Posts Tagged ‘Northern Virginia Real Estate’

To Lawn Art or Not Lawn Art (Holiday Staging, Part 3)

November 20, 2008

Yesterday, we started with at the wreath, and I encouraged everyone to put a wreath on their front door – even if it is just a seasonal wreath (if Christmas is not celebrated in the home). Wreaths add an important element of curb appeal in an otherwise dreary winter landscape. Wreaths create a focal point that draws the buyer’s eye to the door, welcoming them in the home. Lastly, wreaths create a transition between the outside and the inside. You get a jump on a great first impression with an attractive wreath.

 

OK, for those of you who like to put out lawn decorations for the holidays, I have one word for you – DON’T. If your home is for sale, the last thing you want a buyer to see as they approach your home is something foreign in the lawn.

 

I know that many home owners have attachments to their special lawn ornaments. I appreciate that the holiday may seem a little empty with out the traditional display. When you home is for sale, you need to think about the purchaser, not yourself.

 

When a buyer approaches a home, any lawn decorations will be a distraction. The buyer’s eyes will be fixed on the object on the lawn, not the home behind it. If they cannot figure out what the decoration is (such as a deflated blow-up Santa, or a straw deer that is lit at night), they will spend more energy trying to guess. Guessing leads to uncertainty and distraction.

 

This recommendation holds true no matter where your home is: Northern Virginia, Washington DC or Maryland.

 

Tomorrow, we will talk about tasteful light displays.

 

All the Best,

 

Monica

703.851.2690

www.preferredstaging.com

the art of home preparation

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Washington Post on Staging

November 15, 2008

Preferred Staging was featured in the Washington Post today, talking about how staging improves the salability of DC metro area homes. This was a big treat for us, coming on the heals of a Washington Times article.

Here are a few excerpts:

  • LaChapelle, for instance, gives much of the credit for her sale to her decision to have the home staged. She feared that an empty house would look too cold and barren.
  • “A vacant house leaves no impression on buyers. In the world of sales, no impression is the same as a negative impression,” said Jane Fairweather, an agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Bethesda. “If you’re only competing against vacant homes, you’re still okay. But if a buyer sees three vacant homes and then a fourth one that is done up smashingly, the buyer is going to remember that fourth home.”
  • “To really capture a sale, buyers need to be able to mentally move into the home they are considering,” Murphy (that’s me!) said. “When you stage a vacant home, you’re providing an example for a buyer. The worst thing you can do is make your potential buyer guess. You need to do the work for them.”

Read the rest of the post article here. The Washington Times article can be found here. Whew, ok, enough of the 15 minutes of fame, now back to helping people sell their homes!

If you are planning on selling your home, or your home is currently on the market and has not sold and you are in the Northern Virginia, Washington DC or suburban Maryland region, I would love to here from you!

All the best,

Monica
703.851.2690
www.preferredstaging.com
the art of home preparation

Condo Transformed in Alexandria, Virginia

November 3, 2008
Can Do Condos  
 
Looking back across the our back issues of our newsletter, I realized I have never featured a condo! I don’t know why, maybe the single family homes in Fairfax or Bethesda have more drama, there are more rooms to fill in the larger homes of Great Falls, Potomac, MD and Loudoun. Maybe the row houses in Washington DC have a story to tell, who knows! Well, here is our first condo staging story.  
 
We just finished this awesome condo in the Landmark area of Alexandria. This is a big unit with a western exposure. The listing agent, BJ Cyr, has a great photo of the sun setting as seen from the condo balcony. Take a look at the listing photos on BJ’s site. (Since the property was just staged, the listing phots do not reflect the staging.)
 
The living room was a very neutral gray, which goes with any decor. The track lighting allowed us to highlight art work on the walls.
 
Alexandria condo living room before home staging  Alexandria condo living room after home staging
 
The rooms where so large, that we actually placed the furniture against the walls. In this case the the rooms actually look bigger and allowed us to emphasize the stunning view from the 17th floor.
 
Alexandria condo living room before home staging  Alexandria condo living room after home staging
 
On-trend turquois paint in the master bedroom was very unique. With the right bedding, a very soothing environment is achieved.
 
Alexandria condo bed room before home staging  Alexandria condo bed room after home staging
 
With the open floor plan of a condo, you need to coordinate the transition between spaces. In this case, the sofa table in the living room (seen in the distance below) is a similar style to the dining room furniture.
 
Alexandria condo dining room before home staging  Alexandria condo dining room after home staging
 
Alexandria condo dining room before home staging  Alexandria condo dining room after home staging
 
The seller loved the results! She said she was considering moving back in!
All the Best,
 
703-851-2690 
Preferred Staging
the art of home preparation
Serving Northern Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC

Washington DC Stagers Featured

October 31, 2008

Preferred Staging was one of 2 staging companies featured in a prominent Washington Times real estate article this week. We were honored to have had the chance to participate. Our contribution focused primarily on staging vacant properties, but they used several before and after photos of our work, including occupied and vacant homes.

Staging is a new concept in Virginia, Washington, DC and Maryland, but has been around for decades in other parts of the country. Some experts state that as many as 75% of high-end listed homes in California are staged. But, staging is not just for high end homes. Virtually any home will benefit from staging to help the home sell faster. We can do as little as walk thru the property and give you some ideas to a full home staging project – whatever fits the budget.

If your home is on the market or you are thinking of selling in the coming year, please give us a call. We would be happy to discuss your needs and plans.

All the best,

Monica

703.851.2690

Preferred Staging

the art of home preparation

Northern Virginia Association of Realtors Showcase

October 30, 2008
Thank you, thank you!  Many thanks to the hundreds of you who stopped by the Preferred Staging booth at the NVAR Convention in Vienna, VA last Tuesday, October 21st.  We were the only staging company with a booth, and we were able to answer a lot of questions about staging, cost. We spent a lot of time talking with you about timing, how Preferred Staging works, and also how we market your staged properties after the staging is finished.  Lynn, Preferred Staging Project Manager, and I both truly enjoyed meeting so many wonderful REALTORS, the time just flew by!
Everyone is a winner
I’ve said it before, but I think it bears repeating – when house is staged, everyone is a winner. 
 
The home owner wins on many levels, because their staged house sells faster than houses that aren’t staged, and a faster sale means a reduction in carrying costs for them in continued mortgage and utility payments, and upkeep.  They also win because a staged home lessens the need for a price reduction, so they often sell closer to their asking price. 
 
The real estate agent wins because a staged home is its own best marketing tool, making your marketing efforts just that much easier.  Also, a faster sale means fewer marketing dollars you have to spend.  Of course a faster sale means you get your commission sooner, too. 
 
The buyer wins because they’re getting a house that is in top condition.  A staged home never hides anything; a staged home enhances the positives and works with the challenging parts of the house, thereby offering buyers solutions that they may not have considered. 
 
Preferred Staging wins, too.  As we told everyone at the NVAR convention, we’re in business to help sell houses, and when a house sells quickly, we have the satisfaction of knowing that we’ve done our job well.
 
All the best,
Monica
703-851-2690 
Preferred Staging
the art of home preparation

AGENT: “I’VE NEVER USED A STAGER BEFORE…” (PART 2)

October 1, 2008

In the last post, I wrote about the first steps Preferred Staging takes when you call us and schedule an appointment to see a listing, including consultations and proposals.  So, now what happens when you have the proposal and we’re good to go?
 
Well, let’s start with the proposal first.  Preferred Staging’s proposals outline what rooms and areas are to be staged, and how much time we believe it will take us to stage the property and de-stage when the house has sold.  We also provide a general list of accessories from our inventory that will be used, which runs the gamut from lamps, mirrors, rugs, and wall art, to place settings, floral arrangements, towels, and those extras that really make a room feel welcoming and inviting.  The final part of our proposal includes the cost of rental furniture, if necessary.
 
If everything is acceptable, then Preferred Staging emails the client (whomever is paying for the staging) a Letter of Agreement.  If rental furniture is needed, then the rental company will email a separate contract.  Preferred Staging only facilitates the contract, which is between the client and the rental company.
 
Once all signatures and deposits are received, then a delivery and staging date is scheduled, usually about 3-5 business days after signing the contract.  We usually arrive at the property in the early morning (around 8am), unload the accessories, and then start to create wonderful rooms and spaces that will entice potential buyers to linger and envision themselves living in the house – a crucial first step in the buying process.  Along the way, we also manage the furniture delivery and set up, hang pictures, set tables, make beds, create spas in the bathrooms…we virtually move in!
 
The time it takes to stage a house depends on how big the property is and how much staging is needed.  A 2 bedroom condo can be completed in about 8 hours, while a 4,000 square foot house can take 3 days.  Each house is unique – in its layout, square footage, price point, what rooms need to be staged, etc. – which is why it’s virtually impossible to provide an estimate over the phone.
 
Next, I’ll tell you how Preferred Staging keeps working for you, even after the staging is completed. 

All the best,
Monica
703-851-2690 
Preferred Staging
the art of home preparation

It’s March, So It Must Be Time to Talk Fireplaces!???

March 30, 2008

Huh? Yes, bear with me – this is important. The fireplace is probably the focal point of any room it occupies. Make sure it remains a focal point throughout the year, not just during the winter. Too many times, I see home owners covering up fireplaces with screens, plants or even play houses. Buyers buy fireplaces, so let’s show them off!

While most newer homes in Northern Virginia have gas fireplaces, older homes are almost exclusively wood burning. For a wood burning fireplace, clean the firebox of any ashes. Clean the firebox windows. If the room smells of burning wood, sprinkle baking soda on any carpets and leave over night, and place one or two boxes of baking soda in inconspicuous places.

Furniture placement may be tricky in a room that hosts another focal point (typically a TV). Classic staging requires the removal or de-emphasizing of competing focal points. We realize this is not always possible. We practice practical staging for our occupied homes and try to accommodate the needs of the family without sacrificing the image we are creating. In general, the furniture should be arranged for fireplace viewing – close enough to feel the warmth of the fire and allow for casual conversation.

The mantel should be cleared of all but a few light items on either side. Odd numbers here, an even number of accessories create too much balance and are actually distracting to the eye. Place a framed print above the mantel to draw the eye.  

Before home staging: Burke Virginia Family Room Before Home Staging  

 After home staging: Burke Virginia Family Room After Home Staging

By keeping the fireplace the center of attention throughout the year, you will appeal to the largest number of buyers – that’s what we are all about!

All the best!

Monica
703-851-2690

The Unfinished Basement – Showing the Potential

March 30, 2008

An unfinished basement is like a blank canvas; a dirty dingy grey blank canvas. (Can you tell I don’t like unfinished basements?) It’s not that I don’t “like” them, it just that if a basement is unfinished it becomes a dumping ground for the rest of the house.

It is rare when an unfinished basement is neat and orderly. Typically, it is a mine filed of boxes, piles of clothes, holiday decorations. toys and exercise equipment. Since there is so much space, the items are scattered about the floor with little more than irregular walking paths.

So, what to do? How do we turn the mine field into a meadow? My first objective is to clean it out. I don’t believe I have mentioned PODS it these blogs yet. I love PODS. (I can also get your clients a discount!) PODS is a service that drops a self-contained storage unit off at the home, filled by the client, stored in a temperature controlled warehouse then delivered to the new home. Using PODS is a very positive experience. It is the first step towards moving – my clients feel great after there unit is full.

OK, so the first thing to do is clean out the stuff. And I mean really clean it out. Hire some neighborhood kids to haul the boxes up the stairs and load the storage unit. Pack it to the top! Don’t let one inch of these units go to waste. Everything we can remove means another square foot of floor space that a buyer can see.

Next, arrange the remaining items in the basement into a logical pattern. Boxes should be stacked as far away from the stairs as possible – this will emphasize the size of the room. Boxes should be stacked in the middle of walls, not corners. I like to stack boxes 2 to 3 deep and at least 5 feet high with lighter boxes at the top. This maximizes the floor space and minimizes visual size of what is being stored.

Have one area for exercise equipment. Another for kids toys. Another area should be a neat workshop. You get the idea…create designated areas for different functions. This, again, creates the perception of space and gives the buyer an idea of how they can use the area.

If the laundry area is in the basement, it must be orderly. Remove anything that communicates “work” from the area, like an ironing board. Add some inexpensive shelving to get clothes and bottles off the floor. Put some children’s art work around the space to soften it up.

Lastly, dust all the remaining surfaces, especially water heaters, AC units, circuit boxes and laundry units. Buyers look at these when they are in the basement, so make sure they are up to the scrutiny they will receive.

All the best!

Monica
703-851-2690

Instead of “Dress for Success” Sellers need to “Paint for Success”

January 21, 2008

Paint selection is probably the biggest challenge home owners have in preparing their home for sale. A fresh coat of whatever color was there before is typically a BIG mistake. Homeowners select colors that fit their personality and their lifestyle. Preparing a home for sale requires stepping away from personal preferences and deciding what is best to enhance the salability of the property.

The color should be selected for its broad appeal, and must be appropriate for the purpose of the room. Bedrooms are rarely yellow, for example, but soft greens or lavenders work very well. Potential buyers need to walk into the master bedroom and immediately feel at peace. Color achieves this. Color should set the tone for the entire home and whisper, “You want to live here!”

Sellers cannot assume that the buyer will be interested in selecting their own colors and painting after purchase. We all know that in this market, you cannot leave anything up to the buyer – they want it perfect – and there is plenty of inventory to look at until they find the one that meets their expectations. Paint is one of the easiest, most affordable ways of increasing the salability of a home.

Realtors, If you have had the “paint conversation” with sellers, or can’t otherwise broach the subject with your clients, call us! Let us break the news that the pink kitchen won’t work in this market, or the Winnie the Pooh mural in the kids room may not appeal to a broad enough audience.

The right paint can sell a home!

All the best!

Monica

Preferred Staging

703-851-2690

Staging the Kitchen

December 26, 2007

“Kitchens are the heart of the home. The kitchen can make or break a sale. The kitchen, more than any other room, tells what the current occupants are like, how they treated the home, and whether there will be any unpleasant surprises when the new owners move in…”

The above paragraph is how we started last week’s Staging for Advantage discussion. I repeat it here to emphasize the point…Staging cannot overcome a messy kitchen. Staging is not about covering up stuff, it is about enhancing the positives of a space. No matter what the positives, though, if your kitchen is not clean, we will not get the reaction we are looking for.

OK, enough of the cleanliness review, staging a kitchen is mostly about elimination. You can call it decluttering, but that is a soft word we apply to nick-knacks on tables and in display cabinets. In the kitchen we want to eliminate things. Let’s start at the beginning.

The first phase of kitchen staging is going through all the storage areas and eliminating anything that has not been used in 3 months. Home buyers will look into cabinets and we want to create a spacious environment. Make sure the pantry is included in this phase. Also eliminate hand towels, washcloths and sponges.

Phase two involves eliminating the counter top appliances. The only two appliances that I leave are the microwave and coffee maker, if necessary. While my preference is to start with the most counter space possible, the microwave and coffee maker are usually such integral parts of the seller’s life style that removing them is a hardship.

Phase three is removing wall paper and repainting, if necessary. Wall paper is is such a personal decision, it almost always has to be removed (you can paint over many of the newer papers). Paint color needs to be bright and coordinated with the cabinets and counter tops. Yellows are popular in the kitchen.

Phase four is adding some accent color. Small bowls, candles and greenery make small color splashes that create the most punch without absorbing too much surface area. In a vacant home, you can stage for a meal at the counter. In an occupied, keeping the countertops clear is the most important task.

The kitchen speaks about the rest of the home. Either it is complementary or something to be overcome, there is really no middle ground here. Fortunately, getting the kitchen ready for sale is not expensive – all that is required is some elbow grease and a willingness to give up that toaster oven for a few months!

As always, all the best!

Monica, ASP 703-851-2690

www.PreferredStaging.com

the art of home preparation