May 31st, 2013
While it’s provenance is uncertain, the validity of it’s logic is not: It is the sizzle that seals the deal, not the steak. Accessories have always brought the sizzle to our homes, except now creative is the new sizzle.
Aside from hearing a property quickly received multiple offers, the best compliment is being told my Staged property doesn’t look/feel “Staged”; that it feels real, and warm. For many reasons-most of them reflecting our new-found economic sobriety-big and flashy doesn’t cut it anymore, quality and authentic does.
Buyers want to identify with a space, to be able to see themselves living there. They want to see some personality in a property, but not so much that it’s distracting, or so far removed from them, or what they’d be aspiring to in this house. Yes, that’s right-a fine line that’s subjective, too!
Home Staging is about getting your property sold quickly, and for the best price. To that end, this Westchester County Home Stager will always work with what someone has, UNLESS its’ at odds with this goal.
SOMETIMES we’re super-duper lucky where the homeowner already owns or can procure the right touches, but more often than not, very personal and sentimental things abound in, and define spaces; with the only other options being to buy, or rent generic things from the furniture rental companies. The former can be pricey, the latter-while ‘better than nothing’-is almost always flat and disappointing.
But now thee is another choice. Announcing The Refreshed Home’s newest service: thoughtful strategy combined with clever and creative pieces to add sizzle to your listing. Linens and lighting, art, tabletop and other tschokes: current, fresh, and fun; all thoughtfully collected, then hand-picked for each room, delivered, installed and rented monthly.
Like children, each property has the ability to shine in its own way. Empty space, old, listless or under-performing listing? Creative is the new sizzle! The Refreshed Home considers all the factors and develops a plan of action to work with homeowners to have their space be the best it can be. Could be buying, could be renting, could be borrowing. Want to know more? I KNOW YOU DO! Call today, start the conversation-let’s talk about getting your house noticed, and SOLD!
May 5th, 2013
Words matter, and the right one is priceless. Have written about ’Staging’ (vs ‘preparing’- several times, in fact), but today let’s re-think ‘de-personalize’.
‘What do you know about Home Staging?’ is how I start out my Home Staging classes.
‘De-personalize’ usually come up right away. Asking what that means, the answers come less quickly, are usually self-deprecating (‘No one else will appreciate my fine taste in ___’) or quietly sad (‘No one cares about, or wants to see my family’).
There is nothing constructive or positive about it. It’s sweeping and un-specific, finding fault without offering a solution, and sounds judgemental and arbitrary to the homeowner. YET I know removing personalization is a truth to getting a house noticed and sold. Well, at least a partial truth.
Very personal personalization in a property for sale is never a good idea-it distracts buyers, and can provide buyers with way TMI regarding the sellers and their circumstances, information that could be used against them. BUT-less really is less, and a flat, pale space void of warmth or character isn’t received well, either.
People sell for all sorts of reasons, but in buying-and yes, even in downsizing-there is always the desire for a better place, and hope for happiness. The secret to successful Staging in Westchester County is to attract, touch, and engage buyers in very real ways, in ways they do not expect. The Refreshed Home champions RE-PERSONALIZING a space, here are some ways how:
Clever looks for and demonstrates value:
- Has the patio/deck looking good now, and keeps it in shape til the first snow: Patio furniture scrubbed and out, grill ready to go, even buying a fire pit to extend living space.
- A desk in the corner of the family room-away from the TV< but near so a parent can multi-task.
- Dresses up the garage or basement by cleaning and painting the cement floor
Aspirational points to all the things that could be, in this new house:
- Kitchen accouterments that support visions of cooking adventures and healthy eating: specialty/vintage cookbooks, herb plants, colorful legumes in glass canisters
- Good books add soul and character; who doesn’t want to be smarter, or yearn for more time to read?
- Color-ordered closets with matching hangers: almost magical, a sophisticated, unexpected luxury
Whimsical adds delight. It makes people pause, smile, and feel good.
- A live goldfish
- A puzzle, or poker game in progress
- Really cool-colorful, sexy or fun- toss pillows
Knowing who the buyer will be is the Realtor’s job; knowing how to attract buyers (and other agents!) is mine. Some sellers have a pool of suitable items, but many don’t; accessory shopping, and accessory rental have consistently been the fastest-growing segments of The Refreshed Home’s business. NEXT: Accessories and Home Staging: Creative is the New Sizzle
March 30th, 2013
FAQs are usually a one-shot topic: a quick answer to a single question, but renting furniture for preparing a Westchester County property for sale has several facets, so in this first (of three) we will address WHY consider renting, even if you already have furniture.
Two truisms about Home Staging: Preparing a property for sale is like sending it out on it’s first date. You do what you can to put it’s best foot forward, so buyers are first attracted, then engaged, so they notice, and see the value of all it’s best attributes. Also, how you live in your HOME is different from how you will get your HOUSE sold.
For many reasons, what you already own might not be the best for the house: the purple sofa, Nanna’s mahoghany china cabinet-complete with all 24 place settings, the dresser you had as a teenager and never got around to replacing as an adult, and ohyes…that bachelor pad recliner.
-The purple sofa could be a real statement piece…in perfect condition, it’ll be the centerpiece of your new living room. But if it’s such a standout, it’s distracting, it’s what buyers will remember about your house. And which will put more money in your pocket-a house with a great sofa, or a house with wonderful light, tall ceilings and lots of closets?
-Most buyers favor a particular style of house. Sentiment might make an uber-traditional china cabinet work for you in your contemporary home, but it doesn’t reinforce what brings buyers to see your house in the first place.
It’s generous proportions might be a terrific function for you-all the better to display Nanna’s 24 place settings!-but very few people have the spatial skills to evaluate a space beyond how it appears. SO-if it crowds the Dining Room, it diminishes the main purpose-how big a table will fit; and the buyers’ takeaway is that there is not enough storage.
-Buying a house is someone getting a step closer to fulfilling their dreams, so the rooms need to be all they can be. Your childhood furniture may be perfectly suitable for you and your needs, but Barbie-sized furniture is neither inspiring or representative of value or worth. Major rooms should have expected furniture pieces of the proper scale.
OK< we don’t really need to discuss that recliner, do we?
NEXT: Re-Thinking ‘De-Personalize’
March 30th, 2013
Welcome back to FAQs, the series where quick and specific answers to your most-asked questions about Interior Decorating and Home Staging are the house specialty.
Selling your Westchester County house, coop or condo? Questions about renting things to make your property look its best have probably come up. Previously we looked at the IF and WHY of rental furniture, today HOW renting furniture works. .
Thanks to HGTV, many homeowners believe Home Staging must include renting furniture. This Westchester County Home Stager always seeks to work what is already owned, but with the caveat that it is the right choice, and puts the property in it’s best light.
Rental companies pretty much work in the same way: contracts are a minimum number of months, and a minimum monthly dollar amount. Additional costs are delivery and pick-up, damage waivers, sales tax and a refundable security deposit. Like loans, the longer the term, the lower the monthly rate…but the more you will end up paying net, it’s just in smaller, managable increments.
Most offer pre-chosen room ‘packages’, but also let you choose individual pieces, too, and in my experience there is no big price differential.
After 25+ years in the furniture industry, TRH knows this is a highly specialized service-inventorying, maintaining, storing and delivering-best left to other professionals, and insteads facillitates the process on behalf of the homeowner: First setting a strategy: editing, and choosing what stays and goes where, then what is needed to complete the look, and will yield the best net ROI for the homeowner.
While consumers can typically rent furniture themselves, directly from most rental companies, here are a few ways this Westchester County Home Stager will make the process painless and the results stellar:
Strategy: What stays, what goes (or goes into storage)? What can be borrowed, re-worked; would buying something-that you’ll take with you-be a better choice? Prioritizing rooms to be prepared that align with comps, and desired time/price benchmarks.
The Right Stuff: Considering not just what looks pretty online, but what will work with existing walls/floors/items-or coordinating new choices; what is the correct look and scale, and OHYES besides fitting in the space, will it get in the door, up the stairs, and around the corner?
Better Rates: Dealing with a known, professional Home Stager streamlines the process for the rental companies, they will pass these savings on the client.
Vetted Vendors: While the process is the same, the type and quality of furniture, the level of customer service has been road-tested.
NEXT: RE-personalize (instead of de-personalize)
March 17th, 2013
OK, I know it’s been a while-I’ve been very busy!-but here’s the latest new addition to my Staging Kit that will absolutely put money in your pocket.
According to the just-released National Association of Realtors 2013 Profile of Buyer’s Home Feature Preferences, garages are HUGE draws to Home Buyers, a full 78 % purchasing a home with one last year. And according to The Refreshed Home, buyers want their new house to fulfill their dreams, as well as their needs.
At first glance, you might not think of the lowly garage as the embodiment of a dream, but for many it’s the launching pad of other dreams: a place to store the bikes, the yard and garden equipment, outdoor furniture, and can’t forget the ubiquitous work bench!!
A well-lit, cleared-out and organized space will catch a buyers eye…fresh paint on the walls and ceiling take it another step further, but if you want to draw buyers in, paint the floor. Oil-resistant plain steel grey is the expected, but for WOW, use California Paint’s Tuf-On. It’s a waterborne epoxy gloss enamel, and in a separate bag-like confetti-are flakes of color. About 4 different color combinations, all you do is you paint a section, sprinkle, paint another section, and sprinkle.
Completable in an afternoon, walkable in 24-hours, curable and drivable in a few days, it is such a quick, easy and inexpensive way to add value.
It’s a fresh, and well-maintained look, but it’s also QUITE forgiving if the floor is a little rough, or permanently discolored. Abrasion, chemical and solvent-resistant-and so low-maintainence, it’ll elevate and add value to your space whether you’re selling OR staying!
February 24th, 2013
Inspired by AR pal Roger Mucci’s Oscar-themed contest, I am on a roll, melding what I do, the various Spring Markets, and Oscar Fever via some famous quotes.
‘What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate’ does not have such a great context in the movie, but by itself can be a helpful and important observation in business.
Potential clients are often surprised to hear me sayI am in the problem-solving business. OK< sure, I work with a lot of pretty things, but pretty only goes so far. Understanding what is on someone elses’ mind goes a lot farther.
Channeling Steve Jobs, ‘good design is not about how something looks, it’s how it works’. TRH believes a good look endures when it’s solidly rooted in diagnosing, then solving a problem; clear and solid communications is what supports that.
People learn-and communicate-in different ways, usually combinations of talking, listening, watching, thinking and doing. Being aware of, and working within another’s style is a vital component of good communication.
When working with/presenting to a group that means mixing it up, or sometimes repeating the message, but in different styles- so you can forge a solid connection, and build on it. In my Home Staging Workshops, to help de-mystify the process and engage everyone- I utilize a white board to list participants’ questions, an open Q&A format, a slide show and a long table to showcase some of the things I use to prepare a property for sale.
True communication is a two-way street. Strother Martin, as the prison warden, was obvioulsy not interested in communicating’. But then again, he wasn’t putting together something wonderful, lightening a clients’ heart, or making their life easier, either.
February 12th, 2013
Cleaning out some closets last week, advice I have often given to clients was ringing in my own ears:
“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
Certainly sage advice when it comes to things like that last slice of pizza, or that late movie on a weeknight, but harder to embrace when contemplating keeping things of sentimental value, or incorporating things whose attraction is marginal into a new project.
Came across the outfit I was wearing the night Doug and I announced our engagement to his family. This photo was taken in his mom’s kitchen, in the house on Sparkle Lake. Thanks to my sister in law’s having her camera handy-the outfit reminded me of one of the best days of my life. Funny, just never found myself reaching for it the rest of that summer…then packed it away.
After a few summers of this unpacking, not wearing, then packing the outfit up again, I noticed it didn’t quite fit anymore, so another ‘keeping’ rationale was added-motivation for ‘when I could wear it again’. Fast forward to last year when some lifestyle changes got me back to that magic place…the body size, that is. The outfit itself was so out of place for so many reasons: a print not in my colors, or my taste anymore. But I kept it this summer anyway. Any of this starting to sound familiar?
When we find ourselves stuck, unable to move forward, it’s often because old rationale doesn’t serve the here and now. “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” is one way I guide clients to develop critical thinking about their project-determining values, and making their own best decisions about keeping, letting go, and spending money.
Experiencing the beginnings of economic stability, choosing to keep and work with something we own is an understandable first reaction. OR-the opportunity to finally accomplish something we’ve been unable to up to now can be irresistible.
But I urge clients to think big-picture: Will your actions align-or conflict-with your your current needs, goals, or circumstances? And, when the project is completed, will you be happy for the money you’ve spent? In thirty-two years of working with people in their homes, I’ve never seen guilt a.k.a. SHOULD-work out to be a good rationale.
Often I’ll see clients who’ve never been happy with the colors or layout of their living room drift into ‘decorating’ mode when we start planning how to prepare their house for sale-making way too personal choices for colors or updates. Or those who’ve had to postpone changes-start to make choices based on ‘should’. TRH finds separating out the decision of what to do with something from the memories it evokes adds perspective. That I could now fit into the outfit did not make me like it, or want to wear it…but that didn’t negate the memory of the day, or my choice of life partner, either (19 years in April!!).
Home is a personal place, and emotion, as well as dollars and cents all figure into the decision process…in what proportion is unique to each of us. Helping you come to your own best decisions is one of the most rewarding parts of what I do.
NEXT : Some ideas for easing the process, and (maybe) a COLOR photo of the outfit!!
January 29th, 2013
It’s been quite a year for Westchester County NY homeowners on the cusp of selling: many prognosticators were urging homeowners to be content with small but forward moves towards recovery, while some markets were quietly going from zero to 60.
Now the chatter is about wide-spread shortage of inventory, and sellers who are sitting back, waiting to see how high it can go.
SO-is now finally the best time to sell your Westchester County NY house?
Choosing when to list your house for sale is a decision best made with the counsel of a good Realtor. The Refreshed Home believes deciding to have your house READY, for when you’re ready-is a different choice entirely.
The act of pricing and listing a house is a relatively quick process; of making sure it is market-ready: ummm, not so much.
Doing whatever needs to be done to be ready to sell doesn’t just support a selling scenario: needed repairs and modest updates will enhance your quality of life should you decide to stay. A coat of fresh paint, some new bed linens, or clearing out closets, garages and the like never hurt anyone.
The point is: if your house is ready, you are. You hold all the cards: you’re free to decide, and make a fast move when it is your best time to sell your house. You’re poised to respond to demand-or take advantage of a great property you want to buy!-but also able to relax, wait and pick your time.
The Refreshed Home knows getting a property ready for sale is not just about a good visual, it’s just as much about the people and the process. If the thought of selling your Westchester County house has crossed your mind, this Westchester County Home Stager recommends separating out having the house ready from the myriad of all your other decisions. You’ll find your life will be easier, your mind will be eased, and your other decisions will be a lot easier to make.
January 26th, 2013
“How much do you charge?”–I can see, and read the thought bubbles over a potential new clients’ head, as we exchange initial pleasantries.
“What does Staging cost?”–asks the agent who I’ve met about 5.8 seconds earlier.
It’s a fair and important question…but not necessarily a simple one. Preparing a property for sale is a service, not a fixed commodity, and projects can unfold is so many different ways.
“Is Staging expensive?”–asks the potential seller, nonchalantly, after the ice has broken.
“Well, can you just give me a quick range?”–presses the agent.
“My house could use the help, but I can’t afford it”–states the homeowner.
The thing about Decorating, Home Staging, or anything else you’re not real familiar with…when you’re in new territory, you just want a snippet of information-just enough so if it’s not where you want to be, you can make a graceful exit. Exteraneous conversation feels like you’re being pitched.
But I learned a number alone never did it, because it doesn’t complete the equation-it’s just a number. The Refreshed Home had to present a complete picture: a specific number for an understandable product that would work in many scenarios, and be adaptable for the rest.
“Interactive in-house consults start at $285.00. That’s two hours in the house, with a detailed written report emailed within 36 hours.” –replies this Westchester County Decorator and Home Stager with a smile. ” And look how much more space we have now that the elephant in the room is already gone!”
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.
October 8th, 2012
As the economic numbers slowly but surely continue to improve, the question about putting a house on the market this time of year looms large in the mind of many.
Data and anecdotes can support either position…. so “IF” and “WHEN” should be a decision you and your Realtor make together, based on your situation. But here is my point: the process of having a listing go live is relatively quick and easy. It’s getting ready to go live that takes the time.
If you are ready, you are driving the bus. And my experience in this market is If It’s Ready, They Will Come.
In our area, Fall Market was a defined, reasonably successful shoulder season, with buyers shutting down mid-November until maybe early February, coming out in force with the crocuses and forsythia. Today, not so much. Fall market goes as long as the weather holds, and Spring market is currently considered to start December 31.
Factor in buyers who need to first sell their house, a diverse population who might not observe many of the end of the year holidays, and an increasing number of people whose lives just do not hinge on the school calendar – you have serious buyers out looking, 24/7/365.
No matter what season you call it, EVERYTHING about your house will stand out more starkly in the next 6 months. If selling now is something you are considering, here are five easy ways you can make your house shine now:
Clean up the yard:
Feed the lawn, prune the trees, edge and mulch the garden
Plant YELLOW! A high-visibility, uplifting color-bright yellow mums now, plant daffodill and yellow tulip bulbs for spring
Remove all the seasonal decorations…faded garden flags, sunflower door mats, frog figurines in bathing suits
Moderate winter-your house is brighter, greener. Otherwise it’s neater as the snow melts, ready and colorful before anyone else in your neighborhood.
Clean up the exterior:
- Power-wash away any detritus on hard surfaces-the house, the walkway, driveway or deck.
- Clear out, inspect and secure the gutters and downspouts.
- Take a critical look at the paint-there are a few weeks remaining to have flaking/peeling paint remedied.
- Mossy roof? Joel Zdanoff-owner of Zdanoff Services in Pleasantville, and one of the most intuitively clever carpenters I have ever worked with-swears by zinc strips. Install them at the peak of the roof, moisture releases the zinc to travel down the roof, dissolving the moss over time.
WASH THE WINDOWS: Light-filled spaces are very attractive when the days are shorter. Make the most of what you have:
- Wash them inside and out, including the screens
- Vacuum out the dead bugs, cobwebs, etc that have accumulated between windows, and in crevices
- Don’t forget windows in the garage or basement
Clear out the garage and basement…or at least start: January 1st usually sees a spike in activity. I’ve yet to meet anyone who can marshall the focus to do this at the end of the year. Bulk pick-ups are easier to schedule, too.
Think about some updates: Take a critical look at your house. Better yet, drive around and take a critical look at other houses first-you’ll develop your ‘buyers’ eyes’ Then, with an unflinching eye, look at your house and ask:
- Is the mailbox faded, or look wobbly?
- House numbers still there from the last owners?
- Are the light fixtures dated, pitted or rusted?
- Any bare spots in the landscaping?
- Is the entry inviting, or just…there? If it could use some sprucing up-consider planter (s) with a small holly or evergreen
- If appropriate for the style of your house, think about adding shutters to the front, if not the sides as well
- And if you have a patio, leave the outdoor furniture out (or if you don’t have any, purchase a few chairs at an end of season sale) and get a fire pit. AWESOME way to add value by extending the season of your outside space
Bottom line-trust the ”WHEN” to your Realtor, but trust “HOW” to The Refreshed Home!
September 1st, 2012
As the housing market continues to improve, more and more properties are hitting the market. One of the questions I’ve been getting a lot lately are about getting estate properties sold.
In this market, any property that does not look its best attracts either no interest, or rings the proverbial dinner bell, inviting time-wasting low-ball offers. If it’s obvious estate sale, the tour buses show up. Trouble is, the goal-selling it quickly for the best price-often conflict with the “As Is” mindset of the executor and the heirs.
Executors who can get the heirs on board with some fast and simple improvements will better the lot for all of them. In my interactive consults, my counsel is always: Do the best you can.
Preparing a property for sale is a very personal thing-solutions come from exploration of goals, expectations and the realities of the market. Instead of reacting to the word (“Staging”), instead of nattering back and forth about what can’t be done, or comparing to what you see on HGTV reruns, focus on what is the best you can do, and do it. The image above is a perfect example of what I mean. I could not figure out how to make a WordDoc into an image, so this is a dowloaded photo of my computer screen. Is it award-winning perfect? No. Does it get my message across? Am I getting on with my morning now? Yes, and YES!
In a previous post I answered the ‘why’ of Staging an estate property. In order of importance, here’s The Refreshed Home’s recommendations of what to do when time and money are of the essence.
- Clear out Sad, odd pieces of furniture scattered throughout a room/house do nothing to enhance the value. If there is truly no money to do anything, at least empty the space. Shabby upholstery and broken furniture is not an inspiring vision for buyers.
- CLEAN Buyers will ‘get’ old, they will not ‘get’ dirty. Kitchen, bathrooms, windows go to the top of the list. And not ‘broom clean’, but q-tips-to-clean-the-refrigerator-grill clean. Hire a service, it will be be the best money you will spend.
- Remove wallpaper and draperies/paint Walls are the biggest surface area in any room, the provide the most opportunity to make a statement to buyers; fresh walls make it easier for buyers to say yes. Old colors, faded/peeling wallpaper, dusty drapes are memories of the last owner, attached to the wall. Classic, neutral and easy on the eye is the rule.
- Remove wall to wall Floors are the next biggest surface in a room. Old carpet (stained, faded, with indentations or just in an outdated color) is a big pullback for many buyers. If the prior owner smoked, or had pets, you can bet buyers will smell it. Even if none of these conditions existed, SO many people have allergies or asthma-pile carpet a big red flag. Last-ohyes, people just don’t like carpet as much. Bottom line, unless it’s a classic neutral in super shape, pull it up.
- Refinish/update floors The floors may be in good shape, or they may not. Or they may just have plywood underneath. But removing fear of the unknown for buyers is Job One. If you can afford it, refinishing or adding a nice wood floor is money well spent. But DO NOT cheap out. If funds are low, discuss with your REALTOR. New, but badly or cheaply done creates a whole other obstacle.
- Small repairs Maintenance deferred raises questions, and makes buyers wonder about the big things. Repair leaky faucets and running toilets. Make sure windows open fix or replace appliances, clean the gutters, powerwash any surfaces collecting crud.
- Small cosmetic updates New hardware, new lighting fixtures in an old space can add a wealth of value. A traditional 50s grey and black tile wallpapered bathroom became retro for less than $125.00 with some paint, new black towels and this $50.00 lighting fixture.
September 1st, 2012
Welcome back to FAQs, the series where the “House” Specialty is short answers to your home decor, and Home Staging questions.
Properties being sold to settle an estate have distinct goals: usually to sell quickly, for the best price. But buyers always want a deal AND a good-looking space; elements usually at odds with the ”As Is” mindset of most heirs and executors. I suggest putting an estate propety’s best foot forward is a means to an end.
Two things happen with bad listing photos. They are ignored, or they ring the dinner bell, inviting lowball offers-neither condusive to moving forward. Good listing photos-with appropriate pricing-drives interest, and traffic…which will often drive quantity and quality of offers. And an executor with several offers gets to choose the price and terms will suit the heirs best.
Truth told, I can usually tell from the photos if a listing is an estate sale or not.
The decor is often quite dated, the furnishings usually sparse, often consisting of small, odd or mis-matched pieces that none of the heirs want. Wallpaper, complicated draperies, and wall to wall carpet abounds. here is rarely any lighting in the room…except for ”the” lamp, by “the” chair.
When it’s not apparent from the photos, buyers can tell when they’re there, in the space. The space is flat, and without any energy…perhaps maintenance has been deferred. The landscaping is brown-or overgrown, wall art may have been removed, leaving just nails. Often there is an stale odor, and there is almost always an outdated calendar in the kitchen, displaying a month-even year-long gone.
This sounds horrible, maudlin, I know. But I went through this myself, long before I created The Refreshed Home. My brothers and I lost our parents at an early age; I cleared out and got our family home sold while in my 20s, then a number of other family members’ homes since. I understand the goals, and issues on both sides.
Just like most projects, the visual solution comes easily; finding what works for the heirs, and executor is rarely as clear-cut. Often I have to deliver unpleasant news-the expectation of selling quickly, for the best prices still conflicts with the realities of today’s market, and the “as is” mindset of most heirs and executors, and they often need to make decisions.
My approach in interactive consults is always to talk it out, my counsel is always “Do the best you can”. Fresh, clean and clear trumps ‘stuff’ every day. In order of importance, here’s how to improve the position of an estate sale property (click here for details)
- Clear out
- Remove wallpaper and draperies/paint
- Remove wall to wall
- Refinish/update floors
- Small cosmetic updates
- Small repairs
August 29th, 2012
SURPRISE! Having a property professionally prepared for sale (a.k.a. “Staging”) guarantees nothing.
Teamwork is what does it every time. Consider Home Staging to be that proverbial third leg of the stool: Sure, it clears away the obstacles between For Sale, and SOLD. But Home Staging supports a seller who is genuinely ready and willing to sell, and the agent who has diligently priced and marketed the property.
This Mamaroneck house was a contemporary colonial in a lovely area, it had a lot going for it. The family had lived there for a number of years, but the Master Bath was firmly wedged in the 1980s, and was bringing the perceived value of the property down. We did a fair amount of work on it, but here is the room I am the proudest of.
An over-the top pink fest, complete with mauve double tub, commode and sinks, shiny brass fixtures and trim, the goal was to neutralize as much of the pink as possible, for the least amount of money. And ohyes, quickly.
Painting was the answer-as it so very often is. We picked up the creamier tones in the marble, and used that color on the walls, ceiling, formica vanity and mirror frames that same color. And YES-this Westchester County Home Stager learned -that when done properly, using a special formula primer, laminate cabinets are able to be painted very nicely.
Hard to tell here, but the ceiling was vaulted, there was more surface area to work with, that really helped to dilute the pink.
BECAUSE the owner was willing to do what it took to get their property ready, BECAUSE the REALTOR was super-duper smart, focused, and spot-on with the pricing, and BECAUSE we all worked together, this Mamaroneck house had multiple offers within 48 hours, the contracts were signed in 15 days, and now everyone has moved on with their life. Can you say WOO-HOO?!
August 25th, 2012
Faithful readers know this series is about snappy answers to questions everyone asks, or thinks about asking.
Today’s post is an epic departure, for two reasons. First-this question hasn’t actually come up before the other day, AND I didn’t have an answer handy that I liked when it did.
But it i,s a VERY good question. So have given it some thought, and here goes:
I do ponder this on my own from time to time…but instead, I write another blog post, or schedule another workshop. Or I’ll stop in at some RE offices to check in with ‘my’ agents, take another CE class. or….ohyes-there are the clients, too!
My business is fluid, am always evaluating, and re-evaluating how I run things. Are my choices predicated on their efficacy, or my personal preferences? I don’t know…but since “I am” my business… who knows?
As a service and information business, much of the value The Refreshed Home brings is intangible. So without too much over-rationalization, I present my virtual portfolio:
The Refreshed Home is interactive and personal. We play well with others, and can smoothly, quickly slip into the mindset of a potential client-and any of the other players. Demonstrating my abilities on the fly at our first meeting is what I enjoy, and it seems to make others happy, and comfortable in hiring me.
The Refreshed Home is people-centric. A pleasing aesthetic is important, but it’s just a starting point. Decorating and Home Staging is about the people and the process as well as the stuff, and the visual result. Defining and managing client expectations is as much a part of the scope of my work as picking paint, or creating a floor plan.
The Refreshed Home specializes in niches. And niche not meaning a price point or ZIP code. I have the training to make the best of most any space, and the practical experience to deal with most any circumstance. I am a critical thinker, and a creative problem solver. Whether Staging or Decorating-my specialties include smaller, older, unusual, unexpected or unremarkable spaces.
I’m curious-what is the current thinking? What is its’ overall importance in the scheme of confidence-building and decision-making? Does it confirm a decision, or have a stronger role?
A more formal presentation of my body of work is not a bad idea. Whether it will ultimately end up in a big black carrying case, on a website, a PowerPoint on a tablet or a CD remains to be seen. But for now, the reality is my portfolio consists of happy people who’ve been empowered to make good plans and wise decisions, and are now enjoying their new spaces.
July 30th, 2012
Over the weekend the NYT ran a great feature, Ruthless Came the Stager. Two clients fw. me the link, wanted to be sure I saw it.
Thought the article was good: accurate and fair, sharing insight to the range of things Stager can come up against.
FAR more telling were the comments…what a hornet’s nest! The passion, the indignation, the NERVE!!
Yeah, whatever….where are some of these readers coming from?? I mean, it’s not like it’s pending legislation or anything…
Staging is like any other personal service. Lots of different approaches, lots of different people out there to help. You can choose it, or not. GET OVER IT!
Scanning through quickly, it seems the people whose panties were the most knotted up had no actual experience with this whatsoever…just opinions.
Guess what>>>>LA-LA-LA-I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!
Which actually hits a nerve in this Westchester County Stager that has been raw for some time now…I am so done with the whiners and the naysayers…the crankies who whine and gnash their teeth, or wring their hands and cry big alligator tears about the state of the market, yet will dismiss doing anything on their own-or learning anything new- out of hand.
Confused, fearful, curious, skeptical? Let’s talk. Desperate, fed-up, in pain? Yes, I’m talking to you, call me. Take 15 minutes and find out what preparing your property can be about, and how it works.
Don’t let the whiners get you down. SERIOUSLY!
July 28th, 2012
The right word clarifies and elevates the message, as well as the speaker. Good speakers know the right words engage, and bond their audience to them, as well as their message. I have chosen SHEPHERD as this edition’s Word of the Week (click here to read others).
Have been contemplating this word for a while. It’s a powerful word, with many parallels to the relationships in the home-buying and home-selling process. SHEPHERD is both a noun and a verb, and I like both these applications.
As a noun, the original shepherds were focused, vital and duty-driven. Humbly, they did the tough and unglamourous stuff. Tedious and constant at best; difficult and dangerous at worst.
They were responsible, going face to face with whatever came along. Protecting those who could not protect themselves, they found the lost, while guiding the group, getting them safely to their destination.
As a verb, SHEPHERDING is a noble, yet under-appreciated skill. There is movement…transition, or passage. There is vision, compassion, and a sureness of knowing what is right involved in shepherding; faith, trust, calm and comfort replace fear, agitation and misgivings in the hearts of those being shepherded.
And if that weren’t enough, underneath it all is a kind heart, possessing a deep affection for those they are entrusted with. Anyone else good with that?
July 18th, 2012
- This photo courtesy of Flicka
Welcome back to my new series, What’s Wrong with This Picture?
In Home Staging, a pleasing visual is just the beginning. It’s not just about the stuff, it’s the people. Preparing a property for sale is a business decision, so to that end, it’s crucial to be able to de-sensitize any shortcomings, taking them out of the personal arena, and place them into a business context.
Seeing, and identifying with the issues comes first, but unless this Westchester C0unty Home Stager can then translate them to authentic and meaningful dollars-and-cents disadvantages to the seller, all they have are my (subjective) comments. Which, in the absence of any understanding, becomes a judgement, or a personal attack.
Here’s that first photo.
Had cross-posted this on the online real estate community ActiveRain, and these guys caught pretty much all the issues (click here to read comments).
The question I had posed to my workshop group last week was: is this a Master BR in a $795K, 5 BR house in lower Westchester-or the BR in a one BR $145K coop in older, garden apartment building. Many guessed right, but not after some serious reflection.
This is the Master BR of a five BR house. The poor photo quality tells me the agent lacks skill, and/or attention to detail-with could cost dearly in getting a sale to the closing table.
An unremarkable basic vanilla space demonstrates neither value or worth to a buyer. It is not motivating, there is nothing to ‘want’. Outdated aesthetics can lead buyers to infer the infrastructure of the house is also outdated. Or worse, it’s an estate sale that ‘needs’ to be sold quickly-inviting, low-ball offers.
OK, so keeping all that in mind, what’s wrong with this picture-and why will it not help get the property sold?
July 17th, 2012
photo courtesy of takomabibalot, via Flicka
If ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’…a good listing photo is worth ten-trilion-zillion thousand words. Maybe more. REALLY.
Listing photos are the number one tool homeowners, buyers, and their agents have. They work silently, and for free, 24/7….but whether they are working for you, or against you is totally up to you.
Welcome to my new interactive series where actual listing photos gone bad are shared, then pointed on the path to redemption. Some points will be obvious, others not so much; some rationale may even seem downright petty. But the point of each will be there is something that is not serving the best interests of the property, the seller, or the agent.
Diologue is encouraged! The idea being that for the moment, we can each ‘see’ a room for the first time; by constructively sharing reactions, thoughts and questions, each of us learns. What bothers you, and why? And what would you like to see differently?
This Westchester County Home Stager will weigh in shortly after, with the introduction of the next photo. And last, just to keep it a nice, and positive experience, anyone who can claim a photo as their own will receive a free interactive consult, value up to $180.00.
Last week during a workshop at the Mamaroneck Public Libray, I ran this photo in my presentation and asked ‘What’s Wrong with This Picture?’. Nearly the entire room was engaged…see, much easier to see/say what you don’t like in someone elses’ space! I was surprised by the speed of their responses, and also the range of what they came up with.
So what do you think-what’s wrong with this picture?
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