[VIDEOS] Going Beyond Cleaning & Decluttering | 4 Must-Do Home Staging Tips

When preparing a home for sale it’s important to look at all aspects of the home staging process. While many times cleaning and decluttering the property can provide a vast improvement, it’s not the only projects to check off the to-do list before putting a for sale sign in the front yard. Here are four unconventional home staging tips every home seller should consider to get the maximum return on their investment.

Every property has the potential to look expensive, but often times spaces fall short of the sales price because of the home’s features. To get a customized high-end look for less start by going neutral. Neutral colors as your base palette are a classic that offers a timeless appeal in any home. When mixing and matching whites, beiges and grays the color scheme creates an upscale look that’s easy to design with as the seasons change. Want a space that feels cozy too? Add luxurious textures and fabrics in your space that will have buyers reaching out for a feel. Go for faux fur, silk and fabrics that are thicker. Use luxurious textiles on curtains, pillows, even bedding. For more ways to create an expensive look in your home for less watch the video below.

It’s important for home sellers to be merchandise and market the home properly to sell quickly. When staging a property, home stagers set up vignettes — displays that can show a moment in time and often dress up a space to create a cozy, lived in feel. Vignettes can vary from room to room and can be determined based on who your buyer is and the lifestyle they want to lead. Items are not just haphazardly thrown together. Vignettes are usually grouped items in odd numbers with varying heights, shapes even colors. How can you get the perfect display in your home create a magazine look? Watch the video below.

Have a small room in your home? Home sellers need to make the rooms in their homes appear larger since home buyers are buying based on square footage. If you have a small room don’t overcrowd the space with lots of furniture, instead keep just the essentials in the space so there is enough room to walk throughout the space without bumping into the furniture. Items should have some space between each other and the walls, that’s why it’s important to keep items in proportion to one another. Space it out please. Give the illusion that your property is bigger, lighter and airy than it actually is.

You only have one chance to make a first impression and that judgement starts at the curb. Sellers tend to overlook things around their home because their used to it, but here’s wha buyers will notice touring a home. Before taking in a room’s view home buyers will notice how it smells. Smells can be a dead giveaway as to how the seller maintains the home. What does your home’s scent say about you? Make sure buyers can’t smell your pets or last night’s dinner. 

Buying a home is a huge investment and buyers want to feel they get the most space for their money. Remove clutter, large furniture and make sure furniture is arranged to maximize square footage. For small spaces make sure to use vertical wall space with built ins and shelves. For more ways to make a great first impression watch the video below.

Want more amazing home staging tips to help get your home prepared for sale properly? Then sign up for our FREE online home staging class that teaches you simple, cost-effective ways to get out of your own way, focus on the buyer and create an action plan to knock projects of the to-do list to show off a property worthy of your asking price.

home staging tips

Have a home staging question? Let me know about it in the comment section below, I’d be more than happy to help provide a solution to your home’s dilemma.

Happy Selling,

Real Estate Pros: Don’t Let Negative Features be the Downfall for a Home on the Market

After living in a home for a few years, homeowners tend to be oblivious to their home’s condition. Whether passing the clutter in the hall corner daily or having a section of baseboard molding missing since that last paint job, homeowners are blinded by problem areas on their property because they’re too familiar with the space, so the issues fade into the background.

negative features

It’s important to note that homes are rarely picture-perfect prior to going on the market. While real estate agents know this, many still decide to market the property in an unflattering state. All you have to do is look at a home’s photos online for proof: Cluttered counters, toilet seats up, clothing-covered floors, overstuffed rooms and orange walls are a few examples of bad representation that can be an eyesore for buyers. And in most cases sellers don’t even think about these issues.

So with a homebuyer looking for a flawless property and a home seller unable to accurately see their space’s condition it’s the job of a real estate agent and home stager to turn those imperfect realities into a merchandised product that creates a win-win situation for both parties involved. But how do you break the bad news to a home seller that his home is an eyesore? Try these simple solutions.

Be honest. 

Remember that saying we learned growing up? “Honesty is the best policy.” Well the same holds true in this situation. Sugar coating a home’s condition will not help the home seller or the bottom line of the deal.

Regardless of the current state of the home, having an honest conversation with the seller at first glance will avoid wasting time. Not to mention, it will boost your professional status as a trustworthy agent or stager, where others will seek your honest advice and opinions. By being honest, you’ll also be able to get the best return on the home’s investment and more money in your pocket.

Remove judgment. 

A real estate agent should team up with a home stager early on in the process to avoid having those awkward conversations with their clients.

By introducing home staging at the initial meeting, rather than once the home is sitting on the market with little buyer interest, an agent shows that this is his process with every listing, and not a personal attack on the client’s style or way of living. A home stager’s job is to be critical and tell home sellers how to best present their property to represent a buyer’s lifestyle.

Be sure to present facts, proof and statistics to steer the conversation, avoid objections and show the value of home staging. This will help reinforce why you use home staging in every listing.

Choose your words carefully. 

Home stagers know how to put a clever spin on a negative feature in a property. It’s all about the wording used to get the point across without blatantly offending the seller. Bobbie McGrath, who owns Successful Staging in Raleigh, North Carolina, never uses the “c-word” ( clutter ) when talking with home sellers. Her workaround: “You’ve given me a great shopping center from which to select the accessories we’ll be using for your staging. The rest will need to be pre-packed!”

McGrath never uses the “d-word” (dated) either. When looking at an old or beat up piece in a home, she says, “I can see this sofa has been well-loved through the years.” The homeowner almost always laughs, opening up discussion about removing or replacing the item for the staging process. 

When using clever wording, sellers feel more comfortable with making the necessary changes rather than being defensive.

See through the buyer’s eyes. 

One tried-and-true method for helping the seller understand buyer expectations is to have the seller pretend to be the buyer, according to Audra Slinkey, creator of the Home Staging Resource, a professional training and education source for home stagers.

Per Slinkey’s recommendation, the home seller goes through each room as a buyer would to describe first impressions, both positive and negative. Anything found that’s negative should be taken care of immediately before showing the property. By going through this process, sellers are able to disconnect emotionally from their home and truly see its current condition.

Show off the competition. 

Another way for a real estate agent to discreetly tell a home seller the house needs work is by sharing other home’s features currently on the market. When in competition no one likes to finish second, so get home sellers motivated by showing upgraded and staged homes competing for buyers on the market, plus the details about how much more recent homes sold for based on making improvements.

Want more help getting your home prepared for sale? Join us on March 29th 7pm EST for a FREE online home staging class that will provide you the tools to get the biggest return of your investment. This class is for home sellers, real estate agents and home stagers (who specialize in consultations) to learn how to get a home ready to sell.

online home staging class

Happy Selling,

Don’t Buy a Home Without Reading This [Infographic]

Buying a house is likely to be the biggest financial commitment that you will make for your entire life, and while the experience can be both exciting and nerve-wracking, it’s important to get it right in order to avoid excessive extra costs in the future.

home buying process

When it’s your first time buying it can be a little overwhelming, with lots of unknowns, difficult legal wranglings and long lists of things to do in order to get the keys to your first home.

Luckily, when you’re ready to make your first move, we’ve got our hands on this extremely thorough infographic created by Legendary Home Services to walk you through the must-do’s of your first purchase:

First Time HomeBuyer

How to Choose the Right Paint Color

Highlight your home’s best features and update your space with a fresh coat of paint. But deciding on a paint color can drive anyone mad. There are so many choices out there today – cobalt blue, coral, Navajo white – the options are endless. Using certain interior and exterior paint colors can spark interest from potential buyers, but also send them out the door if not done correctly.

paint color

[Author Note: This first step is if you’ll be selling a home, however all the tips provided in this post help you choose the best paint colors whether selling or staying.]

So, if you’re a home seller it’s important to remove your own opinion about color. Paint is very personal, but when selling a house you need to focus first on potential buyers.

Research your real estate market to see what homes recently sold and the color schemes used in those properties. Mimic the color scheme to create one cohesive look in your home. Note that every market will have different dominant colors buyers prefer based on the area’s style and the lifestyle buyers are looking to lead. For example, a den in a trendy city loft could have black walls, while the same room in a farmhouse wouldn’t be best suited with black walls, unless it was a chalkboard painted accent wall.

Here are seven things to consider as you consider which paint colors are best to help you successfully sell your home.

Lighting.

Pay attention to the light source in the room you’re painting. Lighting can drastically affect the way a color appears. Spaces filled with sunshine rather than incandescent or fluorescent bulbs will look completely different. The same color can even appear different based on the time of day.

That’s why when specifying colors for a space, it’s important to take light – both its presence and its absence – into consideration. Just because you love a color in the store or at a friend’s house does not mean it will work in yours. Test the color on your wall first to see if it’s right for your home.

Undertones.

All colors have undertones that are implied, even if they aren’t always visible to the eye. For instance, all grays have a tint to them, whether blue, green or even purple. Be careful when choosing colors to ensure that other items or colors throughout the room don’t bring out something you weren’t intending to.

Fixed furnishings.

Paint colors should enhance the fixed materials in a room. Pay attention to flooring, wood finishes, countertops, wallpaper and any tile within the room. It may seem like a no-brainer, but often people don’t take fixed furnishings into consideration.

Paint should complement these materials rather than make them look like an eyesore. If you have built-in cabinets that are a dark red cherry wood, avoid painting the surrounding walls orange. The colors will end up competing with each other.

Varying finishes.

Depending on the finish of the paint, matte verse semi-gloss paint can transform the look of a room. Be mindful of the varying sheens and when to use them. While high gloss is the most durable and the easiest to clean, it can show every imperfection on the wall. Matte finishes, on the other hand can be cheaper, but are less durable.

Emotional state.

When choosing colors, keep in mind that colors can evoke strong emotions. That’s why many home sellers stick to neutrals when putting their home on the market. In general, neutrals are an easy, classic way to go when picking colors. But it’s important to also make a lasting impression. Ask yourself these questions before adding a wall color to a room:

  • What’s the mood of the room? Remember the mood you want to give in each room before choosing a color palette. For instance: A bedroom should be calm and relaxing, while a kitchen can be vibrant or energetic. All white rooms can be dull and hard to keep clean, so avoid this whenever possible.
  • What’s the size of the room? Color can make rooms look larger or smaller. Warmer tones make the room feel cozy, while a cooler color can actually push out the walls of a small room, making it appear larger than it is. Don’t be afraid to go dark or bold in a small space, it can enhance the dimensions of the room.
  • What color are furniture and accessories? Bring an accessory when shopping for paint to try and match up colors, or see what hue will work well with the accent color. This can help you visualize how the room will come together.

Exterior paint colors.

A fresh coat of paint can give the entire house an exterior facelift and spruce up curb appeal. While picking a color, keep in mind the character of the neighborhood. Your color choice should blend well with what’s surrounding the property. Using different tones of tan, light gray or beige can make the property look larger and more modern. Use shades of white on the trim and an accent color on the front door to captivate those who pass by.

Interior paint colors.

The key to interior colors is to combine warm colors with neutral colors. Warm colors are inviting and give a home a little more character than plain white walls. Bold colors can turn away certain buyers. Keeping the ceiling and trim white will brighten up a room, giving the house a crisp, fresh look.

Still not sure what color to start with? Discover your personality with PPG’s Voice of Color Game , let me know in the comment section what color palettes best represent you. I’d love to hear if you have a color crush or prefer neutral territories. 

Happy Painting,

7 Easy Tips to Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal (When Selling or Staying)

As warmer weather takes center stage and begins to play a bigger role in scheduling life’s activities, it’s important to put a home’s maintenance plan together focusing on your home’s exterior. With temperatures flirting in the 60’s and 70’s on the east coast, why not get a head start on boosting your home’s curb appeal?

curb appeal

Making a good first impression outside will entice homebuyers to want to see what’s inside the home that’s on the market. That’s why one of the first things a home seller should do when preparing their home for sale is go stand out by the curb and take in the sights of their home’s exterior and front yard. What do you see? If it’s not eye-appealing chances are buyers will pass your home and never turn back.

Walking through different neighborhoods it’s unbelievable how many homes, whether represented by an agent or not, have for sale signs in the yard with overgrown grass, dead flowers beds, crumbling stoops and the home’s exterior missing pieces of roof shingles or siding.

The impression these sellers, even these real estate agents, are suggesting is neglect, abandonment and unwillingness to put the buyer’s feelings first. If you want a buyer to respond positively to your home and make an offer than you need to assess the space as a buyer would and make improvements that reflect your sales price.

Start with these seven tips to impress buyers outside regardless of how much time or money you actually have before hitting the market.

Update Structural Issues. 

Consider updating projects that will make a big impact on the look and resale value of the home. Repairs like, roofing, siding and replacing windows are not only considered a cosmetic improvement, but can enhance the structural integrity of the home. According to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report for 2016, a homeowner can recoup more than 70 percent of the cost of these projects.

Leaving repairs undone could cause water damage, pest infestation and mold, which will be revealed during a home inspection and could devalue your home.

curb appeal

Fix Minor Repairs. 

If you don’t have the budget to make structural upgrades, then consider what minor repairs can improve the exterior. Small fixes can include cleaning or replacing gutters. Patch up the driveway or concrete walkways. Repaint the front door, fence or any other wood exterior to give it a fresh surface.

Pressure Wash All Surfaces. 

Your home’s exterior can accumulate a lot of dust, grime, even mildew over the years. In order to make the exterior look like new, pressure wash the siding, concrete, vinyl fences, decking and any other surfaces that have lost their luster over time. Beware, though, that a pressure washer can be powerful enough to remove paint, so be careful.

Clean Up Landscaping. 

Remove dead debris and cut back overgrown shrubs. Add colorful flowers, plants with varying heights and mulch into the flowerbeds. Make sure the flowerbeds frame out the exterior of your home so they become an extension of the structure.

Add Potted Plants.

Welcome buyers with colorful flowers or topiaries near the front door to add some life to this hardscape. Try to have at least two matching planters on either side of the door or if you don’t have enough space on your porch, use one larger planter in a corner and consider adding two other planters at varying heights in the same corner to create a statement.

Install New Hardware. 

Check your house numbers, lighting fixtures, doorknobs and mailbox to see if you could benefit from new hardware. These quick fixes are not only easy to install, but are cost effective and instantly make the area around your door stand out. Just make sure all the hardware is the same material.

Accessorize Your Porch. 

This is the final step when dressing up your home’s exterior. Add accessories like a seasonal wreath, a new doormat and a seating area around your front door to invite buyers into your home.

Don’t forget to accessorize other areas in your yard that could impress buyers. Consider updating an outdoor living or dining area with new throw pillows, cushions or a rug. Think about adding more light to define and enhance the space or even add a fireplace to set the mood that buyers can enjoy this area under the stars even on cool nights.

Happy Curb Appealing,

Attract Home Buyers with these Photo Tips

Before coming to a home seller’s front door, homebuyers spend most of their time online checking out listings, scrolling through images and sizing up the competition. More than 90 percent of homebuyers start their search online, according to the National Association of Realtors 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, which is why having show-stopping photos of a home is a must in this digital age.

While many sellers and real estate agents use professional photography to market the home, some are still throwing up dark, dingy, blurry images on the multiple listing services and other real estate websites, leaving much to be desired. Most people do not put enough time and effort into these photos, so when the bad images pop up online it’s not only doing a disservice to the seller, but it’s completely turning off buyers.

The more quality images representing the property exploit the home’s unique features and lifestyle, the more leads and buyer traffic the home will receive. It’s important to capture a few key areas in the home to promote the listing.

From the curb.

The first shot in the listing should be a wide shot of the front yard and exterior. Take the photo from the curb to get the entire structure in the shot. Highlighting lively landscaping and features like shutters or a colorful front door is a plus.

Family gathering and entertaining areas.

Next, snap some photos of the home’s gathering and entertaining areas. If the home has an open floor layout with multiple areas, then try and get an image of the entire space before going in for each room’s close up. In these pictures, make sure the areas are clean, clutter-free and promote furniture arrangements that maximize the room’s depth.

Heart of the home.

The kitchen is one room that will lure buyers to your front door. So add a picture of it in the listing’s slideshow. Now, what if your kitchen isn’t updated? Put it this way, if the listing doesn’t have an image of the kitchen the buyers will most likely think, “Why?” No photo translates into outdated space. Plan on doing small repairs and clearing countertops to make it ready for picture day.

Master retreat.

If you can, show all the home’s bedrooms, though the most important one to attract buyers with is the master retreat. Buyers want to know where they can relax and unwind. Make sure the bed is made and everything is up off the floor. When shooting this room the entire bed, and possibly even another seating area, should be framed up in the shot.

Baths.

If the home has updated bathrooms, show them off. Like the kitchen, if a bathroom isn’t front and center in the listing slideshow, buyers ask why. Remove all personal hygiene products before the photo shoot, make sure the room sparkles – and please remember to keep that toilet seat down.

Work from home.

The home office is becoming a popular room on many buyers’ wish lists, now that many of us can work remotely. If you have a home office, it’s a must to get a shot of the entire room with the desk surface clear of paperwork. This room has to look organized in the photo to inspire others to work here.

Backyard.

The backyard is another popular amenity on a buyer’s wish list. Before shooting this area make sure the pool is clean, furniture has cushions and umbrellas are up. Show off the backyard patio, pool or outdoor kitchen as you would when entertaining. Plan on taking these images before winter, so buyers can imagine spending the summer in this backyard, as opposed to others.

If you have any other positive features or additional rooms your neighboring competitors don’t have, take a photo of those areas as well. Now, that you know what to shoot, let’s talk about how to shoot these images to get amazing quality:

Lighting.

Try to shoot at dawn or dusk for the most flattering natural light. Make sure to turn on all the lights before shooting each room. It should be well lit to avoid dark corners. Open up blinds and drapes, but avoid backlighting. It’s critical to have the light from the window coming from the side or behind you to avoid glare or overexposing the room. Take a picture with and without the flash to see what works best in the room.

Angling the shot.

Create interesting images by positioning focal points to the left or right of the frame away from center. Shoot a variety of shots from different angles – from above, below and at eye level. Professionals use a wide-angle lens to get the entire room in the image and a tripod to keep the shot steady.

It’s in the details.

Plant yourself in every corner of the room and take the shot. The more images the better. Review every shot in the viewfinder to catch things that maybe your eye didn’t initially notice. Look at every detail and photograph some of the emotional connection points in each room. Use a photo editor like Photoshop or Canva.com to add the finishing touches on your photos.

Want more tips grab our photo tips checklist by clicking on the image above to learn how to shoot professional photographs that will have more homebuyers attracted to your listing.

Happy Selling,

Insider Secrets to Stage a Bathroom for Under $1000

A bathroom can reveal all about a property and its current owner – when the house was built, if it’s a high-tech, energy-efficient space, whether it’s been maintained or if the homeowner keeps a rigid cleaning schedule. All of that and more can be revealed in a room that holds your most private moments – that’s why it’s crucial for a home seller to spruce up this room before the home hits the housing market.

The bathroom should be light, bright, spacious and clutter-free. Mimic your favorite luxury hotel or spa to make this room one a buyer wants to escape to, especially in a master suite. Like the kitchen, the bathroom is always a priority for homebuyers. Consider the amount of time that will be spent there getting ready for work and events, bathing the kids or taking a break after a hard day’s work with a soak or steam shower.

According to home design website Houzz’s 2014 Winter Bathroom Trends study more than half of homeowners start their new full bathroom project from scratch, though a powder room is more likely to be updated rather than gutted than other bathrooms. In most instances, it’s not a wise investment to do a costly renovation just for a home sale, because you’ll never get the return on your investment.

But that doesn’t mean you have to leave the bathroom as-is. It’s important to maximize on what you already have on a budget, which will help homebuyers visualize the potential of the room. Here are a few projects a seller can implement to freshen up the bathroom for less than $1,000.

Clear off surfaces.

Start by removing all your personal items laying around on countertop surfaces, in your shower and surrounding the throne. By leaving your personal items on public display, buyers are naturally more interested in the products than the features of the room, and can be easily distracted. A lot of personal items can also make buyers feel as if they’re intruding on your personal space. Keep toothbrushes, hair products, magazines, scales, plungers and toilet brushes at bay – find them new homes under the sink or in a closet close by.

One tip to consider: Use baskets to corral shower items so you can easily access them when needed, and put them away just as fast for showings.

Clean up. 

While this is a budget-friendly solution, and it can be labor intensive and time consuming depending on the bathroom’s condition. Buyers will pay a premium for new, so clean the space to make it feel like new. If your bathrooms are immaculate, it gives buyers the impression that your home has been well maintained and cared for.

Apply a fresh coat of paint. 

Painting a room is one of the easiest, most cost-effective ways to update the space. Choose an off white, beige, gray, green or even a blue to give the bathroom a facelift. Paint the cabinetry, countertop surfaces, even old, worn-out wall tiles with specialty paint in neutral tones, rather than gutting the room.

Sell it with storage space. 

Buyers will be looking inside bathroom drawers and cabinets to see how much space they offer. Make sure they are organized by removing half of the items being stored in those spaces. Consider using shelf paper or liners to add some hidden personality, as well as pretty boxes with a lid to contain smaller items.

Make minor upgrades. 

Spend your money wisely, only making small, inexpensive improvements where it will show. Try replacing shower door glass, or repaint the shower door frame in a popular metal color like gold, silver or bronze. Replace a leaking faucet and opt for a showerhead that has multiple pressure options, including the rain feature. Update towel bars, broken tiles and replace rusty mirrors. You can also frame old, worn-out mirrors.

Outline the details. 

Grout lines and old caulking can show any bathroom’s age. Take the time to clean the grout lines between tiles with a combination of baking soda, water and vinegar. For tough stains and discoloration try using Polyblend Grout Renew. Don’t forget to re-caulk around the bathtub, shower, toilet and sink areas.

Make the hardware shine.

It’s amazing how small details can personalize a bathroom. For less than $100 a seller can replace the knobs and pulls on their cabinets to create a completely different look. Want to keep your old hardware? Wash them well with warm water and soap, then spray paint them in a metal finish.

Upgrade fixtures that flow.

Buy a new faucet to mount if your old one has seen better days. There are a variety of styles and finishes that can vary in cost. If your sink can handle it, choose a faucet with a considerable spout height and reach to look more sophisticated. Remember all the fixtures in the room should have matching metal finishes and materials to create a cohesive look.

Light the way. 

Is your lighting fixture dating the room? If so, replace it with a newer version. Look for sconces, chandeliers, vanity lights or semi-flush mount ceiling fixtures that fit your home’s design style.

Add finishing touches. 

Choose accessories to add a layer of warmth, elegance and luxury. This is where you can consider using soft, tranquil colors to complete the spa-like look. Use luxurious towels, a flower or plant, display fragrant soaps, bath oils and natural loofahs inside apothecary jars and display candles around the tub. Make sure to group these items together to create a uniformity that looks less cluttered.

Let us know in the comments below how you plan on updating your bathroom to make it show stopping for buyers. If you have a questions about how to stage a bathroom make sure to ask below as well.

Happy Selling,

[VIDEO] Avoid the Groundhog Day Experience When Staging a Home

Living inside a staged home can be a daunting task when the seller has to be in a constant state of upkeep. The experience can be grueling for sellers when their personal life becomes public display to strangers and their criticisms. If you’re going to be living in the home while selling you have to be willingly inconvenienced – not only emotionally, but physically. 

groundhog day

So, what’s the best way to get out from under the microscope? Sell fast of course. In order to create an irrestible space with home staging you must work at it, and work at it…over and over and over again. It can get pretty redundant, like in that movie Groundhog’s Day with Bill Murray.

Having a property on the market can have you feeling the same way as Bill Murray did — reliving the nightmare over everyday. In the case of the home seller, making the beds, putting away the laundry, washing the dishes, vacuuming, dusting the list is not only daunting, but endless! A home seller needs to focus on the why though to stay motivated. It’s important to maintain a home while on the market because today may be the day that special someone will walk in the door and say “WOW! I have to have this home!”

To avoid the Groundhog Day rut while still accomplishing these daily tasks try:

  • Try talking to a friend that motivates you and will inspire you.
  • Stick to a schedule so you know you have time allotted to get the house in order.
  • Hire someone to take on the tasks you rather not do or dont have time to complete.
  • Play some music to lighten the mood.
  • Reward yourself occasionally for a job well done.

Need some help getting started? Grab our checklists to get a handle on how to maintain your home more efficient and how to utilize your time to see the biggest return on your investment. How do you keep from falling into a rut? Make sure you let us know in the comment section below.

Happy Selling,

Real Estate Advice: How to Hire a Home Stager

The home staging industry has been growing leaps and bounds in the last few years making it difficult to hire a home stager. With the job title becoming interchangeable between decorator and home designer, everyone seems to be calling themselves a home stager – an expert in preparing and showcasing a home for sale. But be wary not all home stagers are created equal. 

hire a home stager

Just like hiring any service provider, consumers should do their homework and check a home stager’s qualifications before saying yes to working together. Here are 10 questions to ask a home stager to determine if he or she is capable of completing the project properly.

Training and Education

What formal training have you received to be certified or accredited?

Since, home sellers are trusting their most valuable asset to a home stager, it’s comforting to know they went through formal training to acquire the skills needed to lure in buyers. There are a handful of reputable staging training companies the Real Estate Staging Association recognizes to separate professional organizations from those imitators who can wind up costing customers a lot of money.

The RESA designation is something home sellers should look for in a home stager – it shows the stager’s commitment to the profession, since RESA acts as the portal to the staging industry and is the source of education and business tools focused on the needs of real estate stagers.

Without formal education, beware of hobbyists, or those who like to decorate on the side. Home staging involves much more than that; it’s about emphasizing the focal point of the room, showcasing the positives and downplaying the negatives to attract potential buyers.

Experience

How long have you been working professionally as a home stager?

This question is important to determine if you’re speaking to a professional or a hobbyist. A hobbyist talks about the quantity of work he or she has accomplished for family and friends rather than quality and results.

If they tell you up front they’re a newbie just starting out, take note of their honesty, though a veteran home stager is usually a better choice when making a hiring decision. An experienced stager will have an extensive portfolio and experience coming up with simple solutions to difficult rooms.

Portfolio

Do you have a portfolio I can see?

Every home stager should have a portfolio for you to review. The photographs should be labeled with the company name on them and should look cohesive with one another. Make sure the portfolio is of their work, and not stock photos or stolen images from other staging professionals.

A home stager should be willing to provide before and after pictures of their work through a website or in print format, and she should be able to explain the thought process behind the staging project being shown. If they can’t it may be a sign that it’s not their photos.

Some follow-up questions to consider asking on this topic:

Are the photos in the portfolio your own or example photos provided by your trainer?
Did you select the accessories, furniture and paint, or was it a collaboration with others? (Hint: The stager should make the selections).

Specific Style

What type of style would you recommend for my home?

While you’re looking at a stager’s portfolio, check to make sure he or she offers a range of decorative styles to avoid every home looking the same. A staged home should look less taste-specific and personal in order to appeal to a broad range of buyers, but the home stager should keep in mind your home’s style, location and the demographics for your area.

Most home stagers will have their own inventory of accessories for you to rent from. Many will also use furniture rental companies to fill vacant spaces.

Market Familiarity

Are you familiar with the market in my area? Are you familiar with the expectations of buyers in my price range?

The most effective home stager is someone who’s familiar with the various buyers who will be looking for properties in the area. Staging an apartment in the city versus a 2,500-square-foot home in the suburbs requires a varied skill set.

Look for a professional who can market your property to each niche, not just one type of buyer. A home stager should know the buyer profile and what is expected in various price ranges, so staging is based on priorities on a buyer’s wish list.

Testimonials and Referrals

Do you have any testimonials you can share with me?

Professional stagers should have testimonials on their website and marketing materials from homeowners and real estate agents, but ask if you can contact those past clients to find out how the stager worked. Were they pleased with the results? Satisfied? What should you watch out for when working with the stager?

Do you recommend any professionals to help me complete certain home projects?

Home stagers not only have great shopping discounts, but they have vendors they work with and rely on to complete their projects. Especially if you have an older home that needs updating, ask a home stager for recommendations for a good handyman, house painter or electrician. They should be able to supply you with this information.

Insurance

Are the resources you work with insured? Is your business covered by insurance? Are you insured to act as a contractor/project manager?

The home stager you work with should at the very least have business liability insurance. Those companies that have employees should have worker’s compensation insurance. Ask for proof of insurance.

Costs & Contracts

What are your rates and availability? Do you have a contract?

There is no set cost for staging a home, so it’s important to get estimates, proposals and bids from a few home stagers before making your choice. Don’t choose a home stager just because he’s the cheapest or the most expensive. Make sure to find out exactly what you will be getting for your money.

See what the stager’s schedule is like to get a time frame for the staging, and don’t forget to get it all in writing. Stagers who provide a contract or agreement take pride in their work. Take into consideration all of these qualifications listed before making a decision.

Have a question about home staging please make sure to comment below so we can provide you with our expertise. Looking to get started preparing your home for sale? Check out The Stage 2 Sell Strategy,the world’s first online home staging video course for home sellers. 

Happy Selling,

 

 

Insider Secrets to Stage a Kitchen for Under $1000

The kitchen, better known as the heart of the home, is one of the most scrutinized rooms in a home that’s on the market. Staging a kitchen is a must to make the room look clean, bright and welcoming.

Buyers spend a huge amount of time in the space cooking family meals, entertaining and even helping with homework. Somehow everyone congregates in the kitchen, so it’s no surprise homebuyers look for this room to be updated.

According to a 2013 National Association of Realtors Home Features Survey, granite countertops were important to 20 percent of homebuyers. While new kitchen appliances and eat-in kitchens were most important to buyers, the kitchen was the most common home improvement made after purchase.

But if homebuyers plan on improving the kitchen after the sale anyway, shouldn’t a seller leave it as-is to save money?

Definitely not. A home seller needs to inspire the buyer and show the space has potential. If not, it’s likely the buyer will make a low-ball offer. Here are a few projects that a seller can implement to freshen up the kitchen for less than $1,000.

New coat of paint. 

Painting a room is one of the easiest, most cost effective ways to update its surface. Choose an off white, beige, gray, yellow, green or even a blue to give the kitchen new life. If using a pop of color, make sure it fits in with the architecture and design style of the property. Avoid using bold hues during a sale that can put buyers off.

Cared-for cabinets. 

The cabinets and drawers are a major component of any kitchen. What do yours look like? Replacing cabinetry can get expensive, but sellers can cheat by painting them or just replacing the doors with a newer look. Consider doing a combination of both. A popular kitchen trend today is having mismatched cabinetry with different materials and colors, so replace the top and paint the bottom. White kitchen cabinets are still the most popular.

Open shelving. 

Replace some of old cabinetry with open shelving to create a functional place to display your favorite dishes. Make sure the shelf is at least 12 inches deep to hold items, and the shelves can be wood or painted for a custom look.

Blinged-out hardware.

For less than $200 a seller can replace the knobs and pulls on their cabinets to create a completely different look in the room. It’s amazing how these small details can set the tone for the kitchen. Have a tighter budget? Take your old hardware and wash them well with warm water and soap, than spray paint them in a metal finish – gold is making a comeback, and would make for an on-trend look.

Resurfaced counters. 

The Real Estate Staging Association’s report on kitchens, published in 2014, notes the most recommended countertop material for resale is granite and replacing the kitchen counters is one of the top recommendations made among home stagers for resale. Granite is about $30 per square foot, so you may want to replace the countertop only for smaller kitchens. On tight budgets focus on keeping the surface clean and clutter free by reducing the number of appliances on the counter.

Added personality. 

If you’re kitchen is bland, boring or old, plan on changing out the backsplash. There are several affordable options that can spice up the kitchen. Look to install laminated thermoplastic panels, stainless steel or mosaic tiles.

Fresh fixtures. 

Buy a new faucet to mount if your old one has seen better days. There are a variety of styles and finishes that can vary in cost. If your sink can handle it, choose a faucet with a considerable spout height and reach to look more sophisticated. If your budget allows, a faucet with a pull-down sprayer is often a plus for potential buyers.

Lighting. 

If your light fixture is dating the room, replace it with a newer version. Look for pendant lights for the ceiling that can enhance the design style over your kitchen island, and replace discolored and sticky hi-hats. Try adding inexpensive under-mounted cabinet lights to add task lighting and set the mood.

Appliances. 

Buying brand new appliances for less than $1,000 can be hard, so hit up manufacture outlets, check for tax credits or work with what you have. Use appliance paint or consider changing out the front door of a rough-looking oven. There’s even stainless steel appliance film that sticks to the front of the machine for a newer look.

Happy Selling,

 

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