Posts Tagged ‘selling your home in Northern Virginia’

McLean, Virginia Home Staged in Evermay

November 27, 2009

Preferred Staging firmly believes that every property is unique, so when we approach a house for staging, we need to take into consideration all of the wonderful features that the house has to offer.  We stage each house to highlight its best features, and work with the challenges.  Each house, therefore, is staged a little bit differently.

Last week we staged a fabulous house in the Evermay area of McLean, Virginia.  It’s a split level house with a large and open front foyer, which is very welcoming.  However, from the foyer you can see into every main room of the house – the dining room, kitchen and family room, living room, and finished basement.  What a view!  And this was our main challenge – to stage each room visible from the front foyer so that it was warm and welcoming, but also with focal points that would invite buyers to walk into the rooms to experience each space further.  The longer a buyer will linger in a room, the more interested they can become, and hopefully envisioning themselves living in that room.  This is a major first step in the buying process.

Our team staged this large house in just one day, and when the Realtor stopped by as we were finishing up, he stood in the foyer and looked around him and into each room.  He was thrilled with the results!  The Borker’s Open the next day was a huge success, and we are expecting a sale in the very near future!   Before and after photos of this property can be found on the Preferred Staging gallery with other McLean, VA homes.

All the Best,

Monica, ASP

703.851.2690

Preferred Staging

the art of home preparation

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Staging the Family Room

December 11, 2007

The family room is a unique space in almost any home. This room tends to be customized to fit a specific function for the home owner. The family room is also one of the most used rooms in the house. Maybe it is the primary media room with a large screen TV, a huge stereo system and a gaming system; maybe it is a play room with child gates and toys scattered about. Maybe it is used as a home office. This room usually fits the owner to a “T”. Notice I said, “fits the OWNER to a T.” Family rooms are usually in desperate need of decluttering and staging.

Staging a family room usually requires that the home owner make some compromises to take themselves out of the picture in an effort to sell their home. The owner needs to tone down the family’s specific use of the room and emphasize the generic purposes.

Traditionally, the family has two main functions – as a family gathering place, and to a lesser degree, a casual entertaining spot. A family room should be relaxed, with comfortable furniture arranged to enjoy a focal point as well as for conversation.

We frequently encounter sectionals in a family room. These are great lounging spots, but trouble when trying to sell a home. Sectionals limit furniture placement, suck up a tremendous amount of floor space and can create awkward traffic patterns. We suggest reducing the sections and breaking the furniture into pieces to provide more traffic paths. Try to find other spots in the home to move one or two sections.

If the family room is large (a “great” room), don’t be afraid to create multiple functional areas. The areas need to be distinct, but you can add interest and make the room seem larger.

Electronics need to be neat and tidy. Wiring needs to be hidden behind the supporting furniture. Eliminate DVD and game cases that are not regularly used. Some entertainment systems overpower an otherwise promising space. In these cases, we recommend down-sizing the appliances and possibly relocating them to a different room.

As always, all the best!

Monica, ASP703-851-2690

www.Preferred Staging.com

the art of home preparation

The Living Room – Get in Touch with Your Target Buyer

November 15, 2007

Continuing our virtual staging tour from last week when we stepped into the foyer…our next stop is typically the living room. For many homeowners, the living room has evolved into one of two things: it is either a museum, where the owners “nice” stuff is; or it is a play room because it has never been furnished. As a stager, I much prefer the museum, but we have to work with both, so here are some tips:

1. Lighting: Light needs to saturate this room. Heavy curtains should be pulled back as much as possible without revealing the wall. Open blinds or use light white shears for privacy, but sparingly. Pleats are “OK” in the shears, but keep them to a minimum to enlace the ability of light to pass through. Place floor lamps in distant corners from the entrance to increase the depth of the room and draw the eye across its expanse.

2. Color: Neutral, of course. Many homes today have red living rooms. It is a classic look that compliments many styles. For sales purposes, though, red should be toned down, maybe retained as a single accent wall. Energetic and welcoming colors such as orange or yellow based neutrals work well. Go for white on the ceiling here, especially if you are using a bold color on the wall.

3. Focal Point: Decide what your focal point will be…what should the the buyer’s eye be drawn to as they first enter the room? Usually the focal point is a fireplace or window. The focal point must standout explicitly in the room, so we need to eliminate anything that competes with it as you enter from the living room.

4. Furniture: Once you have determined the focal point, create a conversation area with the furniture. If you have two doors in the room, traffic should flow around the conversation area. If you have just one door, the traffic should flow easily to the seating area from the door. Where possible, pull the furniture away from the walls. Furniture against walls creates something of an arena feel, not the intimate feel we are looking for. Also, having the furniture away from the wall helps create the feel of a larger room.

5. Accessories: The living room is where you accessorize according to your target market. For example, if you are targeting a free and unencumbered psychographic, travel related accessorizing is the call. The living room is where you want to make a psychological link with your buyers – you want them to feel “this house works for people with similar interests; it will work for me.” Pack away all personal collectables. You want the focus on the room. Remember, it is not uncommon for children to accompany parents on tours – you should assume anything that looks interesting will be treated as a toy. The parent’s attention needs to be focused on your home, not making sure their children leave your collection of (insert any collectible here) intact. Remove all temptations.

6. The Living Room is a Play Room: OK, you are selling your house, so the play room has to go. No one wants to spend $XXX per square foot for a play room. Clean the toys out (we will talk about play rooms in another issue) and bring in some furniture. Furniture can be borrowed from other rooms or rented. Enough said.As always, all the best!

Monica, ASP

703-851-2690

Preferred Staging

the art of home preparation

Holiday Decorating when Trying to Sell Your Home

November 15, 2007

The basic premise of staging is: by neutralizing a home, the home will appeal to a wider audience. By appealing to more buyers, we increase the probability that an offer will be made. Think of the leading brand of any consumer product (not the one you buy, necessarily, but the one most people buy). 99 times out of 100 the product most people buy is a neutral offering. The same applies to home sales; we want to have the most people interested in a property.

Now, here come the holidays, a time when we go down to the basement or up to the attic and pull out boxes of stuff to personalize our home. A stager’s worst nightmare!

Many say that since so few people are home shopping over the holidays, why not splurge a little? I can understand that, but also understand that when someone wants to see your home in December, this is a serious buyer. The seller must make that great impression we have been discussing these past several weeks.So, what to do? I suggest to my clients that they approach decorating for the holidays as though they will be somewhere else for the main event. If you were traveling on the main days of the holiday it is psychologically easier to go light on decking the halls in your own home.

Decide what holiday elements really complement your home, and what elements are put out only because they have sentimental value, or simply because you have them. Placing a swag of greenery over a mantel, for example, is a classic touch. Placing miniature figurines in a North Pole setting with a train circling is a distraction. Not only do decorations provide a distraction, but they act as clutter. Filling every surface area with candy dishes and miniature lighted trees will make the home feel smaller than it really is.

If you have items of great sentimental value, but lacking aesthetic value, leave them in the box until the last minute and put them away immediately after the holiday. I suggest the same for religious and other symbols. Keep advent calendars in drawers, and nativities can be set up on Christmas Eve. Menorahs should also be stored during the day.

The outside of your home can be decorated with wreaths on doors and windows and minimal plain white outdoor lights (“less is more” is the rule here). Keep the glowing Santa lawn ornament in the garage this year. At nighttime, turn on every light you have in the front rooms of the home. Make sure all the bulbs in the exterior lights are functioning. A fully lit home creates wonderful, warm curb appeal at night. Potential buyers frequently drive buy properties before requesting a showing. At this time of year, many of those drive-bys will be after the sun has set.

The holidays are times of excess for many families. The key is to keep the excesses from become excessive and turning away buyers who can’t see the home because it is covered with the owner’s holiday decorations. Keep it simple.

As always, all the best!

Monica, ASP

703-851-2690

Preferred Staging

the art of home preparation

The Foyer and the First 15 Seconds

October 31, 2007

The foyer is the most important part of the home when it is on the market. Studies show that purchasers make up their mind in the first 15 seconds after entering a home. First impressions are so important when selling! General comments about staging a foyer are difficult because there are so many shapes and sizes in the Northern Virginia market. You might have an older home with a narrow hall lined with doors to the rest of the living spaces, or you may have more recent construction with a two story sweeping expanse, or your front door may open directly into a room.

Staging a foyer always requires individual creativity, but here are some of the basics:

  1. If your space is small, open it up. A narrow foyer can be opened by removing adjacent room doors, lightening the paint and keeping the ceiling at least two shades lighter than the walls. I do not advise painting the ceiling white in a narrow space – white will accentuate narrowness. A ceiling color that is in the same family as the wall, but lighter will keep the hall from feeling too closed in. If you want visitors to remove their shoes, direct them down the hall to the kitchen. Having visitors bump body parts while they take off or put on their shoes only reminds one of the cramped space. Light and bright art work on the wall is fine, but not too many pieces and no family portraits. Mirrors help add a sense of volume and create additional reflective light. Tapestries will close the space in. Coat closet doors must be freshly painted. Remove 2/3rds of the items from the closet – most are overstuffed.
  2. If your space is large, create a feeling of intimacy by providing a high table with a seasonal floral arrangement to make a smooth transition from the outside to the inside. If the second floor walls are visible from the first, the paint tones need to be similar – lighter if you want to make the space appear even bigger, darker is “OK” if you want to draw the eye upwards, but make sure the area is well lit. For a really large space, a bench can create a sense of warmth and a free standing circular table with a centerpiece can force foot traffic around it, accentuating the size, while adding a “grand hotel” feel. If your staircase is curved or angled, add a tall plant or a pair of wing-back chairs and table in the bend.
  3. If the foyer is surrounded by carpeting (especially stairs), make sure it is clean. Carpeting around an exterior door collects a lot of dirt.
  4. Add a runner to direct guests to the room you want them to visit first (typically the living room).
  5. Finally, walk right up to the front door, stop, and turn 90 degrees. What do you see? Turn another 90 degrees. What do you see? Turn another 90 degrees. What do you see? Except for the robotic movements, this is what home buyers do when they enter a home. They look 270 degrees. Look as far into your home as the view will allow – what will the first impression be? We will tackle those questions in future editions.

Burke VA home entry before Burke VA entry after

Before After

All the Best!

Monica, ASP

703-851-2690

Preferred Staging

the art of home preparation

Why Vacant Homes Need to be Staged for Sale

October 9, 2007

OK, show of hands – Who has purchased a car without test driving it? Come on, the car looks good in the show room; it scored well on Edmunds and Consumer Reports – why do you need to drive it? Not many hands??? I thought so.

Next question – Who has purchased an expensive suit or dress without trying it on? Looked great on the hanger, and the sales person said it will be perfect for you – why do you need to try it on?

Last question (this is an easy one) – Why do builders have furnished models? Answer: BECAUSE IT IS HARD TO SELL A VACANT HOUSE!!!!

Sorry for shouting, but I needed to make the point… Vacant homes are at a huge disadvantage in this market for the same reason that: you don’t buy a car without driving it, you don’t buy a suit/dress without trying it on, and builders furnish models…buyers need to get a feel for their purchase.

Most home buyers, when they walk into a vacant space can guess where their sofa will go, how their dining set will fit, or how to purpose the basement areas. But that is the problem. Psychologically, if a buyer is guessing, they are uncertain. In this market, uncertainty = no sale.

Further, a vacant looks too much like a cave. I think it is safe to say that Northern Virginia buyers are looking for more than shelter.

bedroom before bedroom after

Staging a vacant home provides the buyer with the visual context to remove the uncertainty. They can see how the floor plan works and how furniture can be arranged. Staging transforms the cave into a home. Staging provides the context for potential buyers to see themselves living in the home.

A buyer must be able to see themselves in the home before they will make a purchase decision – just like you need to be behind the wheel of the car or see yourself in the mirror wearing the suit or dress.

Just remember, if a buyer can picture themselves in the home you are on your way to a sale. If not, you are wasting your time.

If you have vacant property – consider having it staged. Vacant homes need every advantage in this market and staging will provide your property with the edge needed to be the next home sold in the neighborhood.

All the Best!

Monica, ASP

703-851-2690

Preferred Staging

the art of home preparation