
Bottom line, if your life/family/lifestyle is not matching up with your space, or your possessions, there could be some very easy fixes for you, and we should talk. Soon.
Because life is too short for you not to be in your best possible space.
September 23rd, 2011
Let’s Get Your House SOLD! Staging For The Average Homeowner
The classic cereal commercial -where two older brothers did not want to try this new breakfast cereal-and instead, gave it to their younger brother, wanting him to go first-reminds me of the reaction I get when it’s time to talk about preparing a house for the market.
Sellers and agents each have their ideas of what it is, and how it works, but it’s still perceived as this dicey territory, and many seem to want to see some buyer interest first….well, if that was working out for you, chances are you wouldn’t be reading this post.
Buyers have a lot to choose from out there. Staging-or preparing your property for the market is a business decision, and a commitment made by people who really want to sell.
Yes, the goal is to make the house look as good as possible, but at the refreshed home, a good solution takes a number of things into consideration: the agents’ pricing and marketing strategy, the local market, and the sellers needs, goals and expectations.
If you have a property you want to -or need to sell-come to the John C. Hart Library on Thursday October 6th, at 7PM. We’ll discuss this mysterious entity known as Staging, learn how to see a property through the eyes of a buyer, and send you home with things you can do to put your property’s best foot forward. Hope to see you there!
September 11th, 2011
Am finishing up a few big projects now, two of which required me to replace appliances to get the houses ready for sale.
Although I always prefer to go to smaller, local stores I need a lot of things for these jobs, so thinking well, OK< maybe the NAMELESS BIG BOX STORE will save me some time.
Here is the condensed version of my experience that actually took place over 3 days.
ME: What-an appliance sale? 10% off , and YOU’RE KIDDING-another 10% off for opening and using your store’s charge card??
NAMELESS BIG BOX STORE: YES!!
ME: (Thinking now)-HMMMM-that could be a lot of money on a bunch of appliances. Clients hire me to help make decisions that are in their best interest. Putting my personal views aside, if I can save them some dollars on a known entity, I will.
ME: (Talking) Sign me up!!
NAMELESS BIG BOX STORE: OK!
ME: (Afterwards, looking at the bill, finding 10% only off on appliances over a certain dollar volume, and other 10% off is only on the first item on my purchase) Please cancel this order.
Then- (sound of dialing on new smart phone)- “Hello, Bergers?”
Berger’s Appliances has been in the same location, on Commerce Street in Hawthorne since the early 60′s. Opened by Ernie Berger Sr., his sons Ernie Jr. and Bob went on to run the place, and Ernie still puts time in there.
The showroom is not fancy, it pretty much looks the same way I remember it did in the 60′s when my parents were buying a new fridge. Showing an uncanny awareness of good value, even at that tender age, I remembered urging them to purchase this one model that-CAN YOU BELIEVE IT-came with a free butter dish!!
They represent the entire spectrum of brand-name appliances-nothing odd, old, or questionable; and their specialty is, simply knowing what they are talking about. They do not BS the customers.
Their sales staff has been there for years, and many travel from quite a distance. My salesman-Jim K. -there are two Jims- is younger than I am, travels from Red Hook, and has been there almost 30 years!! When I walked into the showroom unannounced, 6 years after Doug and I bought our new kitchen appliances, he not only recognized me, he remembered where I was working at the time!
Everything is always free delivery, and free haul-away. Every. Thing. Every. Day.
They will price and give you print-outs of the product, and these print-outs are tied into a data base, which will advise you of any rebates for the product. And they let you walk out of the store to think about it.
ORANGE YOU GLAD I TOLD YOU ABOUT BERGERS??
August 31st, 2011
SMILE: 10 Basics For Getting Your Westchester House SOLD
While there are no breakthrough ideas here, the video is more light-hearted, ALWAYS an effective way to make the point. Enjoy!!
August 29th, 2011
IRENE: Why Are You So Annoyed By All The Media Coverage??
Forty-eight hours out from Irene’s entree, and twenty-four hours after her exit, both local events and reactions are all over the road.
While unaccustomed to, and weary from the 24/7 media coverage, this no-so-mini-rant comes down on those whining about it.
In fact, I argue their annoyance was preventable, and largely self-induced. (And before anyone gets their panties all knotted up, please note the use of both singular and plural pronouns)
In our super-caffeinated, overly-stimulated world, too many have lost the ability to prioritize and unplug themselves from the stream when appropriate.
Information is king, and yes there is a lot of it; but while we are all looking for ways to get/stay ahead in business, we need to look at how our own other actions fuel the beast. If our brains are too busy responding to texts, tweets, pokes, prods, alerts and the like, it’s information overload, and we find ourselves unable to pull back and differentiate.
Weather is a lot like real estate: hyper-local, and very individual-one’s experience is largely predicated to their own mindset, and many other unique circumstances. Responsibility is involved. You need to be knowledgeable and prepared; ready to act, while maintaining respect (a healthy fear?) of the unpredictability of the process.
And yes, there will always be hype, and yahoos who behave badly-whether by way of price gouging, or low-ball offers, but loss of life is not on the table in real estate.
The sad, and singular death here in Westchester was not a direct result of a random act of nature; rather it was a foolish, ignorant act of 5 young thrill-seekers getting on an inflatable boat. They not only risked their own lives, they risked the lives of those trying to save them (beyond the death of one of the five, three first-responders were injured).
Look-publicizing (to justify) the use of tools that have been long-paid for is not a new thing. I am reminded of the section in Arlo Guthrie’s classic Alice’s Restaurant, about one-third in, where he describes the evidence-gathering process for his littering arrest in 1960′s Stockbridge MA, including the use of aerial photography.
Westchester has been my home my entire life, hurricanes and tornadoes are largely uncharted territory. Saturday night the entire county was under a tornado watch. While we had a bag packed, Doug and I took turns sleeping, thinking one of us should be aware and alert if one suddenly materialized.
Thankfully it did not, but I was grateful for the real-time information that could have saved us precious moments if one did.
There are many good reasons someone would need to be readily available, and/or connected 24/7; whether you had loved ones traveling, or as the storm drew nearer, this weekend was one of them.
Perhaps it might be time to re-evaluate the power we give to media and our devices, and the stuff we choose to fill our brain with? I’m just sayin’….
August 18th, 2011
It takes a great deal of character stregnth to apologize quickly and out of the heart, rather than out of pity. A person must possess himself and have a deep sense of security in fundamental principles and values to genuinely apologize.
-Stephen R. Covey
They Got This Call Right
Baseball is near to my heart, but I really enjoy the ‘human’ aspect of most sports, the people behind the stats.
Last year I wrote about an incredible juxtaposition of sporting events, and unexpectedly, tonight the story continues.
After viewing a most despicable display of poor sportsmanship by adults at a local lacrosse tournament, and lamenting the reaction I saw on younger, impressionable fans, we came home to the news that with 2 outs in the 9th inning, an ump blew a call, costing the pitcher the holy grail of pitching, a perfect game.
After the game, incredibly, the umpire, Jim Joyce was in tears, apologizing, knowing what he cost that pitcher.
In turn, and even more surprisingly, the pitcher, Armando Galarraga could not have been more gracious. Their mutual respect towards each other, and their goodness in handling a bad situation well, and with grace brought tears to my eyes.
Today, it was announced that this very umpire, who was a well-respected member of the umpiring crew before this event-was voted best umpire in major league baseball by the players themselves. And it wasn’t a squeaker, either; he received 35% of the vote, almost double what the next vote-getter received.
There are lots of lessons here, and all of them good. Thanks, MLB players-you got this call right.
July 19th, 2011
the ‘little c’
Today I have two messages, connected in an unexpected way.
Earlier today I underwent a routine health screening procedure that is recommended for people my age. Everything went beautifully. I was in good health going into it, so with God’s good grace, this will continue to be the case.
This procedure has a very high ICK factor, and required extended preparation on my part, which was one reason I put off scheduling it for a few years.
And that is POINT #1: If you are overdue for any regular health care, Man-Up (or Woman-Up) and JUST DO IT.
And if you think you don’t have the time….getting sick , even dying is really inconvenient and time-consuming.
Just as with houses, deferring maintenance does not make it go away.
During this whole process, I was in a brand-new circumstance. With health-care professionals I never met before. Talking about some fairly intimate things. Totally uncharted territory; I was nervous, vulnerable and apprehensive. Funny thing about fear, it can bring new insights and lots of clarity, in a hurry.
Because I love what I do, am always looking for new ways to present and deliver a better product and experience. One thing I do is look for things that work well, try to understand why, then see if I can draw a parallel in my own business. The product or the field doesn;t matter to me, if it makes people happy I want to know why/how.
I found myself thinking this experience was a very fresh look- a good reminder-of how it feels to be a potential customer.
ALSO-I got a renewed, and very personal perspective on the value of working with true experienced professionals.
Experience is not just about time put in someplace. Whether you work on cars or brains, at a cash register, in a library or a corner office-it’s about what one learns, and how one uses that knowledge to continually better both themselves, and the experience for others.
In many cases it means you know enough to answer most questions, but that you also know to look for unasked questions, and unspoken concerns, then how to coax them out, and make them part of the conversation.
Professionals know the journey, and understand preparing clients in a thorough, kind and direct way is just as much a part of a good process as anything else.
Oh yes…and they care. Usually a lot.
If you are an experienced professional who has made someone’s life easier today-I thank you, even if your client forgot.
If you are a client, or another professional who’s had a good experience with someone, call them tomorrow and thank them.
And if you are Dr. Geders, or one of her team at MKMG, I thank you all very much.
July 16th, 2011
Reality Check: Listing Photos Buyers In Westchester County Will See This Week-Bad Walls
Walls are the largest surface area in any room, so besides paint color, whatever else you may put on the walls is a very important decision.
Art, properly placed, can make a small room feel bigger, and make big furniture seem smaller.
It can help balance a room, influence traffic flow, create interest where none exists, or call more attention to something you really want to highlight.
Poorly placed, or in poor taste, it can be all buyers will remember about a space. Here are some examples of what Westchester buyers will see this week.
This art does little to enhance the room, these pieces are too dominant, and compete for attention. It makes the ceiling seem low, and the room feel claustrophobic.
There is little chance a buyer will remember a thing about this house other than it’s the one with the giant contemporary eyeball over the sofa.
These are not groupings, they’re just a bunch of stuff hung on the walls over a period of time.
Groupings are not an add-as-you-go project.
Instead, they are best planned and installed at once, tightly spaced and balanced, and centered on a wall space, or over a piece of furniture.
Ideally there is some empty wall space all around it, to give it a neat and important look.
Am I the only person that finds this picture disturbing?
All this aggressive personality is very territorial, and has no place in a listing photo.
That it is here, and taking up valuable space on MLS says there are larger issues that need to be addressed with both parties before this house can ever hope to be sold.
Home Stagers create great visuals, as well as great relationships to support both seller and agent during the selling process.
I am here to help you sell your house, which is why I run this series, and continue to make this offer: Claim any of these phtos as your own…yes (sigh) even the last one…and I will Stage your house for up to a half-day for FREE> REALLY.
July 14th, 2011
Are You Tired?
In the last week I’ve met with 4 new potential clients, each with a different agent.
Their houses have been on the market for anywhere from 3 to 5 months.
Each seller had made efforts to prepare the house for the market, and to have it show-ready at all times.
Yet in each case, there were few showings, and no offers.
All parties-sellers and agents-were discouraged, and yes, TIRED. The kind of tired where you’ve been back and forth so many times, you can’t think straight and just want to walk away.
Sellers are tired of being ready, living their life in limbo, and giving it all they had, with no results.
Agents are tired of having no news or bad news for sellers; tired of having neither a vison for change, or the words to even address it.
Given the overall fatigue, and costs both sides have already incurred-agents in marketing the property, sellers in carrying it longer than they anticipated-who knows what will happen.
But this is why they best time to talk to me is before your house goes on the market. Before you spend time, money, or waste that all-important first 30 days of a new listing.
Staging supports all of your efforts, and makes the most of what you ARE able to do to prepare your property.
Whether your property is about to be listed, or is currently on the market-if you haven’t been getting the results you want, dare to look for a way to make changes. Call me, let’s talk about getting your house SOLD.
But first, I know you could use a smile, so enjoy this clip from one of my favorite Mel Brooks movies.
July 9th, 2011
What IS It About People Like Ellen, Julia and Tom?
Earlier in the week, heading out the door, turned the TV on to check the weather on the local 2 minute traffic/2 minute weather channel. NBC is the default channel that shows up first, the talk show ELLEN was on.
It was an audience quiz segment, where they were all up on a big stage, and if they gave the wrong answer, the floor disappeared underneath them. YIKES!
I knew how it would turn out (hugs and smiles all around), yet on a no-time-to-spare kind of day, I sat down watched Ellen poke fun at some of her audience…THEN a commercial for Larry Crowe, the new Julia Roberts-Tom Hanks movie.
That’s right, the same commercial we all have already seen, maybe 30 times. And it still made me smile.
We all know people we are just drawn to…but why? Whether media celebrity, the guy at the hardware store, your dentist, the vet-even a Home Stager or Realtor-what is it that just makes us like some people so thoroughly and in many cases, almost immediately??
While initally curious just for curiousity’s sake, of course it led to pondering these things in the context of running my business. What are these vital qualities that not only get the job, but insure good communication, then paves the way to a great result?
After a week of thining and observing, here is my certainly subjective, and probably partial list:
We all like people who like to have fun, and have a joyful attitude. Even silly is ok. Those choosing-to-be-happy, glass half-full types make us feel good.
They/their characters may poke fun of, or tease, but are never mean or mean-spirited. No one gets hurt, insulted, or embarrassed.
We like people who make us feel good. Easily, and naturally, they reinforce some essence we believe to be true, generally or specifically: Life is good. My dog is beautiful and loves me. I care about what I do. Even when it’s not all unicorns and rainbows. I have a cavity, but my flossing is better.
They don’t put ‘space’ between you and them. Of course there are boundries, not expecting an invite to a BBQ from Ellen/Julia/Tom-OR my dentist, anyone from Hecht’s (my favorite hardware store), or any of my (MANY) favorite Realtors. But in whatever the connection, it’s about the matter at hand, not about them.
We like knowing what they stand for. They are passionate about what they do. Sometimes, even if you don’t agree with them, you admire them for walking the walk.
Ellen champions equal rights and pet adoption; we run a fair business, coach Little League, and run book sales at the library.
Julia and Tom each won an Oscar for portraying regular people fighting injustices (Erin Brockovich, enviormental crimes; Andrew Beckett, a lawyer fired because he had AIDS); we can sing in the choir, walk to raise funds, or lead a Scout troop.
They/their characters-are thoughtful and kind. Julia’s Evil Queen in Snow White is not due out til 2012, but betting on a Evil Queen with a soft side. Tom was a hit-man in Road to Perdition, but hit man with a cause.
And I love my dentist and his staff. Even though it seems I am STILL not flossing enough, I leave appointments feeling smarter and cared-for.
Mirror, mirror on the wall-what qualities do YOU think make people the fairest of all??