Archive for March, 2010

Look What A Small Investment Can Do!

March 19, 2010

Look what a small investment can do!

A few weeks ago I did a 2 hour walk through consultation for a home owner that has lived in the house for 45 years. The house has been very well maintained, but as we see all the time with older clients who are downsizing, updating hasn’t been a priority over the past few years. The house does have a lovely remodeled kitchen, but some other rooms needed attention.

The best example was the wood paneling in the basement. The dark paneling absorbed all the light in the room, making it feel like a cold, dark cave – and really dating the house. Once the paneling was painted an off white, some furniture removed and other pieces moved, and some art work rehung, there was a huge difference – it hardly looks like the same room!

Spending even a little money on such updates and for staging is sometimes a hard pill for homeowners to swallow. We really need to educate home owners that home preparation is truly an investment that they will receive a return on when the house sells. The return will either be a better listing price, (is it better to sell the house “as is”, or at market value?), and a faster sale, which in the long run will reduce mortgage payments, utility costs and general maintenance and upkeep of the property. A faster sale also means less marketing dollars Realtors have to spend.

Check out these statistics from HomeGain.com for ROI on home improvements for sellers:

hsm_graph_full_chart_1x2

According to the survey, painting, decluttering and reorganizing the basement will bring a nice return to the home seller – and all for about 2 days of work!

All the Best,

Monica

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Going GREEN – The Natural Way and the Faux Way

March 11, 2010

I just read an HGTV article about going green the natural way… so to speak.  No, its not about using chemical free cleaners or HEPA filters, but rather the natural air cleaning qualities of house plants.  Yes, house plants.

I grew up with lots of house plants, and have always had plants wherever I lived.  I guess I inherited my green thumb from my father, who grew up on a self-sustaining farm and even now, in his early 80’s, is still an avid gardener.  And one of the first things you learn in science class about plants is that they absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen – a very compatible relationship with humans and animals, to say the least.  So it just always seems natural to me (pardon the pun) to have plants around the house.

house plant

What intrigued me the most about the article, though, are the psychological and intangible benefits that house plants seem to offer.  People report feeling less stressed, can work and solve problems better, feel more attentive and think clearly when plants are around – even images of plants seem to have the same effect.

So how does this apply to home staging and presenting houses for sale?

Well, I’m already predisposed to bringing a bit of the outside into the house.  I naturally incorporate this fondness for greenery in the houses that I stage, and not just with a beautiful floral arrangement here and there, or a fichus tree in the corner.  Plants and flowers often end up in kitchens and baths, but also on end and cocktail tables, and often on nightstands.  I’ve never know anybody who doesn’t like a plant (just like I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like a donut), so there is no hesitation to place a plant in a variety of locations throughout a house.  (The images below are of a HUGE master bath where I created a “magic garden” – my most elaborate use of greenery yet.)

Sawbridge Master Bath

Of course, when staging both vacants and occupieds, I use faux greenery– preferably silk (by the way, FAUX is NOT a 4-letter word!).  For home staging, silk greenery has obvious multiple advantages.  They can be arranged and rearranged to fit the location and placement, and best of all, they don’t need to be watered and won’t die. 

I’d be pretty foolish if I though that potential buyers viewing one of my staged homes didn’t know that the plants are faux.  But I do believe that the benefits of the presence of house plants mentioned in the article – feeling more attentive and thinking more clearly – could very well be a part of the decision making process of buying a house.  One of the goals of staging a house is to create an inviting atmosphere for buyers and to help them envision themselves living in the house.  In my opinion, house plants go a long way to help achieve that goal.

All the best,

Monica

Preferred Staging

703-851-2690

Don’t Pack Away the Personality or the Charm!

March 11, 2010

I was on a consultation a couple of weeks ago for a Realtor who hires me for every house she lists. I really like this Realtor, and she always seems to have the nicest clients – mostly young families that are moving up to a larger house.  Such was the case with this consultation.

I met with the wife, who is currently a stay at home mom.  If I didn’t know any better, I would never have known that there were 2 boys under the age of 3 in the house.  The house itself was spotless and completely decluttered. (And the boys were very well behaved!)  She was a dream client.

What made it so easy to work with her was that she already understood the value of staging, and she and her husband had already made great strides in preparing the house for sale.  They had already packed away personal photos and sentimental items, and put into storage those items they didn’t immediately need as well as about half of the boys’ toys.  They had cleared out closets to make room to store what needed to remain at the house.  All repairs were made, walls were freshly painted, and little maintenance touch ups were planned for this weekend, including washing all the windows.  

The only problem was that when it came to decluttering, they went a bit too far.  Not much – just a bit – which is something I often see. In the zeal to declutter, and the fear or concern that various furnishings or wall art may be too style specific, or that people won’t like the current owners’ furnishings and style and therefore not like the house, sellers put away too much and the house is left lacking that special touch of personality and charm – the very elements that can help sell the house.

Of course we wanted to use what the seller already owned or could borrow from friends and family.  So some art work will be put back into the living room, which will really add charm to the space.  White candles will be replaced with gold ones for warmth, and a large faux plant will be added to a shelf to add some life and color.  Now, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – “faux” is NOT a 4-letter word!  And in this case, it’s the perfect solution for this mom, as she doesn’t have to worry about dirt on the floor or broken pots or ripped up leaves if her boys get to the plant. 

If you find you have clients in a similar scenario, where they need to declutter but aren’t sure what to keep and what to pack, a walk through consultation may be the solution.  A trained and experienced professional stager can provide the guiding hand needed to help keep the personality and charm in a house.

All the Best,

Monica

Preferred Staging

703-851-2690

But WHY Won’t You Give Me a Quote Over the Phone?

March 11, 2010

Imagine this phone call:

(ring, ring) Caller: “Hi, I want to put my house on the market in about 2 weeks. It has 4 bedrooms and 2 and a half baths. How much would you list it for?”

I highly doubt any agent is going to give a quote over the phone to this hypothetical client. Obviously, not only do you need to see the property, but you also need quite a bit more information before you can make a fair evaluation of the property to price it correctly.

Would you ask a painter, contractor, or anyone else to whom you intend on paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars to provide you a quote over the phone without having them first see the work that needs to be done?

Staging is no different, and is this is why Preferred Staging doesn’t give quotes to stage properties over the phone or through an email without first having seen the property and evaluate what is needed. Just like a Realtor determining the correct market value of a house, we need to take into account all the variables. Is the house vacant or occupied? How many rooms need to be staged? How big are the rooms? Do we need to take measurements? What is the layout of the house? Is it an open floor plan? Is the house traditional or contemporary? Where is the placement of the windows and doors, and how much natural light do the rooms receive? What colors are the rooms? Do they need paint, and would you like us to recommend colors? You get the idea.

Take for example a house in Arlington that we staged last year. It had a living & dining area, a den (of sorts), 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, kitchen and separate laundry area. The tricky part to this house was that it is only 750 square feet – total. (I’ve been told its one of the smallest houses in Arlington.) Had we not seen the house to understand the layout and traffic flow and taken measurements, we would not have been able to stage it properly and present it to its best advantage, which eventually led to it being sold in just 10 days.

We professionally stage all of our properties so that they will not only show to their best advantage, but will also stand head and shoulders above the competition. Preferred Staging prides itself on the quality of our work, quality of our accessories, and our attention to detail, and our success can be seen in how quickly our staged homes sell. Like you, we just can’t achieve this level of professionalism and success through a phone call or email.

All the Best,

Monica

Preferred Staging

703-851-2690