5 Ways to Boost Your Curb Appeal for the Fall Selling Season

5 Ways to Boost Your Curb Appeal for the Fall Selling Season

Sellers looking to get the best price know that curb appeal plays a huge role in making the sale, even in the fall when the leaves begin to fade. Here are five simple ways to make the most of what fall has to offer and boost your curb appeal.

Sellers looking to get the best price know that curb appeal plays a huge role in getting buyers through the door. Once the flowers fade and the temperature drops, however, it can be easy to overlook your outdoor space altogether. Here are five simple ways to make the most of what fall has to offer and give your home the edge it needs for a quick sale.

1. Improve Your Entry

With every potential buyer passing through your front door, your entryway is critical to a good first impression. Cleaning the door, sweeping the stoop, and ridding the area of dirt and cobwebs can be enough to improve the overall look of your home, but for maximum impact, lay a new doormat and replace or paint any rusted or corroded hardware, mailboxes, or light fixtures. If you’re feeling adventurous, painting your front door a different shade can be a great selling feature that can be done in an afternoon.

Traditional brick colonial dressed up for fall with colorful mums and harvest gourds

2. Let the Light Shine

While the outdoors is the natural habitat for all manner of insects, they don’t need to reside in your outdoor light fixtures. Dirty lights and windows will not only reduce your nighttime curb appeal but can also affect how much natural light makes it through to the inside of your home. A thorough cleaning of light fixtures and windows will boost the overall impression buyers have of your home and can affect their impression of the rest of the home. For added impact, place inexpensive solar lights along the border of any gardens or walkways to illuminate your yard at night.

3. Love Your Landscape

Given that landscaping can amount for up to 15 percent of a home’s value, keeping your yard in tip-top shape is more important in the fall than ever. Fall colors and cascading leaves may provide a romantic vision, but may leave a potential buyer focusing on how much raking they will have to do. When seasonal plants fade away, be sure to cut back the dead growth and ensure your yard is regularly raked. Even if your yard doesn’t require frequent mowing, be sure to edge walkways with a straight-edge for a clean-cut look, and add some quick color by placing pots of seasonal plants in gardens and on porches.

Raking fall leaves with rake

4. Whisk the Water Away

The fall tends to bring increased precipitation, which can be a deal-breaker for buyers if they feel water penetration will be a problem. To prevent pooling water, be sure the grading around the foundation slopes away from the house and use downspout extenders, if necessary, to move water out into the yard. Clean the gutters regularly, and take a good walk around your home after a heavy rain to identify any problem areas that may allow water into the house, like door and window caulking.

5. Don’t Overdo the Decor

Finally, while the bounty of fall can be used to enhance the beauty of your home, be wary of overdoing the decor. Too many Halloween decorations, for example, can easily detract from the beauty of your home. Try instead for colorful mums, gourds, and pumpkins in a variety of colors and sizes that can provide earthy variety without overdoing it.

Regardless of the weather, the fall is still a hot time to sell a home, and can be an incredible opportunity to make a lucrative sale. Keep in mind that most buyers will either view your home online or drive by before making a decision to visit, so a sharp curb appeal can help keep your home above the competition.

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Staging Your Home for a Successful Sale This Fall

Staging Your Home for a Successful Sale This Fall

Consider these key points when you are staging and marketing your home for success this fall!

The following is guest post from Patti Stern of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating. The photos are examples of design and staging work by PJ & Company Staging. 

With a competitive fall real estate market ahead, it may be challenging to get your property noticed and on the top of buyers’ lists. The best advice we give our clients is to step back and look at your property from the perspective of today’s sophisticated buyers and then present it as a product that will help them envision living there. The following are some key points to consider when marketing your home for success in a competitive market.

 

Keep It Simple

Less is always more with home staging. After decluttering and depersonalizing, find the proper balance of furniture and accessories that will enhance a room so that buyers won’t be distracted and can focus on its unique features, size and flow. Keep decor simple, fresh and bright to help buyers visualize what it would be like to live there with their own furniture in the space.

Boost Perceived Value With a Cosmetic Facelift

The majority of first time buyers are willing to pay more for a home that doesn’t need improvements. Instead of spending time and money on expensive renovations, increase perceived value with basic updates and repairs such as repainting kitchen and bathroom cabinets, new hardware, modern lighting, eco-friendly faucets and neutral wall color. These updates are all that is needed to suggest a home is in move-in ready condition.

Create a Lasting Impression

Most prospective buyers can’t visualize beyond what they see so if they don’t connect with a property right away, they’ll simply go to the next listing around the corner. Whether vacant or occupied, make the home memorable from the entry to the basement with key pieces of furniture, rugs, lighting and wall art. This will add warmth and personality so that buyers can emotionally connect and be more likely to make an offer.

For more examples of interior decorating and home staging, visit www.pjstagingdecorating.com.

4 Tips to Selling an Inherited Property

4 Tips to Selling an Inherited Property

Selling an inherited house can be draining. Coldwell Banker gives 4 tips on how to successfully prepare, organize and sell your inherited house.

One difficult topic real estate agents routinely have to discuss is about selling an inherited home from a parent when they pass away. It is a situation that is an overwhelming experience, one filled with emotions and many questions. While talking about it is difficult, it is smart to be prepared. This includes having conversations as a family to determine who will be included in the will to inherit the home, where the deed to the home is kept and where other paperwork is located.

After the estate has been settled and the home received as an inheritance, deciding to sell, rent or keep the home is the first step which will help determine what to do next. For those who decide to sell the home, it is a good idea to work with a team of professionals including a lawyer and a real estate agents who can offer advice and guidance throughout the process.

Although each situation is unique, the professionals at Coldwell Banker have provided the following four tips to help prepare to sell an inherited home:

Assemble a strong team of professionals. Working with a real estate agent, lawyer and potentially a tax specialist can help make the process of selling an inherited property go more smoothly. A team of professionals can give the guidance necessary to prepare the home for sale and get all of the affairs in order. A real estate agent can offer crucial, local market information that is especially helpful if the heir does not live nearby. Lawyers and tax specialists can help put all of the processes in order to ensure that selling the home is as easy on you and your family as possible.

Do a home walk through and get organized. Going from room to room and looking at everything from the condition of the floors to how fresh the paint looks can help determine what may need to be done to the home to help it sell more quickly. If the inherited property is older, a home inspection is important before making any decisions as there may be certain systems that need renovations. Equally important is to gather all of the necessary paperwork such as the deed to the home as well as researching whether there are any mortgages on the inherited property that need to be paid. Even if the original mortgage was paid off, a reverse mortgage may have been negotiated to help cover expenses. Also looking into local property taxes and when they were last paid is important.

Have the home appraised and price it correctly. Property received as an inheritance is not considered to be income by the beneficiary. The adjusted basis of a home is its fair market value at the time it was inherited, so it is important to get an accurate appraisal of the home. A real estate agent can also provide counsel on an appropriate listing price to match market value. Out-of-town beneficiaries can also find it difficult to select competent appraisers, inspectors and other professionals to assist in the home selling process, all of which a real estate agent can assist with.

Consider staging or other cosmetic improvements. Although not necessary in all markets or price ranges, home staging can be the difference in getting a home sold in a price-competitive market. An inherited property may not be furnished in the style of other local homes on the market selling at a similar price. A real estate agent can help determine whether or not home staging is a good fit for a specific situation. They may also suggest making home design improvements such as repainting rooms and/or landscaping the yard or other parts of the property. Make sure the lawn and landscaping look good and that the exterior of the house is in good condition. Low curb appeal can keep potential buyers from researching a home they may otherwise love. Perhaps most importantly, having an experienced real estate agent to answer questions quickly and accurately frees up time to devote to other activities and events.

Help! My Home Isn’t Selling

Help! My Home Isn’t Selling

You listed your home for sale, but the home isn’t selling! Learn the simple things you can do to sell your home faster with Coldwell Banker real estate agents.
You listed your home for sale with high hopes. You love your property and you felt certain that it would sell in a reasonable amount of time. But it’s been several months since you listed your home.

You’ve had some interests and several showings. You’ve received a few lowball offers. Maybe you’ve even experienced the emotional turmoil of watching a contract fall apart. Regardless of the details, one fact is clear: your property is very much still for sale.

What went wrong? What can you do? Here are 8 effective tips to facilitate a faster sale.

Depersonalize
If your house has been on the market for six weeks or more without so much as a nibble of interest, it’s time to take a hard look at what might be putting buyers off.

If buyers can’t imagine themselves living in a home, they’ll be reluctant to make an offer.

To make your home appealing, pack away all of your family pictures, child artwork, and mementos. Paint your walls a neutral color like beige, cream or white. Pack away any polarizing or controversial pieces of artwork or decor. Depersonalize and try to make your home look like a model home.

Declutter
Buyers like to see clean, wide-open living spaces. If you have physical or visual clutter in the room, you’re sending a message to the buyer that you don’t have enough storage space.

Don’t send that message. Instead, get those moving boxes and start packing. You may not have a contract yet, but if you minimize your possessions and declutter the space, you’ll make the rooms look larger and create the impression of having tons of storage space.

Remove Evidence of Pets
We love our four-legged friends, but their food and water dishes, crates, and even just hair on the carpet can be a big turn-off to buyers who don’t like animals.

If you know that someone is coming to look at your home, put the food dishes away, store the crate in the garage or outside, and make sure to remove all signs of pet fur and dander.

Freshen Up the Space
Don’t let buyers turn up their nose at your home. Smell is the first thing potential buyers notice when they walk into a house.

Clean your home to get rid of any dusty or musty smells. If the weather is nice, open the windows to let your home air out. Install all-natural room fresheners or light scented candles in discreet places like the bathroom closet, laundry room, and garage. Choose a neutral and natural scent, like vanilla, rather than a pungent floral scent.

You could also consider investing an essential oil diffuser to leave running during home showings. Sage, lemon, lavender, and cinnamon are all subtle, relaxing, and inviting scents that help brighten your living space.

Work on Curb Appeal
Some buyers won’t even step into your home if they don’t think the property has curb appeal. Clean the windows and make sure that there are no visible cobwebs. Mow your yard and trim the edges, prune the bushes, plant fresh flowers, and spruce up your shutters by giving them a fresh coat of paint. You may even want to install a new mailbox and outdoor light fixtures.

Consider an Affordable Mini-Renovation
Not everyone likes a fixer-upper. Stained carpets and less than appealing paint colors may look like dollars needed for (and the hassle of) renovation in the buyer’s eyes.

Small renovations may lead to big payoff. Consider painting the walls a neutral color, installing a smart thermostat, replacing hardware and fixtures and other fairly inexpensive changes that will take away the label of a fixer-upper.

Stage Like an Expert
You’ve depersonalized, decluttered, renovated, and worked on curb appeal. Now it’s time to stage your home like a pro.

Place brand new, neatly folded towels and candles in the bathroom. Place a decorative bowl filled with bright red or green apples, lemons, or limes in the kitchen. Fill a clear glass cookie jar with fresh cookies on the kitchen counter.

Ask Your Agent About Pricing
If your home isn’t selling after you’ve done everything above, it’s time to talk to your real estate agent about adjusting the price.

This is where your agent’s knowledge of your market and the amenities of your home come into play. If your home is priced competitively, buyers will feel like they’re getting a great deal. A $5,000-$10,000 reduction may be all it takes to motivate the right buyer.

Make Your Home More Accessible
Make your home available for showings. If you limit your home to pre-scheduled viewings, you’re definitely not going to be able to sell as quickly. If you’re flexible with when you allow buyers to come see your property, you’ll have a better chance of getting more foot traffic and more potential buyers into your home.

How to Re-Do a Half Bath on a Budget

How to Re-Do a Half Bath on a Budget

With some paint and a carefully chosen storage solution, you can beautify a half bath on a tight budget!

The half bath is often the most forgotten part of the home. A room the homeowner themselves rarely ventures into, the half bath is often overlooked when other, more central rooms, are redecorated. In some circumstances, however, the half bath gets too much use, normally when it becomes the children’s bathroom. This designation usually results in a cluttered mess that features Barbie dolls and shampoo bottles covered in cartoon characters—not exactly a room to showcase to visitors!

How can you control this chaos and make it a more attractive space should guests stumble upon it? Storage! Even if you have a cupboard or shelf in your half bathroom, putting more storage in is never a bad idea, especially something that can become a focal point of this small room and help you dress it up in a few minutes before guests come to visit. Here we look at how with some paint and a carefully chosen storage solution, you can beautify a half bath on a tight budget.

When we moved into our 1960s home, we had a half bath that boasted a retro brownish-greenish-yellowish laminate countertop, white floor and wall tile, some under sink storage and a bathtub.Without a complete refurb, there wasn’t a lot we could do to the space to update it, and as it was situated between two upstairs bedrooms, it made the perfect children’s bathroom.

This designation meant it quickly descended into unorganized chaos. The tipping point for me was the multiple bottles teetering on the back of the toilet seat. I realized we needed storage that was open, easy to access and attractive. We also needed a new countertop—that retro mish-mash of colors didn’t look like it was coming back into style anytime soon.

After considering a complete vanity overhaul, we decided to try simply repainting the laminate. Using two coats of Rustoleum Countertop Coating ($20), we gave the room an instant facelift. The light grey color we choose complements the variety of different toned metal fixtures in the room and is a lot cleaner and brighter than the original color.

Next, we installed a simple chrome and glass wall shelf ($45) above the toilet. This fixture works perfectly for corralling the multiple bottles required to keep our children clean during everyday life but is also simple to dress up when guests come to stay.

So, don’t just shut the door on your chaotic half bath until you can afford to gut it. Consider some quick, inexpensive upgrades, such as paint and new storage, that will make it a more pleasant space to live with—or an easy update if you’re getting ready to sell.

Home Decor Style Tips for Seasonal Transition

Home Decor Style Tips for Seasonal Transition

Embrace fall as a welcome change agent in your home with tips from the seasoned pros at Ethan Allen

The calendar tells us it’s time to prepare for the cooler season inside and out. It’s also time to make some seasonal style changes, according to the design professionals at Ethan Allen.

And they should know; the company has been furnishing beautiful homes for more than 80 years. Ethan Allen designers love fall because it presents so many opportunities for warming things up! Their toolbox is overflowing (fine furniture for every room in the house, art for your walls; rugs for your floors; draperies for your windows; mattresses for sweet dreams; decorative pillows; gorgeous bedding, exquisite accents—the list goes on and on).

Because “cozy and comfortable” are at the top of everyone’s wish list at this time of year, we asked them to help us create a “blueprint” for a gracious, warm, and welcoming home.

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SAY HELLO IN STYLE
No matter your design style, you have only one chance to make a good first impression, so be sure your entryway rocks. It’s both a stage and a place of transition, providing an opportunity to set the bar high for the rest of your home. Choose from Ethan Allen’s diverse lineup—from timeless, traditional, and tony to fresh, fun, and modern—and discover a style that’s all your own. Select a dramatic focal point—like a console with a sweet silhouette—to draw the eye in. Add accents that complement the vignette for balance and a feel-good welcome!

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LIGHTEN THINGS UP
An abundance of pure light is one of the best-kept secrets of fine design. There’s a reason why Ethan Allen’s designers always try to place things “in the best possible light.” And because good interior lighting mimics sunlight, it puts guests at ease in subliminal ways, creating an ambience that feels warm and inviting. It enhances your furnishings, too. For fall—and throughout the year—we recommend lighting that is both quiet and flattering. Think of a room bathed in the glittering lamps of a show-stopping chandelier, or a sophisticated living space lit by versatile clear glass lamps. It’s illumination at its best.

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SIT AWHILE

Don’t you just love it when guests linger at the dinner table? Some say the trick is good wine, good conversation, and a delicious dessert. Ethan Allen’s designers suggest adding comfortable chairs to the mix! Because craftsmanship and quality are of paramount importance when selecting chairs that will get a lot of use, Ethan Allen is a great source. Did you know they still build many pieces by hand, in their own workshops in Vermont and North Carolina? Whatever your dining style, they make it easy to choose refined, well-designed dining chairs for a gracious touch and an eat-in experience that doesn’t get any better—or more beautiful.

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CREATE COMFORT
The look and feel of a guest room can make or break an overnight stay. Furnish yours around an elegant bed (a sheltering sleigh style is nice) to create an effortlessly romantic retreat. A tranquil palette (think mineral blue, white, and taupe) adds elegance. Don’t forget creature comforts: a relaxing chair, roomy chest, night table with good lighting, and sink-in-worthy bedcoverings (Ethan Allen offers all of the above). And remember: Luxury is on the house at Ethan Allen, where professional design services are always free of charge.

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INVITE CONVERSATION
Love the idea of a personal “chat room?” There are many ways to design a room around conversation, but furniture placement is always key. Give sofa and chairs equal time to encourage face-to-face-to-face interaction, but don’t crowd them—and don’t forget to elevate the space with a sophisticated palette. In a hurry to get the conversation started? Ethan Allen’s Custom Quick Ship styles are designed to have your guests kicking back in 30 days or less.*

  • *Delivery times may vary based on your location.

The 7 Do’s of Holiday Decorating When Your Home Is for Sale

The 7 Do’s of Holiday Decorating When Your Home Is for Sale

You can still be festive. These tips will help you celebrate — without alienating would-be buyers.

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Houzz Contributor, Neila Deen

Selling your home through the holiday season can certainly come with a few challenges. Chilly, wet weather and falling leaves in November and December might mean more raking and shoveling to keep your home pristine. However, the damp weather and dark skies don’t have to squelch your holiday spirit. In fact, the holidays are a perfect time to showcase the warmth and character of your home to prospective buyers.

If you’ve already got the basics of staging under control — meaning you’ve pared down, freshened up and added a splash of color — you’re ready to follow these seven do’s to create an appropriately festive home for sale.

M&S Christmas 2014

1. Do choose appropriately sized holiday decorations. Be thoughtful about the size of decorations you use. A good question to ask yourself is whether the piece helps to positively showcase the space, light and charm of the room. Or does its large size detract from the best features? Your goal is to be festive while honoring the value of your home.

Autumn Decor

For example, displaying a large multipiece holiday installation might be a family tradition for your living room, but doing so won’t highlight the value and space of that room. Perhaps find a new home for this piece on the front porch, or display only a smaller portion of the installation on a table.

Traditional Living

Similarly, you might have to trade in that huge fresh evergreen tree that you look forward to every year for a slightly smaller version. Large trees and decorations, while festive, may make the room look smaller. Choose an oversized tree only if you have a really large room.

Hill Section Residence

2. Do mind the light. Be sure your holiday decorating efforts don’t block any natural light from windows and doors. Though this may be a common sense tip, it may not be as easy to adhere to as you’d think, since windows are one of the most common places to place holiday decor. Just think of what you see when driving through your neighborhood during the holidays: Many residents affix decorations directly to the windows, place large, brightly lighted trees directly in front of them or install candles or figurines on the windowsill. We just love to showcase our holiday spirit to the world.

Christmas Trees

For the selling season, try placing your holiday pride far from the window. You might put decor outside your front door or, if inside, in an unobtrusive corner. If you absolutely must locate decor near a window, then place it far enough away that the natural light still flows in. Otherwise, by reducing the natural light, you’ll detract from the value of the room.

Scandinavian style on a budget in a small city apartment

3. Do coordinate with the colors of the room. Maintaining a color-coordinated design scheme matters, even when all you want to do is deck the halls in red and green. Remember, every room of your home should be as appealing as possible to prospective buyers. So, if your favorite holiday decorations clash with the colors in your room, think twice about using those specific pieces. Fortunately, there are tons of creative ways to add holiday accents without throwing off your palette.

Home for Chanukah

Metallics are one nonintrusive way to add a little festive holiday flair. Gold, silver or copper holiday accents pair well with almost any color scheme. White is also a peaceful, festive, yet still neutral accent color for almost any holiday decorating effort. Try replacing multicolored tree lights with sparkling white lights to give your room a more elegant feel.

Winter Holiday Decor

4. Do keep movements and sounds to a minimum. Moving parts, loud noises and even festive music will be a distraction for potential buyers. So please don’t welcome buyers with a singing toy soldier or dancing snowman. But if you must have those items on your mantel, then be sure to turn them off during showings. The same goes for flashing lights. Opt for simple white static lights that cast a beautiful glow, creating a neutral holiday feeling for many buyers.

Stoll Christmas House

5. Do decorate to showcase your home’s architectural features. Holiday decorating can give you a brilliant opportunity to highlight your home’s most attractive architectural features. For example, you might wrap a tasteful garland around a beautiful curved staircase. You can showcase your fireplace with accents such as knitted stockings or a strand of lights.

Christmas Decorating

Be mindful not to cover up any valuable structural details such as a beautiful wood floor or crown molding. Remember, less is more when staging, even when decorating for the holidays.

Christmas Holiday Decor

6. Do use exterior holiday decorations to add curb appeal. Holiday decorations are a fantastic way to spruce up the exterior of your home and add some color. Wreaths, thoughtfully lighted shrubs and the occasional ribbon or bow on a mailbox can be tasteful ways to deck the exterior for the holidays. These elements will certainly add curb appeal and pleasantly welcome your potential buyers.

Holiday decorations

While a frenzy of flashing lights and rooftop ornaments might be fun and playful, try not to embrace your inner Clark Griswold. (“National Lampoon” movie-fest, anyone?) Your goal is to sell your house, not distract or even turn off your buyer by creating a neighborhood spectacle.

A perfectly pale interior with Nordic influences

7. Do celebrate the holidays and create a warm, joyful feeling. There’s an advantage of offering your home for sale — and decorating it — during the holidays. If you strike the right balance, your residence will exude a positive energy and charm that can’t be felt at any other time of the year. Done well, your decorated home will offer the kind of warmth that appeals to potential buyers and helps them to imagine living there. So go ahead and celebrate what is likely your last holiday season in that home. Happy holidays!

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Tips and Tricks for Living in a Staged Home

Tips and Tricks for Living in a Staged Home

Feeling like you are walking on eggshells in your staged home? Try these tips and tricks.

Guest Post via by NorthStar Moving Co-Founder Laura McHolm

Your home is on the market, pristine and expertly staged to get it sold. Now what? How do you still live in your home and keep it in perfect condition – especially for the unexpected showing?

First and foremost, you have to change your mindset; it is not “your home” anymore. Treat the house as if it were a five-star hotel; you need to maintain the staged look and keep everything spotless. You do not want it to appear that anyone is living in the home; there should be no dishes, family pictures, or piles of personal stuff visible. You want your potential buyers to easily envision themselves living in the home. The good news is that keeping your house like a five-star hotel will also enable you to treat yourself and your family to a mini-vacation – no cooking and lots of fun outings!

So how do you and your family eat, sleep and live in your home without leaving any evidence? Here are some simple tricks:

KEEP IT CLEAN

Kitchen:

Remove all of your kitchen appliances from the counters. Do not use them; keep clean and hidden.
Have one set of cups, plates and utensils for each family member neatly stored in a cabinet. Use only these dishes and hand wash after every use. Do not leave dirty dishes in the sink or out in a dish rack. Eat, drink, wash, dry and put away.
Use recycled paper plates and cups to limit dishwashing.
Keep only the essentials in the refrigerator and pantry (potential buyers are known to look inside). Unused pantry items can be donated to your local food bank.

Bathrooms:

No personal care products (soap, shampoo, lotion, toothbrush, etc.) should be left out. Give each family member a bathroom tote to hold their daily-used products, to be put away into a closed cabinet after each use.
Keep antibacterial wipes under the sink for quick and easy cleanup after each sink and shower use.
Use stick-on toilet cleaners inside the bowls to keep toilets clean and smelling fresh.
Only guest towels should be displayed in the bathrooms. Each family member should have his or her own set of towels, to be washed regularly and kept out of sight.

Bedrooms:

Keep all nightstands and dresser tops clear of personal items. Purchase plastic containers with lids that can easily slide under beds to store reading glasses, books, journals, medications, tissue boxes, etc.
Be sure to make the beds each morning; that way there is one less thing to do when a showing is scheduled.
Keep all clothing items neatly put away and laundry baskets hidden in closets.
Wash, dry, fold and put away laundry on a daily basis if necessary.

Living Room:

To maintain a tidy living room, keep daily-used items (remote controls, DVDs, video games, children’s toys, etc.) hidden away in closed drawers, cabinets or storage ottomans.
Do not let newspapers, magazines or mail stack up; file away or recycle immediately. Perhaps keep the latest newspaper in your car; it may come in handy when showings are scheduled and you need to head out to a coffee shop or other fun destination.
Eating & Entertainment

By now you may be thinking, “How does my family eat?” It is best to go out to eat during this time. Even take-out is a no-no; the goal is to keep your home smelling like fresh flowers, not fried chicken.
To stay on a budget, visit websites like Groupon or Restaurants.com for deals and coupons. Also, look into daily/weekly meal deals at your local restaurants, like $2 Taco Tuesdays or where kids can “eat free.”
Get your whole family involved and make a list of activities to do on the days your house is scheduled to be shown. Ideas include bowling, going to the beach, zoo, museums, amusement parks, or even visiting relatives.

Pets

Unfortunately, Fido and your feline are not staged-home friendly; it may be best to find another place for them to stay while your home is staged. Perhaps a family member, friend or neighbor can take care of your beloved four-legged family members. Another option would be to send them to a kennel-free boarding “resort” for their own vacation.
If they must stay in your staged home, designate 1-2 rooms for your pets to live in. This will keep the fur cleanup to a minimum.
Living in a staged home may not come naturally, but if you and your family can adjust your daily routine, it can be a lot of fun. Take the opportunity to go out, explore and do things you all had always hoped to do. Motivate every family member to get in on the challenge and it can turn out to be a memorable time spent together!

Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services. http://www.northstarmoving.com

Staged for Success: The Case for Hiring a Home Stager

Staged for Success: The Case for Hiring a Home Stager

Before listing your home, tap into the talents of a home stager. You may sell your home faster and at a bigger profit.

Home staging has become an increasingly formidable force in helping people sell their homes more quickly and for more money. Its overall goal is to help prospective home buyers emotionally connect with a space, hopefully leading to an offer to buy. Home staging isn’t limited to just high-end properties. It has become a norm for homes at all price points. While staging may seem like an additional hassle and expense, the investment can pay off. Here’s a guide to home staging, including the benefits, process and reasons to stage your home if you’re considering a move.

Scandinavian Modern Platform Bed, Mid Century Modern Slat Bench and Cave Chair

Who Hires Home Stagers?

Anyone selling or buying property may benefit from home staging. Homeowners selling single-family homes, condos and townhouses make up the greatest percentage of those hiring home stagers. However, property developers selling new construction, and real estate agents, also are in the mix.

While home staging was created primarily to benefit the seller, seeing prospective properties in their best light also can be advantageous to buyers because it can cut down on their search time.

Siegal Residence

Benefits of Staging a Home

Most people have trouble visualizing a space’s potential, whether that’s figuring out how to lay out an empty room or trying to ignore oddly arranged furniture, clutter or decor that’s not their style. The majority of home buyers can’t easily look past what’s in front of them to appreciate a room’s potential. Staging helps eliminate the buyer’s guesswork.

“The key is to set the stage for potential buyers to imagine themselves living there,” says home stager Robin DeCapua of Madison Modern Home. A 2015 study by the National Association of Realtors confirmed that more than 81 percent of home buyers find it easier to visualize the property as their future home when it’s staged.

Had the staged living room seen here been empty, many people might have found the large space intimidating and possibly off-putting. Instead, Audrey Gourguechon of Staging North Shore in Chicago created multiple seating zones to highlight it as an inviting living and entertaining space to potential buyers.

Mid Century Modern Dresser with Glass Vase Display

Prelisted staged homes spend 90 percent less time on the market than their nonstaged competition, according to a 2016 report by the Real Estate Staging Association. Considering the monthly carrying costs — mortgage, taxes and utilities — that translates into a lot of saved cash if the home spends less time on the market.

Transitional Style Bellevue Home

Shopping for many things these days is done online, and real estate is no exception. “Today, buyers look at the online photos before deciding to come in and view the homes in person,” says Shirin Sarikhani of Seattle Staged to Sell and Design. Web surfing is the first step in the buying process, and if your home doesn’t grab their attention, it will likely be passed by.

“If you want to get ahead of your competitors, be proactive, Gourguechon says. “Chances are your next-door neighbor has their home staged.”

Buyers decide whether they like the home or not in the first few minutes after entering. There’s only one opportunity to make a first impression, so you don’t want to be the seller who skipped out on staging, especially if there are several houses on the market in your area. Even if without staging you manage to get potential home buyers through the door for one viewing, they may not return for another look if nearby properties appear more enticing.

Contemporary Condo

Most homes have characteristics that are selling points, like architectural details or a great view, like the one shown here. But if these highlights aren’t actively showcased, they could go unnoticed. Or worse, a positive attribute could instead be perceived as a negative.

Let’s use this room as a hypothetical example. Slim, modern-style seating accentuates the city view by not blocking the window. On the other hand, an oversized roll-arm sofa with its back against the window could have send a message to prospective buyers that the living room is too small for a full-size sofa without obstructing the sought-after view. Boiling it down to a mere sofa location, the buyer might have moved on and considered a different property.

Living Room Before and After

Let’s be honest: You’re too attached to your home to see it clearly. Homeowners have too many memories and attachments to belongings that can cloud seeing the whole picture. A home stager is a pair of fresh eyes with no emotional ties to the house or its contents. He or she is in a position to suggest packing up Grandma’s afghan or shifting a beloved painting from the hallway to the fireplace mantel. For the staged living room seen here, a bulky cabinet angled in a corner was swapped out for a more useful and attractive reading area.

It’s not personal. “When selling your home, it’s not about you anymore,” Sarikhani says. “It’s about the buyers, so being detached is the most important aspect of selling the home.” Home stagers emphasize to their clients that their feedback shouldn’t be taken personally, but rather should be seen as a means of helping prospective buyers envision their own belongings in the home. Most often, clients are happy with the changes and remark that they should have made changes earlier. Sarikhani has even had clients love their newly staged home so much that they take it off the market.

Lehman Renovation

While the architectural style and age of the home play a role in the look of a staged room, other factors come into play with staging. The style is dependent on market trends, the likely buyer pool and demographic information. DeCapua says stagers glean this information from real estate agents or from prior stagings in the area. Her Los Angeles market is made up of thousands of different cities, neighborhoods and districts — and each one is unique. “Each home receives an appropriate style of staging,” she says. “For instance, an urban downtown loft gets a trendy look, while a San Fernando Valley home will be more family-friendly.”

Another plus is the vast inventory of stylish furniture and accessories home stagers have at their fingertips, something a homeowner selling a home is unlikely to spring for. For example DeCapua says she recently put a blush-pink sofa in a luxury condo, and indigo lounge chairs paired with an orange midcentury modern sofa in a more contemporary space. “All-neutral staging is a thing of the past,” she says. “When we started in this industry eight years ago, we saw a lot of blandness. But that has really changed. Now staging is hip, at times brightly colored and often full of personality, but it has to be tempered with good taste and an assemblage of furniture, decor and art that speaks to potential buyers in a powerful way.”

MOVERS WHO CARE®

While some staging projects require only a few accessories and moving furniture from one room to another, the average staging project requires one-third to one-half of the home’s contents to be removed and stored off-site. Too much furniture and pieces that are too large are common culprits. Also, home staging expert Barb Schwarz suggests that closets be half-full rather than bursting at the seams. Overstuffed closets convey that the home has inadequate storage space.

“We remind clients that once their home sells, they’re moving anyway, so why not get a head start on the packing process?” DeCapua says.

Bookcase Styling

When to Hire a Home Stager

The best time to hire a home stager is prior to listing your property. Waiting until your property has been lagging on the market is usually too late. “I often meet clients that call me when their home has been on the market for 30 to 60 or more days,” Gourguechon says. “It’s good that they realize that other properties are more appealing, but they have already lost a big part of their audience. Most of them won’t come back.”

While stagers recommend clearing away pieces from the home that won’t be making the move, many recommend not doing anything else, like painting or decluttering, until they visit your home. You could pick an unsavory new paint color that has to be painted over or, as Sarikhani has experienced, remove too many items that then have to be replaced with staged pieces, which can add to the cost.

Dining Room

Cost

Home staging costs vary widely and tend to fluctuate with location, scope of work and ease of access. Some home stagers charge based on square footage. The National Association of Realtors’ 2015 Profile on Home Staging cites $675 as the median spent on home staging, but projects can range from a couple hundred to thousands of dollars.

Staged projects tend not only to recoup the initial investment but to generate more profit. DeCapua says for 2015, Madison Modern Home’s data show that their clients received more than $6 for every $1 spent on staging — and more than half the homes they staged that year sold for more than their initial asking price. On average, staged homes sell for an average of 17 percent more than nonstaged homes, according to a survey by the International Association of Home Staging Professionals and StagedHomes.com.

Gourguechon makes a persuasive argument: The cost of staging will always be less than the cost of your first price reduction on your asking price.

Insurance

Professional home stagers should have comprehensive insurance to guard against any damages made to your home during the staging and destaging processes. Likewise, the client would be responsible, either personally or through homeowner’s insurance, for any damages made to the staged furnishings. It’s a good idea to check the coverage of your homeowner’s insurance policy and discuss with the home stager his or her insurance coverage. Also, it’s wise to verify a stager’s insurance and business licenses before you hire anyone.

Lombardy Lane, Laguna Beach

Which Rooms Are Most Important to Stage?

While it’s ideal to stage all the rooms in your house, your budget might not stretch that far. If you can do only a room or two, rooms should be staged in this order of priority, according to the NAR 2015 Profile of Home Staging: living room, kitchen, master bedroom, dining room, bathrooms, children’s rooms, guest bedrooms.

Sarikhani also advises that homeowners not dismiss “forgotten” spaces. She recently turned a large furnace room into a fetching little home office.

Process and What to Expect

Process. An initial in-home appointment with a professional stager usually lasts between one and three hours. The stager will likely take photos and may draw a simple floor plan. He or she will determine what should stay, what should go into storage and what items might be moved to different locations, and will assess the property’s general readiness to be staged. The home stager will also discuss timing and availability, and supply an estimate and options, usually after a couple of days.

If the proposal is approved, a contract will be drawn up and a staging day scheduled. Staging typically takes one day, but large properties can require more time. The home will be destaged after it has been sold or as per the contract.

It’s a good idea to interview more than one home staging company, look at all of their portfolios and ask for references from previous clients.

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Relaxing Kirkland Townhouse

What Items Typically Are Not Included in Staging?

This can vary with different home stagers and based on whether the property is occupied, but most do not supply window treatments, bedding, towels or live plants.

Any suggested updates, like painting and new flooring, are typically paid for and arranged by the homeowner. However, the staging professional may recommend paint colors or other products.

Homeowners are responsible for cleaning the home prior to staging as well as for the duration of the contract. The tasks of packing, moving and securing a storage facility for belongings that will not remain in the home during the staging period are the homeowner’s obligation as well.

Bedroom

What About Staging a Home With Pets?

Most professional stagers won’t stage in homes with cats for fear of scratched furniture, and some do not work in homes with any pets. Others will stage a home with animals only if they are kept out of the staged rooms. The issue of pets is an important point to discuss with your home staging professional.

North London Apartment

What to Do Before a Stager Arrives

  • Give your home a thorough, “white glove” deep cleaning.
  • Fix anything broken or easily improved — oil squeaky hinges, for instance.
    Replace lightbulbs or at least make sure all of your fixtures have working bulbs and the illumination is consistent.
  • Weed and mulch your flower beds, especially in front of the home, for curb appeal. You’ll make a good impression before potential buyers even reach the front door.
  • Pack away superfluous family photos on display. Keeping a few out is OK, but too many pictures dampens the “I could see myself living here” reaction of potential buyers.

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5 Ways to Boost Your Curb Appeal for the Fall Selling Season

5 Ways to Boost Your Curb Appeal for the Fall Selling Season

Sellers looking to get the best price know that curb appeal plays a huge role in making the sale, even in the fall when the leaves begin to fade. Here are five simple ways to make the most of what fall has to offer and boost your curb appeal.

Sellers looking to get the best price know that curb appeal plays a huge role in getting buyers through the door. Once the flowers fade and the temperature drops, however, it can be easy to overlook your outdoor space altogether. Here are five simple ways to make the most of what fall has to offer and give your home the edge it needs for a quick sale.

1. Improve Your Entry

With every potential buyer passing through your front door, your entryway is critical to a good first impression. Cleaning the door, sweeping the stoop, and ridding the area of dirt and cobwebs can be enough to improve the overall look of your home, but for maximum impact, lay a new doormat and replace or paint any rusted or corroded hardware, mailboxes, or light fixtures. If you’re feeling adventurous, painting your front door a different shade can be a great selling feature that can be done in an afternoon.

Traditional brick colonial dressed up for fall with colorful mums and harvest gourds

2. Let the Light Shine

While the outdoors is the natural habitat for all manner of insects, they don’t need to reside in your outdoor light fixtures. Dirty lights and windows will not only reduce your nighttime curb appeal but can also affect how much natural light makes it through to the inside of your home. A thorough cleaning of light fixtures and windows will boost the overall impression buyers have of your home and can affect their impression of the rest of the home. For added impact, place inexpensive solar lights along the border of any gardens or walkways to illuminate your yard at night.

3. Love Your Landscape

Given that landscaping can amount for up to 15 percent of a home’s value, keeping your yard in tip-top shape is more important in the fall than ever. Fall colors and cascading leaves may provide a romantic vision, but may leave a potential buyer focusing on how much raking they will have to do. When seasonal plants fade away, be sure to cut back the dead growth and ensure your yard is regularly raked. Even if your yard doesn’t require frequent mowing, be sure to edge walkways with a straight-edge for a clean-cut look, and add some quick color by placing pots of seasonal plants in gardens and on porches.

Raking fall leaves with rake

4. Whisk the Water Away

The fall tends to bring increased precipitation, which can be a deal-breaker for buyers if they feel water penetration will be a problem. To prevent pooling water, be sure the grading around the foundation slopes away from the house and use downspout extenders, if necessary, to move water out into the yard. Clean the gutters regularly, and take a good walk around your home after a heavy rain to identify any problem areas that may allow water into the house, like door and window caulking.

5. Don’t Overdo the Decor

Finally, while the bounty of fall can be used to enhance the beauty of your home, be wary of overdoing the decor. Too many Halloween decorations, for example, can easily detract from the beauty of your home. Try instead for colorful mums, gourds, and pumpkins in a variety of colors and sizes that can provide earthy variety without overdoing it.

Regardless of the weather, the fall is still a hot time to sell a home, and can be an incredible opportunity to make a lucrative sale. Keep in mind that most buyers will either view your home online or drive by before making a decision to visit, so a sharp curb appeal can help keep your home above the competition.