The Five Golden Rules of Home Staging on a Budget - Nick Caruso

A Realtor friend of mine sent this to me and I just had to post it along with some additional comments at the end:

When you show your home’s best features by staging it effectively, you help increase your final selling price without breaking the bank. In fact, on average, sellers receive $2 in increased sale price for every $1 they put into staging a home. As the infographic below shows, the following five golden rules of home staging will help you show off its best assets:

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Owner occupied listings are tough.  When you live in your home while it is listed, it is extremely hard to declutter, depersonalize and minimize.  It is much harder for potential buyers to get past the look and feel of the people living there which makes it hard for them to envision that house as their home.  Even the smell of a home that is occupied is different from a vacant or staged home.   I recommend, when possible, to move out and have a professional stager bring in the necessary furniture and accessories that should appeal to more buyers.  It allows buyers to see the home looking its absolute best.  The reality is that it is virtually impossible to create the clean staged feel while people live there.  

But for those who don't have the luxury of moving out prior to listing, the recommendations on the infographic will go a long way to expediting the sale of your home, and hopefully get you full price - or more!  Whenever in doubt, hire a stager to help you know what to do to make your home looks its best.  Many stagers offer several types of "staging" such as a Consultation for owner occupied homes where the stager walks through the home and gives suggestions, Occupied Home Staging where a few things are brought in, and Vacant Home Staging where stagers furnish and decorate entire rooms.  

The thing I hear most often from clients getting their home ready for listing is how much money it costs!  Most people don't realize that they may need to put on a new roof, get the gutters cleaned or replaced, freshen up the landscaping and paint as well as all of the other things we tend to put off while we are living there.  But along with location and list price, home staging is the most important things to do to get the most value from your home.  You don't want to take chances with the most valuable thing you will ever buy and sell.  Getting your home ready to list might cost more than you thought - or hoped - but the return on the investment will be noticeable.  

Zillow Set To Change the Real Estate Industry.

The Real Estate industry hasn't changed much in the past 50 years or so.  There have been some nice technological advances that have helped the potential buyer navigate through the sometimes overwhelming home buying maze with sites such as RedFin, RMLS online, and Zillow.  These websites help buyers get a sense of market values, see what is listed, and most importantly, allows buyers to "see" a property prior to seeing it in person, which saves time for the buyer and the realtors.

Zillow announced that they will be offering the ability to purchase a home directly online through Instant Offers, as well as keep their Make Me Move option.  This could potentially be an issue for Realtors.  But how will it affect the Home Staging Industry?

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Home Staging has been proven to increase sales prices and reduce listing times, mostly due to the professional online presentation of the pictures.  We don't know how the online purchasing option of Zillow will affect the staging industry, but what we do know is that the online presentation is going to have to be even better for those who will be listing without a Realtor.  Realtors who don't embrace home staging and professional photography will be the first to feel the impact.  

"Homes are already, in effect bought and sold by photos online", says Home Stager Melissa Marro of Rave Home Staging.  "If photos shown online, through the many reciprocity, sites don't look spectacular, then showings are slow or non-existent."  She goes on to say "Price reductions are the next step for these dinosaur agents.  Savvy agents understand that staging is the first step in helping a homeowner maximize their equity".  

I regularly ask clients if they looked online prior to purchasing their next home and I have never heard anyone say "No".  I feel that in this day and age, buyers are now expecting homes to be staged, thanks to HGTV and the many television shows about the amazing transformations of home staging.  And if they are not, they wonder what else has this seller skimped on?  Are they really ready to sell?  Why are they are not doing everything they can to sell quickly?

Zillow may affect Realtors lives but every seller needs to know that they can't skimp on home staging and professional photography in this age of online everything

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The Power of Staging - Before and After Photos

I was hired recently to stage a large 1950's Ranch style home in Southwest Portland.  It sold in 3 days for $42,300 over list price with back-up offers, which always makes me happy.  

Homes that have been staged allow the buyer to feel how it will be to live there and imagine if it is right for them.  The living room was very large and to not only fill it so it looked complete, I added two large sofas to show the size of the room.  Two chairs were removed from the photo in order to simplify the it, but you can see that there was still plenty of space. 

Adding a loveseat in the Master Bedroom showed the room size and suggested an idea as to how to use the large amount of space.  It helped the buyer imagine how it would feel to wake up in the room in addition to a way of using the room for things other than just sleeping.  

The property had only hardwood floors, which were beautiful, but can feel cold and impersonal.  Bringing in large area rugs to anchor spaces and to add softness and texture make it more inviting without covering up too much of the house's rich architecture.  

Imagine seeing the property online or in person without any furniture or accessories.  Staging really works.

Selling Your Home Without an Agent? - Robert Irwin, Bottom Line

Selling a home on your own without a real estate agent can seem like a major money saver.  Real estate agents typically claim a 6% commission- that's $21,000 on a $350,000 home, enough to pay for your move or even buy a new car.  But selling a home without an agent won't save you money if you make mistakes that undermine the sale price- a real possibility for novices trying to navigate the confusing work of real estate transactions.

So what is the verdict on going it alone?

"For Sale by Owner" (FSBO for shortchanged) is a reasonable option if you are willing to invest time in learning about the local real estate market and process in a hot market and neighborhood and have at least several other similar homes have sold in the neighborhood in the past month or so, making it easier to determine an appropriate asking price.  But be careful to avoid these mistakes...

1. Pricing at the high end of the market.  Most FSBO sellers are aware the the price should be based on asking prices of similar homes on the market in the same general neighborhood (or homes that have recently sold) - data that is available on real estate websites.

Unfortunately, seller often set asking prices near the top end of the range for two flawed reasons... 

First, many sellers believe that their homes are better than the other homes in their neighborhood.  They have made improvements and design choices they like, so for them, their homes truly are better - but shoppers likely have different priorities and preferences.

Second, sellers sometimes assume that there's no harm in setting a high price initially and lowering it later if they don't get any bites.  In reality, their high initial asking price will keep many potential buyers from even considering the property.  And once a house has been on the market for more than 30 days, buyers and their agents consider it "stale" and assume that either the home has major problems or that the seller is not very serious about selling.  Once a listing goes stage, sellers must drop their asking prices way below those of similar homes to attract buyers. 

Better: set your asking price slightly below average asking price for home similar to yours in your neighborhood.  Aiming a little low is better than aiming a little high because the low price might attract multiple buyers and you can play off one another.

2. Scaring away buyer's against.  Most buyers work with agents - and those agents dislike deal involving FSBO sellers because they take more time and are more likely to fall through because most FSBO sellers tend to not understand all that is involved and sometimes are not fully committed to selling.  An even bigger concern for agents is that some FSBO sellers do not understand that the buyer's agent traditionally expects a 3% commission (half the total) which would shrink your saving from going it alone.

Better: Include the phrase "buyer's agent protected" when you list your home online or in newspapers, and in any other printed marketing materials.  This reassure the buyer's agents that they will get paid if they work with you.

This also might help address another challenge.  Selling a house entails providing buyers with disclosures about many things, including lead, asbestos and any defects in the property, as well as filling out a binding sales contract and arranging for escrow and title insurance for the buyer.  Those can be very difficult tasks for a novice to handle.  Going it alone might end up relying on the buyer's agent to handle them, although that may require paying a little more than the standard 3% commission.

3. Selling before you are emotionally prepared to do so.  For the best chance to be successful, FSBO sellers must see their homes not as special places where they raised families and lived lives, but as assets like any other.  Those who cannot view their properties objectively often fail to see and fix flaws that could scare off potential buyers and /or become offended and react in counterproductive ways when a potential buyer or their agent points out problems with the home or make counteroffers.

Mistake: Failing to “depersonalize” the property. Most sellers know thatthey need to clean and declutter the home before listing it for sale, but some don’t realize that they also should put away distinctive personal touches. The goal is for potential buyers to imagine themselves living their lives in this home. Anything that reminds them that this currently is someone else’s home will only stand in the way.

Better: Before your home is listed, strive to make it a blank canvas on which potential buyers can project their own lives and decorating ideas. Pack away your family photos…quirky art and furniture…and/or religious items. Repaint dark walls in lighter, neutral colors such as white or light tan, which are universally inoffensive. Visit some homes in your area that are being offered by experienced agents, and then strive to present your home in a similar way. Better yet, pay a professional “home stager” $100 to $300 for a walk-and-talk consultation…or more to take charge of presenting the home in a way that will appeal to buyers. Search for an experienced home stager in your area on the websites of the Real Estate Staging Association (RealEstateStagingAssociation.com)…or the International Association of Home Staging Professionals (IAHSP.com).

Mistake: Using DIY photos in online listings. It’s a false savings—these photos play a major role in convincing buyers which homes are worth seeing in person. When photos are not up to par, it makes the home itself seem not up to par.

Better: Hire a professional photographer with plenty of experience in real estate photos. A professional understands which elements of your home to highlight…and which to hide. One place to find these pros is at RealEstatePhotographers.org. Expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $1,000, depending on what part of the country you’re in and the size of your home. If listings for similar homes in your area include video tours, 3-D ­images or other visual materials, your listing should feature these, too.

4. Insisting that potential buyers view your home on your schedule. Buyers who need to close on a home quickly are among the very best buyers to attract. They are unlikely to play hardball on price or to change their minds and back out of a deal. But these hurried buyers also tend to be unwilling to wait to see a home, and FSBO sellers who won’t accommodate their tight schedules usually lose out on these very promising opportunities.

Better: Keep your house in ready-to-be-shown condition at all times when it is on the market. Be prepared to give potential buyers and their agents access at a moment’s notice.

 

Source: Robert Irwin, author of more than 35 books on real estate including Tips & Traps for Negotiating Real Estate. Based in Los Angeles, he has been a real estate broker and investor for more than 25 years.

Portland's New 970 ft Twin Towers - Article by Antonio Pacheco, The Architect's Newspaper

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Portland, Oregon–based William Kaven Architecture (WKA) has revealed the full vision behind the firm’s eye-catching proposal to add a pair of interlinked high rise towers to downtown Portland’s 32-acre mixed-use Broadway Corridor site.

The updated plan comes in response to an RFQ put forth by economic redevelopment agency Prosper Portland meant to generate ideas for how to best reconnect the city’s Chinatown and Pearl District neighborhoods. WKA revealed the tower component of the proposal late last year. Prosper Portland’s vision calls for demolishing an existing central postal facility and removing an on ramp to the NW Broadway bridge in order to spur more transit-oriented development, reorient the neighborhood around an expanded central greenway, and promote equity and sustainability goals within the heart of the city.

Under WKA’s vision, the site, currently co-owned by the Postal Service and the Portland Housing Bureau, would give way to a nearly five-million-square-foot redevelopment scheme that includes not just the pair of high-rise towers, but also calls for a new covered market hall, a new museum, a public reflection pool, and several low- and mid-rise housing towers.

Describing the project, WKA partner and founder Daniel Kaven said, “This is a historic opportunity to revitalize a core area of our city. Our vision is to develop an urban district capable of accommodating Portland’s rapid growth and provide the building blocks of future transportation resources. It is our hope to work with the City of Portland and its stakeholders to fully realize a vision that will both be an architectural draw to Portland and spur economic and cultural development far beyond the scope of the project.”

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If built according to plan, the scheme’s twin tower component would reshape the Portland skyline. The interlocking towers differ in their heights, with the tallest of the two slated to rise 970 feet. The rectilinear and diagrid-wrapped towers would be connected 680 feet up by a truss-supported bridge containing an indoor botanical garden, among other programs. If completed as planned, the towers would be the tallest in the city and among the tallest on the West Coast.

New renderings released for the proposal show a neat grid of mid-rise structures surrounding the expaanded  greenway, with a site plan indicating that the new developments will be connected by a new underground transit station. The transit station is delineated along streetlevel by a large butterfly roof structure capped with moss. It is expected that a full build-out of the project would include additional design teams.

Prosper Portland is expected to reveal a shortlist with project finalists in March of this year. A timeline for full implementation of the project has not been released.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Antonio Pacheco

West Editor, The Architect's Newspaper

Ready to Downsize? Here's the Skinny - Jeanne Taylor, House Contributor

For most people, just the thought of moving from a larger home to a smaller one can be overwhelming. Since most of us don’t have a lot of experience in this area, we can be at a loss as to where to begin. In addition, sifting through a lifetime of possessions can be emotionally taxing as we decide what will fit into our new space.

But we have help. Read on for a big-picture snapshot of what’s involved in downsizing your home for a move, as our guide goes over the major points.

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1. Deciding what to pack, donate, sell or toss. This is by far the hardest part of downsizing. Depending on your energy level, the size of your home, the number of possessions you have and how quickly you make decisions, you might want to start this process six months to a year before you plan to move.

Many of us have accumulated a lifetime of things that we don’t know what to do with. You may want to enlist the help of a family member, friend or professional home organizer to keep you focused and motivated. Another set of eyes can help you decide what you truly need and what you can let go. 

Some people work better if they make decisions based on categories, such as clothes, books or household items. Others like to tackle the job one room at a time. Whichever method works for you, try to give yourself plenty of time for this project. 
 

2. Giving items to family and friends. When deciding what you want to give to family and friends, check with them first to make sure they really want them. Then arrange a time a few months before moving day to remove the items from your home so you have less to contend with. Resist the urge to gift items to someone who doesn’t truly want them. This will just cause problems for them down the road when they downsize their own homes.

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3. Holding a yard sale or alternative. Although many of my clients enlist the services of an estate sale company after the moving van has come and gone, some like to try to sell items themselves before they move. This can be a lot of work, but it may be worthwhile for some folks who don’t want to pay an estate sale company. If this is the case for you, plan to hold your sale a few months before you move. Here are a few things to consider as you decide whether a yard sale is right for you:

  • You might make a bigger profit if an experienced estate sale agent handles the sale for you.
  • Watching your beloved possessions sell for pennies on the dollar at a yard sale can be emotionally trying.
  • A yard sale can be a lot of work. You’ll need to advertise the sale, price items, haul everything out to the yard and sit outside for hours while people haggle over your belongings.
  • You might make more money by taking the tax deduction associated with donating the items to charity.
  • If you live in an area with unpredictable weather, an unexpected rainstorm might keep shoppers away and potentially ruin some of your belongings. 
  • If you live off the beaten path and don’t have a lot of traffic flow in your area, you might not make much money.
  • As an alternative, one of my clients invited neighbors and friends over on a particular day to select books, furniture and household items they might want or need. In exchange, they made a charitable donation to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. I thought this was a touching idea that left everyone feeling good about the transaction.

4. Scheduling a donation pickup. Many charities will send a truck to gather items curbside, but keep in mind that not all will accept furniture. Before you drag an unneeded sofa to the street, consider researching charities in your area that actually pick up furniture. Also, double-check to make sure the donation to your favorite organization is tax-deductible — and always ask for a receipt.

5. Dealing with trash. Unfortunately, the landfill may be the only option for items you can’t give away, sell or donate — items that are stained, worn-out or broken beyond repair. Please consider the landfill only as a last resort, exclusively for items that have reached the end of their useful life.  

Many local disposal service companies will provide a small dumpster annually at no added cost, while a large dumpster is an additional expense. Check with your local service. Alternatively, a hauling service can be hired to take items to the dump.

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6. Packing for your move. Ideally, once you’ve reached this point, you’re left only with the things you’re packing or selling at an estate sale. Consider marking all estate sale items with blue tape so there’s no confusion when the movers arrive.  

Many professional home organizers provide packing services. If your budget allows this option, it will save you significant time. If you’re packing yourself, consider starting to pack nonessential items like home decor, books and craft supplies four to six weeks before moving day, depending on your energy level and volume of belongings. Label boxes by room and briefly list their contents. That way, the movers can easily deliver boxes to the appropriate rooms in your new home.

Some of my clients have the option of staying in a hotel or with friends or family for a few nights before the move, while their kitchen, bathroom and laundry supplies are being packed. This can eliminate a lot of confusion. If you don’t have this luxury, you might consider eating out or using disposable plates and utensils for a few days so all of your kitchen items can be packed.

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8. Getting through moving day. This is the day the van arrives and moves your possessions — hopefully now packed and labeled — to your new home. It might be a good idea to have a close friend, family member or professional organizer with you to help keep things running smoothly and provide an extra set of hands. If you’re moving locally, you may want to have a friend help you unpack a few boxes of essential kitchen items and linens in your new home before the movers arrive. This can help you feel less overwhelmed when the unopened boxes get there.

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9. Having an estate sale. After your house has been vacated, consider scheduling an estate sale. Your real estate agent will likely be able to recommend a reputable company in your area. Fees can range from 20 percent to 45 percent of the proceeds, depending on the services provided. The cost will most likely include taking inventory of items, organizing, staging, researching prices, advertising, marketing and holding the sale. 

After the sale is over, most companies will get rid of unsold goods for you. Many partner with a local charity to clear out items appropriate for donation, and some also arrange trash-hauling services for an additional charge. 

After the sale, your old home should be free of unwanted belongings and debris. Before you sign a contract, carefully read the scope of work so you know exactly what to expect. The lowest bid may not in fact be the best deal, so be sure to review the details. Although the fee may be daunting, an estate sale company can save you time and effort and potentially net you a bigger profit than selling your belongings yourself would.

10 Timeless Pieces of Decoration Advice - Janet Dunn, Houzz Contributor

As we work — and spend — to make the places we live in beautiful and functional, we sometimes make decor mistakes we come to regret. Unhappy choices nearly always stem from poor planning, rushed decisions, self-doubt or bad advice. Here I’ll show you how to take sound and sensible steps to create the home you want.

1. Find your style. Lack of confidence leads to indecision, which leads to timid choices. Don’t end up with decor so middle-of-the-road it says absolutely nothing about you. Instead, stand up and express yourself. That comfort zone you’ve been sheltering in could be stifling the real you. Step into the design ring — there’s lots happening in there.  Exploring daring design options can be daunting. Signs you should call for help are feeling immobilized by indecision and losing trust in your instincts. A good option here is to consider an interior designer or a decorator; they are trained professionals who will see your home with fresh eyes. Be reassured, a good one won’t impose his or her taste on you, but will steer you toward some options to clarify your vision for your home.

2. Choose artwork because you love it. Never buy artwork simply because it matches your sofa or fills a wall — better a bare spot than an ill-judged picture. Art should lift your spirits, provoke thought, take you places or create a reason to pause and enjoy. Art is personal, so seek out what reflects you. Collect artworks individually, not in job lots. They needn’t be museum-worthy; there’s a world of choice when it comes to quality prints, professional and family photographs, wall hangings, kids’ art, gifts from artistic friends and your own efforts.  One accepted way to hang art is for the halfway point of the picture to be at eye level. Eye levels differ, so on average this is about 5 feet from the floor. This works in a space where viewers are usually standing, such as a hallway or an entrance. In a room where viewers would be mostly sitting, you can lower it.  If you hang a stunning piece of art above a surface where you’d also like to show off other items, learn the art of the vignette. A simple trick is to hang the art low enough to be a cohesive part of the display, not an unrelated extra that hovers above it.

3. Take a wide view. A striking wallpaper with a complex pattern makes a strong impact, but it also could throw off the balance in a room. Find images on websites of rooms using the same pattern to see its dominant lines and colors, how it repeats and how it reacts to various light strengths and directions. Get the largest sample you can — ask if you can buy a roll or half roll and have the cost credited if you purchase more. It’s an investment in a regret-free decision.
Enjoy the vitality of a big, bold pattern. If you fall in love with a wallpaper, make it the touchstone for the room’s decor. This quiet room’s restrained palette, unfussy furniture and perspective bring the bold sweeps and curves of the wallpaper into focus. 

Tip: Get the lighting right when you’ve chosen a metallic wallpaper. In a low-lit room, lustrous highlights lose impact and can look dull. In a light-filled space, they can look glitzy.

The same rules apply to distinctively patterned and graphic fabrics, especially if you plan to use them to cover large areas. Bring big swatches home and study them in situ with other colors and finishes, in all light levels.

Tip: Keep a swatch file of all the fabrics you use in your home. It’ll come in handy when you shop for other items that will sit in the same space.

4. Be patient with paint. Testing a paint color sometimes takes longer than applying the paint. Don’t begrudge this time, because patience pays off. Experts advise that you should always test on the intended walls in the intended room. The surface texture of a wall is different from that of a sample sheet. Apply two coats and always use a primer coat when working with strong colors, then do test patches on every wall that’s to be painted. 

5. Balance price and quality. High-end furniture doesn’t automatically make a room beautiful, but keep in mind the adage that “something cheap is eventually expensive.” A poorly made, low-priced item will show its true colors sooner than you’d like, leaving you with a nonreturnable lemon. Always buy the best you can afford.

Tip: If you’re on the fence, calculate the cost of an unremarkable bargain-priced item plus the replacement cost for when it gives up the ghost. Then decide if you’d rather buy one quality standout piece that you’ll adore and use for years. A modern classic such as the Bertoia Diamond chair seen here, a genuine tribal rug or a luxurious sofa is a beautiful investment that will lift a room to stylish heights.

6. Cross style lines. Even if you love a particular style, copying it down to the last detail leads to an unimaginative result. Don’t be shy about crossing style boundaries — you want your home to look lived-in and welcoming, not dauntingly styled.

7. Size it up. “Measure twice, cut once” is timeless advice. An often-neglected measurement is the arm height of dining chairs: Don’t buy chairs without it. Check the height against your tabletop if space is tight and chairs have to be tucked under when not in use. Having them protruding into a high-traffic space impedes movement around the table. In this situation, the best option may be going with armless ones. These smart striped chairs fit neatly below the tabletop to allow free traffic flow.

Tip: Something I learned the hard way: Check the seat height if buying vintage chairs, as some are lower than modern ones and make an uncomfortable fit with a modern table.

A single inch can makes the difference between a perfect fit and a disastrous overspend. If you’ve had an architect or a draftsperson draw up plans for a renovation, keep the drawings for later reference, as their measurements are precise. Keep a tape measure in your bag to use whenever you shop; you never know when it will come in handy for spot-checking.

8. Face facts about DIY. DIY delusion is a common ailment. Be realistic about your capabilities. “If I sanded that back and painted it and changed the knobs and shortened the legs, it would be just perfect,” you might say. But maybe you won’t. Maybe it will just sit in the garage because you realize you don’t have the skills — or tools — for the job. Unless you are handy at serious alterations, keep looking and practice patience until that ideal piece comes along.

9. Get lights right. Don’t detract from a fabulous pendant light or chandelier with an awkward hanging height. It’s easy to get it wrong over a dining table: Allow a minimum of 32 inches between the light base and the tabletop, or it will visually intrude between diners. A general rule is about 5 feet between the light base and the floor. To avoid errors, consult a lighting designer, as other factors like ceiling height, strength of light sources, size of shades and chain length affect calculations. This designer who added the warm metallic trio here got it right.

Tip: Ask to have the light illuminated in a dark room so you can see how it looks at night and check the spread of light. Some lighting stores have a cubicle for this purpose.

10. Guarantee success. In the excitement of unwrapping and setting up a new appliance or piece of furniture, most of us have all been guilty of discarding warranty details. Things break. Keep a warranty file and receipts. Clarify warranty details for big-ticket items. Is the construction covered but not the fabric? Are there special conditions? What’s the claim procedure?

 

This article was reprinted from an article in Houzz.com by Janet Dunn

The Right Wall Color for Listing Your Home

As a Home Stager, I am hired to help sellers get their homes ready for listing, and often times it is because the Realtor sees issues and the home needs some help.  One of the suggestions I give most is changing out wall color to tone down when it is too bright or dark, and to freshen a room (or rooms ) up.  Gone are the days of white or cream walls for listing.  Nowadays, people expect more, but not too much more.  As a home stager and an interior designer, I prefer to add a little more warmth and style but keep it versatile enough that it appeals to the masses.

The average person is only able to envision what is in front of them.  Having a bright or dark colored wall or room is hard to see past.  The likelihood of a potential buyer having the furniture and decor to match a cranberry colored wall is slim, and if a buyer has the choice between a property that doesn't need paint vs. one that does, they are going to buy the property that entails the least amount of work.  For me, painting is not a big deal, but for most it can be a deal breaker.  

If you are planning on living in the property while it is listed, your paint choices need to work with your furnishings, so you will need to keep that in mind when you make your choice.  And always remember that what you would choose for your home to live in is not the same as what it should be for listing.  Staging and Interior Design are two different animals!  So, no accent walls of bright or dark colors and definitely no yellow, purple or pink walls.

Classic Grey

My favorite grey is Sherwin Williams Repose Grey.  It is the purest grey I have ever found.  It has no undercurrent of blue, green or purple that so often accompanies grey's.  It looks like it has some brown in it, but that doesn't show up once on the wall unless you have light brown or tan flooring.  It is one of the most versatile colors for staging and is a cool, sophisticated hue that can  add depth to a room.  It’s great in both large and smaller spaces.

Another grey I have used and recommended Sherwin Williams Olympus White.  Don't be deceived by the fact it is called white because it goes on light grey with a touch of blue.  It is another very versatile grey that works with most decor.  

Taupes and Beige

Taupe and beige often sounds drab, but there are so many shades that have warmth and depth to them that they feel more designer than boring.  Again, Sherwin Williams is my go-to brand.  They have a neutral called Macadamia and Toasted Pine Nut that gives a room a warm and refreshing look.  I have recommended these two colors countless times and have never had a client say anything but positive things.  These two colors also look great together if you were needed something a little lighter for one room (Toasted Pine Nut) and something a little richer in another (Macadamia).

These are just a few suggestions for neutral paint colors that may add a little more interest in your home or listing.  A fresh coat of paint also tells potential buyers that you have done the necessary steps to get your house ready to sell, which equates to the subliminal suggestion that it has been well taken care of.  
 

 

Incorporating Fall Colors Into Your Decor

Photo by PaulGrecaud/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by PaulGrecaud/iStock / Getty Images

The fall season has arrived and it's time to think about your home decor.   As much as I love Summer, Autumn brings the chilly evenings when it is nice to curl up with cozy blankets and throw pillows.  Fall brings a different color palette with colors such as orange, red, winter white, and yellow, just to name a few.   Metallic colors such as gold and copper can be used along with the pumpkins, gourds and fall leaves that are now so prevalent in stores.  

When you have neutral colored furnishings, changing out throw pillows, throw blankets and area rugs is an inexpensive way to keep your home from feeling like the same old thing season after season, year after year.  As a Home Stager, neutral furnishings are a must.  It allows freedom to incorporate so many looks to best suit each property and season.

Throw Pillows

Decorative pillows in fall colors are an excellent way to add warmth to your room.  The rules to throw pillows have definitely lightened over the past several years.  Gone are the days where two matching pillows in each corner of a sofa is the expectation.  Now it is far more interesting and creative to match a 20" pillow with a 16" pillow and finished off with a lumbar pillow clustered together in a variety of sizes, shapes and patterns.  And now you can put pillows to one side of the sofa and not feel the need to have a duplicate for the opposite side.  I like to add a coordinating throw blanket to the opposite side for balance as well as a cozy thing to grab when curled up with a book or good television show.  If you have a patterned sofa, stick with solid color pillows or fabrics that have at least one color from the sofa in it.  Solid color pillows are always a safe bet but look best when mixed and matched with a variety of floral, striped or abstract fabrics, especially when on a solid color sofa or chair.  And don't be afraid to mix faux fur with other fabrics.  Faux fur is an inviting texture to most rooms in the fall and winter. 

Other Decor Suggestions

One of my favorite fall materials to use is burlap.  I like to cut an 18" wide strip and use it as a runner.  It is inexpensive and is a great starting point for so many different table top looks.  I like to use two or three Mercury Glass hurricanes or vases and place them on the burlap.  Burlap also looks great draped over upholstered dining chairs in the same width as the runner.  Make it long enough to touch the seat and drape over the chair back so that it falls at least 18".

Burlap can also be used in other areas such as sofa tables and coffee tables.  Just add a strip in the same way you would for a dining table.  Adding a few gourds and pumpkins makes it festive and is an inexpensive way to show the world you are embracing the changing season 

Gathering acorns and adding them around candles inside clear glass hurricanes brings in a touch of the outdoors, but you can use all sorts of items such as colored glass pebbles, leaves  or anything else that catches your eye.  It is a great time to hit the craft stores!

All you need to do is look outside for inspiration.  You may hate to see summer end but fall can be a fun decorating diversion until the sun comes around again.

Setting the Stage to Sell Your Home

Another glowing affirmation of the importance of staging written by Diana Olick of CNBC:

Ask most real estate agents and they'll tell you that the toughest conversations they have with their sellers are about price and presentation. 

But let's put price aside and talk decor.

Everyone is his or her own Martha Stewart, and who wouldn't want to see beautiful pictures of our loved ones on the mantel? Answer: potential buyers. They don't want to see your babies, your knickknacks, your artwork or even those adorable macramé potholders you and your daughter made that rainy afternoon a decade ago.

Savvy real estate agents will tell sellers to clean up, clean out and put away most personal items. The idea is that house hunters should be able to picture themselves — and not you — in your house. Odd artwork, even though it's not staying, is off-putting. 

That is why, in a market where picky buyers want move-in ready real estate, staging is becoming more and more the rule. 

Staged homes spend half as much time on the market than non-staged homes, according to Coldwell Banker Real Estate.. What's more, those staged homes on average sell for more than 6 percent above asking price. 

The seller "gets probably 10 times what they put into it," according to Mary Lynn White, a real estate agent with Evers & Co. in the Washington, D.C., area. "I call it aspirational selling," she added. "Buyers think they're going to live the way the house is set up."

White actually pays to stage her listings, which is a unique strategy but one she feels pays off big. 

"When I put a house on the market, it's going to look nice," she said. "It benefits me and the seller. 

"They refer me to other people," White added. "It's an investment I make in my business." 

The investment, she said, can run anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the size of the home and whether or not it needs furniture to be replaced. Renovation websites list the cost of staging from as low as $500 to as high as $6,000. It can include rental furniture and rugs, paint, window treatments and props. It does not include major home repairs.

The staging is actually more for the pictures than for the people walking through the home. That is because the vast majority of buyers search online and scan the interiors of homes they want to visit. A good set of pictures will draw more buyers, and those pictures should show pretty and pristine spaces.

Homeowner Andrew Heighington and his wife Kate needed to quickly sell their house in Northwest Washington, D.C. A new job put Andrew up in New York almost immediately, and with a toddler daughter and another baby on the way, they didn't have time to waste. They hired White, who spent $3,000 of her own to stage their home, which was originally listed at $899,000. 

"Staging elevated each room in our home and transformed our house to appeal to the discerning homebuyer," Heighington said. "Although living in a staged house may not be as comfortable, it was well worth it." 

He said that decluttering to prepare for the staging, especially with a young child, was the biggest challenge. Also, certain household items the family used regularly had to be packed up and weren't as accessible with a staged home.

The house went under contract after just one weekend with multiple offers. It sold for $935,000. 

"I feel like I make a nice sum of money when I sell houses, and I don't want a house unless it's staged," White said. She used professional stager Garnet Hadley to do the work on the Heighington residence. Hadley has staged homes large and small, occupied and empty, and she can spend up to three days doing the transformation. 

The biggest problem with a house someone is living in is whether they understand the philosophy of staging, Hadley explained. "You have to be very diplomatic and work around that," she said. 

With staging, the idea is to make small rooms seem larger and help buyers envision what types of furniture can be put where. The stager needs to identify the function of the room and convey it.

For example, an eat-in kitchen should have a table in it, and a small bedroom that may look too small for a bed should have a bed in it. People can't always visualize the size of furniture. 

"I try to be the bad guy, the fall guy for the Realtor," said Hadley, who always explains her staging philosophy to the seller before starting. "It's about selling your home to the perspective buyer and who is going to be your buyer. 

"If it's a younger couple with children, we have to appeal to them with the type of furnishings they might envision." 

That might mean taking precious antiques out of an older owner's home, no matter how valuable they are. It also means depersonalizing the home, to a point. The home should look like a real person lives there.

Hadley has gone so far as to organize closets and kitchen cabinets, just so there is nothing in the house that might dissuade a potential buyer. 

Not all rooms have to be staged, especially if the seller isn't living there. They can be left empty and clean. 

While there are no formal rules for what should and shouldn't get a makeover, first impressions count. That means the front porch or stoop are equally as important as the entry hall and front room. After all, they set the stage for any sale.

Vacant Home Staging Really Works!

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I am constantly surprised at how effective home staging is.   This home in Wilsonville, Oregon is another good example.  In the before picture, it feels cold and impersonal.  Just by adding a few pieces of furniture and accessories, the room is transformed into a space that people can envision living in.  

 

Statistics continually show the importance of staging.  Whether it is an owner occupied home that needs an unbiased professional with "fresh eyes" to help sellers decide what needs to be packed up or accentuated, or whether it is a vacant home such as the one shown that needs a lot more work, both are extremely effective in helping sell homes faster and for more money than those who do not stage.  

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Again, in the pictures above, doesn't the staged room look so much more interesting and desirable?  Don't be fooled by those who say it's easier to envision a space with nothing in it.  Studies suggest that as few as 1 in 10 are capable of imagining a room such as the bedroom pictured with furnishings.  Do not take a chance on the sale of your home trying to save money by not staging.  It will cost you much more to have the property on the market for an additional month (mortgage, utilities, insurance, etc) than the cost to stage your home.  You want your home to sell faster than your neighbors, right?  Give yourself the edge by staging!

Nine Decorating Tips That Everyone Should Know

Photo by zveiger alexandre/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by zveiger alexandre/iStock / Getty Images

1. A 36-inch-wide rectangular table is perfect for conversation.  A round table with a diameter of 48 inches seats 6: a 60 inch round table will handle eight standard dining chairs or 10 ballroom chairs.

2. How big should an overhead light fixture be?  Just add the length and width of the room in feet and whatever number you come up with is, in inches, your guide for the fixture's diameter.  So a 15 by 20 foot room would need a 35 inch wide chandelier.

3. One gallon of paint covers about 400 square feet of wall.

4. Mount curtains as high as possible to give the room more height, and let them break 1 1/2 inches on the floor.

5. A kitchen island should be about 38 inches high- a little taller than the countertops- to be comfortable for food prep.

6. Curtains should be 2 1/2 to 3 times the width of the window so that when open, they are not stretched flat.  Buy a rod that's 20 inches wider than your window so it extends 10 inches on either side.  Your window will seem wider than it really is and the curtains won't block any precious view!

7. The bottom of a dining-room chandelier should hang 36 inches above the table.

8. Install light switches 36 inches about the floor and 1 1/2 to 2 inches to the side of the door trim.

9. For a standard 84 inch sofa with exposed legs and a tight back, you'll need 14 yards of plain 54-inch wide fabric.  Add two yards for a skirt.

 

(Originally published by House Beautiful)

7 Tips for Staging Your Home

Whether you hire a professional or are planning on doing some basic staging yourself, there are some basic things you need to know, some of which a professional usually doesn't do but should advise you to do or have done prior to listing.  Below are some ways to get your home looking its best.

1. Take a photo of each room : A lot can be determined by viewing the small screen of your phone or your laptop, and it can really help identify what to edit for maximum appeal.  It is important to look out for excess decor, furniture, and other personal items that can clutter a room.  Anything that distracts or detracts the eye from the home itself is best removed.

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2. Clear out small items: Remove everything smaller than a cantaloupe from the space. To give some perspective, the average cantaloupe can be anywhere between five and seven inches in diameter. Items ripe for removal can include small, personal knickknacks, books, and photos.  While it may be difficult to store away items that you think are cool or hold personal value, it’s important to remember to view the house through the eyes of potential buyers, not as your home.  Small items appear as visual clutter, especially in photos, and can distract buyers and make a space seem smaller than it really is, which can both be turn-offs.

3. Remove kitchen decor:  If the area above your kitchen cabinets are not at least 18 inches from the ceiling, remove all decor from the top of the cabinets.  Keeping decor in this space will make your kitchen appear crowded and small.  

4. Use large-scale decor:  Find the focal point in a room and accent with a large-scale piece of art or decor.  These areas can include a fireplace mantel, the area over the headboard in the master bedroom, or an area in the dining room.  Using a decorative mirror is always my first choice because it helps a space appear more open and inviting. Plus, mirrors add movement which adds visual interest.

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5. Buy new bedding and linens.  It’s a good choice to replace any bedding and bathroom linens that have seen their life expectancy. While these items won’t be staying in the home, it creates a pleasing image to those viewing your home.  And who can't use some fresh white towels or duvets?  Think about how you feel when you walk into a hotel room that has crisp steamed bed linens and fluffy towels.  The same feeling is true of anyone coming through your home.

6. Make the outdoors great.  Don’t overlook outdoor entertaining areas, especially when listing during better weather months.  This may include basic steps such as sweeping and sprucing up a patio area to restaining your deck. She says you may also have to go as far as purchasing new outdoor furnishings to create the feeling of a fun and modern space.  Even adding a few colorful indoor/outdoor pillows can be enough to get potential buyers interest.

7. Hire a cleaner.  A clean house says, ‘I’ve been well cared for.'  Most buyers will notice any odd stains or smells that you have become used to over the years. If these aren’t enough to detract the buyer, they may use it as a way to bargain a cheaper price.  Hiring professionals is well worth the investment,

Ultimately, it’s important to follow these tips and other basic home-staging practices to prevent price erosion, as the list price can be reduced by buyers who find any objection to the condition of the home. They may also account for any repairs or updates they’d have to make when moving in and factor that into their offer.

By taking care to present your home in the best light, you can ensure that your property will make a good impression on prospective buyers. These thoughtful changes can protect your real estate investment as you work to sell your house for the best price the market will support.

Article credits- Karen Otto  www.homestarstaging.com

Ten Things to Try When a Room Needs a Change...

Room feeling cramped, artwork a mess, color scheme missing the mark? Whatever ails your room, sometimes all that’s needed is a careful tweak or two to bring things back into balance. Here are some common dilemmas and remedies that can help.

Dilemma: Can’t find the right furniture arrangement. 

Try this: Remove the area rugs. Because they anchor the room, big area rugs can blind you to new room layout possibilities. If you just can’t seem to get your furniture arrangement right, roll up all of the area rugs before trying anything else. Look at your space from a new angle — from an upper floor, atop a ladder or low to the ground. The shift in perspective can help spark a new idea.

Dilemma: Wall decor feels jumbled or unfocused. 

Try this: Focus on one big piece of art. Lots of small frames on the wall can feel visually cluttered, especially if they are hung at different heights. Take everything down and put back just your favorite large-ish piece. One big piece gives the eye a clear place to focus on and leaves plenty of white space to keep the room from feeling jumbled or messy.

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Or this: Add a crisp grid. If you don’t have a large piece of art, or you want to try something different, work a number of small pieces into a grid arrangement. It’s important to use identically sized frames for this and to measure carefully before hanging! A theme for the art works well for this idea — collect photos in shades of blue, a collection of photos taken in the same place, all black and whites, and so on.

Dilemma: Room feels cramped. 
 

Try this: Add a giant mirror. Your space may be small, but it doesn’t need to feel that way! The biggest impact design move you can make in a small space is to add a really big mirror. Hang it or just lean it against the wall, and your space will immediately feel much larger.

Or this: Swap a solid piece for something clear. A bunch of solid wood and upholstered furniture can quickly make a small room feel overfilled. Reduce visual clutter by replacing a heavy piece with one made from clear acrylic or glass. This works especially well for coffee tables and consoles, but you could also do a clear desk, a glass-top dining table or acrylic chairs.

Dilemma: Room feels too stiff and formal. 

Try this: Swap out a hard piece for one that’s upholstered. If what you want is a room that makes you go “ah,” you need some squashy pieces you can sink into. Trade out a wood coffee table for a plush ottoman, toss a few big cushions on the floor or swap a stiff-backed wooden chair for a comfy upholstered version.

Dilemma: Room feels too casual and unfinished. 

Try this: Add something shiny and metallic. If a polished vibe is what you’re after, choose accent pieces in the shiny metallic hue of your choice  silver, gold, brass, copper, bronze. A few pieces (for instance, a lamp, vase and table) are enough to make an impact.

Dilemma: Room feels too small.

Try this: Hang curtains high. This is one of those things that doesn’t seem like it would make a big difference, but it really does. Hanging curtains nearly at the ceiling makes ceilings look impossibly high, and by extension makes the whole room look bigger. 

Dilemma: Color scheme isn’t working.

Try this: Let a photo be your guide. Being in a room (especially one you are in a lot) can make it hard to put your finger on what’s working and what’s not. Take a photo of your space and examine that to get a more objective view. Name all of the colors you can see in the photo — if there are more than three, that could be a sign there’s too much going on in your color scheme. Decide which hue you’re not as fond of and start removing items with that color from your space.

Courtesy of Laura Gaskill, Houzz.com

West Linn Owner Occupied Home Sells in 1 day...

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When home owners live in their home while it is listed, there can be challenges.  The most obvious is the practicality of keeping a home clean and tidy for any last minute viewings, which is difficult, especially if you have kids.  

So when I was asked to do a consultation for a home in West Linn, there were several concerns I had about its current state.  Fortunately, the seller was more than agreeable to do all of the items on my list, which makes life as a home stager so much easier.  But in addition to painting the red dining room, removing draperies and removing furniture, the scale of furniture and its use in the formal dining room was a concern.  

The homeowner moved out almost all of their furnishings and allowed me to stage the room as it was intended- a formal living room.  After paring down the amount of furniture and using smaller scale items, the room felt much larger and lighter, and the game room, as the room had been used previously, was nowhere in sight.  

As a result, potential home buyers were able to see the room for what it was and envision living in that space.  With the sellers furnishings, it was hard to imagine.  Selling with multiple offers at the first open house (which was 1 day after listing), the power of staging continues to pay for itself many times over.