October 13th, 2011
What’s New In My Staging Kit This Week?
Whenever I ‘find’ anything new/different-or think of something unusual that really does a great job at helping me do my job, I always like to share it.
Nothing extraordinary, just simple things that either entertain and engage buyers , or take care of the ordinary, stupid stuff that happens when you live in a house: Fingerprints, pet hair, that sort of thing.
This week I found a new and invaluable tool. Not for the house, or their stuff…but for all the humans in the equation…
Have been a fan of W.S. Badger products for a while….soothing, all natural body care products, their balms are formulated with different botanicals for each task. Sleep Balm? Snooze City! Sore Muscle Balm? Moving again in no time. So it was with great delight I found the newest addition to my Staging Kit:
Cheerful Mind formula: How could you not love this?? Honestly, I’m already happier just carrying it around-I mean, look at that cute chubby little guy on the tin!
But open it, run a little on your wrists, temples, even just a touch on the underside tip of your nose, and the scent of fresh orange and lemon combined with spearmint will lift you-or anyone else-out of the cranky-pants doldrums in no time.
Seriously, it’s subtle and gentle, and for about $8.00 a tin, you can’t go wrong. Available at most health-and whole-food stores, keep one in your car, at your desk, wherever there is stress, and you need a smile to be an arm-length away.
To paraphrase Yogi-selling a house is 90% mental, and the other half physical, I am seriously considering making one of these part of each Staging proposal I do.
Double-bonus-it’s a family-run business, and the products are made right here in the northeast-YAY, Badger Balm!
October 7th, 2011
Beat The Odds: Five MORE Tips For A Better-Showing House This Fall
When I worked in retail furniture, I absolutely LOVED working on snowy days, or the day after a snow storm.
When everyone else was out buying bread, picking up videos or whatever, people who came into a furniture store were people who were ready to buy furniture, and who wanted to buy furniture.
Inevitably my close ratio was almost 100%, so I have always been a fan of being ready for buyers out of the normal/expected buying cycle.
We will get to inside stuff in another post, but here’s the follow-up to yesterday’s post …. five more things you can do to show- perhaps beat the odds-even SELL your house this fall.
6. Wash the windows, clean the screens, vacuum out all the ick that has accumulated between the windows and the screens. When the leaves come down, what better way to show how light-filled, and well-maintained your house is!
7. Be aware of odors. Cooler weather has us closing out windows more,eliminating ventilation and trapping odors.
Air out the house in the warmer days to come, but get in the habit of taking stinky garbage out immediately. Also, keep dirty laundry out of bedrooms and bathrooms. Maybe put it in the empty washer, until you are ready for a full load.
Watch what you cook-grill outside if you can-and good time to give the dog a bath, and wash all the dog things as well.
8. Unless a big storm is in the forecast, I recommend leaving the patio furniture out til it frosts, especially if you grill, or have a fire pit.
Keep it clean, and looking good. Toss the burned-out citronella candles, the ratty tablecloth, etc. Make it a desirable space, not a body of evidendce to a season sadly long gone.
Outdoor space does not count on listings as usable square footage in a house-so why not SHOW THOSE BUYERS just how much more value your house has from this bonus living space?
9. Put away any seasonal ornaments. Things like windchimes, figures of bunnies, or gnomes holding daisies. Again, oddly inappropriate after Labor Day.
Instead, think of putting up birdfeeders on the property-by snowfall you will have attracted quite a following, giving something for buyers to delight in when the rest of the area is covered in white.
10. Replace sad and tired linens. SERIOUSLY. Crushed toss pillows, dingy kitchen towels, limp bed sheets. These things have a limited life span.
Hit BBB with a bunch of coupons, or Kohls on a sale day and invest: New towels for the kitchen, big puffy bed pillows and a new set of bath towels and crisp, smooth new sheets. I purchased a king size set of 400 thread count sheets for a client recently; regularly $130.00 at Kohls-on sale and with my extra discount-less than $45.00.
Besides showing better to buyers, you will feel so-o-o-o special, for very little money. BONUS: Local pet shelters-Pets Alive in Elmsford, and SPCA in Briarcliff are my favorites-would be oh so grateful to accept your worn, but washed towels and linens.
October 5th, 2011
Beat The Odds: Five Easy Tips For A Better-Showing House This Fall
Many people think the housing market shuts down Thanksgiving til December 31st.
The reality of school schedules, and the pressures of these falls holidays are the most common reasons behind the mindset. While activity levels might have a steep drop off, I do not belive people stop thinking about it, or that buyers stop looking, either. In our market, different cultures abound: not everyone has kids, or observes the Hallmark holidays.
There are several advantages to being ready to show in the fall. There are not as many properties on the market, so motivated sellers who have their house on the market-clean and ready to show will have the full attention of agents, and motivated buyers. I like the sound of that, don’t you?
Mortgage rates are still low, and the atmosphere is a little less super-charged. Again, this could bode well on many levels. But you have to be ready.
Staging should never be considered a silver bullet. There are too many things beyond a stagers’ control that would factor into getting your house sold (pricing, marketing, pricing, qualifying buyers, pricing, maintaining a showable house), but your house being ready counts for a lot.
While we still have some nice days in front of us, here are five quick, simple, easy and inexpensive things you can do now so your house will show well this fall:
1. Buy a simple, classic new welcome mat. Nothing cute, or overly personal. WELCOME works fine. Also-paint the front door. In this area, deep barn red is very popular. I may be prejudiced (I love purple) but I think it goes great in this photo-fresh and contemporary. ALWAYS work with what goes with the house. Look around your neighborhood, and when in doubt go classic.
2. New bulbs in fixtures. Especially outdoor. Up the wattage, make sure they are new, of matching wattage, and of the same type of light -i.e. just because you have them in the house, don’t have a mix of soft white and bright white.
3. Add seasonal color. Even the most amazing bunch of impatience is oddly inappropriate after Labor Day. Clear them out-brightly colored mums and ornamental cabbage is the way to go.
4. Keep yard maintained. Just because prime growing season is over, don’t slack off. Keep walkway clear, lawn mowed, beds edged and leaves raked. Have the house with the lush, emerald green lawn showing.
5. Remove all the detrius of summer: Cobwebs, sticks on the roof, things growing out of gutters. Make sure gutters are attached to roof securely, and clear.
Fall can turn into winter quickly in this area. Clogged, and badly attached gutters become heavy with wet leaves, then frozen solid when the temperature drops. “BEST” case they can pull away from the house, “WORST” case they can lead to the formation of ice dams, and cause internal leaks/damage. Either way, you do not want to mess with this in November.
TOMORROW: The other 5 things you can do…next weekend!
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 24th, 2011
How to Clean Soot Off A Fireplace Surround
Sooty fireplaces are yucky.
If you are staying, at summer’s end, many homeowners find themselves looking at their home interiors with new eyes, as they make plans for spending more time indoors.
If you are selling, obvious, deferred maintenance will always set off alarm bells for buyers: ‘what else did they neglect that maybe I can’t see?’
Fireplaces are often a prominant feature in a front room, and a big selling point in almost all markets. A clean, sootless fireplace surround pays big dividends: Great listing photos to bring buyers in, and uninterrupted romantic reverie, once they are there.
HUGE BONUS-cleaning soot off a fireplace surround it is one of the easiest DIY projects you can possible imagine. REALLY.
Today’s post comes from channeling my one and only HGTV fav, Sabrina Sota, of Get It Sold…I always learn something from her shows.
You can use any generic spray cleaner (I just have a thing for the bubble creatures), and just so simple…cover the floor, then spray the brick or stone, and grout.
Let it sit for a minute or two, then distribute foam evenly by using one wet sponge, and after it’s foamed up for another minute or so, wipe off using another, clean sponge, and a clean bucket of water.
If build up is extensive, you may have to repeat. Only word of caution is if brick is painted, you may want to test out first on a small, innocuous area.
July 20th, 2011
What’s New In My Staging Kit This Week?
How about pets that hang out on the furniture?
Or rub up against your legs…or the drapes?
Get some of these.
Evercare Magik Brush. $4.00 at BBB, but available at all sorts of places.
A looped fabric cover
s pads on both sides of the brush. Simply brush in the direction of the arrow on the handle-loops pick up the offending material, then reverse direction to get the collected detritus off the brush.
Bella Blue, my shepard mix is in full shedding mode, it’s frankly a wonder she has any hair left on her body!-this lifted the hair off my microfiber car seats with one pass-through.
Reusable = green, and a heck of a lot easier, and less expensive than those adhesive paper rolls.
One for the office, one for the car, and at least one for the home-you can’t go wrong.
February 21st, 2011
Staging is about people bonding with a space, by being able to see themselves living there.
There are a number of ways to make a connection with buyers, I like to add the unexpected. Nothing frightening or provocative, just not what people are used to seeing…I think that’s the thing they will ‘see’ the best, and perhaps cause them to linger.
A good visual is expected, it should be a given. The scent of baking cookies/pie/etc is more urban myth than reality I suspect, but warm brownies would certainly engage me and my olfactory glands.
I like buyers to be physically engaged in the property, so here is this week’s tip: PUZZLES and GAMES!
There’ll be smiles for sure, but I dare anyone, nay, double-dare them to walk past a game table with an in-progress puzzle on it, without attempting to find/place at least one piece.
Same thing with games…. set up checkers or chess, a few moves in; or a vintage kid’s game-is there anyone who doesn’t remember loving popping that Trouble bubble, or trying to avoid the red nose buzzing?
Of course you’d want to tailor your choice to the property and who you think they buyer may be; but simple and easy, they harken back to a prewired age. Easy to find very cheaply at tag sales if you are without.
Just one last tip- please, learn from my experience-DO NOT use Scrabble, you might find some pretty interesting messages on that board when you return!
February 8th, 2011
OK, we know closets aren’t really magical, but funny the power an attractively organized closet does have over us…we …just…want…them.
On the flip side, no matter how big they are, overflowing and unorganized closets tell buyers there is not enough closet space. It can also be taken as an indication of how the rest of the property has been maintained.
Buyers half-believe this power comes along with the property, and those that own these wondrous closets seem so gifted, and seem to have a lot of other things in life just to fall in place for them.
We’ve even lusted and laughed over them– remember the commercial where both men and women gasped and screeched at the beauty in their friends’ respective walk-in closets…hers was filled with finery, his with imported beer.
Selling or staying, having organized closets need not be thought of as an unattainable goal. Here are 5 easy ways to have the closets of your dreams.
1. Lest your home take on the atmosphere of a giant swap meet, do one closet at a time, and finish it completely before you start the next. You will keep perspective that way. Do something upbeat before starting-take a brisk walk, have a good breakfast.
2. Pack/Store out of season clothes. If you’re staying, you’ll be excited, all over again in a few months-NEW CLOTHES!! If you’re selling, think of it as a head start on your packing, because OF COURSE you will have your house sold, and be moved into your new home by the time you need them again!!
3. Make 3 piles of what remains: Gone, Negotiable, Staying. A recent study shows we only wear about 10% of what we own-ouch!
Anything that doesn’t fit, or you haven’t worn in a year goes into the first pile Negotiable needs repairs-or perhaps one more wearing to remember why you have not worn it in a while…ummm-perhaps orange isn’t your color after all? Staying is what you wear, and love-that 10% that you reach for all the time.
Be ruthless and quick; once something is in the gone pile, don’t re-think it. There are people and places that will gladly welcome and use what you have forgotten about, and is taking up valuable closet real estate.
4. Get good, matching hangers-your closet will feel so…civilized. Choose sturdy slimline hangers in a neutral color, with multi-features like built-in hooks and bars, or the ability to add on clips.
Some are covered in a flocked material; they’ll cut down on noise, and keep the slinky stuff from sliding off-but keep a few plastic ones around for anything damp (flocking can come off, onto wet clothes).
5. Put everything in color order, light to dark, even shoes. Seriously. Jest, even roll your eyes if you must, but then take a closer look at all the closets you’ve ogled…closets that gradually flow from one color to another are sleek and polished, and seem more spacious. Sometimes simple can be so effective!
February 5th, 2011
Buyers are curious folks…which is ok, as when they buy your house, they will be buying it all: the closets, the plumbing, the attic, etc. But books and bookcases seem to hold a special attraction for them…which is why I pay special attention to the bookcases!
Books have soul, they add presence and character. Classic, but not cliched is the way I like to go. In a space where you want to send a message, the right ones can transport you and elevate the process; the wrong ones (defined as anything that could distract buyers) (and fodder for a future post!) are like a bad musical note; both jarring and lingering.
So pre-owned (pre-loved!) books are something I inventory, seriously shop for, and consider when Staging a project. A little unexpected can be quite engaging!
Rosemary Wells’ Max and Ruby books-are one of my favorites for kid’s rooms. Olive, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and of course, Goodnight Moon are some of the others.
Cookbooks also trend classic: Joy of Cooking, Silver Palate, James Beard; but also have a few Ina Garten a.k.a The Barefoot Contessa, and Moosewood Restaurant books as well.
Recently I completed a new project, a funeral home. Clients from years ago, this was a brand new project, existing space gutted and re-worked. Although the business has changed a bit, what people want at this time in their life has not; the only books I used were Reader’s Digest (hardcover) condensed books.
Westchester County was home to Reader’s Digest, you would have to ask a lot of people to find someone who did not have any connection. Paper covers off, they are quite lovely, and everyone had them, it gave a very nostalgic feel.
While no one would consciously buy a home because of the books in the bookcase, they certainly set the mood, and reinforces the vision of how they see themselves living in this space…where they can ultimately unpack and shelve their own copies of Danielle Steele!!
January 23rd, 2011
Staging is the art of making someone’s space, and their stuff look their best. With more and more sellers needing to stay in their house til it sells, you are working with their things, that more often than not, need a little TLC.
Take a good look at the next few kitchen/dining sets you come across. Specifically, the legs and/or bases of wooden tables and chairs, especially if they are painted or finished in a light color.
In a home that’s really lived in, these really can get scuffed up. While there are lots of creative solutions and specialty products out there, I’m very fond of quick, easy and cheap…and of instant gratification.
On a very damp-but not dripping wet- sponge, or even paper towel, make a small amount of toothpaste into a watery paste, and rub GENTLY on the offending marks, along the legnth of the leg.
The dissolved abrasive will break up the mark, then just wipe and dry. Each chair might take just a few minutes, and when you’re done, they’ll not only be scuff-free, they’ll be minty fresh as well!
This is one of the projects I do, or assign to the homeowner, very early on. If they see how simple and easy it can be to make a difference, it’s a lot easier for them to get behind this big, mysterious thing we call ‘Staging’.
January 2nd, 2011
Recently there has been a different tone and tenor in jobs I’ve had, and people I’ve been speaking with. There is a willingness to believe. I see and hear more confidence, less trepidation.
Many are tired of being held hostage to this market; they want to put the past behind them, and get on with their life.
NOW is the perfect time to embrace a new plan of action!!
Too many sellers-and sorry, agents too-still think inside a very small box-i.e. what they see on TV. The extremes of the market make for the best TV, but don’t really address the needs of the majority of sellers.
Staging is not an intellectual discussion, it is a verb, you just get your hands onto things and start to make some changes. SO-get off the couch, and turn off HGTV; here are some really quick/easy/cheap ways to get you going.
Now, more than ever, buyers buy homes they want, homes they connect with on an emotional level. Good Home Staging starts by knowing who the buyers will likely be, then the strengths of the neighborhood/property that’ll draw buyers there in the first place. Then visually, tangibly taps into those motivational forces, to complete the picture for the buyer.
You are selling a lifestyle A low pegboard with a few bright yellow slickers, or attention paid to a spacious eat-in kitchen could be very appealing to a parents of a growing family.
A few touches of luxury inside-even as simple as new white plush bath towels- could really speak to downsizers who are ready to enjoy a life not ruled by durable, practical and kid-friendly choices.
Cute pet bowl-empty, please-reminds buyers this could finally be the opportunity to comfortably add a new member to the family
Offer the unexpected Buyers will linger in and bond with a room where there is something clever or engaging for them to see.
Nothing fancy/blingy/personal, but think signs of life: how about a simple goldfish bowl in a child’s room, even an in-progress jigsaw puzzle or Scrabble game on a game table?
Draw them outside Whether the property has a 4×8 balcony, a million-dollar view, or falls somewhere in between, buyers need to be outside and experience it to fully appreciate it. Give them something to look at, touch, and be engaged with to make that impression.
If there is a yard, in 3 of the 4 seasons I like to set up a volleyball net, horseshoes, even bocce ball-what better way to take the pressure off than to have the buyers toss a few shoes?
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean buyers should take your word for how great it is to have a deck and a grill-show them it’s a year-round benefit.
Shovel a path to the grill and keep it looking good; buyers will be reassured they will be just fine in the next power-outage, even see themselves hosting the next Super Bowl party!!
Decorating some tress decorated with bird and squirrel-friendly treats will be entertaining for kids, while adding color and life to your property.
This market is extremely saturated with condos and co-ops. All the more reason to find something to make the space stand out.
A mini herb garden on the window sill points to light, and a fragrant rosemary tree would probably do well year round on any patio or balcony, and few could resisit touching it to release it’s aroma.
A string of white lights adds a nice touch year-round, but would be most charming and memorable at winter time showings.
NEXT: Multi-anything is GOLDEN; even golden is GOLDEN…except we’ll call it Pittsfield Buff, OK?
December 21st, 2010
…with apologies to Julie Andrews…and my most sincere wishes for the love and light of the season to be with you and yours.
2011 is going to be GREAT-can’t wait!!
Curtains on windows, and high-wattage light bulbs;
Organized closets and de-cluttered tables
Groupings of artwork to balance the space-
These are a few of my favorite tips!
Fresh new toss pillows, and crisp matching linens;
Floor plans and color schemes that are pleasing to others
Kid’s toys that stay in their place-AT ALL TIMES-
These are some more of my favorite tips!
When the Dow’s down-
When the market stinks-
When you NEED to sell-
Re-member, just call on the re-ee-freshed home
And then you won’t feel so bad!!!