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 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.
December 1st, 2011
De-clutter, De-personalize, (Yada, Yada, Yada): Five OTHER Good Reasons To Bring In A Professional Stager
We’ve seen B&A’s, and videos of properties properly prepared for sale…but buying/selling/staging is a largely visual entity, media can’t really touch on the intrinsic value, or intangible services that consulting with a professional Stager brings.
While it might not make for good TV, here are the first two of five other good reasons why it makes sense to bring a professional Stager into your house buying or selling experience:
1. Consults with a professional Stager can bring perspective to pricing
While the refreshed home never, ever weighs in, or offers input about suitable pricing on a property, physical condition and general appeal do factor into what it will list, and sell for. So YES, comps and agents’ pricing strategy is part of the conversation, to better understand the market, and design the best solution for this property.
Stagers help sellers see their property-and others’ properties-through the eyes of buyers. While a hoped-for result is getting the best possible price for a property, sometimes the answer is that the sellers just cannot do a single thing. At this point consulting with a professional Stager can be the gut-check that supports the reality of an as-is listing price.
2. Professional Stagers provide service to Brokers, Owners and Agents, too.
YES, this professional Stager subscribes to the teach-a-man-to-fish way of thinking, and interested RE professionals are just as much part of my market as the buying and selling public is.
Knowing what I know does not make me an inherently better person, it just makes me good at what I do. Without sounding all prissy-pants about it, sharing the right verbiage with interested RE professionals so they can confidently make it part of their conversations, and integrate it into their own business makes us all winners.
Brokers who introduce me to their agents have one less thing to deal with, and they elevate their ‘brand. Newer agents can learn hands-on, in-house skills, and experienced agents who might already be doing this on their own will be surprised at the time they have freed up, once they know they have a trusted professional they can depend on. Sure, I love to get “the” job, but when I can help make something meaningful happen for a RE professional, I usually get “the client”.
Since more and more people need to stay in their house until it closes, creating a pleasing visual is the the easy part. Starting the conversation with a professional Stager who has in-house, and hands-on experience in managing the people, the process and the expectations could be the best phone call any agent or seller could make. So call already!!
NEXT: Curiosity brings the buyers, staging short sales, and working with buyers.
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!
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 7th, 2011
The DIfference Between Staging, and Preparing A House For Sale
Am very big on quotes lately, another one of my favorites is from Mark Twain:
“The difference between the right word, and the almost right word is the difference between lightning, and a lightning bug.”
In reality, there is no difference between Staging, and preparing a house for sale. Perception is another story.
Bless those folks at HGTV. YES they have elevated our collective recognition of the “S” word. YES most of us know the ‘de-clutter, de-personalize’ mantra.
Yet for many “Staging” is on par with Olympic Curling…we are fascinated! We watch as we try to figure it out, but we can’t…so we just watch some more.
Staging, and preparing a house for sale both look at what needs to be done, what can be done to find and demonstrate value for buyers.
Whether you say you are Staging, or preparing a house for sale, you are putting the property’s best foot forward, so that you can sell it in the shortest time, at the best price, so you can get on with your life.
Staging, and preparing your house for sale are not just about pretty visuals. Done properly, Staging-or preparing a house for sale first asks and understands more about the local market, and the agents pricing and marketing strategy. Seller needs, goals and expectations are given equal consideration.
One other thing Staging and preparing a house for sale have in common: each property, seller and agent combine to have their own unique solution.
No matter what you want to call it, look to your results. Have a property that needs to be sold? Start the conversation, and get on with your life.
July 3rd, 2011
Stagers And Agents: More Alike Than You May Think (Part One)
Last weekend on Active Rain I wrote a Members-Only post asking agents who never worked with a Stager to please tell me why.
Great contributions, and a some points I did not expect. Knew this was a national stage, but did not expect this amount, or range of input. It’s taken a few days to wrap my brain around it all-and how it relates to my original question.
Whether you are a home seller, or a real estate agent, being comfortable with all that Staging might be may seem a formidable task, but here’s my pitch: It’s really not, because Stagers and Agents really have a lot in common. And where not alike, they can be complimentary.
Goals: At the end of the day, Stagers and Agents both have a single goal, to create and facilitate a new housing situation for their client. What is 100% absolutely the same here is that each does it in their own unique way. We build our brand which encompasses our decisions on marketing, communications, personality, strategy and pricing.
Skills and Expertise: True of really any profession, Stagers and Agents have ranges of skill, and levels of expertise. Descriptions like Short Sale Expert, Top Producer-or Accredited Stager!!-are not a standardized entity, NOR a guarantee of the sale of a property. It comes down to the individual.
Education/Accreditation: While not (yet) standardized or mandated for Stagers as it is for Agents, IMHO it should be. Til then, it’s a great interviewing tool…certainly for consumers, but for other professionals as well.
I like Agents who are Realtors. And have, are proud of, and can explain their designations. (AND PLEASE-ASK ME ABOUT MY DESIGNATIONS!)
I take CE Staging courses, and also audit CE RE classes. Both for knowledge, and frankly, to scope out Agents/Realtors I might like to work with. Sure, some if it can be pretty dry, but those sitting in the back of the room, reading the paper- sorry, we wouldn’t be the best fit.
Mark Twain once commented ‘Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today’. Little good can come when one is more focused on differences. But start the conversation with what you have in common, and be prepared to succeed.
NEXT: Income, Value, Time and PASSION!!
June 19th, 2011
B&A: Updating The Color Palette Got This Property SOLD
In my business seeing is believeing.
Here is a townhouse condo that was on the market I believe for 6 months.
Great location, right on the Hudson River, but few showings, no offers. Had done some work for the seller years earlier as a decorator, but it was her son and his wife-clients for nearly 30 years-who pushed to get me involved.
Everything was neat and the property had been maintained, but it was firmly stuck in the 80′s…pale pink and blue, mirrored walls, verticals, and lighting fixtures with smoked glass and bright yellow brass trim.
Thing is, when color and decor is outdated, it doesn’t feel like a move up, it feels like a move back. Also buyers draw conclusions about a lot of other things besides the seller’s taste. So-with an uncharacteristic minimum of comment, here’s what we did, and how it played out.
Pink walls were painted a more pleasing neutral-Benjamin Moore HC -45, Shaker Beige.
MOST of the wall to wall mirrors came down…
As did all of the verticals-replaced here by stationary navy panels to call attention to the windows (BBB, 5 panels + rods, about $200.00).
Rug in DR, little table and chair and other things that were just filling space were removed, and a chair someone would want to spend time sitting in was moved from upstairs, to in front of the fireplace.
Upstairs Master BR was an assortment of many small pieces of furniture, not enough lighting, and a flowered bedding ensemble.
Ice pink carpet was replaced with a warm pinky-beige, and again HC-45 on the walls. Stuff without a real purpose was removed, bedding was replaced (seller’s son owned this set, but $100.00 at BBB would have been all that was needed).
First day back on the market, at the Open House, a full-price offer was made, property closed about 2 months later.
Afters courtesy of Phyllis Lerner, Realtor/Owner-Broker of William Raveis Legends Group Realty in Sleepy Hollow.
May 27th, 2011
When Is The Right Time To Call A Stager? And Why?
There’s an old joke that says the best time to get something in place (I think insurance) is before you need it. Same is true in my field, but HEY I bet you probably saw that coming, right?
BUT- do you know why? It might depend on your vantage point…
If you have decided to have a conversation with a professional Stager-please!-don’t equate it with tidying up before the cleaning service arrives.
General cleaning is fine, and if you are overrun with excess books, photos, or tschokes-ok to start packing…but don’t make major decisions like tossing upholstery or painting any rooms. Let me see all of what I have to work with.
Good Stagers deal with the reality of your situation, and they also work with what you have, as much as possible. You might think pre-consult purge will help you save face-or some money…it’s not illogical, but it’s not wise.
TALK TO ME NOW-because a denuded room is not a Staged room!
A good Home Stager is just like any other home professional you can refer to-you want to know them, and be comfortable in speaking how it fits into your business , and how it works BEFORE you meet that potential client in the grocery line, doctor’s office or friend’s BBQ.
Sellers watch TV, so do buyers. EVERYONE has seen those shows. But not everyone gets how to talk with clients about Staging.
YOU KNOW you are always on the cusp of being auditioned by someone, and yesofcourse everything is under the electron microscope.
In my experience, agents that can comfortably speak about how Staging works are a distinct minority.
TALK WITH ME NOW-let me give you a leg up on your competition!
FRIENDS and RELATIVES of SELLERS:
My consults are complimentary. Your loved ones need to know others (that would be YOU) think this is a good idea. You can save them angst, even help them net a higher price on their house.
I am also 100% A-OK with any of the seller’s loved ones, or otherwise important/influential people being at the inital meeting. This is a big decision, and if they respect you in that way, they are ultimately going to ask your opinion anyway-so go ahead, nudge!
HAVE THEM TALK TO ME NOW-so there will be other things for you to talk about-besides how their house is not getting any offers!
NEIGHBORS of SELLERS:
A rising tide lifts all boats.
Houses in your neighborhood that sell quickly, and sell well are good news for everyone else in that neighborhood.
Go ahead. Nudge.
HAVE THEM TALK WITH ME NOW-even if you’re going to miss them terribly, you’ll thank me after the closing!!
March 22nd, 2011
We’ve all heard that saying…but do you know why?
More importantly, do you want know how it can help sell your house?
There are three parts to the equation, the first being that the eye is drawn to color and light. Always, and immediately.
It is not a conscious decision- it’s a reaction, in our DNA. It’s easier to identify things, and is probably a survival instinct from our earliest days as a species. (You may need to stand back from the screen, but photo above is a shot of an orange, a tomato, and a butternut squash. Hard to tell in B&W, huh?)
We see something colorful or bright and shiny, it gets our attention, arouses our curiosity, and we look. This is the begining.
There is a (necessary) story to this next part.
Almost 20 years ago, I was recruited by a design client, and for a very brief time, I sold fairly high-end cars. I knew something about cars, so it was not that much of a stretch; the retail grind was getting to me, so I was ready for a change.
Part of the training was a 3 day event at a professional race track in Lime Rock, CT (where Paul Newman used to race), where we drove these high-performance cars.
Professional race instructors were in the car to ensure our safety, but we were definitely encouraged to…push the car to whatever our comfort level was.
I was one of the more fraidy-cat drivers, concerned that on the turns, my steering skills would not keep up with the speed/shorter reaction time.
I will never forget what the instructor told me: “Look ahead, look into the turn. The car will go where you are looking”.
He was right! That’s why no matter how vigilant we are, if we look away from the road as we are driving, the car starts drifting in that same direction.
The same is true of our bodies-they follow where our eyes are looking. That’s why professional sports players practice their shot or swing, to get into that groove.
So we’ve got color (and light) catching buyers’ eyes, and bodies moving toward what they are looking at…here’s the connection, and how it is going to help sell your house:
Color-via paint, artwork, draperies and accessories-and different types of light are used skillfully positioned by a professional Stager, to call attention to the room’s best features, and to draw people into the room.
When buyers are actually IN a room-not just standing in the doorway, peering in-all sorts of good things can happen:
They notice things, and it registers: Mouldings, the view, and in and in this NYC apartment, the charming built-in mini bookcase. Supermarkets know the longer you stay, the more you buy.
They experience the space. They see hosting holiday dinners, then immediately wonder if they have a big enough table…or if their rug will go with that wallpaper.
They compare ideas: Against what they know or own, the-always-knows-what-to-do sister in law’s house, or those shows on TV. Against all those other, sloppy, un-staged houses they have been seeing.
They’ll open closet doors, sit on the sofa, maybe see how the shower works in the bathroom. Touching is one of the clearest buying signals, showing ownership.
In other words, they will bond with the space, and try to see it as their own.
February 26th, 2011
Fine for everything from toothpaste and cars, electronics, vacation destinations and upscale frozen food. Remember Carol Merrill from Let’s Make A Deal? Lawn mowers never looked better.
Your listing? Snort…giggle…blush…awkward silence…umm, not so much.
Generally, any extreme or over-personalized home décor gets panned by potential buyers, and it distracts buyers from seeing the space.
TV shows tackle the usual scenarios: exuberant color schemes, too much stuff, and funky or outdated themes; but how do you deal sellers’ décor that should require ID, or a parent or guardian?
Or a den that looks like a campaign headquarters? Homes whose cup doth runneth over with religious symbols/icons?
-Don’t over-think it, or get pulled into the emotional aspect
-Ask ‘Could/would/does ______ get in the way of selling this house?’ This desensitizes, and keeps it a business discussion
-Your official* line is anything that makes you think of anything besides buying and living in this house needs to be packed away
-*Corollary: Real Estate is hyper-local. It would be foolish to deny there are accepted differences in different markets
-Start with best-case suggestions. You may have to pick your battles, but you’re on the record, and can always re-visit
-Addressing all concerns with seller clearly and early on, is both kind and efficient Bringing things up after house has been on the market for 6 months is a bad fallback
-If the seller or agent is unsure or uncomfortable with any of this, PLEASE start the conversation with a Professional Stager first
(Good) Professional Stagers work with agents to create solutions that meet the clients needs and expectations, and support the agents’ marketing and pricing strategy. Because they believe in honoring the clients and their possessions, it is always done within a respectful relationship.
NEXT: Sniff, sniff-how many cats did you say you have??
February 21st, 2011
Deciding to sell your home brings a barrage of new people and thought processes to the homeowner. There is talk about money, their lifestyle, their values, and ohyes, their stuff. Personal, and pretty invasive.
Staging a property can take many different routes, but successful projects always come down to a few basic points.
Good Stagers are not there to argue or judge; they are there to strategize and facilitate; create a solution as well as a vision.
Sometimes the decision to sell a property is not a happy or easy one; often there can be unhappy circumstances, like a death or divorce, or just the realization that time is, in fact, marching on.
Because you are dealing with people and their feelings, one of the most important tenets of the Accredited Staging Professional is to honor the client, and their possessions. In the end, it all has to come down to the question-could/would/does _____ get in the way of selling the house?
Here are a few of the things many of us have in our own lives, but are less than ideal in a property that’s being sold.
Proud Parents (Sigh) Yes, we’ve seen those houses…especially those refrigerators. Photo below, right shows two, in the same house! The macaroni art, the class pictures, the team practice schedules.
Those larger than life bulletin boards are handy for parents on the go, and there are magnetized plastic envelopes made especially for seniors, to hold their vital health info , to be placed on the fridge.
Fine if you are living there, but if your house is on the market, clean it off. It’s distracting, but it’s also a treasure trove of info to any person who goes strolling thru your house with intentions other than buying a house.
I ask balky parents-do you really want strangers knowing little Johnny is in Mrs. Smith’s class at Park School, plays on the Raider’s PeeWee league, or has a dentist appointment next Tuesday after school?
Similarly, buyers should have NO KNOWLEGE of a seller’s health status/issues. (And in that vein, take all prescriptions out of the medicine cabinet and put them out of sight, in a safe place, like a big Tupperware in the fridge).
Party Central Wine cellars can be a great feature in a home, and a small wine rack in the dining area is certainly appropriate. But elaborate displays of liquor and mass quantities of various stemware out in the open distract buyers, and add little to the value of the property.
Young families could find it off-putting, others could break, pocket, even tamper with an open container. If having a bar cart was key to creating a specific ambiance, put colored water in an empty booze bottle, and hit Pier One/etc for some inexpensive bar ware; otherwise, tuck it away.
NEXT: Yes, religion and sex!
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 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 16th, 2011
Things in a home that show they need maintenance do not go over well with buyers.
Even things that are small and or easy to fix, it tells buyers that if the sellers can’t or don’t take care of it-well, what other horrors are there that they just haven’t found yet??
But when the details are taken care of, it’s part of the magic of finding ‘the’ house. SO-in the trunk of my car is a kit of things I have found to be helpful to indispensable when I am out and on a job to quickly and easily take care of such details.
While not always used for their intended purpose, it’s made of up things that are easy to find, inexpensive, and most importantly, WORK.
This week’s product I am absolutely over the moon about.
Kitchens are a big selling point in any home. Stainless steel is still very popular, and we all love the look of gleaming, well-kept appliances.
However-let’s be honest, it’s not the easiest look to maintain, especially when a house is being actively lived-in. Smudges, drips and fingerprints can come out of nowhere.
If you have stainless appliances, run out and buy these now. Available in spray, too (but I like the wipes) and in most supermarkets, less than $6.00 for a container of 30. One wipe will remove most of what’s on a major appliance and leave a smooth, polished-finish that seems to repel said detritus, at least for a few days, without any residue.
January 3rd, 2011
There are very few things that are more at the heart of who we are, than our homes. At the end of the day, people want to be home.
Because the last few years has been so very trying, I believe 2011 will be a year of shared purposes and goals, and with that-better communications.
The right words can inspire great things. Here are some more words that I think we will all be hearing a lot in the New Year. They are a little different, and I like the sound of them.
We are all in this together, and one’s success-a rising tide-will lift all our boats. May 2011 be your best year ever!!
Comfort, sanctuary, authentic: “HOME“ is both a universal and very personal entity. These words go to the core of what we all crave.
Mentor, support, engage, collaborate: Good relationships build trust, and creativity. Interactions will be quality, and rewarding.
Wanderlust, adventure, dream: I want to live a few moments of each day like a 3 year old, seeing the wonder of something for the first time.
Cellular, visceral, intuitive: We are all ohsotired of the intense and frenzied, but we will still think about, and feel things deeply.
Evolve, thrive, grow: Forward motion that with time, brings better things.
Yes. Because I like the sound of it.
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 28th, 2010
January has arrived in a big way, and it’s hard not to get drawn into the whole resoloution thing.
While we may want a new set of circumstances, that whole actual change-thing…well, maybe not so much.
Many find the allure of setting a new path, and aiming high for the New Year comes to metaphorical fisticuffs with the realities of the cold, short days of winter.
What if I had a suggestion that could help save, even make you money? Required no special clothing, no measuring or weighing, no renouncing of anything. No lifestyle change, or on-going time commmitment; in fact it could free up some time, and make you more productive??
There is a lot of pressure in January, but if you are a REALTOR, or a property owner who wants to sell in the New Year, here’s your key to a long-term lease in a happy place: resolve to start a conversation with a Professional Stager.
Sorry, no Ginzu steak knives will be thrown in, but finding out more about how to put your property’s best foot forward could be the most most productive hour you will spend all year. Buyers who want to be in a house by summer are looking now, is your house ready?
Be in touch directly, or come see me. Saturday January 29th I will be speaking at the Mount Kisco Public Library; Saturday February 5th at the Ossining Public Library. Send-or better yet-BRING-your sellers.
October 24th, 2010
Reality Check: Listing Photos Westchester Buyers Are Seeing 10.24.10
Currently there are approximately 4300 single family homes on the market in Westchester, over 900 condos and close to 1600 co-ops.
This weekend there were over 150 Open Houses and who knows how many buyers and investors trolling local listings online, this is a sample of what they are seeing this week.
Appliance doubling as a message center, a household that really, really likes pink, and oh darn, photo UNAVAILABLE!
Additionally we have Springtime on the Hudson; trees, probably somewhere near the Hudson…
as well as some very busy people who apparently needed to leave the room in a hurry…
MLS give you 30 opportunities to showcase your listing. The should be seasonally correct, show the space-not the ‘stuff’-and give perspective that is unique to that property.
Do you really not have time to clear off the fridge, turn on lamps or move the storage bucket out of camera range??
I want to help agents and sellers be more successful, and you need to show a space that people want to see. My offer still stands: claim any of these photos as yours, and I will spend a 1/2 day Staging your property/photos for free. REALLY.
October 19th, 2010
‘Whimsy’ is one of those words you don’t hear that often. But when you do, chances are there’s no immediate visual, you probably have to take a second and (gasp) focus…
Starting out with a robust “WH” , it transforms, ending with a light-hearted ‘e-e-e-e-e’, the word itself evokes both range and promise.
‘Whimsy’ will make you smile-perhaps even inwardly-but you won’t laugh (it has a lighter touch than ’humor’). It is clever, but you won’t struggle; and it will make you think at your own pace-but not dwell or obsess.
It engages, delights and amuses, and is often unexpected. It captures your attention, and can change the channel. Done well, it stays with you.
Which is precisely why it is such a great tool in both Staging, and in Decorating.
It also cannot be done in a vacuum; for it to be effective you need to understand the motivation behind it, be clear about who your audience will be, and what you want to accomplish.
Which is precisely why I ask a lot of questions of prospective clients.
A long time residential client needed help in ‘finishing’ his newly re-located law office. An aquarium in the waiting room was suggested, but with clown fish. (He’s been a successful RE attorney for over 30 years, his business is largely with people he knows or has been recommended to, and he LOVES irony, trust me, it was him).
Anticipating the maintenance, instead we went with an oversize clock, surrounded by scenic shots of his kid’s college campuses (his idea, great idea, you can see a photo on my website’s B&A).
It’s natural to feel ‘stuck’ when you are starting to contemplate a long-overdue update, or clearing out decades of stuff in preparation for selling a house, but some people get really down on themselves.
I keep a small supply of ‘magic’ wands in the trunk of my car. Inexpensive, from the craft or party store, they are colorful and glittery, some with stars, other with spangles, ribbons, or even diamonds.
If the conversation starts going south- where the client is feeling overwhelmed-if it feels appropriate, I excuse myself and return with one for them, . (Also useful in getting children on board with this whole editing-the-toy-bin-thing).
Rick Whelan, owner and creative guru behind Ditto! Design! is a master of connecting a visual with a soft-sell message.
Last year, during a particularly bad time in the economy, he sent out a newsletter that as a banner (skinny photo on top pf page) showed a cluster of open black umbrellas, with a single sunny yellow one in the middle. (Yes, I aspire to have something approximating that light touch, and yes, yes, he handles all my marketing tools).
Point being-selling, or staying-if your space isn’t sending the message you want, we should talk. REALLY.