Jan 19

Inexpensive Staging Ideas

There is a lot of information on why the costs of staging when putting a house on the market are worth every penny.  And that is certainly true. But there are still ways to save money when staging – ways that won’t compromise the quality of the staging itself, but will help save on the overall expense. Here are a five easy to implement suggestions:

1. If you need additional accessories, try placing a single stem in a vase for a dramatic effect. Glass vases can be purchased inexpensively at craft stores. You may be able to purchase a single stem from a florist at the end of the day on Saturday at a greatly discounted price – and just in time for Sunday open houses. Or try flowering branches from your own yard, or even fresh fruit (which will last much longer) in a pretty bowl on a dining table or kitchen counter top.

2. When you remove the family photos, if you don’t have anything to fill the space, leave it empty. There is nothing wrong with empty wall space (within reason) – and this is in fact much better than too much on the walls. Empty wall space allows the potential buyers fewer distractions, allowing them to notice the house rather than the things in it.

3. If you need window treatments to replace worn or dated ones, or to cover a less than attractive view, purchase sheers. These will add the softness, cover a less than perfect view, and still bring in light – all at a very reasonable price.

4. If you need to update bedding, stick with solid colors you can use to mix and match. Solid-colored sheets, a solid comforter folded back, and a few solid-colored throw pillows can be purchased inexpensively (f you don’t already have them) yet give an updated look to a bedroom. (Think color-blocking!)

5. Purchase flowers near the end of their season (and on sale) and place in pots on the front walkway to create an inviting entrance. You’ll still get lots of colorful blooms – and at a great price.

Ann Anderson,  the owner of Rooms Reborn, founder and Director of the School of Interior Redesign, co-founder of the Association of Design Education, and co-creator of the Ready2Sellin30Days system.


Jan 15

Priced NOT to Sell?

Realtor Brenda Mullen wrote a fabulous blog post Priced to Sell!!….Aren’t They All? In a witty, lighthearted yet insightful way, Brenda asks a very good question …. aren’t all homes on the market priced to sell? What’s the alternative “priced NOT to sell”?  I think Brenda’s intent was to poke a little fun at the silly things Realtors sometimes say in their advertising. And if you think about it, the all too common phrase “priced to sell” IS pretty silly. If a house is not priced to sell – house for sale, there’s a problem.

This post and the many great comments it received got me thinking about sellers who are not realistic about their asking price. You may think a home stager like myself shouldn’t be concerned with such matters. After all, I should only care about lamp shades, pillows and paint chips, right? Wrong! This central Connecticut stager is VERY concerned about list price. You see I don’t just make houses look pretty, I prepare houses to SELL. It doesn’t matter how great it looks when I’m done with it – if a house isn’t priced right it is not going to sell – and I won’t feel like I’ve accomplished my objective.

This is why I always urge my staging clients to LISTEN to their listing agent when it comes to determining a list price!

If a seller is not willing to be realistic about price, there’s a good chance that seller is simply not emotionally Ready2Sell….yet. Sometimes all they need is a little time and patience getting there. Sellers who are not emotionally ready to sell, have a funny way of getting in the way of their own home sale success. They might overprice their home, refuse to properly prepare it for sale and maybe even make it difficult to show (go here to learn other signs of Seller Sabotage Syndrome).   And if an offer does come, something inevitably goes wrong during the negotiations. 

There’s an unexpected upside to working with a stager that you might not be aware of. During the weeks (or sometimes months) it takes to get a home ready to sell, home sellers start removing the items that keep them emotionally connected to their home. They start packing and getting ready to move on to their next home. They study their competition. They start looking at their house differently – through the eyes of their potential buyers. The stress, the fear, the overwhelm starts to evaporate because they feel supported through the process. 

Sellers who take the time they need to go through this process (and it cannot be rushed) experience the most success. Why? Because they’ve done what it takes to become emotionally ready to list their house and with that usually comes a willingness to listen to their agents about price. If they’re unwilling to go through this process, that could be a sign they’re not that serious about selling. 

Of course sellers MUST realize they’re NOT going to get more for their house than its worth because they went through all that trouble! Staged homes sell faster because they have broad appeal. Properly preparing a home for sale can help sellers avoid price reductions but it does NOT justify an unrealistic asking price. 

Karen Bernetti is a Real Estate Stager, owner of Staging4Smooth Transitions, former Realtor and co-creator of the Ready2Sellin30Days System. Call 860-302-0333 to learn more.

Jan 12

How Much Should I Spend to Stage?

I received an email over the weekend from someone who is considering putting his home on the market.  He wanted to know if he had to redo his kitchen and, if so, how much did I think it would cost?  And finally, would he be able to recoup the expense when he sold the house?

This house is one I have seen, but it’s in Vermont – and I’m in Connecticut.  And although there are some things I can say for certain – that kitchens and baths are definitely hot spots for buyers – I don’t know the Vermont market.  So my first advice to him was to check out the competition.  He told me that other houses in the area were in the $175-$200k range, but he wants to get $250.  But that doesn’t tell me anything about the other houses – what size are they, what condition are they in, what is their neighborhood like?  This information will tell  him if they are truly competition for his house.

The next suggestion is to talk to a Realtor about the properties that are being sold.  What is their price range?  What about amenities?  Condition?  The Realtor will help him understand what the market is looking for – as well as what the market will bear.

Then finally, take a look at the changes that can be made economically. In the kitchen, I know new counter tops are in order.  But at this price range (even the $250k), a beautiful laminate should be fine.  The kitchen cabinets are dated, but painting them and replacing the hardware may just do the trick.  He just needs to make certain that roblem doors (not closing all the way, loose hinges, etc) are also repaired.  And while he’s doing this, he should make certain the bathrooms are in good shape as well.  

And finally, a fresh coat of paint throughout the entire house will do wonders, especially since it hasn’t been painted in a few years.  Paint covers a myriad of sins, giving an instant update and freshness to any house on the market.  

I’m sure there are other things that can be done – and that we will discuss once he has a bit more information about the local market.  For one thing, the furnishings should be pared down so the house feels much roomier.  And the view out the windows and from the deck is drop-dead gorgeous, which should definitely be capitalized on.  But these are the easy changes.  The hard ones are knowing how much money to spend to get it ready for market.  And a little research will help guide that decision so he is able to see a significant return on his investment – which may not have to be that great after all.

Ann Anderson, owner of Rooms Reborn, founder and Director of the School of Interior Redesign, co-founder of the Association of Design Education, co-creator of the Ready2Sellin30Days System.

Jan 08

Moving Tips – Don’t Make the Same Mistake I Made

I recently moved to a new home. My kids and I absolutely love where we’re living, BUT getting there sure wasn’t easy. Packing, moving and unpacking is no fun at all. And I made a horrible mistake –  by thinking I didn’t have that much stuff to move. I couldn’t have been more wrong.  I’ve moved a few times over the years and it always amazes me how much stuff I have. The truth is…. you never know how much stuff you have until it’s time to move!

I got help moving some of the heavier boxes and larger pieces of furniture, but for the most part I did everything myself. My minivan must have made at least 100 trips between my old house and my new one, just 3 miles away. But with the price of gas these days, I was crazy to think I was saving money doing it myself.

Because I had underestimated what I had, I was completely overwhelmed when it came time to pack, move and unpack it all. If I had to do it over again I would have definitely hired a mover. With that in mind, I thought I’d share a few moving tips, so that you won’t have to make the same mistakes I made:
1. Plan ahead. Compose a master list of all the things you need to do and when they need to get done. This will ensure you won’t forget something critical.

2. On most moving company websites, you’ll find online moving cost calculators. This is a great way to get a preliminary idea of what your moving expenses will be.

3. Contact successful real estate agents in your area and ask them to recommend a reputable LOCAL  moving companies. Contact a few and set up appointments for an in-home estimate. Visit the company’s office, check out the company’s trucks and storage facility.  Find out if they will be doing the move or subcontracting the job to someone else.

4. Find out how long the company has been in business.  Ask for details about their pricing, insurance requirements and how they determine the value of your belongings. Make sure the company you’re considering is licensed and insured.  Contact the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints against the company.

5. Don’t sign any documents that you don’t fully understand.  Ask for references of satisfied previous customers and call them.

6. Visit www.movingscams.com to learn more about finding a reputable moving company.

7. Don’t waste time and money packing and moving items you no longer want or need. Consider getting rid of anything you haven’t used or worn in over a year.  Have a garage sale, donate to charity and/or recycle.

Karen Bernetti is a Real Estate Stager, owner of Staging4Smooth Transitions, former Realtor and co-creator of the Ready2Sellin30Days System. Call 860-302-0333 to learn more.

Jan 01

Tips for Selling Your House During the Winter Months

It’s tough selling a house during the cold and snowy winter months, BUT that doesn’t mean you have to be discouraged. While it’s true, there are fewer house hunters this time of year, those who are looking are usually QUITE serious. I’d take a SERIOUS buyer over a “lookyloo” any day!

Here are a few tips for winning over your prospects when selling a home during the winter months:

1. Remove snow and ice from the driveway and all walkways, and keep them neatly shoveled and sanded. Perhaps this seems too obvious to mention – but EVERY winter we come across homes where this is not done! If buyers can’t safely enter your house, you’ve lost the sale. AND if someone slips on ice and gets hurt – you could have a law suit on your hands. If your home is vacant, arrange to have this important job done by someone else.

2. Be sure to also remove snow and ice from patios and decks. These are important selling features that you don’t want overlooked simply because they’re typically not used in the winter.

3. Do you have a pool? Hot tub? A garden? Display an attractive a photo album with pictures of how beautiful the flowers look in your yard look in the spring; the clean and refreshing water in the pool during the summer; the vibrant colors of the trees in the fall. (Be sure to keep the photos of the scenery and not your family.)

4. Add potted evergreens to front porches/entrances for added color, warmth and life.

5. Keep thermostat at a comfortable setting and light a cozy fire in the fireplace (if you have one) whenever possible.

If your home been on the market for several months without any bites, you might want to consider taking it off the market for a little while. You can always re-list in the spring. It’s a lot easier for your agent to create excitement for a “NEW” listing (with a new price that reflects the current market conditions) than for an old, tired, over-priced and shop-worn one.

Karen Bernetti is a Real Estate Stager, owner of Staging4Smooth Transitions, former Realtor and co-creator of the Ready2Sellin30Days System. Call 860-302-0333 to learn more.

Photo courtesy of chimothy27

Dec 29

Creative Accessorizing

Whether you are planning on staying in your home or getting ready to sell it, accessorizing is a wonderful way to add interest. The colors, textures, shapes, and sizes of the accessories we choose can enhance the inviting ambiance most of us want to create – either for ourselves or for the potential buyers. And believe it or not, you can probably find some items around your house – or at least for very little money – that will do just that!

First, candles are wonderful accessories.  Used alone or grouped on the mantel, in the center of a dining room table, or by the side of a jacuzzi, they add warmth and color, which can be enhanced by the way they are displayed.  Make a statement with a large dramatic holder.  Or try using a tray with clear or colored marbles.  Group several different sizes on a variety of pedestals (perhaps clay pots turned upside down) in the fireplace.  One caution: if the house is on the market, make certain they are unscented.  Otherwise, light them and enjoy both the glow and the scent.

Plants are another great way to add interest, color and texture.  And you can use either real (make sure they are healthy) or fake (that look life-like).  Added to bookshelves and mantels, they soften hard lines.  Or use them as part of a grouping on the coffee or end table.  Place one in front of a mirror to double the appeal.  And of course, on the floor they can soften edges, make entrances into rooms more inviting, or fill an uninviting corner with life.

Books are another great accessory.  Beautiful leather-like books can make a statement of their own on a mantel, side table – or even in a bookshelf.  And if you need height with your accessorizing, take the paper cover off a hardcover book and use it as a stand for another accessory.  You can even make a too-short lamp the appropriate height!  Just make certain the title isn’t one a guest or potential buyer would find offensive. 

And you can find so many other creative ways to accessorize simply by looking around your house.  Think pretty plates on stands, decorative baskets (useful as well to hide clutter), or simply clear vases filled with marbles or shells.  Use your imagination and have fun!

Ann Anderson, owner of Rooms Reborn, founder and Director of the School of Interior Redesign, co-founder of the Association of Design Education, and co-creator of the Ready2Sellin30Days system

Dec 22

Seller Sabotage Syndrome

Before you can prepare your home for sale, you must first prepare YOURSELF.  Very often  emotional attachment to our home gets in the way of our home sale success.   During Day 1 of the Ready2Sellin30Days program, we discuss the importance of overcoming emotional obstacles that sellers typically don’t even realize exist.  Below is a brief excerpt ….

“Seller Sabotage Syndrome”

If you find yourself resisting the process of preparing your home for sale, you may be experiencing what industry experts refer to as “Seller Sabotage Syndrome”.  It is typical for sellers who suffer from this condition to either intentionally or (more often than not) unwittingly sabotage their own home sale success. Perhaps you’re having difficulty with your reasons for selling. Perhaps you still haven’t come to terms with your emotional attachment. 

Whatever your reasons, it probably means you’re simply NOT READY to part with your home.  It is absolutely crucial for you to take time to fully explore these feelings BEFORE proceeding with the sale of your house! If you have a home to sell, be sure to watch out for signs of “Seller Sabotage Syndrome”. Symptoms include, but are certainly not limited to: 

• Insisting on overpricing your house, even though similar houses in your neighborhood are priced lower. 

• Failing to properly prepare your house for sale, even if you know the changes you need to make will help you sell faster and for more money. 

• Making the house difficult to show. 

• Being unwilling to schedule convenient times for showing appointments (requiring 24-hour notice) and open houses.

• Refusing to leave when your house is being shown. 

Sellers - make sure you’re taking the time you need to work through those feelings that might be standing in the way of your success!  

We realize that hiring a stager is not a practical option for many home sellers. That’s why Ann and I have created the Ready2Sellin30Days system. Our goal – to alleviate the STRESS and OVERWHELM associated with the entire home sale process.

It’s NOT your typical “staging” manual.  It’s a comprehensive do-it-yourself guide to properly preparing a home for sale in any market – it covers overcoming emotional attachment to preparing for an open house to EVERYTHING in between.  Check out www.Ready2Sellin30Days.com to learn more!  

Karen Bernetti is a Real Estate Stager, owner of Staging4Smooth Transitions, former Realtor and co-creator of the Ready2Sellin30Days System. Call 860-302-0333 to learn more.