Lately, I've been called in to "fix" vacant properties where virtual staging failed to yield a sale. It occurred to me that since I run into this situation more often, I must blog about why virtual staging just doesn’t work. Sure, you’ll get nice photos for the internet, but when a buyer walks thru the door to an empty house, it doesn’t help to sell the property.
And here’s why virtual staging doesn’t work:
1. You’ve immediately lost the TRUST of the prospective buyer who expects to see a gorgeously decorated property (like the one they saw on the internet). Let’s face it, buying a home is emotional. And trust is the foundation of any great relationship. Realtors want to make the sale, but more importantly, they want to develop a relationship to get future listings. You start off on the wrong foot when the buyer is disappointed as soon as they walk through the door. If anything, you want to set a lower expectation about a property and then over-deliver when the buyer walks through the door. (Not the other way around which is what happens with virtual staging.) Even if it’s not your listing, a buyer could be thinking: “What else isn’t my realtor telling me?”
2.When there’s nothing for the buyer to connect with (via furniture and accessories) they have nothing to “fall-in-love with” about the property. Buyers need to emotionally connect to a space. Staging is about selling a lifestyle, so buyers see themselves living in the home. When a house is vacant, buyers will notice its “defects” (like, painting and repairs). Conversely, when there are furniture and accessories, and a buyer loves the home, they may not notice a its defects.
3. Furniture helps buyers to visualize size and scale of how their furnishings will fit. 9 of out 10 buyers can’t visualize how their furnishings will fit in a space? Staging is a must to overcome this!
4. Empty rooms can feel small, cold and uninviting which is the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve when marketing a house. A buyer will decide if they like a house within the first 7-12 seconds of entering, so you must make a great 1st impression. Don’t make the mistake of spending money (and time) on virtual staging. If a seller can’t afford to fully stage a vacant property then It’s better to invest money on repairs, cleaning and doing light staging, so the home is presented fairly & in the best possible light.
One last thought, if a seller isn’t initially open to staging a vacant property, re-visit the subject before asking for a price reduction. Vacant staging typically costs approximately 1% of the purchase price, (which is usually less than a price reduction.) This way, the seller isn’t leaving money on the table; the home will sell faster and for the most money possible. Besides, Staging is Tax-Deductible, so your seller will re-coup staging costs anyway. Vacant staging is well-worth the investment to help homes sell quickly, and for the highest price possible.
Find out if your design style is up-to-date with the hottest new trends for 2019. This article will focus on 7 new design trends for this year and how to incorporate them into your space.
Maximalism – Rather than sparsely decorated minimal spaces, designers are showing more curated looks that tell a story and bring-in more layers to spaces. We are seeing interiors that have lots of personal items along with classic and traditional furnishings. While not being too busy, each piece is well thought-out, & has a purpose and meaning to the homeowner. To achieve this look try using a mix of antiques, florals and new pieces; incorporating rich colors; and mixing textures and metals. Stick to 2-3 colors and repeat them throughout the space.
Eclectic – We are seeing “new” or newly purchased pieces mixed with old/antique furniture and accessories. So, next time, don’t shy away from the antique store, go in and purchase something that speaks to you. And when your grandmother asks you if you want your favorite item of hers, take it! You want your space to tell a story; your history, where you’ve traveled, & what you like? Designers and home owners want their spaces to have soul and personality. To achieve this look, try mixing rattan (a hot trend for 2019) with a jewel-toned green or navy-blue sofa or chair. Don’t forget to add textures and repeat textures throughout the space. If your furnishings are neutral, add jewel-tones, floral pillows or paint to your walls. Then, ad-in an antique truck or vintage table along with a soft cozy throw. Add photos of your travels, friends and family to finish the look. And, choose photo frames made with the same finish. It’ll give your room a cohesive & fresh look. Today’s spaces should be deeply personal and tell your unique story.
Curved Furniture – Designers are using more and more curved couches and chairs in rich velvet and soft fabrics. We’re seeing curved coffee tables and end tables incorporated into this look too. If you’re not sure about this trend, try purchasing just one item, like a curved settee or sofa or even a barrel-back chair. Another option is to purchase a Tulip Table for your kitchen and add funky chairs. It’s a more modern and contemporary look, but you can tone it down by mixing in antiques and soft fabrics to add style & comfort.
Black and White Color Pallets always add LOTS of DRAMA! To achieve this look without your space looking too stark, try adding in 1-2 accent colors & textures like: wicker or rattan, metal accessories & throws. Stick to black and white as your main colors and add the other color thru smaller pieces like accessories, so your room is crisp and well put-together.
Farmhouse is still going strong this year and can be used even in modern spaces to bring interest into a room while telling a story. Contemporary or urban city spaces can bring in the farmhouse look with vintage like old signs, clocks, and smaller antique accessories like tool boxes, books, trays or toys. These items will warm-up the space, bring it up-to-date and help tell your story. Remember, you don’t have to spend a lot to achieve this look. Retailers like Kirklands, At Home and Homegoods, often have inexpensive items to achieve the Farmhouse look.
“Plant-fluencers” – Need a new buzz-word this year? This one means people who bring plants into their spaces, both for sustainability, life and cooking. More and more millennials are looking to add plants into their spaces, and designers always rely on plants to give life to a space. So, ditch the fake dust-collecting plants and add real ones instead! Not sure about this trend, try herbs for the kitchen like basil, cilantro and rosemary. They’re easy to grow, smell wonderful and can be used for cooking too! Other easy-to-grow plants are: Succulents, Asparagus Ferns, Fiddle Leaf Fig, Yucca and Guiana Chestnut plants. You’ll breath better and will breath life into your home!
Heavy Metals of all Kinds – We are seeing 2 hot trends here: mixing metals of all kinds into your design and incorporating lots of polished brass. Hot metals making a comeback are: copper, nickel, polished brass and black mat finishes. Best of all, you can mix them, so you don’t have to worry about being all “matchy-matchy.” If you’re scared of trying this trend, try adding some polished brass pulls on your kitchen cabinets or changing out bathroom fixtures and pulls. You can also try mixing metals with accessories. It’s an inexpensive way to update your space.
Want more design & staging advice? See our next issue for 7 other design trends for 2019. We’ll also talk color!
Let’s face it, the easiest and most cost-effective way to update the look & feel of a space is with paint. Yet, many homeowners will skip this important step BEFORE putting their house on the market, because they don’t want to spend money on a house they are selling. What homeowners don’t realize is the value they are losing by not painting and not choosing the right colors that will bring them BIG returns on their investment. In other words, sellers are losing money by not painting their home before putting it on the market! This article will outline of few of the BEST paint colors to use that will increase the value of your home at resale.
According Statistics from Home Staging Resources, Inc., selecting the right paint colors can increase the value of your home by as much as $10,000. So what are the best paint colors for today’s Buyers?
Bathroom/Bedroom – Make upwards of $5,400 by painting these rooms a powder blue or periwinkle shade. These shades are soothing, relaxing and more conducive to sleep as well. For example, try using Benjamin Moore’s “Whispering Spring” BM-2136-70 or “Palladian Blue” BM – HC-144 or “Glass Slipper” BM – 1632.
Kitchen – Sellers can make upwards of $1,800 by painting a kitchen a light blue-grey. For example, try using Ben Moore “Grey Owl” BM OC – 52. The white kitchen trend isn’t going anywhere, so sellers may want to consider painting cabinets a cream or white such as Ben Moore “White Dove” OC – 17 or Sherwin-Williams ”Alabaster” SW – 7008. Make sure you are coordinating the cabinet color to other fixed items in the space such as flooring, counters and trim. If you need help, call-in a paint color consultant. They will help you select colors that are harmonious and will add value to your home.
Dining Room – Make upwards of $1,900 by painting your dining room a slate blue, pale blue/gray or navy rather than reds or burgundy. Try Ben Moore “Van Courtland Blue” BM HC-165. If your room doesn’t lend itself to these shades stick to neutrals like Ben Moore “Manchester Tan” HC-81 or Sherwin-Williams “Macadamia” SW 6142 or Ben Moore “Muslin” OC – 12.
Even Real Estate Agents report that when home sellers opt not to paint "figuring its too much of a hassle", sellers end up losing money because the house sits on the market and loses value the longer it goes without an offer. Today, buyers are busier than ever and want move-in ready homes. In fact, most buyers will overestimate the cost to paint, and will either low-ball their offer, or move on to the next house. And, no one wants that. So, if you want to sell your house for top dollar and NOT LOSE MONEY, paint before you put your house on the market. Your internet photos will look great, & attract more attention, plus you’ll make more money at the closing table!
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For many of us, the thought of the holidays and the usual deluge of activities like shopping, gift-giving, entertaining, parties, and unexpected company, can launch us into a full-blown panic attack! Arming yourself with a few tips to make your home holiday-ready, will help reduce your stress significantly; I promise. These recommendations will help update your home, and prepare it, so you can enjoy the holidays instead of dreading them.
1. Clean-up & Clear-Out - Before you even think about holiday decorating, take time to clear-out any excess “stuff” that’s been accumulating. For instance, if your dining room table & counters are anything like mine, they accumulate items throughout the year, that need to find a home. Either KEEP IT & THROW-IT AWAY or GIVE IT AWAY – to family members, friends or a charity. There are so many organizations that will be happy to have your gently-used items, especially in time for the holidays. (Community Aid, Salvation Army). You can even consign items and to make a little extra cash for the holidays! (Plato’s Closet, Hello Gorgeous, Making Sense. are good choices) 1-800-Got-Junk is great for hauling stuff away.
2. Make it a Family Affair, & Get the Kids Involved. Have your kids’ clean-out old toys and sort through “kid-related items” to make room for new gifts they will be receiving. If you have teens, encourage them to consign their belongings to earn extra cash. Kids are great at helping-out, when you give them specific chores and make it fun. So, turn on some loud music and get them to help. Believe me, having cleared-off surfaces and items put away (before the decorations come out) will allow you to begin the holiday season feeling less stressed-out. Plus, you’ll feel good that you helped those in need. So, pay it forward!
For Quick Decorating Ideas that will “WOW” your Spaces & your Guests:
1. Paint - The simplest way to make a huge decorating impact on your home is with paint. Paint color can warm a space, create ambiance, and set the mood. For instance, red in a dining room will invite conversation & re-energize the space. While blues & greens in a bedroom, office or bath, will invite relaxation and creativity.
2. Rearrange Furniture – This will give your room a whole new feel! Look at the space, is there a focal point (like a fire place)? Arrange your furnishings on either side of the fireplace, never blocking it. Consider arranging furniture in conversational groupings or around a gaming table to invite guests to play a game instead of use their cell phones!
3. Update Furnishings with a few Inexpensive Pieces that will serve duel purposes (e.g. chair and bed). These pieces will give your space a “comfy” feel, and give you extra space for overnight guests. Adding a few extra bar or counter stools in the kitchen will invite quests to visit while you are preparing meals or drinks. After all, the party always ends up in the kitchen, so be prepared. See my Houzz Idea Book: Great Staging Products for more product ideas. Other sources are www.Wayfair.com, www.BallardDesigns.com or www.grandinroad.com.
4. Change-out Pillows and Throws – These items are relatively inexpensive at stores like HomeGoods, TJ Maxx, Pier One, and Pottery Barn (The Outlet is in Lancaster, just saying). It’s a great way to give your home a new and updated feel without breaking the bank. Check-out my Houzz Idea Book: Great Staging Ideas
5. Add new Art Work – These stores are also a great resource for large canvas artwork. Or, you can try doing a gallery wall of family photos on 11X16 canvas. These can be inexpensively created at sites like Costcos.com, Wal-mart, Target, and Sam’s Club. Remember, if you are hanging photo frames on a wall, stick with frame choices in the same color (e.g. either all black, all gold or all white frames). Then, the photos inside can be any size, as long as, the frames are a consistent color/material.
6. When all else Fails, Call-in the Experts. For less than $500 you can hire a re-designer who can come in for 4 hours and help reconfigure your space; advise on paint choices, and/or recommend inexpensive purchases that will give your home a whole new look (and feel) just in time for the holidays. Then, take a deep breath, buckle-up and enjoy the holidays! For more information see www.carolynplummerdesigns.com And, have a joyous and blessed holiday season!
When it’s time to sell your home, not everyone can afford to: “Spend Money to Make Money” or can they? Did you know that buyers will formulate an opinion of your home within 7 seconds of seeing it? So, you must grab their attention FAST! And, did you know that a professionally staged home will sell in an average of 1-23 days, which is 90% faster than homes that weren’t staged? But, in the Harrisburg, PA and surrounding markets, homeowners are finding unique, inexpensive and strategic ways to stage without breaking the bank. Here are the rules:
1. Invest in a little help – Find a certified professional stager & have them do a consultation visit. ($175-$250) Trust me, this is worth it! The stager will spend 2-3 hours and will give you a detailed plan of action for exactly what you need to do to prepare your home to sell fast. They know what it takes to grab buyer’s attention and help create spaces that buyers will envision themselves living in, so they’ll make an offer. Leave this advice to the professionals!
2. Channel your inner “neat freak”, roll-up your sleeves, and start packing now – Anything that you can live without for a few months, start packing in boxes and placing in storage or in a shed. You must pack for move anyway, so why not start now? Also remember, less is more. Get rid of anything you don’t need by donating it to charity, or giving to family or friends. You’ll feel good to give to those in need and your house will look spacious, tidy and well-organized.
3. Clean, organize, clean, repeat! You will want to do a spring cleaning on steroids. Remember, buyers want move-in ready, clean, updated spaces. And, if you have pet, make sure to do a thorough deep cleaning on carpets & floors. Be sensitive to odors that may be invisible to your nose; & ask a stager for their opinion. They won’t be shy and will give great advice in how to handle eliminating orders. Hide all pet items during showings and take “Fido” with you! Buyers may not love your pet like you do.
4. Remember to organize and par-down closet clutter to give the appearance of tons of storage.
5. You NEVER get a second chance to make a 1st Impression – Invest in fresh mulch, fresh flowers, and possibly a fresh coat of paint for your home’s exterior and foyer/entrance. Stick to neutral paint colors and pops of color with flowers. Not only will your property look great when buyers walk in, it will instantly give the impression of a neat, updated and inviting property.
6. Focus on staging the rooms that will give the highest impact: The Kitchen, Living Room, Dining Room and Master Bedroom & Bathroom. You want buyers to emotionally connect to these spaces, so they envision themselves entertaining and living there. Try these suggestions: Set the table; create a cozy place to read; add new large coordinating sofa pillows and matching blanket. Blues and Whites are hot trends this year. Set-out a bowl of lemons, an orchid or coffee station on the kitchen counter. Consult with a stager on updated decor items that will have a huge impact on buyers. These items can cost less than $100 but have huge bang for the buck and will help you sell fast!
7. REMEMBER – Staging is tax deductible, so invest in a professional who can advise you on the latest tips, trends and updates that will sell your house fast and for more money! The rest, you can do yourself with a little elbow grease and some imagination. You’ll have lots of extra cash in your pockets, because your home will out-sell those who didn’t follow these hot rules of staging on a budget!
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