Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Well Staged Home

Revealing Revenue
Retro Style

Agent-initiated home staging reveals the best this home has to offer – hardwood floors, walls of windows, high beamed ceilings, large fireplaces, extensive outdoor living spaces – and sells in less than 2 months.

First things first, this home needs to be decluttered. Lucky for us the home owner’s daughter-in-law is a professional organizer. Unlucky for us, she lives in Maine.

She makes a few trips down and leaves us with the furniture, accessories, and bedding we need to keep staging expenses low.

This 1960s home has the original bathrooms, kitchen, and shag carpet. Now that the home is clutter free, how do we keep from going overboard? Where do we draw the line between adding value and creating a money pit?

We could spend thousands on renovations, updates and new furniture, but that could take months, and we have only weeks.

The location, price and structure of this home are perfect for a buyer looking for a diamond-in-the-rough, a clean slate for their creative vision, a move-in ready home that, over time, will become their own.

We choose to remove the distractions and highlight the home’s best features, unleashing its potential for everyone to see.

As predicted, a creative individual – an architect – purchases the home. Mission accomplished.

The privacy of a grown-up tree house, this home offers a great escape from New York City – or artist’s retreat – in Katonah, NY.

Here is just a sampling of the transformed spaces…

(Click images to enlarge)

Entry – Before Staging 

First impressions start here, standing at the front door. A few things stick out – lights that are too low, shag carpeting, clutter, paneling and no sense of a formal entry. 

 Entry – After Staging

It’s critical that this space feel fresh, new, bright and inviting. Therefore, the bulk of the budget is spent here, setting the stage for what follows. The obstacle course is removed by adding new light fixtures at an appropriate height. A simple Berber rug covers linoleum floors…doors and paneling are neutralized with paint…and use of existing furniture and accessories creates a sense of entry.

“I fought her every step of the way…” 

My favorite part of the project is getting to know the home owner. He is so proud of the results, that on the final staging day he is already escorting neighbors through the home to show off the transformation. 

The neighbors are impressed, noticing all the updates and changes, and as they “ooh” and “ah,” the owner jokes, “I fought Susan every step of the way!”

Bedroom – Before Staging 

Bedroom – After Staging

Furniture, bedding, and a lamp are reused from other spaces. Paneling is painted, wall fixture (not shown here) is updated, and blue shag carpeting is replaced. The same neutral Berber from the entry now extends into this space to visually expand the size of this tiny bedroom. Window treatments are removed for a modern look and to showcase the private setting.

Working with the home seller and agent, AtWell Staged Home’s focus on return-on-investment gets this home ready to sell without breaking the bank. 

Each project is unique.

The amount of staging is based on the starting condition of the home, budget, and willingness of the owner to participate in the process. 

Having the support and trust of the home seller – and agent – are the keys to success.

Basement Bonus Room – Before Staging

What do you do with a room that is long and narrow – like a bowling alley – and the built-in furniture faces a blank wall?

Basement Bonus Room – After Staging

For two days I struggle to make sense of the bonus room. The built-in furniture offers yet another challenge, since removing it could open a can of worms. 

Finally, inspiration. There is a very large flat-screen TV in the adjacent den. This bonus room becomes a theater and the den – with its huge fireplace and wall of windows – becomes a cozy reading room. 

The new theater is now a great room for entertaining as it also leads to a large patio. The home owner’s extensive DVD collection is used to decorate the bookcase and back shelf, helping to reinforce the theme. 

Only items purchased are 2 large pillows for the couches at just $20 each.

View more dramatic before and after pictures below…

Basement Den – Before Staging

Basement Den – After Staging

TV, beds, clothing rack and window treatments are all removed. Paint is considered for the fireplace, but all agree it will be easier for the new owner to add stone or glass tile, if applied directly to the cinder block. So we choose a large, colorful piece of art for less than $75 to warm the cold gray wall. Now this multipurpose room is a cozy den for reading, relaxing, and escaping at the end of the day.

Living Area – Before Staging 

Living Area – After Staging

Since this is the main living area, we need to show a full-size couch. For $450 a couch is purchased. The owner loves it and will take it to his next home. Only other items purchased are the fireplace art, throw and matching pillow all for under $100. Window treatments are eliminated, and the shag carpeting is taken up to reveal hardwood floors.

Dining Area – Before Staging

Dining Area – After Staging

The living room armchair – featured above  inspires the color palette. In addition to the 2 armchairs found in the home, 4 side chairs – in perfect condition – are discovered in the storage shed. Owner’s art coordinates perfectly and replaces the damaged hutch. 

Mirror wall tiles remain to keep expenses low. Not ideal, but they do brighten and enlarge the space. 

Only item purchased is a glass bowl for less than $10.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Home Seller Tips

An Inconvenient Truth about Selling Your Home

Truth is few things are more inconvenient than having your home on the market.

Imagine a bad reality show, where you are forced to live in Macy’s window for weeks on end. Your personal items, your life, constantly exposed to strangers and their criticisms – with no end in sight.

If your home is currently on the market, or going on the market soon, you may already feel this way. So what’s the best way to get out from under the microscope? Sell fast. Well, that sounds easy – and obvious – but how do you sell fast?

In addition to the right price and a good real estate agent, the winning combination also includes home staging, effort, and a willingness to be inconvenienced while your home is on the market. The following questions will help you understand if you are ready, willing, and able to do what it takes to sell a home in this market?

  1. Are you willing to detach yourself emotionally from this home and view it as a product or commodity?
  2. Are you willing to let go of your personal style and decorate to appeal to the widest variety of buyers?
  3. Are you willing to pack up anything you won’t need for the next few months – even if it includes children’s toys, personal photos and keepsakes?
  4. Are you willing to eliminate or hide TVs, computers or other electronic devices?
  5. Are you willing to send your pets away when the home is being shown? Are you willing to furnish an unfurnished home so that it is warm, inviting, and spacious?
  6. Are you willing to clean like you’ve never cleaned before?
  7. Are you willing to establish a budget of no more than 3% of the price of the home for repairs, upgrades and updates?

If you answered “yes” to most, or all of these questions, then you are probably ready.

More than ever, home buyers are looking for move-in ready homes that feel fresh, spacious and up-to-date. On the Web, buyers may like the price, pictures and attributes your home has to offer, but that’s not always enough. They need to be impressed the minute they walk through the door. Showcasing every space will make them fall in love at first sight. It’s this positive emotional response that can lead to an offer and hopefully a sale.

With the inventory of available homes historically high, here are a few tips to meet buyers’ demands, “up” your game, and beat the competition. At the same time, you’ll reduce the amount of time your home is on the market and consequently the amount of time that you will be inconvenienced.

Be prepared. The hardest part of living in a home that is on the market is constantly being prepared to show your home. But you must be ready at a moment’s notice. You never know when your perfect buyer will walk through the door. This is not a good time to entertain or have guests.

Clean sells. All homes should be thoroughly cleaned prior to listing. Daily touch-ups may be necessary for occupied homes, but vacant homes can become surprisingly dirty as well. Dust on surfaces, cobwebs in corners, stains in stagnant toilets, fingerprints on windows and appliances —all of these areas need to be inspected and cleaned regularly. Occupied or vacant, consider hiring a professional cleaning service during the period your home is on the market.

Pack it up. Pack up and store anything you won’t need while your home is on the market. Packing sooner, rather than later, will make the transition easier. Many moving companies offer storage options for those staging their homes to sell.

Stick to the essentials. Too much or no furniture can make a home feel small. Cluttered homes are distracting, while vacant homes can leave a buyer cold. Either way, buyers will have trouble picturing their furniture in these spaces. Define each space to have a single purpose, minimize clutter, and make sure there is plenty of light.

The more you do in advance of listing your home for sale, the faster it will sell, and the sooner you can return to a normal life. Showcasing or staging your home will help to minimize the stress and inconvenience that comes with selling. The truth is that you will be inconvenienced, but it will be well worth it, and your efforts will be rewarded, when your home sells fast and for top dollar.