Archive for January, 2013

Zillow’s Best Blogs List

January 29, 2013

THE COUNTRY’S BEST REAL ESTATE BLOGS

Zillow just announced the people’s choice best real estate blogs.

If you run a blog or are thinking of starting one, we suggest you take a look at these winners. We clicked through most of them and there is a very apparent commonality among the winners. Most focus on extreme, hyper-local blogging.

Hyper-local blogging is the best way to stake your claim on a community in the key word search arena. It is virtually impossible to penetrate Googles top pages for “Northern Virginia Real Estate.” The brokerages have that space monopolized. But, by focusing on hyper-local areas, such as individual communities, post office names, school distrcts, etc, you can achieve high placement in Google and other search enginges.

Hyper-local blogging does take some time, but once you find news sources, you can consistently come up with fresh content. Home owners association web pages, local news papers, Google alerts for your chosen areas, even community Facebook pages are all great sources of hyper-local blogging topics.

The most efficient way to take on a local market is to find these resources, bookmark them, then review the bookmarked pages weekly, identifying potential topics to write about over the course of the week.

It take time, but eventually, you can establish yourself as the dominant web location for news about a particular area. That crebibility will lead to more business.

All the best,

Monica, ASP
703.851.2690

Preferred Staging – Washington DC Home Staging

the art of home preparation

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Tight Spaces – Washington DC Home Staging

January 24, 2013
Proportional Furniture Makes a Small Home Look Larger In This Washington DC Condo
 
One of the benefits of using a national furniture rental company, along with owning my own staging furniture, is that you can get furniture in all shapes and sizes. Rather than using what you have on hand, you can select from a wide variety and really pick the correct size and style.
 
We just staged a small condo in NW Washington DC and used slightly undersized furniture in the living room to create a larger sense of space. This is furniture that is readily available in stores, so there is nothing sneaky here. Rather, we are just using space proportional furnishings to showcase the room.
 
Placing the tree on the other side of the room from the window also focuses attention to that side of the room, making the room appear broader and de-emphasizing the window unit air conditioner.
For more before and after photos, please visit our Washington DC home staging gallery.
All the best,
Monica, ASP

703.851.2690 

Preferred Staging

the art of home preparation

Home Staging in Washington DC for the Holidays

January 23, 2013
Wreaths around Washington DC 

 
(I published this article last month in my newsletter. Posting to my blog for posterity!)
 
One of the biggest challenges of keeping a home on the market over the holidays is how to decorate. In an occupied home, it is unrealistic for the owner to ignore the holidays, so we need some guidance on of holiday decorating.
 
The market, one of the best holiday decorations is a beautiful wreath on the front door. We need to keep in mind the three different customer segments (Northern in Maryland, Urban in the District and Southern in Virginia). I like to start with the wreath because it is the last thing that potential buyers will see before they step into the home – so it sets the stage. The wreath also acts as a centerpiece for curb appeal.
 
Before we start, let me say that I know many people do not celebrate Christmas. I do not expect my clients to decorate their homes in a manner which is inconsistent with their personal beliefs. What I seek in those situations are elements of holidays which have been secularized. Wreaths are a perfect example. Many people maintain wreaths all year long, rotating them to match the seasons. Wreaths are no longer exclusively Christmas symbols.
 
Select a wreath that you will feel comfortable leaving up beyond the holidays, or replace your holiday wreath with a seasonal wreath after the holidays. A wreath adds a bit of warmth and color to an otherwise bare exterior during the winter.
 
In Maryland, I would suggest a wreath that is simple, classic and evergreen. 
 
 
For Washington DC home staging (and other urban areas), I would suggest something a little more modern. Find something edgy, but non-offensive. This square wreath does the trick.
 
 
In Northern Virginia, where we are leaning towards the south. We suggest adding some color to the wreath. This Williams Sonoma wreath is a great example: 
 
Evergreen Orange Wreath, Small
 
Lastly, when a home is for sale, I do not recommend hanging wreaths from every window in the house. This may be very festive and brings out the spirit of the season, but home staging is about neutralizing and showcasing the home. Wreaths in every window will draw the buyer’s attention away from the home and to your decorations. It may also convey a sense of exterior clutter that we do not want buyers to experience before they enter the home.
 
 
All the best,
 
Monica, ASP

703.851.2690 

Preferred Staging

the art of home preparation
 

Tips For Selling Your Home in Northern Virginia…Its Never Too Early to Think Spring

January 17, 2013

Early Spring Clean Up

We completed several stagings this month. We intend to feature each one, as is our practice. Our photos are backed-up in editing, so I thought I would write this edition’s blog about the fast approaching spring selling season.

Well, Punxsutawney Phil is not due to make an appearance for a few more weeks. Hopefully, you have noticed an uptick in traffic to your listings. Some of your sellers maybe caught off guard by the early traffic. Here’s what you can tell your clients to do to improve the odds of selling their home soon.

First, suggest they fertilize their lawn. If their lawn is the greener than the neighbors, that will have a positive emotional impact when potential buyers pull up to the property. Follow the instructions carefully so as not to damage the lawn.

Resist the urge to plant. Nurseries have limited inventory right now, if they are open at all. Home owners might waste valuable time driving around looking for flowers to brighten up their curb appeal. If new flowers are planted anytime soon, they are subject to freeze damage. Instead, dress up the flower bed with new mulch. This will make the area look fresh and neat and survive any late season snow fall. Hang a spring wreath on the front door – get buyers thinking positive thoughts on the way through the door.

Walk the property and identify any broken branches on trees or shrubs. Prune any unsightly or over grown plantings lightly. Prune lightly – it is very easy to take off too much when the plant is bear of leaves. Add mulch around any trees or bushes. As you are walking the property, take a moment to turn and look at the home from a distance. Does the siding look soiled? Are the gutters all straight and firmly attached? Is there any peeling paint or lose trim work?

All in all, about a day’s worth of work to speed the transition of a home from winter dull to spring fresh!

All the Best,

Monica, ASP

703.851.2690

Preferred Staging
the art of home preparation

1940s Annadale, Virginia Home Given an Upscale Urban Appeal Through Home Staging

January 15, 2013
PRETTY IN ANNANDALE
 
We staged a great home in Annadale recently. This is one of those gems that a casual buyer might pass by. But if your client is looking for something close in and very spacious, this home might be the perfect fit. Built in the 1940’s, it presented some challegnes on the staging front. How to respect its classic style, but show how a young, “urbanish”, family might enjoy the space.
 
The living room has two focal points, a large wood burning fireplace and a picture window. Instead of picking one winner, we decided to balance the room and extend the seating area further into the living space. This allowed the buyer to broaden their focus, rather than having their eye drawn into the corner of the room where the two focal points meet.
 
 
 
The dining area was a genrous space. We could have furnished it with a table suitable for entertaining. That would not have fit the style of the home, so we went with a more intimate setting. To avoid creating the appearance of a smaller room when using a smaller dining set, we put two area rugs in the room. This accentuates the space available without cluttering the surface area.
 
 
 
For more before and afters of this classic, visit our gallery.
 
Link to the microsite: http://www.3304annandaleroad.com/
 
All the Best,
 

Monica, ASP
 
703.851.2690 
 
the art of home preparation

Northwest Washington, DC Condo Gets an Urban Update

January 14, 2013
THE CONDO CHALLENGE
 

My job as the stager was to neutralize the setting and take off some of the hard edges of the unit, while broadening its appeal from a narrow K Street lawyer target market to a urban executive target market – an executive that might work anywhere from a law firm to an association to a government agency.  We brought in a modern, but not sleek, sofa and classic sitting chairs to anchor the unit between urban and comfortable. The artwork was intentionally sparse so as not to create too much interest on the walls, which would make the room appear narrow.

 

All professionals like a challenge. For me, one of the challenges I enjoy is taking a space and turning it into a something unexpected. Condos present some of the best opportunities to be creative. You are forced to be very efficient in your furnishings. Placement options tend to be far fewer than with townhomes or single families, yet you still have to provide that “WOW” factor that will make the unit resonate with the buyer.

 

The objective of staging is to show the buyer what the possibilities are, to raise the staged property above to others the buyer may be considering – to make the stage property the one all the others are compared to. In that regard, condos are one of the biggest challenges. You need to arrange the furniture in such a way as to maximize seating, while maintaining a light and airy environment. 

 

One such example is a condo we just staged on 16th Street in Washington, DC. The condo had been listed before – and “staged” by a furniture rental company (note: furniture rental companies offer “staging services”, but none of the employees are certified or accredited stagers.  Their “stager” is also the receptionist and floor sales person. But that’s for another newsletter.).   Needless to say, there was very little response.  The condo was taken off the market.

 

Luckily I was working with a fabulous team of realtors who really have a great vision of how to update a property.  Working with the owner, they made two significant changes to the condo that made it instantly more functional and appealing.  They removed a wall that enclosed the kitchen and opened it up onto the eat-in area, and they turned a large closet in a large hallway into an office nook.  It’s a clever and very functional use of a lot of unused space, and it avoids having to use the smaller bedroom as an office. 

 

 
 
 
 
Another challenge I faced was making sure that buyers would be able to see that the smaller second bedroom could indeed fit a queen bed.  Staging both bedrooms as actual bedrooms, and not one as an office, provided a good balance to a downtown setting.  Chances are that the buyer’s office will be close by (the condo has a walk score of 97!), so there would probably already be a strong association with work.  We wanted to emphasize this condo as “home”. 
 
 
 
 
For the rest of the photos, see our gallery and click on 1701 16th Street. For the full listing for this property, see the listing page. If you have a tough property that needs a transformation, please give us a call.
 
All the Best,
 
Monica, ASP
 
703.851.2690 
 
the art of home preparation

Arlington, Virginia Home Staged and Sold, But It Took Some Work!

January 13, 2013

BEYOND THE FRIDGE IN THE DINING ROOM

Yes, this is how the house looked the first time I saw it. The old fridge was in the dining room, but that wasn’t all. Cardboard boxes were everywhere, bathroom fixtures and mirrors weren’t in place yet, painting needed to be finished, and the bath in the basement was just a rough in. The whole house was a construction zone, and we were asked to stage it in just 10 days.

This isn’t an uncommon scene for us. There are so many houses now being developed (and just a few years ago, I would have said “flipped”), especially in our area where there are a lot of wonderful older homes with good bones that just need some money and attention to bring them back to life. The trick for the professional stager, though, is to see beyond the construction to the potential that the house has. It is our job to show the buyers what the house really can be, and how wonderful it would be to live there. But you’ve got to see beyond the old, nasty fridge in the dining room.

The owner of the house was able to have all of the construction work completed on time, and the renovations were absolutely beautiful. Working with someone who knows not only knows what they’re doing but also goes one step beyond by using quality materials just makes our job that much easier. The staging, however, is what really brought the house to life.

This is what the dining room looks like without a fridge in it, as well as the before and after of the living room:

 

 

To see more before and after photos, check out our Gallery, or visit the website of Ellen Robinson, of RE/MAX Premier.

All the Best,

Monica, ASP

703.851.2690