Monday, May 27, 2013

Stumped by Staging? These People Were.

The blue walls of this dining room are the same
intensity as the brown walls in the neighboring rooms. 
Did you have a teacher who said, “There are no stupid questions.” Yeah, I had her, too.

Asking questions is a smart thing to do. I love questions from readers. Here are some I’ve received lately.

Q: Our dining room is cherry red. I really like it. Do we have to change to color in order to attract a buyer? 

A: Staging is about removing as many obstacles as possible that will prevent a buyer from deciding your home is The One for him. You don't "have to" do anything, but you'd be wise to please as many people as possible with your wall colors.

I doubt that rooms adjoining your dining room have walls as intense as cherry red. I’d say, yes, paint your dining room walls a color that will “talk to” surrounding rooms, a color that's the same value, a color anyone have a long term relationship with.    

Q: I’m staging my house, and we just painted most of the walls. I don’t want bare walls, but I don’t want holes when I take the pictures down and move out. Do you have any advice?

A: There are a few things you can do. Very often you can hang lightweight art with regular push pins, which leave unnoticeable pinholes. Or you can use Command products that are removable and leave virtually no holes.

The people who buy your house might paint the walls or they may hang their own art that would cover nail holes, so don’t stress about some wall holes.  Leave some of your wall paint, labelled, for the new owners. The holes won’t be apparent until a walk-through just prior to closing, when you can tell them about the touch-up paint if it comes up in conversations or negotiations.

Q: My home has been on the market for 10 months. It’s uncluttered, clean and staged. People say it looks great. My realtor agrees. She shows it often. The feedback I get is all positive. But still no offers. Is this normal or am I missing something?

A: Find out what is typical for days on market in your area. That will tell you if you are just being impatient or there is a problem.

If homes in your market sell in less than 10 months average, and if all that you say is accurate, I think you have to look at the price. When people tour a home and they think the price is too high for what they see, they often won’t say that, even to their own realtor. Instead, they will mention that the bedrooms are small, or they don’t like the view, or the bath needs remodeling – some deal-breaker. No one wants to look cheap.

I’d recommend a review with your realtor of how you arrived at your price. You may have to adjust your expectations and ask less.    

Q: What finish should walls have when painting them for staging?

A: Flat everywhere except baths and kitchen where semigloss or satin is best.  
This CPAP unit is unusually attractive. Most
are not this pretty. Photo Devilbiss. 

Q: My husband uses a CPAP machine for his sleep apnea. The device sits on the bedside table. Now that our home is listed, should I be concerned about how this looks to people coming to look at the house?

A: Yes, you should. These devices aren't ugly, but they raise questions. Keep a pretty, cover-up box handy for the CPAP machine, tuck in under the bed, or buy a holder.

It’s never a good idea to have anything on display that hints of problems people have. Even if the problems have nothing to do specifically with the house for sale, buyers don’t want to be reminded of hardships, illnesses or unpleasantness homesellers have. They want their next home to be a place where nothing uncomfortable ever happens.

I always encourage people to find hiding places for things like an oxygen tank, walkers, crutches, braces, and medicines. Prescription drugs need to be securely out of sight. Maybe it’s just me, but I think even a flesh-colored wrist support or some bottles of supplements look too intimate.

Do you have questions about selling your home? You can email me, or ask on our group Facebook page. My eBooks also answer your DIY home staging questions.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Best Tips for Staging Your Porch

A porch is always an added attraction.
When I was three and my father was 30, he built a summer home so our family could spend vacations by the ocean.

That’s where we went as soon as school was over, until the day before school started. I loved it.

A few years after he built the little two-bedroom home, he added what he called a sun porch onto the south side of the house. 

It was only big enough to accommodate the four-piece rattan furniture set my parents bought for it. Three walls were windows, it was bright in there all day long, and we could watch cars and people go by. I loved it.

A few years later, he built an open porch off the sun porch, stretching the house east, and expanding the living space by the size of an average bedroom. We could watch sailboats glide by, and from our back porch in Connecticut we could see on the horizon another state – New York! I loved it.

A few more years went by, and he continued to clear the lot around the house of rocks and boulders common to seaside property. Eventually, all these broken rocks became the foundation and the walls for a terrace. He built it all himself. It stretched across the entire back of the house, and it transformed that little bungalow into what seemed like an estate. This is where we enjoyed clambakes and birthday parties for many years. I loved it.

Like most people, I have only happy memories of porches.  

What’s your porch story? 

Does your home for sale have a porch? If so, lucky you!  

Whether it’s in the front, at the side, or behind a house, a porch makes any structure appear larger, more welcoming, and more connected to the out-of-doors.  

A porch can create memories (or fantasies) of times when life was leisurely, when neighbors visited just to “sit a spell.”

Centsational Girl recently created this colorful patio for a friend and blogged about it .

Or a porch can telegraph buyers that once they buy your home, they’ll have a special place where they can enjoy private time to relax and unwind – everyone’s dream!

To other buyers, a porch is a place to entertain. Even a small balcony makes people envision inviting friends over for drinks and conversation, or a meal in the open air.

If your home has a porch and you don’t stage it, you’re missing a chance to woo buyers.  Here are my favorite porch-prettying pointers.

Color Counts

Even though I recommend neutrals inside a staged home, outdoors is a place to punch it up. With brighter natural lighting and less defined boundaries, saturated colors will get the attention you want, making househunters take notice of this amenity.

Purchased outdoor furniture gets brighter each year, so you have no excuse for drab curb appeal. If you own older furniture and want to refresh it, spray paint’s probably your best option. I like Krylon's Fushion paint for plastics. If you're painting furniture with a brush, follow the steps I wrote about here: painting furniture.  

Of course, neutral color, black, or white furniture is timeless, so don't think you need to go crazy with neon spray paint. Your color choices can align with the style of your home and the likely demographics of your typical buyer.     
  
View or No View

A shade like this creates some privacy. Coastal Living.  
If there’s a pleasant view either near or far, make sure buyers notice. Don’t obstruct it with large plants, curtains, or furniture.

Position seats so they face the view, because it is not uncommon for Realtors and clients to take a seat and look around, even to linger and discuss the home.

If the view from your porch is the battered work van in your neighbor’s driveway, or the brick wall of the building next door, find a way to block it or distract.

You can install shutters, blinds, draperies, or add large potted palms. Even if the entire view isn’t totally obscured, you can still make it easy to forget what’s there.    

Flowers and Plants

This one’s a must. From early spring until late autumn, and year round in some parts of the country, flowering plants on a porch are a classic. They are the finishing, colorful touches that say a home is loved. You don’t need a horticultural degree to keep most container plants looking good.

If the home you are selling is vacant, you get a pass to substitute good quality silk ferns or artificial flowers as long as they don’t look like something from the cemetery.

Seating’s Essential

Porch seating takes many forms -- chaise lounges, rockers, stools,
benches, or an old fashioned, cushioned swing like this. Photo: BHG.
 
Whether you have room for just one chair by the door, or for a number of conversation groupings, seats on the porch complete the picture.

Make sure there is room to maneuver around them.

Face them towards each other or clustered around a table, not in a line as though on display in a furniture store.

Cushions and pillows are the easy way to add comfort and color to your porch. If your porch is protected, or you live where it doesn’t rain all summer, you have all kinds of fabric choices. The rest of us need quick-dry, outdoor fabrics that lessen the likelihood that a buyer will sit down and then leave with a wet bottom and sour mood.   

Porch Stand-Ins

A tiny balcony is a staging opportunity. Simply use small furniture. 
No porch? Patios and decks fall into the same category. Even seating groups in the garden can be considered “porches.” Use the reminders above to make any outdoor space inviting to buyers.

In fact, even the steps of an inner city brownstone or the small entranceway to a suburban townhouse is an opportunity to add the kinds of touches that make a buyer optimistic about your home’s interior.

Because potted plants, all-weather carpeting, paint, fabric, and outdoor furniture are available economically everywhere, you’ve no excuse to not maximize your porch’s potential.   

Now is the time of year to make your porch a statement area of your home. Make your porch tell a story. Stage it to capture the imagination and hearts of buyers, and you’ll be that much closer to a purchase offer.

For more help staging your home, order my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar. I know you'll be pleased. I guarantee it. I'll give you your money back if you're not totally satisfied with what you learn about staging your own home.

Top photo: BH&G
Balcony photo: Decorating Your Small Space 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Make the Bed that Sells the Bedroom


The bed is almost always the focal point of the bedroom. 

Make the most of it by staging it to impress buyers and capture their imaginations. 

Make it easy for them to picture themselves retreating and relaxing there, especially if it is the master bedroom.

Layer it. The staged bed should look layered and interesting. It should look large and accommodating, even if it is just a twin bed. Here are some ways to get that look.

Soften it. The bed should look comfortable. That means no sharp corners or edges. I often see MLS photos of beds that look like plywood draped with a bedspread and topped with two sad pillows. A duvet will soften those edges and give that illusion of ultra-comfort.

Study color. The bedding should coordinate with the room’s color scheme. Although it’s the focal point, it needn’t shout. Pick up the colors you see elsewhere in the room – in the window treatments, wall color, carpeting, rugs, artwork, or furniture pieces.

Location, location. Unless the room is L-shaped, the bed should be visible as one enters the room. The bed grounds the room, and the other elements “spin” off it. Buyers need to immediately connect with the function of the room.

Formula bedding. If you’re decorating-challenged, bedding comes in sets so that creating a beautifully made bed is as simple as making one purchase that includes the duvet, bed skirt, pillow shams, sheets, and decorator pillows

Neatness counts. Even though you want the look of a fluffy bed, it can’t look messy. Synthetic comforters are more likely to be smooth, while down comforters can look lumpy and a little too casual.

This looks silly. Avoid too many pillows. Counting the actual sleeping pillows, three is minimum, and seven is maximum number of pillows. People don’t like overly staged homes and a bed full of fancy pillows screams “staged to impress!”

Crowning glory. Always have a headboard. It should be visible. If you can’t see the headboard or you are missing one, there is no shortage of headboard styles and DIY headboard ideas. I can show you how to make an inexpensive headboard here.

Finishing touches. A bedskirt will let you hide storage boxes under the bed, and gives the bed a finished look. I like a tailored skirt that always looks neat, instead of a dust ruffle that tends to be too feminine and cute for home staging.   

A seamless color scheme of neutrals with dashes of black
makes this bedroom calm and sophisticated. Photo: BHG
Letting coordinated linens like sheets and sleeping pillows peek
from under the covers is a fresh and honest look. Photo:Real Simple.
 
Repeating a pattern and certain colors is one simple way to make the bed
look designed rather than thrown together. Photo: House Beautiful.

White is always right. A smooth and simple cover, six pillows, a generous
headboard, a two-color palette -- What's not to love?  Photo: BHG.

Every Bedroom Needs

What’s essential for a bedroom that wins the hearts of buyers? 
  • A sense of luxury
  • A combination of coziness and spaciousness
  • Orderliness
  • Privacy 
At center stage, beds can convey all of these qualities if you give them the attention they deserve.

I wrote about bedrooms and how to appeal to what buyers want in a previous blog post and in my staging eBook. Be sure you’re not missing the opportunity to win buyers by dressing your bedrooms to address the senses.  
Top Photo: BHG
            

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