Home Staging: One of the Three “PRs” to a Successful Sale of Your Home

November 1, 2012

Home staging New York

When selling your home, there are three key strategies to a successful sale of your home.

What is a successful sale? A successful sale achieves these two objectives:

  1. Selling your home quickly
  2. Selling your home for your desired sales price

What are the three key strategies?

  1. PRicing your home correctly
  2. PRomoting it properly
  3. PResenting it at its best

And, you cannot implement just one or two of the strategies without the other(s) and expect to achieve to sell your home quickly and for your desired sale price.

home stagingPRicing Your Home Correctly

Everyone wants to get the highest possible price for their home, though some approach setting the list price unrealistically.  They list it at what they want to get, not what the market will bear.  A home is worth only what someone is willing to pay for it.

The best thing you can do is to engage a real estate agent rather than trying to sell it on your own.  A professional real estate agent knows the local market and what similar properties have recently sold for.  They also know what properties in your condition have sold for.

What are the benefits of PRicing your home correctly?

  • It attracts more potential buyers, and attracts them early in the sales cycle
  • The more potential buyers, the greater the number of potential offers
  • The more offers, the more potential for a bidding war
  • Properties priced at their proper value make it easier for buyers to secure a mortgage
  • There is no need for price reductions (a.k.a. “chasing the market”), which make the seller appear desperate to sell and the buyer to question if it’s still overpriced since it wasn’t priced properly to begin with
  • It will sell more quickly than  if it was not properly priced from the beginning

Home Staging New York CityPRomoting It Properly

Over 90% of home buyers start their search on the Internet, so it’s important that your home be found, and once found, it is displayed attractively.

Again, using a professional real estate agent will increase the likelihood of both your home being found and that it is listed online in a way to attract buyers.  Be sure to ask them for their marketing plan, which should include more than how it is listed on the internet.

There are many, many things that an agent can do to promote your home, and this is not an exhaustive list:

  • Hiring a professional photographer who specializes in taking real estate listing photos
  • Preparing the listing information in a way to highlight the best aspects of your home and neighborhood
  • Holding open houses with fellow real estate agents and potential buyers, and knowing when to hold them
  • Using social media to promote your home
  • Mining their contacts to promote your home
  • Preparing property-specific sales materials, including brochures or one page handouts

PResenting It At Its Best

So, you’ve priced the home properly and your agent comes up with a great marketing plan.

But what is going to create that powerful emotional connection a buyer feels when they walk in the door and just have to have it?

What’s an emotional connection?

  • They picture themselves and their family living there.
  • They want to live the lifestyle you’ve portrayed in your home. Let’s face it, most buyers are trading up, not down.
  • This is where they want to live instead of just “this is a nice room”.

What’s an emotion you don’t want to evoke?

  • The “ick” factor because your home is cluttered, dirty, outdated, smelly and/or in disrepair

  • The feeling from the buyer that they are intruding on your personal space due to too many family photos, religious objects, trophies and collections

apartment staging

  • The knee-jerk reaction of offering a reduced sales price because the home needs repairs and updating
  • In a vacant home, NO emotional connection
  • In a vacant home, bewilderment as to where and if their furniture will fit

bedroom before home staging

  • In a vacant home, wondering what the room is used for

If your home doesn’t look good to begin with, the best photographer in the world is not going to be able to mask that.  And even if they can somehow enhance the appearance of your home with their photography, once a buyer steps in the door and sees it doesn’t look (or function) like what they saw in the photos, you will lose him or her.

A professional home stager knows how present your home in its best possible light by:

  • Eliminating the “ick” factor and your personal taste from the home (remember, your home is now a product to be marketed)

after staging

  • Knowing the target buyer market and appealing to that market through staging with the right furniture and decorative accessories

after home staging

  • Implementing inexpensive updates to enhance the home’s appeal without expensive renovations

Before Staging

Before Updates

After staging

After Painting and Replacing Light Fixtures

  • Properly using furniture and decorative accessories to define the rooms

After staging

  • Emphasizing the positive features of your home and downplaying the negative features

After staging

Furniture, decor and window sheers downplay the brick building out the window

Really, the sales process starts with home staging.  By staging your home (PResenting it at its best), your photos will look great online which will help get buyers in the door (PRomoting it properly).  Home staging can even increase the list price and ultimate sales price of the home (PRicing it properly).

© Copyright 2012 Designed to Appeal, LLC.  All Rights Reserved.

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About the Author: Donna Dazzo is president and owner of Designed to Appeal, a home staging company serving New York City and the Hamptons. Designed to Appeal helps homeowners and real estate agents sell homes quickly and profitably, by expertly creating an environment that buyers want to live in. Designed to Appeal also helps homeowners not looking to sell with interior redesign, which involves using mostly what the homeowner already has. Donna writes frequently on home staging and interior decorating and design topics.
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How to Make a Bathroom Show Better Without a Renovation

June 19, 2012

Are there inexpensive ways to make a bathroom show better when you are selling your home, without a renovation?

The answer is a resounding YES!

In fact, when someone is selling their apartment or house, I don’t recommend a renovation as the buyers would more likely want to renovate for their own tastes and preferences.

So the objective becomes removing the “ick” factor.  What can we do to spruce up and update this space so that the condition and datedness don’t turn off a buyer?  We want to get past the buyer turn-off and at least get the bathroom to a condition where the buyer can move in and live with the way it looks for a few months before they tackle the renovation.

First of all, bathrooms should be CLEAN.  I always tell my sellers to envision a hotel bathroom:  it should be sparkling clean and free of any personal toiletries, shampoos, children’s bath toys, etc. when showing the home.

The biggest impact in updating a bathroom but at a reasonable cost is changing out outdated and/or poor condition:

  • Lighting fixtures
  • Faucets and, if possible, tub and shower fixtures (a friend of mine spray painted her brass fixtures a brushed silver and they looked great and are still holding up two years later)
  • Cabinet door and drawer handles (this same friend spray painted these, including the hinges on the doors)

You don’t have to shop at high-end specialty stores for these items.  Try a Home Depot or Lowe’s.

 

Bathroom Before Updating

 

 Bathroom After Updating

(tiles regrouted, tub recaulked, walls painted, new accessories added)

The next biggest impact is to paint the walls.  Paint always freshens up any space.  But if the tiles are white, don’t paint the wall white. Choose a color that will add some contrast but is neutral such as pale gray or warm beige. And it there is wallpaper, remove it.

And if you are going to paint the walls, consider removing those large, frameless mirrors that span the length of the vanity.  These are dated, and smaller framed mirrors are more in fashion these days.

And if you’re not painting the walls and don’t want to remove the mirror, it can be updated by placing trim around it to give the appearance of being framed.

Then tackle the tub area.  If the tub is in poor condition, or of a dated color, it can be re-glazed by a professional for $400 to $500, much cheaper than removing and replacing the tub.  Often the grout between the tiles surrounding the tub is mildewed or crumbling.  A re-grouting can do wonders and make this area look like you just had new tile installed.  Also, removing old and moldy caulking at the top of the tub where it meets the tile, as well as where it meets the floor and re-caulking can give a fresh and clean appearance.

The sink, vanity and vanity top are additional areas to consider having a big impact if they are dated.  Depending upon the price point of the home you are selling, at the low end you can replace the entire unit for about $500 by buying one at the big box home improvement stores.

Or if you have an outdated oak vanity, painting it in a darker color with a semi-gloss finish, and affixing new hardware will go miles towards an updated look. 

Bathroom Before Updating

 

 Bathroom After Updating

(outdated wallpaper and brass towel bar removed, walls painted, new accessories added)

You can also just replace the vanity top, some of which come with a sink, for a few hundred dollars.

No need to replace the toilet usually, however replacing a well-worn toilet seat is a must!

In some cases where towel bars and toilet paper holders are affixed to drywall, rather than to the tile, these can be changed out as well.

Then of course there are the finishing touches:  new shower curtain and hooks, bath rug, and fluffy bath towels; artwork; matching accessories such as soap dishes and wastebasket; bath oils and soaps placed strategically in a tray or basket with rolled up towels and a loofah or back brush; and a potted fake orchid.  You want buyers to feel like they’ve walked into the closest thing to a spa and imagine themselves enjoying that space.

And before the open house or other showings, make sure:

  • Toiletries, shampoos, used bars of soap are stored away
  • Wastebasket is emptied
  • Toilet seat lid is down
  • Fluffy new towels are out and used towels are in the laundry

© Copyright 2012 Designed to Appeal, LLC.  All Rights Reserved.

About the Author: Donna Dazzo is president and owner of Designed to Appeal, a home staging company serving New York City and the Hamptons. Designed to Appeal helps homeowners and real estate agents sell homes quickly and profitably, by expertly creating an environment that buyers want to live in. Designed to Appeal also helps homeowners not looking to sell with interior redesign, which involves using mostly what the homeowner already has. Donna writes frequently on home staging and interior decorating and design topics.

Follow DonnaDazzo on Twitter

Area Rugs: Tips for Selection and Placement

August 28, 2011

Area rug When I am staging a home for sale, area rugs serve many functions in a room:

  • Defining the area, for example, a seating or dining area in a large room
  • Adding pops of color to an otherwise neutral room
  • Toning down a room that has strong and bright colored furniture
  • Adding texture to a neutral colored space

When I am doing an interior redesign, in addition to the above, area rugs also:

  • Provide comfort underfoot
  • Provide physical warmth underfoot
  • Absorb the sound in a room

Area rugs come in these common sizes:

  • 5′ x 8′
  • 6′ x 9′
  • 8′ x 10′, 8′ x 11′
  • 9′ x 12′
  • 12′ x 15′

Here are some tips when buying an area rug:

  • If you anticipate lots of traffic and wear and tear, select a patterned rug which will show stains less than a solid rug.
  • Also, a wool rug is easier to clean than a non-wool rug.
  • The shape of the rug should mirror the furniture or the room size.  For example, a rectangular dining table should have a rectangular rug underneath.  But a round dining table should have a round rug under it.

Round rug

  • In a very large room, you can have multiple area rugs, but make sure they complement and coordinate with each other. They don’t have to be identical, and ideally, we wouldn’t want them to be.
  • The area rug should take up 2/3 to 3/4 of the floor space of an area with no furniture on the rug, for example, the foyer pictured below.  Otherwise the rug will look lost.  However, a small rug right in front of the entry door would be acceptable.

Foyer Rug

  • Don’t cover the entire floor with an area rug – leave 9 to 12 inches of the floor around the edges of the rug exposed.
  • While some designers feel that area rugs on a carpet are a no-no, others say it’s okay to do so.
  • I prefer to start with the color of the sofa before choosing a rug to complement it.  Others start with the rug first, and then choose the sofa.
  • Don’t use busy rugs with large patterns with a sofa or bedding that has large patterns.
  • Use non-skid pads when needed to prevent slips and accidents.  The pad should be a few inches smaller than the rug.

  • There’s always been a debate about furniture on and off the rug, but here is some guidance:
    • At least the front legs of the furniture should be on the rug
    • All of the furniture’s legs should be on the rug, ideally, if the rug is large enough.
  • Avoid placing the rug so that the traffic pattern would have people walking with one foot on the rug and the other foot on the bare floor. And avoid placing the corner of a rug in front of a door as people may trip.
  • In a dining room, make sure that the rug is large enough that, when a person is backing out of their chair, the back legs of the chair are still on the rug.  You can use 24 inches from the edge of the table to the edge of the rug as a guide.

Dining Room Rug

  • Be aware that in rooms with direct sunlight and hardwood floors, the area rug will create an outline when the floor color changes as a result of the sunlight.  Also, sunlight can fade a rug, particularly oriental rugs.
  • Also be aware of electrical outlets and vents in floors as well as the placement of rugs near doors which may not clear the rug.
  • In a bedroom, at least two sides of the bed should have the same amount of rug showing.

Bedroom with area rug

If you have any other tips about the purchase, placement or care of area rugs, please share them.

© Copyright 2011 Designed to Appeal, LLC.  All Rights Reserved.

About the AuthorDonna Dazzo is president and owner of Designed to Appeal, a home staging company serving New York City and the Hamptons.  Designed to Appeal helps homeowners and real estate agents sell homes quickly and profitably, by expertly creating an environment that buyers want to live in. Designed to Appeal also helps homeowners not looking to sell with interior redesign, which involves using mostly what the homeowner already has.  Donna writes frequently on home staging and interior decorating and design topics.

Follow DonnaDazzo on Twitter

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How High Should Artwork Be Hung and Other Tips on Hanging Artwork

May 30, 2011

Many of us like to be surrounded by photos of our family and beautiful pieces of artwork, but are afraid we are going to “make a mistake” when hanging them on the wall. Or worse, some of us don’t even know that the pictures are not hung properly. For you and others to get the most appreciation out of your pictures, here are some helpful tips on how high a picture should be hung to how to hang a group of pictures: 

  • Generally, pictures should be hung at eye level, but whose eye level? Hang it so that the center of the picture is at 5’8″ to 5’10”.

  • The height at which it should be hung should relate to the height of the furniture (and the objects on it) and not be hung too high. Otherwise the artwork will look as if it’s floating. Hanging artwork too high is one of the most common mistakes made.

  • The width of a piece of art or group of pictures should be a minimum of 2/3 the length of the piece of furniture it is hanging over, and should not be wider than the width of the furniture it is hanging over.

  • The size of the piece of art or group of artwork should relate to the size of the wall on which it is hung.

  • If hanging two or more pictures next to each other, the ideal spacing is 3 to 4 inches between them but no more than 8 inches.
  • Use a laser level to make it easier to hang pieces side by side evenly. A laser level, which can be found in national chains such as Home Depot or Lowe’s, is placed against the wall. It emits a red laser beam along the wall so that you can find the spot to place your hook or nail, once the liquid in the bubble is at its level position.
  • While a laser level makes things easier, make sure that the pair of same-sized frames have their hooks and/or wires in the same spot. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. If they don’t, then use the laser level to make sure the top of the frames are aligned, then measure down from the top of each frame to determine where you should place the nail or hook.

  • If hanging a group of pictures of different sizes, lay them out on the floor first for the optimal arrangement. There aren’t any rules here, but the arrangement should appear cohesive and balanced. You can also trace the arrangement on a very large piece of paper and then hang the paper on the wall as a guide for placement.
  • Use the proper hardware for the type of wall (e.g., sheetrock vs plaster) and the weight of the picture.
  • Use adhesive anchors like ZotsTM on the back of each corner of the frame to ensure that the picture doesn’t move.
  • If you are staging your home for sale, it is best to stay away from nudes or other artwork that might offend a potential buyer in the target market.

  • Use art to bring some color into an otherwise neutral room. Or if you are afraid to use too much of a bold color in larger pieces in the room such as bedding or the fabric of a sofa, you can still add this bold color to the room through artwork.
  • If hanging art on a wall with busy wallpaper, make sure they art you have chosen has a simple pattern and/or lots of white.
  • The pictures in a room should relate to one another in style. For example, traditional botanical prints and abstract paintings don’t really go well in the same room.
  • Placing art vertically can add the illusion of height to a room. Same with placing art horizontally: it can serve to widen the room.

  • A single large piece of art can have more impact and draw your eye to the focal point of a room more than a grouping of pictures.
  • When hanging a group of pictures on the wall of a staircase, hang them diagonally next to each other. Once you find the optimal placement for one of them, increase/decrease the height of the next one by the height of the step.

Note:  All photos are from Designd to Appeal’s stagings of homes for sale.

© Copyright 2011 Designed to Appeal, LLC.  All Rights Reserved. 

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 About the AuthorDonna Dazzo is president and owner of Designed to Appeal, a home staging company serving New York City and the Hamptons.  Designed to Appeal helps homeowners and real estate agents sell homes quickly and profitably, by expertly creating an environment that buyers want to live in. Designed to Appeal also helps homeowners not looking to sell with interior redesign, which involves using mostly what the homeowner already has.  Donna writes frequently on home staging and interior decorating and design topics.

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Taking Home Staging to the Next Level: Lifestyle Merchandising

April 3, 2011

Did you know that home staging is all about “lifestyle merchandising“? Yes, when you are selling your home, you are actually merchandising a lifestyle to potential buyers.

Recently I graduated from an advanced staging course given by Matthew Finlason, host of HGTV’s “The Stagers”. It was an intense, two-day course attended by only a handful of New York City area home stagers. 

What I learned will be put to good use and will differentiate me from most of the other stagers out there: 

  • Casting a “wide net” with staging in order to attract the broad range of buyers is a thing of the past.

 

  • Crafting a “perfect lure” to attract the right buyer with staging represents a paradigm shift.
  • While it’s fine to neutralize a home of its occupant’s personality, don’t sterilize it.
  • Home staging is now known as Target Staging.
  • Before you stage, it’s important to first learn the demographics of the potential buyer (age, income, marital status, etc.).
  • It’s also important to focus on the psychographics of the buyer (the industry they’re in, their leisure time activities and interests, the profile of retailers in the area which will be an indicator of  the profile of the residents).
  • Stage this buyer’s dream house with colors, shapes, textures, objects and artwork that will make them emotionally connect with the space.

  • Stage in order to “tell stories” based upon the buyer’s profile.

  • Staging is “lifestyle merchandising” and “dialing in the buyer”.
  • Stage to create a life that buyers can aspire to and relate to.
  • Stage so that your company aesthetic shines through and every staging doesn’t look like every other staging you do.

© Copyright 2011 Designed to Appeal, LLC.  All Rights Reserved. 

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About the AuthorDonna Dazzo is president and owner of Designed to Appeal, a home staging company serving New York City and the Hamptons.  Designed to Appeal helps homeowners and real estate agents sell homes quickly and profitably, by expertly creating an environment that buyers want to live in. Designed to Appeal also helps homeowners not looking to sell with interior redesign, which involves using mostly what the homeowner already has.  Donna writes frequently on home staging and interior decorating and design topics.

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Paint Color and Lighting: Tips and Information

March 27, 2011

Recently I attended a Color and Lighting seminar for the trade at the Benjamin Moore showroom here in New York City.   As a home stager and interior redesigner, I often recommend paint colors to homeowners looking to “stage to sell” or “stage to dwell”. 

The two speakers were a Color Engineer and the Associate Manager of Color Design. 

Here are some interesting tips I learned from their presentations: 

  • When choosing a color, paint a small swatch against a gray surface.
  • Look at a color vertically against the wall, not horizontally in your hand.
  • Two colors that may appear to match in one light source may not match under another light source. This is known as metamerism.
  • Look for a Light Reflective Value (LRV) of 50% or more in paint to be used for residential interiors.  LRV is the amount of light reflected from a painted surface (0% is the blackest black and 100% is the whitest white).  The LRV for Benjamin Moore paint colors is listed in the index at the back of the Benjamin Moore “fan decks” (available through your paint store or design professional).
  • When choosing a light bulb, try to get a Color Ranking Index (CRI) of 80% to 85% in order to show true and saturated colors.
  • Incandescent light bulbs have a CRI of 100% but unfortunately will be phased out of production by 2014.
  • Halogen light bulbs have the next highest CRI but they too will probably go the way of incandescent bulbs.
  • Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs have a lower quality of CRI – 75%.
  • LEDs are the newest form of lighting but have a very low CRI.  However, they are great for outdoor lighting.

To set up an appointment for a Paint Color Consultation, contact me at donna@designedtoappeal.com.

© Copyright 2011 Designed to Appeal, LLC.  All Rights Reserved. 

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About the AuthorDonna Dazzo is president and owner of Designed to Appeal, a home staging company serving New York City and the Hamptons.  Designed to Appeal helps homeowners and real estate agents sell homes quickly and profitably, by expertly creating an environment that buyers want to live in. Designed to Appeal also helps homeowners not looking to sell with interior redesign, which involves using mostly what the homeowner already has.  Donna writes frequently on home staging and interior decorating and design topics.

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Tips for Living in a Staged Home

February 12, 2011

So you’ve had a professional home stager come to your home that’s for sale and you’ve implemented everything that he or she recommended to get your home sold fast and for top dollar.

You’ve removed your family photos so that buyers can imagine themselves living there rather than feeling they are encroaching on your private space.

You’ve decluttered and have discarded, donated, given away or stored off-season clothing, extra furniture, toys, files, papers, books, magazines and other items so that buyers will feel like there’s adequate storage in your home.

You’ve organized your kitchen cabinets and closets so that buyers will get the impression that you are a homeowner who really takes care of the home.

But now what?  You’re thinking “We live here.  How can our home possibly continue to look like it’s show-ready all the time?”

Well, relax, it doesn’t have to look show-ready ALL the time, but there are some things you can easily implement so that you can become show-ready at the last minute.

  • Now that you’ve pared down to what is necessary for living in your home for the next few months, this is not the time to be buying more toys and kitchen and electronic gadgets, etc.

  • Don’t shove everything you don’t want to be visible into kitchen cabinets and closets at the last minute.  Buyers will open every drawer and door unless it’s a piece of furniture.  Remember, we want buyers to think that there is adequate storage and you are an organized homeowner.
  • Purchase a basket or box with a lid that you can put keys, today’s mail, bills, calendars, unread newspapers, etc. into and keep it in an out-of-the way place such as a shelf in a closet, or in an appropriate place, like on a desk.  Besides eliminating a cluttered appearance, doing this will also protect your privacy.

  • Buyers don’t want to see your toiletries or hairdryer on the sink vanity in the bathroom.  If you don’t have a closed cabinet under the sink in which to store these, purchase baskets to store these items.

  • Buyers also don’t want to see your half-used bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash and soap bars in the shower or bathtub.  Think “hotel”.  Would you want to check into a hotel room and find that? Purchase one or two of those plastic or metal shower totes with a handle so that you can easily put all of these items into it and store away under the sink or in a linen closet.
  • Your home stager most likely recommended that nice, new and fluffy towels be displayed during showings (remember, think “hotel”). So, you have two options:

                      – Keep the “nice” towels, neatly folded, on the towel bars, and hang your towels on a hook or hooks on the back of the door. Remove the latter and put in the washing machine or laundry bin prior to a showing.

                     – Fold the “nice” towels neatly and then roll them up.  Store them in a linen closet or under the sink.  Then prior to the showing, remove your daily towels from the towels bars; then unroll and hang up the display towels.

  • Since children only play with probably 20% of their toys, and you’ve pared them down (the toys not the children) at the suggestion of your home stager, make sure you have storage bins or chests in which to put these items.  They make for a much neater appearance.

  • Whether you’re selling your home yourself, or have enlisted a real estate agent, pets and all evidence of pets, need to be removed before a showing. Not every buyer is a pet lover, and some are allergic to pets, so for these and other reasons, take the pet and food bowls, leashes, beds, litter box, toys, cages, etc with you if possible or bring to a neighbor’s, friend’s or family members’ home while yours is being shown. 
  • If you make the beds and fluff up the pillows every day, you don’t have to scramble at the last minute in case you get a call that someone wants to see your house.
  • If you and your family get in the habit of putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher immediately after using them, this makes for a much quicker last minute clean up of the kitchen.
  • Another suggestion is to take a laundry basket and walk through the home and put everything in there that you don’t have room to store away.  This works best for a home in the suburbs rather than for a city apartment. The laundry basket can be stored in the basement or garage.

There are many other things that should be done prior to showing your home.  Keep an open house checklist handy so that you know exactly what to do.

© Copyright 2011 Designed to Appeal, LLC.  All Rights Reserved. 

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About the AuthorDonna Dazzo is president and owner of Designed to Appeal, a home staging company serving New York City and the Hamptons.  Designed to Appeal helps homeowners and real estate agents sell homes quickly and profitably, by expertly creating an environment that buyers want to live in. Designed to Appeal also helps homeowners not looking to sell with interior redesign, which involves using mostly what the homeowner already has.  Donna writes frequently on home staging and interior decorating and design topics.

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DIY Home Staging Returns 299% of Your Investment

January 18, 2011

Low cost, do-it-yourself home improvements produce a significant return on investment when a home is sold.

HomeGain just released the findings of their survey of 600 real estate agents nationwide to determine the top 10 low-cost (less than $5,000), do-it-yourself  home improvements for people getting their home ready to sell.

Based upon return on investment (ROI), Home Staging ranked 3rd as the most profitable improvement that can be made to a home, yielding a 299% ROI.  An average investment in home staging of $550 produced a $2,194 price increase.

Home staging as defined by the survey includes adding fresh flowers; removing personal items; reducing clutter; rearranging furniture; adding new props or furniture to enhance room/s; playing soft music; and hanging artwork on walls.  A home staging checklist compiled by HomeGain offers more tips for making the home attractive to buyers so that they can envision themselves living there.

Cleaning and Decluttering ranked number 1, with a 586% ROI.  Almost every real estate agent (99%) recommended this in the survey.

Cleaning and decluttering was followed by Lightening and Brightening which produced a 313% ROI.  Lightening and Brightening include opening windows; cleaning windows and skylights inside and outside; replacing old curtains or removing curtains; removing other obstacles from windows blocking light; repairing lighting fixtures; and making sure windows open easily. 97% of real estate agents recommend this step.

80% of agents surveyed recommended home staging to their clients.  Here are what a few had to say:

“We believe staging is so critical. We own our own staging company and provide a $3,000 staging for free as a part of our listing package.” – Carl Medford, California Prudential Realty, Castro Valley, California

“Staging, I think, is the most important item when selling a home. I usually give my clients a free consultation, so no need to hire anyone. But if they hire someone, I think it’s the best money they will ever spend. You need a neutral party who knows what homebuyers focus on when looking at homes.” – Harry Martin, RE/MAX United, Escondido, California

“Homes that are “Priced to Sell” and “Staged” to look better than all other competitive listings are the homes that are selling in this challenging housing market.” – David Jaffe, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Arlington Heights, Illinois

“I always tell clients to stage. It’s more effective than price reductions and usually costs less in the long run.” – Edward Sullivan, Massachusetts

Here are the full results of the survey:

For more information on this survey, as well as for definitions and homeowner checklists for each improvement, click here.

© Copyright 2011 Designed to Appeal, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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About the Author: Donna Dazzo is president and owner of Designed to Appeal, a home staging company serving New York City and the Hamptons. Designed to Appeal helps homeowners and real estate agents sell homes quickly and profitably, by expertly creating an environment that buyers want to live in. Designed to Appeal also helps homeowners not looking to sell with interior redesign, which involves using mostly what the homeowner already has. Donna writes frequently on home staging and interior decorating and design topics.

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Choosing a Home Stager: 10 Things You Should Consider

January 12, 2011

While not every home seller and real estate agent believes in the power of home staging when selling a home, there are those who do, thanks to the proliferation of shows on television and real life success stories.

So, if you have made the decision to hire a professional (and that is a key word, “professional”) home stager, then what should you be looking for?

There are a number of things you should consider:

1.  Portfolio – every home stager should have a website (this in itself is something you should look for) where you can view his or her portfolio of homes they have staged.  There should be before and after photos for occupied homes and at least the after photos for vacant homes.

And make sure it IS their portfolio, not some stock photos they purchased, or worse, photos they have stolen from another home stager’s website (this has been known to happen).  While it may be difficult to prove the photos are really the stager’s, one way you might be able to tell is if some of the photos look amateurish and others look totally professional and expensive. 

You can also meet with the stager and ask to see their printed portfolio of before and after photos.  And in particular, ask to see pictures of homes that are in a similar market and style as yours.

2.  Experience – This goes hand-in-hand with number one.  While every newbie deserves a break, experience and longevity should be given high consideration.  All things being equal, it is better to go with someone who has been a home stager for awhile and has the portfolio to prove it as they have more experience dealing with any stumbling blocks. Also, think “survival of the fittest”.

3. Decorative Style  –  one of the goals of staging a home is to make it less taste-specific and less personal, and instead make it appeal to the broad range of buyers.  Having said that, every stager usually has some unique decorative style. 

However, what you want to make sure of is not every home they stage looks just like every other home they stage.  Each should be decorated and accessorized for the type of home it is, the location and the profile of the buyer for this type of home. 

Some stagers have their own inventory of furniture and others use a furniture rental company. The advantage of using a furniture rental company is that there is a wide selection in terms of both price and style. 

However, some home stagers are forced to use their own furniture because there are no furniture rental companies in their area.  So make sure they have an extensive inventory.

Lesson: Beware of the cookie-cutter stager.

Also beware of the home stager who seems to do primarily small vignettes, such as a totally empty room save for a corner with a chair, lamp, artwork and tiny rug.   This accomplishes nothing in getting a buyer to fall in love with the home and want to live there. 

4.  Education and training – home staging as a profession has a low barrier to entry, meaning that anyone can call themselves a home stager.  And don’t be fooled by those home stagers saying they are “certified”.  There is no universal certification or licensing of home stagers.  One thing you do want to see however, is that they did take some interior decorating or design and/or home staging education as this shows seriousness on their part and a commitment to this profession.

Beware of the home staging hobbyist, e.g., the wife of a friend of yours who likes to decorate.  Staging involves much more than that.  It’s about downplaying the negative features and emphasizing the positive features of a property.  It’s about emphasizing the focal point of the room and making sure there is proper flow within a room and between rooms so it’s easy for buyers to navigate.

5.  Testimonials and Referrals – some home stagers’ websites have testimonials from homeowners and real estate agents, but go beyond just reading them.  Ask for the names and contact information of their past clients who are not listed on the website. 

Contact them and ask them these questions:

  • How did you like working with_________?
  • What do you think he or she did best?
  • What are some of the things you feel he or she could have done better?
  • Was he or she responsive, professional and reliable?
  • Was the project completed in a timely manner?
  • Were you pleased with the results?
  • Overall, how satisfied were you?
  • Any advice for me in working with_____?

6.  Feesdon’t choose a home stager because they are the cheapest of the ones you have called.  Seriously consider all of the things listed here.  And don’t think that the one with the highest fee also means he or she is must be a great home stager. It could just mean that they have found they can charge this price and only deal with a certain clientele. 

If they offer free consultations, you have to ask yourself, why would they want to give away advice for free?  Is it because they are desperate for business, or are you really going to be getting any good advice?

If their bid for a vacant or occupied staging comes in much lower than others, it may be because they will be using inexpensive accessories or furniture or cutting corners to cut their time in the project.

7.  Insurance – make sure your home stager has insurance.  They should at least have general business liability insurance.  Some even have professional liability insurance, also more commonly known as errors and omissions insurance.  Those companies that have employees should have workmen’s compensation insurance.  Ask for a copy of their insurance certificate(s).

8. Personality and Traits- Whether you’re a homeowner or a real estate agent, you want to make sure you will be able to work with the home stager.

  • Do they have the type of personality you would get along with or one that might annoy you? 
  • Do they appear to be professional and serious?
  • Have they been responsive to you so far?  Did they return calls and emails promptly?
  • Do they seem organized?
  • Are they a good listener?
  • If you are a real estate agent, how do you think they might talk to your clients when it comes to providing advice on sensitive things they need to change in order to get the home sold?

9.  Written Agreement – an agreement in writing between the homeowner and the client will protect both parties.  And it also points to the professionalism and seriousness of the home stager.

10.   Resources – particularly if you have an older home that needs to be sold and particularly if you don’t have your own resources, a home stager who knows good house painters, handymen, landscapers etc. can be very valuable.

 

Do you have anything you’d like to add to the list?  Are there any points you disagree with?

© Copyright 2011 Designed to Appeal, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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About the Author: Donna Dazzo is president and owner of Designed to Appeal, a home staging company serving New York City and the Hamptons. Designed to Appeal helps homeowners and real estate agents sell homes quickly and profitably, by expertly creating an environment that buyers want to live in. Designed to Appeal also helps homeowners not looking to sell with interior redesign, which involves using mostly what the homeowner already has. Donna writes frequently on home staging and interior decorating and design topics.

Follow DonnaDazzo on Twitter

 
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Home Staging New York: You Can’t Judge a Book by its Cover – Or Maybe You Can

December 22, 2010

BooksThere it was  —  among the stacks of new fiction books on the table.  I was immediately drawn to it by its cover.  I could tell that it might just be my kind of book.  So I picked it up and started reading the jacket.

A recent segment on CBS’s Sunday Morning Show got me thinking about how staging a home for sale is like the careful thought and preparation publishers go into when designing a book cover.

In the segment, “Judging Books by Their Covers”, publisher Jamie Raab said:

Book covers are important. You go into a bookstore and what do you see? You see covers. The bookstore experience is about the design, the color, the shape, the feel.  I mean when you walk into a bookstore, sometimes you’re overwhelmed. But aren’t you stimulated by the art? And it is art. “

I have always said that staging is the art and science of successfully selling a home.

Staging a home for sale with the right furniture, decorative accessories and artwork is also about creating an experience for the buyer.  The goal is to connect to the buyer emotionally.  You want the home to portray a lifestyle that the buyer is aspiring to.

Just as publishers invest a great deal of time and money in developing the right book cover, home staging is an investment of the home seller’s time and money to properly position the property to the market in which it is selling.

“A good cover tells you what kind of book it is…but ultimately”, says Raab, “it comes down to what sort of statement the book makes.”

And that is the goal of staging a home – to make a statement or statements to the potential buyer:

  • You too can live like this if you bought me
  • I can fulfill your dream
  • The homeowner takes such good care of me
  • I may not have everything on your list, but does it really matter when it feels so good just being here?

In the Sunday Morning segment, Peter Mendelsund who designs book jackets for the publisher Knopf, refers to a book jacket as a billboard.

“They’re like carnival barkers,” Mendelsund said. “Someone comes into a bookstore and all the books are shouting, you know, ‘READ ME!’ ‘READ ME!’  And you hope that yours either shouts the loudest or entices in the most intriguing way!”

It’s the same with homes that are for sale.  They are all shouting “BUY ME! BUY ME!” when a buyer looks online, but the home that looks the best is the one that is going to be seen. Staging a home will make it stand out from all of the others that are on the market in the same  price range and neighborhood.

“You’re designing covers so that someone is drawn to it will pick it up,” said Mendelsund, “read it and then maybe buy it.”

© Copyright 2010 Designed to Appeal, LLC.  All Rights Reserved.

To view prior posts: www.donnadazzo.wordpress.com

Our website: www.designedtoappeal.com

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Home Staging New York: What’s Wrong With This Picture?

December 8, 2010

Here we go again!

I was reviewing the New York Times weekly online  feature, “On the Market in New York City” showing apartments for sale, as I always do each weekend, and once again found many examples of how these listings can benefit greatly by some expert and professional home staging advice.

I know we have all probably seen worse photos of homes for sale, but after all, these are featured properties in the Sunday New York Times!

Here is what I, a professional home stager, have to say:

The artwork in this kitchen (below) is so HUGE, both in terms of the size of the piece of art as well as its subject, a pair of hands, that a buyer’s eyes will immediately go towards it, rather than the kitchen.  This is such a huge distraction. 

Also, the counters have too much clutter:  Pare down the knickknacks on the counter under the art, and limit counter appliances to no more than three.

Come to think of it, an updated dining set and lighting fixture would also help.

Continuing with this same apartment, this living room (below) could certainly benefit from removing the easy chair.  It’s unnecessary and is crowding the room and impinging on the kitchen, never mind the fact that it’s unattractive.  Also, place the area rug under the front legs of the sofa, not floating under the coffee table.

It’s best to keep exercise equipment out of the bedroom (below).  In this case, it’s blocking the closet and tells the buyer there’s not enough room for anything in this apartment. 

Also the messy and overstuffed bookcases are distracting buyers from the great view!  And as all home stagers know, it wouldn’t hurt to invest in some nice bedding and throw pillows to make a buyer envision themselves relaxing on this luxurious bed, taking in the view.

And finishing up our analysis of this same apartment, what room is this?  A study? Excercise room? Den? Guest room? One cannot tell.  Each room should have one purpose and one purpose only so as not to confuse the buyer or send the buyer the message that the apartment is so small that four functions need to be shoved into one room.

Moving onto the next apartment for sale, a duplex in Brooklyn.  I am sure this is a very nice home, but without any staging, it is not shown to its fullest potential.

For example, the living/dining room (below) photo shows a high chair in it.  Not only is this unattractive, but homes for sale must appeal to the broadest range of buyers so that they all can envision living there.  A childless older couple or a single person cannot picture themselves living in an apartment that screams “A family lives here!”.

Also, the fans on the console and across the room (lower right corner) tell the buyer this apartment must have air circulation issues, or worse, is hot.

Moving onto the bedroom.  Keeping the crib in the master bedroom (below) tells a potential buyer with children that there’s not enough room for them in this apartment.  It may be that the crib is in the bedroom because the parents want to be near their infant, but it should definitely not be shown in a photo, nor during an open house or viewing.

Also, I’m sure other home stagers would agree, this bedroom could benefit from the addition of a table lamp on the nightstand and a piece of art over the bed to warm things up.

Is that a play pen I see in the foyer (below)??!!  This is totally unacceptable.  Not only does a potential buyer stumble upon this when walking through the front door, they are also told “there is not enough room in this apartment for your baby’s things”.

When stepping out onto this patio (below), buyers should think “Aaah…I can’t wait to be sitting out here relaxing and reading my book or entertaining my friends”.  While I know it’s winter, do we really need to see the collection of empty pots?  These should be stored away and out of view.  If possible, the furniture at the far right end should be brought here so it is the first thing the buyer sees.

And last but not least, I love the furniture in this living room (below), but it is too young and hip and colorful (red, blue, green, black, white) to appeal to the broad range of buyers.  The red console and the zebra end table at the very least should be replaced with more neutral pieces, and the blue wall painted a more neutral color.

© Copyright 2010 Designed to Appeal, LLC.  All Rights Reserved.

To view prior posts: www.donnadazzo.wordpress.com

Our website: www.designedtoappeal.com

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Home Staging New York: Benjamin Moore’s 2011 Paint Colors of the Year

December 2, 2010

In home staging, we like to stick to a neutral color palette so that we can make the home that’s for sale appeal to the broadest range of buyers.  However neutral does not have to mean boring.

I love to use pops of color (red, turquoise, orange, greens, blues) in throw pillows, artwork and decorative objects against the more neutral background colors (beige, grays, whites) in the furniture, bedding and walls.

Even so, I love to see what colors the major paint companies forecast to be THE colors for the upcoming year.

Benjamin Moore’s color designers are forecasting vintage wine  as their Envision Color 2011’s Color of the Year

Benjamin Moore Vintage Wine

Vintage Wine

2116-20   

According to Benjamin Moore’s website: 

“First seen on the fashion runways of New York, Paris, and Milan, this rich hue with a deep brown base and a hint of smoky violet is just as magnificent in the home.

As an undertone in many of the latest wood finishes, leathers, and other textiles, vintage wine, and its lighter variations, will make a great paint color pick for many applications over the coming years.

From deep smoky wine to wildly pumped up fuchsia, purple promises to be a predominant color in home décor in 2011.”

Forecasted Colors for 2011

 
In addition to their Color of the Year, the Benjamin Moore color team also comes up with a palette of colors they are forecasting for the coming year.  The color team reviews cultural, social, and political conditions and looks at how they affect fashion and design trends. Their analysis led to a central Balance theme with three related “style movements”—Soulful, Spirited and Dreamy.  Each of these style movements were then defined by six Benjamin Moore colors.

Soulful…


Communications technology has drawn the global cultures closer.  What may have seemed strange now appears familiar to us.  On the style front, this is visible in ethnic designs, pattern-on-pattern, and handmade decoration such as beading and embroidery. Colors that reflect this include Benjamin Moore’s:

  • Vintage Wine 2116-20
  • Wasabi AF-430
  • Amulet AF-365
  • Casco Bay 2051-30
  • Hush AF-95
  • Etruscan AF – 355

Spirited…


By spirited, this means anything that makes you feel happy, joyful, playful. In fashion and furnishings it’s reflected in designs featuring geometrics, stripes and cubes,  and dots and curlicues. Loud and bright colors are  balanced with gray, black and white. Benjamin Moore colors comprising this palette are:

  • Royal Flush 2076-20
  • Grape Green 2027-40
  • Wrought Iron 2124-10
  • Paper Mache AF-25
  • Storm AF-700
  • Lucerne AF-350

Dreamy…

 
From a design perspective, dreamy means transparency, sheerness, blurriness and softness.  The Benjamin Moore colors that reflect this style or mood are:

  • Gray Mirage 2142-50
  • Genesis White 2134-70
  • Porcelain 2113-60
  • Etiquette AF-50
  • Kendall Charcoal HC-166
  • Smoke 2122-40

Each year Benjamin Moore announces their predictions for the upcoming year in a booklet that’s free and available through the company’s extensive network of stores.  The booklet contains decorating ideas, photo illustrations, plus the forecasted palette of 18 colors for 2011.

© Copyright 2010 Designed to Appeal, LLC.  All Rights Reserved.

Our website:  www.designedtoappeal.com

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Home Staging New York: Curb Appeal Checklist

September 5, 2010

As they say, a first impression is a lasting one.  If your home doesn’t look good from the outside, buyers are going to believe it doesn’t look good on the inside either, so they’ll just drive away, or not click on your online listing to see the interior photos. 

Also, if your home looks beautiful, loved and taken care of on the outside it speaks volumes for what the buyer perceives the inside looks like.  It also says to the buyer “I am the type of homeowner that takes care of EVERYTHING – the roof, the furnace, repairs, etc.” 

Lastly, with outdoor space, even if it’s just a terrace in a condo or high-rise city building, buyers are buying EXTRA SQUARE FOOTAGE, so the outside space should receive the same care and even staging that is done on the inside of the house. 

The first thing to do is to clear away the “clutter”. 

Next, clean

Next, make needed repairs. 

Then, do some easy, but impactful “wow” factor transformations

Here is a checklist to get your home’s exterior space in show-ready condition: 

Step 1: Clearing the “Clutter”

  • Keep grass mowed and edges trimmed regularly (weekly)
  • Remove and replace any dead or dying shrubs
  • Consider removing or trimming any excess large trees or shrubs, especially those blocking the windows
  • Prune hedges and plants
  • Remove plant debris
  • Rake the lawn and walkways
  • Weed yard and garden
  • Shovel snow and de-ice walkways
  • Remove and store garden equipment, kids’ toys, pool rafts, empty clay pots, and any other extraneous items
  • Hide trash cans out of view
  • Keep driveway clear of extra cars (park down the street) during showings
  • Remove excess clutter from and neaten up shed and garage
  • Wrap up your hose or hide it altogether in a hose storage pot or wheel
  • Remove excess furnishings from front porches, decks and patios to create spaciousness
  • Take down or move umbrellas if they block any kind of view
  • If it is safe, take down the portable child fence around the pool
  • Remove “Beware of Dog” signs
  • Neatly stack the firewood

Step 2: Cleaning

  • Remove mildew and cobwebs from eaves and lighting fixtures
  • Power wash any mildew off (or at least hose it down) house, roof, patio/deck, outdoor shower, cement, furniture, awnings, umbrellas, walkway, front door area and driveway
  • Clean windows, front door glass and sliding glass doors inside and out
  • Clean light fixtures
  • Clean exterior and interior of BBQ
  • Sweep and wash garage floor
  • Sweep shed floor
  • What you can’t stow away when you’re decluttering, at least clean and place it to the side
  • Clean out gutters
  • Though not visible, clean chimney (safety reasons)
  • Clean grease spills on driveway and garage floor
  • Clean pool, hot tub, ponds and other water features
  • Wipe down or hose your curbside mailbox 

Step 3: Repairs

  • Fertilize grass
  • Water grass more
  • Add grass or sod to bare spots
  • Paint exterior
  • Paint trim
  • Paint or stain fence
  • Paint, or oil and seal the deck
  • Repair or replace windows, screens and shutters
  • Repair or repaint front door
  • Replace mailbox and house numbers
  • Replace welcome mat
  • Polish door fixtures, numbers, mailbox, light fixtures
  • Remove unattractive storm doors, especially those hiding a beautiful front door
  • Remove unattractive awnings
  • Replace furniture
  • Repair or replace torn awnings and umbrellas (or remove totally)
  • Repair or replace worn or missing side or roof shingles
  • Replace burned out bulbs
  • Align downspouts with gutters
  • Repair cracks in foundation, sidewalks, etc.
  • Repair or replace broken deck planks/slats
  • Repair broken fences
  • Repair any doors to garage, shed, outdoor shower, pool house, pool equipment storage, etc.
  • Repair hose faucets, sprinkler systems, pool/hot tub filters and pumps
  • Repair or replace any other broken or worn items

Step 4: Make “Wow” Factor Transformations

  • Paint the front door a contrasting color to the house such as red, maroon, black, etc.  This is one place where it’s OK to use a bright color when selling your home.
  • Paint the garage door  
  • Update mailbox, house numbers and driveway and front door lighting fixtures
  • If you have a large front door area, consider adding a bench, chairs, small table 
  • Add/replace doormat
  • Update lighting fixtures on walkways, pool area, patios, decks 
  • Consider adding walk up lights (solar are inexpensive) 
  • Update the planters to match the style of the house
  • Add huge pots of color with flowers (in every season if possible) to at least the front steps, if not also the patio/deck. 
  • Consider hanging flower pots around the front porch and deck/patio
  • Plant flowers in the front and back yards – flowers do wonders! 
  • Add mulch to the flower and shrub beds to provide contrast and a neat look 
  • Flowers and/or mulch can also be used to cover any bare areas in your planters or under trees for a clean, manicured look 
  • Consider adding shutters or window flower boxes to accent windows
  • Add a fountain to backyard
  • Add a table and chair set to backyard patio and decks
  • Create an outdoor entertainment room by adding pillows to chairs or setting the table with a stack of plates, wine glasses and bottle of wine
  • Replace worn and outdated outdoor furniture, as well as furniture that doesn’t match the price point of the home

Do you know of any other things homeowners can do to enhance their curb appeal?

2nd, 3rd and 5th images: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

4th image: Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

© Copyright 2010 Designed to Appeal, LLC.  All Rights Reserved.

 

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Home Staging New York: Hampton Designer Showhouse 2010 – My Favorite Rooms

September 3, 2010

Much better than last year! 

That’s what I have to say about this year’s Designer Showhouse in the Hamptons. This year it is being held at 129 Stoney Hill Road off Brick Kiln Road in Sag Harbor. Sunday, September 5, is the last day, so hurry and get over there.

This year the room decor in 95% of the house is MUCH more down to earth than last year, which frankly, I found to be over the top.

Here are some of my favorite rooms:

Living Room Designed by HB Home

[I love the classic look of this room]

 

Bedroom Designed by Brady Design, Inc.

[I love the pops of orange]

 

Bedroom Designed by Arden Interior Architecture & Design

[I love the yellow and blue palette]

 

Master Bathroom Designed by Suzanne Kelly of Bakes and Company

Faux Finish Walls by Gerri Wilson of Faux Real

[I love the soothing blue walls and feminine decor]

 

Outdoor Shower Designed By diSalvo Interiors

[I love the luxury of this shower transported into the fresh air]

© Copyright 2010 Designed to Appeal, LLC.  All Rights Reserved.

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Home Staging New York: The Forgotten Rooms When Staging a Home for Sale – The Garage

August 22, 2010

Many home sellers think that it’s perfectly okay to leave their garage “as is” when selling their home, or worse, think it’s okay to move items out of the house and stuff them into the garage in an effort to declutter and minimize furniture and personal items.

Well, it’s NOT OKAY!  The garage is extra square footage and should be treated just like any other room in the house when staging it for sale. 

It should be shown to its highest and best possible use – to store and shelter cars most importantly, and secondarily, to store and shelter tools, hardware, sporting equipment, etc.

It’s NOT to be used to store furniture and other items that should be discarded, given away to family or friends, donated or stored offsite in preparation for your move.

A clean, neat and sparse garage will tell the buyer he has plenty of room to store his car(s) and tools.

Here are some specific tips for staging your garage when your home is on the market:

1. Get Clean – A garage must be clean.  Just because it’s a garage and is quasi indoor/outdoor space, doesn’t mean it’s okay to have dirt, debris, leaves, dead insects, oil stains, etc. 

  • Begin by removing everything from the garage (this will help prepare you for the next step). 
  • Then sweep the floor and brush cobwebs away from corners and ceiling.
  • Remove oil stains with TSP cleaner purchased from your local hardware store.
  • Hose or powerwash the floor if there is adequate ventilation to dry it and the temperature is above freezing. Or at least mop or scrub the floor.
  • Painting the floor, walls and ceiling, makes the garage seem newer and cleaner and tells the buyer you must really take care of the rest of the house. 
  • Wash the windows, if any, and make sure all bulbs are in working order.

2. Get Rid of the Clutter – don’t use the garage as a dumping ground for all of the items you’ve so proudly removed to stage the interior of the home. A few boxes or plastic bins of items are fine, however.  Begin by removing everything from the garage in preparation for cleaning and/or painting it.  Separate items into Keep, Discard, Donate or Give Away. 

3.  Get Organized – For those items you are keeping, organize them into categories such as tools, lawn and garden equipment and supplies, paint cans, seasonal items like beach chairs or holiday decorations, sporting equipment, etc.

Here are some suggestions for getting organized:

Pegboards or slatted walls and hooks

 

 

Plastic shelves and bins

Tool organizers 

Sports Equipment Organizers

 

Overhead Storage Systems

Photo source: www.uglyhousephotos.com

Storage items: www.spacesavers.com

© Copyright Designed to Appeal 2010.  All Rights Reserved. 

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Home Staging New York: The Top 10 Home Improvements that Could Devalue Your Home

August 7, 2010
Sometimes, making an improvement to your home could actually hurt you when you try to sell it. 

Here are the top 10 home improvements that can make your home harder to sell: 

1. Kitchen Renovation. Any renovation of a kitchen that is too taste-specific or extreme in design. For example, a kitchen equipped with a restaurant-level stove or multiple refrigerators may not appeal to the buyer who is a simple cook. You want to appeal to the broadest range of buyers when selling a home, and if a buyer thinks they need to spend money re-doing what you’ve done, they will offer less. 

2. Bathroom Renovations. The same can be said for bathroom renovations. Any design that is over the top could detract from the value of the home. It’s best to avoid garish sinks, faucets, and tiles.  And skip the heart-shaped bathtub!

 3. Painting. Painting the walls is a great way to freshen up a space prior to putting your home on the market, but painting with bold colors such as red, orange, purple or even black (I’ve seen this) is a sure way to turn off a potential buyer. Buyers want to feel like they can move right in and not have to re-paint the walls to match their own tastes and their existing furniture.  The same goes for painting the exterior of the home – no bright blues, yellows or greens please!

4. Water Features. Having an in-ground pool, hot tub, waterfall or pond can also devalue a home, as buyers may perceive these as extra maintenance expenses they don’t want to incur. Also, buyers with small children may be fearful of these as well. The only exception of an in-ground pool definitely adding value is if the home is an investment property in a resort area where renters find homes with a pool to be more desirable.

5. “Wasted” Square Footage. Taking valuable square footage in a house and using it for a specific, personalized purpose can make the house harder to sell and/or detract from its value, for example, turning a garage into a gym. Also, on the Bravo TV show, Nine By Design, the hosts of the show were trying to sell their NYC townhouse. The ground floor was taken up by a basketball/squash court because the owners liked to play these games. However, most buyers would see this as wasted space and an expensive project ahead to change.

6. Redecorating. Redecorating in a highly taste-specific style, such as Asian, country clutter or extreme modern can turn-off potential buyers. When selling your home, you want to appeal to the broadest range of buyers, so it’s important that the furniture and décor is neutral and broadly appealing.

7. Illegal home improvements.  Decks, driveways, expansions, etc.  not approved by the local town authorities  can devalue the home as you will probably be forced to correct the situation prior to selling which could result in something as extreme as actually removing it.

8. Laminated Wood Flooring.  Installing laminated wood flooring instead of solid wood in an upscale home can also cause a buyer to think “I’ve got to rip this out”!  Better to refinish existing hardwood floors, if any, or cover floors with new but inexpensive wall-to-wall carpeting.

9. DIY Home Repairs. While needed repairs and maintenance should be done to a home before putting it on the market, doing these yourself could end up costing you money in the end as buyers perceive your shoddy workmanship as something they have to spend money correcting, and therefore offering you a lower price.

10. Gardens and Landscaping. A high-maintenance garden and landscaping could also lower the value of a home. If buyers are not avid gardeners or don’t want to spend money watering or on hiring someone to constantly weed, trim and rotate your plantings, this could be a real turn-off.

So, before you decide to make that improvement to your home, stop and ask yourself: “Will most buyers find this desirable so that they would be willing to pay for it, or is it just to satisfy my own needs and tastes?”.

Do you know of any home improvements that could devalue a home?

For more information: www.donnadazzo.wordpress.com

© Copyright 2010 Designed to Appeal, LLC.  All Rights Reserved.

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Home Staging New York: DIY Homeowner Gets Quick Sale

July 23, 2010

You don’t have to spend a lot of money on hiring a home stager.  If you are willing to do the work a home stager recommends yourself, then a few hundred dollars investment in a home staging consultation can result in thousands of dollars of return in selling your home and/or thousands of dollars in savings on mortgage, maintenance and taxes as the home could sell sooner than if it had not been improved prior to putting it on the market.

Recently, we received a call from Nancy E. Love, Associate Broker and team member of the Elaine Clayman Group at Brown Harris Stevens to do a home staging consultation at a studio apartment in Brooklyn Heights, New York.  

She convinced the homeowner to stage his apartment before putting it on the market by giving him this choice:  

“You can stage the apartment and get a higher price or leave it as is and I can aggressively market it at a lower price.  However, when you saw the model apartment in the building in which you bought your new apartment, you fell in love.  That’s what we want buyers to do with your apartment.”

So, Designed to Appeal came in and spent two hours at an investment of only $300 and left the homeowner, Jack LaFata, with a list of things to do and to purchase.  Some homeowners ask us to do all or some of the work, but Jack wanted to do all of it himself.  

So he had the apartment painted, decluttered and put things in storage and went shopping for new bedding, throw pillows, a rug and other items.  He spent about $1,950 on this and $80 per month in storage, so his total investment in staging, including the consultation, was only 0.7% of the list price.  

And it paid off.  The results were dramatic as you will see in the pictures below and he should be proud of himself.  

Jack received a full price offer during the first week at a private showing, but this ended up not going to contact.  He then received an executed contract less than 40 days from the time the apartment went on the market, at 95% of asking price.   

Here is what the homeowner had to say about the home staging consultation:

“Donna’s insight and assistance were invaluable in getting my apartment ready to sell. The apartment feels light and airier now, more comfortable, better flow, more coordinated, inviting, and much less cluttered (I don’t even remember what I used all that clutter for to begin with) I wish I’d have thought of staging the apartment earlier for my own enjoyment.”
 
And here is what the real estate agent had to say about the results:
 
“We have an accepted offer at close to the asking price.  Thank you for your expert staging!  We wouldn’t be here without your professional help.  Much gratitude and praise (from a long time skeptic of professional staging).”
 
 

© Copyright 2010 Designed to Appeal, LLC.  All Rights Reserved

For more information: www.donnadazzo.wordpress.com


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Home Staging New York: But…but…but – Even More Objections to Home Staging, Overcome

July 2, 2010

Whether it’s your home for sale or your client’s home for sale, not every seller is convinced right off the bat that staging the home is necessary to get it sold.

In a previous blog, I addressed three common objections from both real estate agents and home sellers to staging a home when it’s for sale:

  • But, why would I want to be spending money when I can’t afford to?  I just need to sell my house/apartment.
  • But, why can’t buyers just look past the décor and envision themselves living here? 
  • But, my home looks good.  It doesn’t need to be staged. 

In another blog, I addressed three more objections:

  • But, why can’t the real estate agent or homeowner figure out what needs to be done to stage the home and make it look better?
  • But, similar homes in the neighborhood and/or building sold without staging.
  • But, the home has already been decluttered and cleaned.  That should be enough.

So if you find yourself or your client asking the following questions or stating these objections, carefully consider these answers before you make that final decision not to stage.

But, my home is in a great location/area/neighborhood and I’ve priced it right.  I don’t need to stage.

Yes, location is one of the most important factors in setting your home’s value.  And pricing it right is also important.  But the right price is only one of the three legs of a three-legged stool when it comes to doing the right thing to sell a home successfully.  The second leg is good outside marketing, and that’s what a good real estate agent brings to the table.  The third leg is inside marketing, or staging – improving the home to make it more desirable.  Remove one leg, and the stool collapses.

But, if it doesn’t sell in 3 months, then I’ll consider staging it OR Let’s see if someone makes an offer after this weekend’s open house.                                        

If a home seller waits to stage if it doesn’t sell, it then becomes a stale listing.  The owner will be offered less than the listing price because potential buyers know it’s been on the market for a while.  Also, the owner and agent end up missing out on any interested buyers who first saw the house and decided it wasn’t for them for one reason or another. Why not capture them right away because the home looks its best?

But, why bother with making the home look better when the new owners will change it anyway?

While a total kitchen and/or bathroom remodel may be unnecessary prior to selling, the reasons you want to at least do some updates like painting, new carpeting, floor refinishing and changing out lighting/plumbing fixtures is to 1) first, eliminate the turn-off that buyers will have once they step into the space, and 2) to improve the space enough so that buyers feel they can move in and wait awhile prior to doing their own updates.  And things as simple as repairs need to be done so that buyers don’t make a mental checklist and offer a lower selling price.

But, I don’t have the time to stage.

Ask yourself, do you have the time to wait around while you’re home sits on the market? Your home is probably the single greatest asset you have, so why gamble with the equity? 

The more time you put into making your home attractive to buyers, the higher your potential sales price will be.

Take one thing at a time.  First and foremost is decluttering and paring down.  You are going to need to pack anyway at some point (hopefully), so why not take the time now to go through everything and discard, donate or sell anything you don’t use or haven’t used in the last year or two.  Pack up and store items and out-of-season clothing that you won’t need in the next 6 months.  Then move on to the next project, whether it’s painting or getting around to those repairs you’ve been ignoring.  Enlist the help of a professional home stager and get your family involved too.

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© Designed To Appeal, LLC 2009-2010.  All Rights Reserved

Home Staging New York: But…but…but – More Objections to Home Staging, Overcome

June 20, 2010

Whether it’s your home for sale or your client’s home for sale, not every seller is convinced right off the bat that staging the home is necessary to get it sold.

In a previous blog, I addressed three common objections from both real estate agents and home sellers to staging a home when it’s for sale.

So if you find yourself or your clients asking the following questions or stating these objections, carefully consider these answers before you make that final decision not to stage.

But, why can’t the real estate agent or homeowner figure out what needs to be done to stage the home and make it look better?

The real estate agent should be spending his or her time doing what he or she does best – marketing and showing the home to potential buyers and renters.  Wouldn’t a homeowner rather know the real estate agent is doing this instead of spending hours rearranging furniture, shopping for accessories, and managing repairmen? 

Owners can’t stage their own homes because they’ve stopped seeing all of its flaws.  Most homeowners don’t have the “buyer’s eyes” that a professional home stager will when walking through the home.  The owners have gotten used to walking past the overgrown bushes in the front yard blocking all of the light from coming into the windows.  The dated wallpaper and lighting fixtures have been in the bathroom so long that they seem to be part of the family.  And homeowners may already be overwhelmed enough with the stress of finding a new home and moving that they won’t have the time or energy to focus on making the home look appealing.

But, similar homes in the neighborhood and/or building sold without staging.

Do you know if they sold at asking price?  Perhaps the owners had to sell for less than what they were asking for because their house looked less than desirable. Do you know how long the home was on the market? Why take that risk?  Staging works.  According to the Real Estate Staging Association’s 2009 study, both occupied and vacant homes that were on the market before they were staged spent 78% less time on the market after they were staged.

But, the home has already been decluttered and cleaned.  That should be enough.

That’s great that the homeowner has already gone ahead and decluttered and cleaned.  However, staging is much more than that.  A professional home stager can see things with a buyer’s eyes.  Staging highlights the best features of a home and downplays the negative features.  Staging ensures that the home appeals to the broadest range of buyers.  It’s a product to be marketed, and a professional home stager will help you market it to its highest potential.

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Copyright 2010 Designed to Appeal, LLC All Rights Reserved

Home Staging New York: Don’t Underestimate the Value of a Staging Consultation

June 19, 2010
A few months ago I was contacted by Jessica Flagg, a real estate agent with The Corcoran Group.  She told me she had spoken with her client and that her client had agreed to having a home stager come in to do a consultation on her soon-to-be listed Carnegie Hill apartment.
 
When I spoke to her client, Suzanne Dyer, she said to me:
 
 “I doubt you’ll need to be here for more than a half hour.  We really just need to figure out what to do with the dining room that I’m using as an office”. 
 
I told her my minimum is 2 hours, and I’m sure we can find some other things to do.
 
Well, after an initial consultation lasting 3 1/2 hours and a follow up staging lasting 1  1/2 hours, Suzanne was one very happy client:
“The staging process was definitely a worthwhile investment.”
 
 
and so was her agent:
“Your work really made a difference in getting the apartment sold quickly.”
 
The apartment went into contract in 50 days at full asking price!.
 
Here are some before and after pics of the transformation.

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Copyright 2010 Designed to Appeal, LLC  All Rights Reserved