July 6th, 2011
Welcome to the inaugural edition of the refreshed home’s POP QUIZ!!
Sure, it’s summer, and the living is easy, but no excuse to let the grey matter get flabby.
Keep track of your own score, and scroll down for answers below-but no peeking! And stay on your toes, you’ll never know when the next one will show up!
True or False
1. Staging is for the interior of empty houses
2. By law, Interior Decorators are required to have a tiny dog with them at all times.
3. Staging is best suited for higher end properties.
4. Staging will always cost less than your first price reduction.
1. FALSE! Staging is anything done to improve a property’s position in the market, so it will sell more quickly, for the best price.
Co-op or condo, private home or commercial space; vacant or occupied. De-cluttering or painting, closets or decks, lobbies or living rooms.
ANYTHING that improves ANY property’s position in the market.
2. FALSE! The Pomeranian Protest, largely inspired by the Boxer Rebellion, joined forces with the Min-Pin Movement in the late 1980′s, and, after lobbying hard, the law was successfully repealed in 1992.
3. FALSE! Any type of property can benefit, but the more saturated a market is, the more valuable Staging can be.
SIDEBAR: As of late June, Westchester had 1859 co-ops on the market, 996 condos, and 4742 single family homes.
4. TRUE! A conservative price reduction on a house listed at $500K could be 3%, or $15,000.00. Of course every house, seller and situation is different, but 1/3 of that could get A LOT of staging done.
BONUS: Staging costs are a deduction sellers may be able to take against the proceeds of the sale of the house, in the tax year they sell it-your tax professional can confirm.
Listless Listings? Tired decor? Need to sell?
Know something has to be done. but don’t know what, where -or how to start?
the refreshed home is Westchester County’s Home Staging and Interior Decorating Specialist.
We create solutions, and facillitate change, so you can get on with your life. Buying, selling or staying-let the refreshed home be your partner in change
Because when your space works, so many other things fall into place!
June 25th, 2011
CHANGE: Something We Can ALL Get…Behind
Such a powerful word. Immediately it can inspire a plethora of images and emotions.
In world of the refreshed home, I have observed a subtle but solid shifting that is well, REFRESHING, and fills my heart with joy.
I see smart and regular folks from all sides starting to put fear aside and making decisions to get on with their lives. I hear sense and reason returning, even see confidence and happiness making the occasional cameo. Not all sunshine and rainbows, but buyers and sellers who want to move forward, and agents who are confident, adaptive and reality-based is a heck of a start.
Some changes are easier than others…often they impact others, who of course have their own reactions. But I’ve found the reality is that making changes can be a two-fold blessing: besides your end result, there is the confidence gained, and equilibrium to your decision making process gets restored by making the attempt.
May you approach all your changes with an faith, a little humor and your eyes on the…ummm…end result.
January 6th, 2011
The other day I received one of those oversize glossy postcards from a local agent, announcing they had sold a local home.
I knew the owners, had wished them well when they were moving out; and know it’s great tool for agents to remind neighbors-and Stagers!-who is successful in your area.
What was surprising was who it was addressed to:
TO OUR FRIENDLY NEIGHBOR AT
Really. Anyone else get a little bit of a mixed message?
This was from a nice-size agency who is known for their luxury properties, both domestic and international. The agent is experienced and successful; as a Stager, this agent was on my ‘want to meet’ list.
Is this really the best that could be done to address these cards? Is this a common salutation, does it sound like an oversight, or is this just what happens when you try to please (reach) so many at bulk mailing rates?
Happy Bunny exaggerates. I don’t for a second believe that was the agent’s intent, but as a recipient, I was not impressed. It addresses the hyper-sensitive tightrope many in business come up against: how best to reach out to many, hoping to connect with a few, in a cost-effective manner?
I am very curious. Agents-how do you make choices like this? And other friendly neighbors/residents-does one salutation over another make any difference to you? Inquiring minds want to know!
November 14th, 2010
OK< house is ready-nice listing photos, everyone is remembering to keep the house neat, there are good showings.
YAY! There is an acceptable offer!!
DOUBLE YAY!! Buyer financials are looking good, and since your agent priced it accordingly (I know, sorry, that’s a whole other post), inspection and appraisal should go right through, right?
As a seller you may be thinking hoo-rah, but agents know better. Ownership of your property needs to be easily and readily transferrable.
Properties that have had work done without the proper permit and inspection process can get derailed in the blink of an eye. When caught by an appraiser, inspector or title company, everyone in the sale is notified, and no one is happy.
It comes up most often when houses have had one owner for a long time, but ownership means responsibility, so newer sellers can be on the hook for past owners’ oversights/misdeeds as well. Things that may have been missed/misfiled in in the busy/crazy markets past now have..shall we say… very dedicated…people looking at them.
Key is understanding the process so you are prepared. Architect Steven Secon AIA, friend, colleague and principle of Steven Secon Architect in Dobbs Ferry NY explains it best:
“Many home and builing improvements require building permits. Before a project begins, an application is submitted to the municipality that the property is located in. When issued, the permit indicates the project has been reviewed and approved for conformance with the building code and zoning regulations; this is when the work can actually start.
“There are inspections throughout the process, and when the project is complete, a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) is issued, and municipality records are updated. Having accurate and completed COs on file is a valuable asset; it tells appraisers, attorneys, title agents and buyers that all work was done in accordance with local regulations.
It is against the law to make most non-cosmetic improvements without these approvals or permits, period. Bringing work without prior, necessary permits/approvals into conformance is called legalization-it’s completing the approval process after the work is done.
No matter what you may think of the permit process (and yes, I do know) the bottom line is if you want to sell your property it needs to be compliant, or else it will cost you-time, money, and yes, even the deal. Often there are penalties, and perhaps some additional work will be needed to make it legal… NOT what buyers or lenders want to hear, especially when there are a lot of other properties out there.
Steve sums it up: “Moral of the story-whether you are re-financing or just doing some updates to get your property ready for sale- do your homework. Check with the municipality, take the time to get project approvals in order- or make sure the property is legalized before you get it on the market.”
August 25th, 2010
…just the interpretations and okay, the conclusions that are inferred.
Front page, centered and above the fold, announced in very un-wall Street Journal-like primary colors-was the 27.2% drop in existing home sales in July, as reported by the National Association of Realtors.
Emotionally I immediately regressed to ‘lalalalala-I can’t hear you-lalalala’ mode; intellectually , as a grown up and a professional working in the field of Real Estate, ’NOT helpful’.
In the article economists and market analysts attributed the drop to first the ending of the $8K tax credit, and then to the overall weak economy. OK< but one question:
HELLO-does anyone remember July?? Per National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the highest global land surface temperatures EVER were recorded last month-that’s over 130 years of records.
Is ‘global’ too broad? The entire Eastern seaboard registered temps ‘Much Above Normal’; 5th highest ever in Northeast, 3rd highest ever in the Southeast. Rhode Island and Delaware with the dubious distinction of highest temps ever recorded in July.
Still too broad? Weather historian Steven Frybish found not only was July a record-setter for NY metro area, so was June; in fact, this years’ June-July was this area’s hottest ever, since 1869, when they started keeping records.
The reality of global warming and the planet’s future is a discussion for another time; the reality I want to bring up here is simple: people don’t make big decisions, like buying houses when it’s so hot they can’t think straight.
You’re right, I am not an economist. Or a real estate agent. But 30 years of working with people, in their homes as an Interior Decorator and a Home Stager, I know the home buying and selling process is an emotional one, and all sorts of things can move it one way or another.
I also am very lucky to know some very smart and dedicated people who are in the business of educating their clients and customers on the very intimate, hyper-local reality of our real estate market. Stay tuned while I share their some of their insights on why the sky is not falling in Westchester. NEXT: Cash deals and short sales
July 25th, 2010
In the initial stages of a RE transaction, there are 3 main players: the seller, the buyer , and the REALTOR(s).
Researchers have defined four main ways people make decisions. For fun-let’s ID them by parts of the body: the head, the heart, the gut and the smile.
No one style is ‘best’, and while we have characteristics of each, there are one to two styles we typically operate under. Multiply it out, there are dozens of potential personality combinations in a transaction.
In personal relationships, we tend to gravitate to people who we can identify with. Business decisions modeled to our own tastes would connect well 25% of the time, but would effectively miss the other 75%.
Recognizing these different styles, and understanding what makes each tick gives you a fighting chance to make good connections, across the board. Here is Part One, of Four on how to reach your widest audience.
The Gut These are people that operate quickly, on confidence and instinct. There is no dilly-dallying, they are direct, and all about business. They know what they want, and they usually want it right away. They are punctual and prepared, and expect the same of others.
Whether your agent is representing you as a buyer or a seller, to a degree you want this quality to be present in your agent. This type could also be a dream buyer: they will usually know right away if they want to buy your house, but they have no interest in ‘trying to visualize’.
You usually have one shot to reach these buyers, and if they don’t see it in it’s best shape first go-round, well-they’re off to see another house that is worthy of their time. They are not mean-spirited, just efficient, and unimpressed with people who don’t give it their best the first time.
Sellers who typically operate in this manner have a big challenge in this market. Resistant to input, and used to being in charge, they are in the unfamiliar position of having to…well, consider what other people (buyers) want to see, and then wait for them to make an offer.
I’ve found that clean spaces, and sometimes stronger lines and accent colors appeal to these buyers; organization, as well as regular and concise communications-usually by 9am-give comfort to these sellers and agents.
NEXT: The Heart of the Matter
July 11th, 2010
This is why you need to talk with a Home Stager.
Dobbs Ferry Road, Greenburgh, Sunday July 11th.
July 2nd, 2010
When I was in sales, I always tried to put my best presentation forward. Even in soft markets, or with choosy, unmotivated or non-commital shoppers. In fact, if typical times got my A game, the more challenging circumstances got my A++ game.
Sales can be physically demanding, and in more difficult times, I found many of my competitors were letting shoppers lead them; that is, fatigued or distracted, they accepted casual interest, or ‘just looking’ at face value, nothing worth pursuing. I found these to be very productive times.
In my capacity as Sales Manager for furniture stores, and now, in my own business, during my one to ones, if somone was unhappy with their situation, I always ask one question: Is there anything you think you could do to change things?
I’ve found that serious home sellers and people who choose to work in commissioned sales are both already highly motivated, and that in some cases I’m just steering, with the wind at my back.
So if their answer is yes, we discuss specifics, and how best to implement. Occasionally, the answer is no; then we talk about acceptance, the satisfaction of knowing they were being the best they could be, and faith that this, too will pass…I mean, let’s face it, you can always re-assess, and sometimes no matter how hard you work, things don’t always roll the way you want.
I am not channeling Pollyanna, nominating myself for Sales Guru of the year, or imploring anyone to hang tough and soldier on.
Opportunity excites me; communicating with other engaged and motivated people about business really excites me; and personally I see the next 6 months as a real juggernaut of opportunity. Steady and low mortgage rates, # of transactions and average sales prices both inching up, and ohyes, all that pent-up demand!!
But for all the deadline-weary, battle fatigued people in the housing market, I also sense a potential pull to the dark side: it’s summer/no one buys in the summer, tax credit over, still waiting for the market to ‘come back’, it’s summer/no one buys in summer…these can be self-fulfilling prophecies.
None of us know for sure what the next 6 months will bring in this market. But-OK, now channeling Oprah-what I do know for sure is that successful people take responsibility for their success. They challenge the status quo, they plan and expect the unexpected. Bottom line, they don’t follow the herd or react as much as they trust their internal compass to explore and establish what works, re-evaluate, adapt and implement.
What I know for sure about my business is that if I can make your space work better, intrinsically your life will be better. So to that end, looking to engage other take-charge DIY-type people, have roughed out my next few posts, starting with 10 free, or very cheap and easy ways to take charge of your space-and life-, whether you are selling or staying.
On this absolutely glorious Friday July 2nd-and throughout this long holiday weekend, whether you are seller, buyer, or RE professional, it is my hope you are trusting that if your mind/body/spirit needs a break you will somehow find some time and allow yourself this.
Then when you are feeling more-well, refreshed-you will refocus on what you can do well, and then proceed, confidently.
June 26th, 2010
Have you seen Starbuck’s latest print ads or commercials? Friends share the secret of good coffee by way of passing individual packets to others we come to know by way of the sayings on their coffee cups.
Clever and entertaining, these ads bring a light-hearted approach to that very intimate relationship many of us do have with our coffee. Even has a hip and catchy name, VIA Ready Brew.
HELLO???? It’s instant coffee!!! It was what my tea-drinking Nana kept in her cupboard for when she had visitors, or it was what you might bring camping, or if you were an astronaut.
I’m not a coffee snob, or overly obsessed about it- in fact, short of diners and my 7am BNI meetings, I rarely have coffee outside of my home, two cups tops, and never ever after 11am-but come on!! You got past the foam on top because it was either the polite thing to do, or it’s an emergency; it was never a good first choice.
We see the packet ripped open, and poured into hot water, so there are no illusions. Yet Starbucks has poured considerable bucks into first engaging us, then with a wink and smile acknowledges how we really live, and the take-away is that when you know what you are doing, are good at it and passionate about it, the end result is a great product that is counter-intuitive, and will defy your beliefs and expectations.
HELLO??? That’s Home Staging!!
C’mon, grab a cup of whatever, and really- let’s talk about your home!!