October 6th, 2012
Welcome back to Staging FAQs where the Home Staging experience is de-mystified TRH-style…that is you learn, smile, and get back to your life, all in 400 words or less.
The very short answer is “no”, this Westchester County Home Stager gets paid like any other contractor-a retainer at the start of a project, and in full at it’s conclusion.
YES, I do ask sellers to make decisions and spend money on my recommendations, but remember, Home Staging supports what a seller and their agent do; it’s just part of the equation of what it takes to get a property sold.
All sorts of other things depend on it closing escrow. Things I have no influence or control over, and should not be determining factors to if and when I get paid: Improperly priced or marketed property, poor listing photos; buyers who can’t sell their house, or whose financing falls apart; sellers who don’t maintain the property, turn down showings, are unreasonable during negotiations, or heck-just change their mind and decide not to sell after all.
And YES, I’ve been reminded that agents deal with these issues in every transaction..bottom line, I am not an agent.
August 9th, 2012
Welcome back to FAQs-the series where the specialty is snappy answers to your most burning questions on home decor, and home selling.
“SO-what’s WRONG with my wallpaper??” is a big, big question these days. And the short answer is usually nothing is wrong with your wallpaper…per se. But this is not a logical question, it’s an emotional one.
See, when you live in your home, any decor you are fond of-and doesn’t violate any local ordinances pretty much works. However, when you want to sell the house, you want a warm and welcoming vibe, so many people to like your house, and be able to see themselves in it.
Walls make up the largest space in any room, and have the most potential to make the biggest statement. Very distinctive wall color is a big personal stamp. Besides that it will often be what potential buyers remember most about your property-instead of the property itself-it tells buyers that HEY! you are still there! Worse, they could think that maybe you are harboring a secret desire to not really move, after all! And with all the houses for them to choose from, why on earth would they bother with yours?
As bad as vivid-colored walls usually are, wallpaper is many times worse…it is color AND pattern AND your personality, all literally glued to the wall. Something that took great several steps and great forethought to put up, and will take time and effort to take it down.
OLD wallpaper is even worse…very little says ‘we stopped caring about this house a while ago’ than seams that are separating, corners that are curling, or that mauve and blue (or, peach and green) color scheme that was so popular …way too long ago.
Logically we all know it’s not like dis-assembling the pyramids or anything, but it is still you, marking your territory, and like it or not, buyers today simply do not want that vibe.
So the longer answer is nothing is wrong with your wallpaper in your HOME, but if you want to sell your HOUSE, this Westchester County Home Stager says: take the wallpaper down and paint!
July 6th, 2012
FAQs is an on-going series that answers the questions I hear most often. USUALLY in 4oo words or less, but this is really a two-fer, so loosening up on that part. Last post asked why buyers don’t use their imaginations- got me a lot of feedback with my pals on Active Rain, and it’s a great segue to this next question.
That buyers should be able to use their imagination when looking at a unremarkable, or unprepared property is a lose-lose supposition. My first point was that sellers lose out on 95% of their market out of the gate; but let’s talk about the buyers’s perspective here.
Buying and selling a home is not a simple transaction. You are not trading a standardized commodity, there are all sorts of emotional elements-(carbon-based obstacles, in you will!)- that will factor into how it will eventually all end up.
Staging a property helps to remove removes obstacles in the path between FOR SALE and SOLD. Most ballyhooed are the external (shabby, clutter, bad smells, etc) but this Westchester County Home Stager’s specialty is recognizing, understanding and addressing those inner (yes, carbon-based!) obstacles.
Most people believe they ‘should’ be able to see beyond what is in front of them; the reality that 95% of them can’t creates obstacles that translate into inaction, or regrettable decisions and bad feelings about it all: “Why can’t I…I should be able to…Everyone else can…” thinking is NOT productive.
Buyer’s Consults are an antidote to an un-staged, outdated or otherwise un-inspiring home. Years of very busy retail developed my ability to walk a space with a client, while assessing their needs, and weighing it against the confines of the space.
Buyer’s Consults-like Remote Consults-are not for everyone, but best framed as an exploration. When things have gone as far as they can, and buyers are stuck, we walk through, play with some ideas and ask a lot of ‘what ifs’. Casual, fluid, and conceptual, we’re not picking paint colors, and I’m not selling the property, just sharing information and ideas, so buyers ’see’ where they are, and can make their own best decisions.
Where (specifically) the TV goes, what size dining room table will fit, how to lay out the LR or add light to a dark room are typical topics, and, at about an hour, it stays light, fun and helpful. But it’s a process, and often, eliminating options becomes decision-making’s wing-man.
Last year I met with a professional couple with no time and active young children. They were earnestly trying to make a decision between 3 options: an almost-new, move-in ready house they were not emotionally drawn to, and much older house that was oozing charm and character, but needed some big changes-updates and maintenance; or staying in, and expanding/updating their current house that they loved but were outgrowing.
Money vs. hassle vs. having a space they were drawn to and comforted by-they were going round and round in the hamster wheel. Spending time they did not have , and feeling increasingly lousy about the whole thing.
While I don’t think they’ve committed to updating their current house yet, our time together led them to eliminate both the other houses. For what they wanted their home to mean, and to feel like, they decided convenience alone of the new house was not enough. The basement of the older house took that one off the table: low ceilings, and lots of smaller rooms whose stone walls were structural elements-were not possible to re-work it into a non-scary, more open space for the kids to play in.
Bottom line-Home Staging is about removing obstacles, helping people make good plans and wise decisions, so they can get on with their life. If you are stuck: your listing is not moving, or you can’t find what you are looking for-call me today and start the conversation-together, we’ll get you un-stuck. REALLY>
July 4th, 2012
Welcome back to FAQs, an on-going series that answers the questions I hear most, in 400 words or less.
This questions comes up whenever a seller does not like, or does not want to do what I recommend to help get their house sold.
It is probably the quickest and easiest to answer.
Buyers DON’T use their imagination because largely they CAN’T use their imagination.
Visualizing spacial potential, carrying colors in your head, being able to project change onto a static space is like being able to ice skate, do math, or having freckles: it is a gift, something you are born with.
Like any of the above, it doesn’t make you an inherently better person, it just is-or isn’t.
Studies vary, but it’s estimated that less than 5% of the population can imagine spacial change. About HALF the number of left-handers (10% of the population), those in this world born with blue eyes, or men who are colorblind (both 7 to 8%). Or about the same number of people born with extra ribs (I know, WEIRD-right??)
Real Estate is all about numbers, and buyers have a lot to think about. They also have a lot of choices.
Bottom line if you are putting off making your house look its best, believing that buyers should be able to use their imagination, statistically you are putting 95% of the population off in the first pass through. Before you subtract those that are cranky or stressed by the home-buying process, who are not serious buyers, or financially unable to buy your house.
SO-SERIOUSLY-tell me again, why don’t you want to paint?
Photo courtesy of Flicka
June 22nd, 2012
FAQs is a new, and on-going series that answers your questions about Home Staging, Interior Decorating, or The Refreshed Home-each in 400 words or less. You can click here to read earlier posts.
Statistics can be a comfort when entering uncharted territory; they can illustrate history, trends and performance. But they only have value if they’re applicable to your situation; and they’re only as good as the consistency of the information gathering and reporting process.
Which is why I don’t participate, or utilize them.
Not saying anyone’s numbers are fabricated, but look-I’m an analytical thinker. These are self-reported figures, with too many generalities and weak links in the methodology; I prefer not to stake my reputation on someone else’s flashy but at the core, unsubstantiated numbers.
First: Real Estate is hyper-local. For example, in Westchester County multi-family houses to be the slowest-moving segment. I wouldn’t count on a lot of statistics that may be based on single family residences, possibly from all across the country.
Second: Even the Staging Project of the Century has too many things out of my control that would impact how quickly a house would sell, and for how much. Overpricing guarantees a slow and painful process. Sellers who don’t really want to sell, who don’t maintain the property, or make it available for showings totally screw up DOM; agents who show outdated, or lackluster listing photos shoot themselves-and their seller-in the foot.
Third: It’s personal. And anecdotal. Analyticals will not like reading this, but in my business, seeing is believing. I find both success and satisfaction to be highly personal, not a definitively measurable quality.
Which is why my business grows largely by referrals. I am proud, and very grateful for the words of my clients. The testimonials from real people-happy sellers and successful agents-will tell you all you need to know about what it’s like-and why you will be happy-working with The Refreshed Home.
Your questions are welcome, just email me firstname.lastname@example.org Or just keep reading…
June 22nd, 2012
Another good question, and easier to answer!
The Refreshed Home creates good plans, helps people make wise decisions, so they can get on with their life. SO-anyone looking for this to happen could be the one who hires-and pays me.
Homeowners hire me most often, but busy professionals in tangent fields pay me to be on their team too.
Like the homeowner, they want to save time and stress. They want the project to go smoothly and quickly. It also lets them spend their time doing what they do best. They like to hire me because I have a good ‘bedside manner’, and understand that people are at the heart of the process. Here are some examples of how that has worked in my business.
Agents Some agents are comfortable approaching preparing a property for sale, some not so much, but they all have lots of other things to do; so busy agents make me part of their marketing plan with sellers.
Buyer agents-those representing best interests of the buyer-bring me in when their client really likes a house, but can’t see the potential, because of the old, out-dated or uber-decorations of the seller. We do a walk through of the property, and in short order they will have some specific visions for what the house could be.
As motivation to follow, then maintain Staging recommendations, some agents make arrangement to reimburse sellers for Staging consult costs at time of closing.
Senior Move Managers are typically hired by down-sizers, or their adult children. The plan is to assist the homeowner in getting out of one home, and into another, and usually involves getting home #1 sold. Senior Move Managers bring me in to decide what to keep, and how to show the house best, but also because I understand, and respect what their clients are going through.
Contractors Even the most organized project can have things happen. Delays. A change of heart. Discontinued tile. Etc. And contractors are also very busy. My background lets me understand the issues that come up, get decisions made in a timely manner, streamline communications while de-stressing their client.
Attorneys who handle divorces, or estates often oversee the sale of a property. They recommend me because while getting it done quickly, and getting the best price has to be a given, so is dealing with their clients at their most tender time.
Staging FAQs is an on-going series, answering your questions in 400 words or less. Keep reading, and feel free to ask your own questions!
June 17th, 2012
Have a love/hate relationship with this question…it’s the question most everyone wants to ask first. Many do-why not, it’s important and valid- but in my experience few really listen to the answer.
We like to believe our questions are simple…because then we can get easy and immediate answers, right?
But Staging is a service, not a fixed commodity, and the short answer is : IT DEPENDS
Think of a typical doctor visit. When you arrive, your vitals are taken. Then the doctor comes in and asks how you are, and gets more info. The doctor needs to understand the circumstances before taking action, same thing with Home Staging. More needs to be known, and discussed before coming up with a plan-or a price-pain…so the seller’s mindset, the property’s condition and the market circumstances need to be known. To come up with a price, we need to first agree on scope of work, the strategy, and then the execution.
It’s a bit of an educational process, so there is some negotiation: together, tasks are prioritized, then who can do what is established. THEN we can get to the big question.
While I can’t know what it will cost to stage YOUR property, here are some ways projects with The Refreshed Home start:
For the thrify, the cautious, the distant, the extremely time-challenged or the very handy: Remote staging You send me pictures or video, and by appointment, via phone or Skype we create a plan and a strategy for your space-discussing any issue, in as much detail as you’d like, for $75.00 an hour.
For those looking for a plan, anticipating an extended or group project, or needing a reality check-I offer interactive walk-throughs: I show up and we get right to it-moving, packing or walking, talking, and creating your plan-with all the specifics and referrals you’d like. $180.00 for two hours, with you taking notes if you’d like; $275.00 for two hours plus my detailed email report after.
For vacant properties, the agents representing them, off-site owners, landlords, or property management firms: A brief phone conversation, then if we are on the same page, an similarly brief on-site visit is scheduled, and a proposal is created, FREE.
Some find taking paper hits in the tens of thousands (via price reductions) easier than reaching into their pocket and parting with cash; others don’t have a choice, and I get that. But if you have choices, are ready to move on with your life, but perhaps still uncertain-just keep reading.
June 12th, 2012
Staging FAQs: What is Staging?
Truth be told, I have a love/hate relationship with the word ‘Staging”.
It’s the word/concept what most people recognize, but there are so many misconceptions…and it just sounds kind of fake, prissy-pants to me. Have been using the phrase ‘prepare a property’ in the same sentance for a while now, it seems to resonate better with most everyone.
That aside, The Refreshed Home considers preparing Westchester County properties for sale to be a mindset, and a plan to support both agent and seller. I’d define it as anything that can be done to put a property’s best foot forward, and get Westchester sellers the best price, in the quickest manner.
Just as each property, and each market is unique, so is the seller, and their goals and expectations. Sure, Staging is largely about having a good visual, but turn off the out-of-date HGTV re-runs. In today’s market, a good visual is not a silver bullet, it doesn’t stand alone.
To be effective it needs sellers who are committed to selling their house. Who will keep up the look, and make the property reasonably available for showings. For my purposes the agent needs to know the market, have the confidence to have the difficult conversations, and price/market the property appropriately.
Clear communication and trust between seller, agent and myself are vital to a successful plan. The above is the best illustration of how we work together.
My projects always start with questions.
To target the audience and the message I ask agents:
- Who will buy this property?
- What is the competition like?
- What makes this property special and unique in this market?
- How much of a price difference will Staging this property make?
To understand and affirm the sellers’ goals:
- Why are you selling?
- Where are your going, what is your time frame?
- How do your financial expectations fit with current market value?
- What do you want Staging to do for your property?
- What is your own ability to do things?
The goals of The Refreshed Home are several: an effective solution with pleasing results, delivered in an equally pleasing manner. The ’hows’, the physically preparing of a property can be as simple as an interactive consult with photos or video, via phone or SKYPE; to hands-on overseeing agreed-on needed updates and acquisitions, and everything in between.
In posts to come, you’ll read about them all. Stay-subscribe-even submit your own questions. Remember, my success depends on your success!