By Julie Legge, professional real estate photographer
Picture this: You’ve worked with your new seller for days to get her home ready for sale. She’s repainted, cleaned the carpets, and even worked with your favorite stager to rearrange and add some furniture. It’s nearly ready to hit the market, but first you need to take pictures.
Here are six tips to get your listing ready for its close-up.
1. Motivate the seller to be ready for the photography session. Explain why the house should look it’s best for its close-up: listing photos are often a buyer’s first experience with listings. Today, over 92 percent of home buyers use the Internet to search for homes, and 50 percent used a mobile device to search for homes. Buyers rank home photos as the No. 1 valuable web site feature — even more valuable than the home description, according to the 2014 National Association of REALTORS®’ 2014 Home Buyers and Sellers Profile. Other research indicates that great looking photos translate to more showings, fewer days on the market, and even a higher sales price.
2. Give the seller a “to do” list. Preparing a home for photos is not something your seller does every day, and a simple task list can help her feel prepared and make the photo session go more smoothly. Items on the list should include tasks for the inside as well as the outside of the home (see tips #3 and 4). Ask your professional photographer for a checklist to help sellers get ready for photos, or you can develop your own. Bonus: your seller can use the list to get the home ready for showings.
3. Remind the seller to prepare the inside of the home. Be sure to remind the seller about the basics, such as putting toilet seats down, throwing used towels in a hamper, making the beds, and hiding personal toiletries such as toothbrushes, prescription medications, and shampoo bottles. Coordinate the photo session to occur shortly after any housecleaners have cleaned the home.
4. Remind the seller to prepare the outside of the home. Sellers should park cars in the garage or on the street away from the front of the home, pick up any yard toys and games, dispense of dead plants, sweep walkways and hide trash cans. If possible, schedule the pictures a day or two after the lawn is mowed and the bushes trimmed.
5. Communicate the home’s best features to the photographer. What are the qualities of the home that will attract buyers – a large yard, upgraded kitchen with under cabinet lighting, or vaulted ceilings in the master bedroom? Talking to your photographer in advance of the photo session can help her deliver photos that will show off these desirable features.
6. Partner with a professional photographer. Find a professional photographer that understands your business and what you want in your listing photos. Give the photographer time to get to know you as a client. The longer a photographer works with you, the more she will become familiar with your photography needs, becoming a key part of your marketing team.
Some listings may require more work getting them “photo ready” than others, but the effort put forth can help drive prospective buyers to your listing, resulting in a successful sale – and a happy client.
How do you get your listing ready for photos?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie Legge is a professional real estate photographer in Charlotte, N.C. She’s photographed 1,000 homes for real estate brokers, builders, home stagers, and interior designers, and she coaches beginning photographers. Visit her web site: www.charlotterealestatephotos.com.
Source: REALTOR SSS
By Justin Riordan, Spade and Archer Design Agency
Not all home staging is created equally. Staging Darwinism is real and only the smart survive. Below we countdown the top 10 “stoopidest” home staging ideas.
#10. “Bake cookies right before your open house.”
Our sense of smell is very closely related to our sense of memory. True enough, for some people, the smell of freshly baked cookies may bring back fantastic memories of days past when their loving mother baked cookies every Saturday afternoon. However, I use to work at Mrs. Fields, and my boss was a real jerk. Whenever I smell freshly baked cookies … I get slightly nauseous and a bit angry. Your house should smell like nothing when it is being shown. Scented homes lead to one of two reactions:
- Buyers who are chemically sensitive get headaches, irritated eyes, or nausea and want to leave immediately.
- Buyers wonder what you are trying to cover up and immediately become suspicious that you are a shyster.
#9. “My house won’t sell unless it has plants in it.”
Live plants or flowers in a vacant house tend to become dead plants very fast. Unless you are dedicated to checking on these plants regularly, you need to skip them, because nothing stops a house from going pending like dead plants. Fake plants are just that, fake. When it comes down to it, staging is creepy. You are in a house that appears to be occupied and yet, it is not. Every time you add something fake, it is one more reminder that this is not real and thus adds to the creepy factor.
#8. “If they can’t see past that ‘__________’ then they don’t deserve to buy my house.”
The truth is, if they can see past “____________” then you did a poor job preparing your house for the market. If you find yourself saying this, think again.
#7. “I can just lightly stage this room and it will work.”
Light staging or, as I call it, “the placing of random objects in a room,” like a chair and a rug in a bedroom, does not help sell houses. It will actually slow the process down. Staging is only meant to do three things:
- Show the room’s purpose
- Show the room’s scale
- Add light to the room
Random objects in a room serve only to draw attention away from the house. Light staging is like hiring a clown to dance in front of a rack of dresses to help sell the dresses. Your buyers end up paying more attention to the clown than they do the dresses. Either stage the room completely, or don’t stage it at all.
#6. “I am paying for the staging, you should only stage with things I like.”
You are correct in that you are paying for the staging, but you are incorrect in that you think you are the customer. Really when it comes down to it you are now a retailer, trying to sell a product. You have hired a stager just as a department store would hire a visual merchandizer to display their items to sell to a customer. Your stager is concerned about what the potential buyer will like. You should be too.
#5. “The style of the staging should match the style of the house.”
Nobody has an entire household full of mid-century modern furniture. When staging a home we want the house to look obtainable. We want our clients to say, “Hey, I could do that!” By staging with an eclectic mix of furniture that does not necessarily “go” with the house, we prove to people that their mis-matched, rag-tag lot of furniture could look good in the house as well.
#4. “We should make everybody take off their shoes before they enter.”
Why in the world would you ask people to be uncomfortable in their new home, the first time they see it in order to protect floors that will no longer belong to you in a matter of weeks? Regardless of how or if you ask, thoughtful people with dirty shoes will remove then before coming through; thoughtless people will leave them on.
#3. “We should pull out the staging as soon as the house goes pending.”
Uh-oh! You pulled out your staging before the inspection period ended in order to save a few bucks on rental furniture. Now your sale has failed because the buyer didn’t like the condition of the water heater. I see that frowny face. Next time leave it in through the inspection period, better yet, through the financing contingency.
#2. “Staging can fix anything.”
I so wish this was true, but often, it is not. Sometimes things are so bad. They need to be fixed prior to, or in lieu of, staging. If your entire house is painted in rainbow tie-dye, no amount of staging can help you.
And the #1 “stoopidest” idea … “Staging is easy.”
It is amazing how many sellers I meet on a daily basis. Nearly every single day somebody calls me to explain to me why they don’t need staging services. They say they know exactly what their house needs in order to sell, and how they have a lot of experience doing what I do and they could just do it themselves. I always wonder to myself, “Then why are you calling me?” The truth of the matter is, home staging is not as easy as it looks.
I often compare it to women’s gymnastics. You know you are doing it right when it looks effortless. If you get a chance Google “Nadia Comaneci, perfect score” and watch the video. I don’t think she even broke a sweat. Good home staging looks like that.
What it all comes down to is that “staging is easy” is the No. 1 biggest myth we would love to perpetuate.
In the end, “stoopid” staging does nothing to help you and could actually hurt your sale. You need a competent staging professional if you want top dollar for your house.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Justin Riordan, LEED AP, is founder of Spade and Archer Design Agency based in Portland, Ore. As the creative energy behind Spade and Archer, Riordan fuses his formal training as an architect with his natural design savvy to create beautiful and authentic spaces for clients. Prior to opening Spade and Archer in 2009, Riordan practiced interior architecture and interior construction for 12 years, bringing an esteemed skillset and diverse background to home staging. Since founding Spade and Archer, he has personally prepared more than 2,100 homes for market.
Source: REALTOR SSS
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey
It’s time to add more romance into your designs. One-third of home owners say they’re renovating their master bedrooms to create a more romantic or intimate space, according to the 2015 U.S. Houzz Bedroom Trends survey of more than 1,500 home owners.
What does that entail? Contemporary finishes, soft neutral color palettes, more pillows, and no strong patterns, the survey finds as the top preferences.
Home owners are being drawn toward shades of white, cream, gray, and blue for their updated master bedrooms.
Also, more than a quarter of home owners are opting not to include a strong pattern in the décor of the master bedroom (27 percent). However, some owners will use floral and geometric prints (21 percent and 17 percent, respectively).
The more pillows, the merrier, the survey finds. Sixty-seven percent of home owners who are updating their bedding say that decorative pillows are a top update. On average, home owners say they’ll accessorize with four decorative pillows, and 40 percent will have five or more decorative pillows. What’s more, of the home owners replacing their beds, one in five are choosing a platform style. (See an example at Houzz.) Another top accessory choice for decorating master bedrooms is adding mirrors.
More home owners are making their traditional bedrooms into more contemporary-styled spaces. Forty-five percent of home owners say they’re redecorated bedrooms are contemporary, modern, or transitional, according to the survey.
In their own words, renovators say the master bedroom must be “stylish and beautiful” (73 percent) and “feel like a sanctuary” (54 percent). Home owners also say they’re looking for a room that promotes quality of sleep, comfortable, and easy to clean.
For some home owners, they also want to add square footage. One in five home owners say that through their renovations they are increasing the room’s size, and more than half of those are focusing on their closets to add square footage.
These additions certainly are coming at extra costs. Twenty-six percent of the 1,500 home owners surveyed say they plan to spend $10,000 or more on master bedroom renovations, while one in five are spending $5,000 or more on decorating projects.
Source: REALTOR SSS
By Christina El Moussa, HGTV’s “Flip or Flop”
When I look at blank walls, I see a fun opportunity to brighten up a room and make it all yours. Of course, if you aren’t super experienced with interior design and décor, you might see a blank wall and think, “Oh my … what am I going to do with this?” In my experience, creating attractively designed rehabs and updates for old, distressed homes with my husband on our show “Flip or Flop,” you don’t need to fill your house with tons of art or photographs, but blank walls are kind of boring. A little touch of décor can go a long way.
Here are some fun, creative, and inexpensive ways to spruce up an empty wall and bring new life to any room.
First of all, I love killing two birds with one stone with my wall décor. With this tip, you can add more storage and display space while breaking up an empty wall and creating more style, too. Instead of shoving a big, bulky bookshelf against your wall, install modular shelves in a color that complements the color of your walls.
With modular shelving, you don’t have to place your shelves directly in line with each other in a vertical stack—you can offset them in attractive groupings to create a display out of books, vases, framed pictures, and/or anything you’d like to place on them. The possibilities for storing and displaying small items are just about endless, and you get rid of your empty wall problem at the same time.
If you don’t want to add shelving, and you aren’t sure about punching holes in your wall to hang pictures, you might want to consider an attractive wall decal. Most of these are made of vinyl, and you can remove them if you decide to redecorate, but they look like you had a scene or silhouette painted onto the wall. I really love decals that look like silhouettes of trees and forests climbing the walls, but there are all kinds of other options to choose from too. And because they’re removable, you can even change them with the seasons or for special occasions.
I don’t necessarily recommend getting a decal for every wall or every room in the house, but they do make a fun alternative to the classic accent wall and can add dimension to a room without a lot of effort or cost.
Unconventional Wall Hangings
You can turn your heirloom jewelry into wall art by framing different pieces of jewelry (an earring here, a broach there) and hanging them in a cluster over the side table in your foyer. You can also search through antique stores for unique frames and hang them up in a cluster fitted closely next to each other without anything in them. The effect is really cool and creates its own work of art without any paintings or pictures at all.
Finally, mirrors make great wall décor. You can find them in all kinds of fun shapes and sizes, and you can even create a mosaic effect by clustering a collection of small mirrors on the wall over your couch or mantel. Mirrors reflect light, so they can add the illusion of more space and increase the effects of natural light in just about any room, depending on where you place them.
Don’t get intimidated by a blank wall. Think of it as an opportunity to express your personality through a fun décor project.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christina El Moussa is the co-star of HGTV’s real estate reality TV show “Flip or Flop,” along with her husband and business partner Tarek El Moussa. The couple started Success Path Education and teach students from all over the country how to successfully find and flip houses and invest in real estate. Please visit www.SuccessPathEducatio.com for more details.
Source: REALTOR SSS
Contributed by Longfield Gardens
Fall is the time to plant spring-blooming bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, crocus and alliums. Before ordering your bulbs, here are a few tips to guarantee great results come spring.
1. Pick a color theme.
Interior designers often work with a color palette – a selection of colors chosen to give a room or a home a particular look, mood or style. This technique is equally effective in gardens and landscapes.
“One option is to choose a single color scheme,” says Marlene Thompson, creative director at Longfield Gardens. “The effect is simple and always has a big impact.”
Thompson says that you can also build your design around a pair of colors such as pink and white, red and yellow or orange and purple. Another approach is to use the color wheel and choose a harmony of several related colors, such as pink, lavender, burgundy and purple or cream, yellow, orange and red.
2. Include different bloom times.
From early-blooming crocuses to late-blooming tulips and alliums, the spring bulb season can stretch for as long as 8-10 weeks. When choosing your bulbs, be sure to include a few from each bloom time: early, midseason and late season. This way you’ll have flowers in bloom for as long as possible.
Fall planted bulbs look best when the plantings are generous and the bulbs are spaced just a few inches apart.
Small bulbs such as scilla or chionodoxa should be planted in groups of at least 25 bulbs. Tulips look best in groups of at least a dozen bulbs. Daffodils and alliums can be planted in threes, though groups of seven or nine bulbs look even better.
Landscapes are more pleasing and cohesive when the same plant or grouping of plants appears in multiple locations.
“Our eyes connect these similar shapes or colors into one scene rather than a collection of separate elements,” says Thompson.
In a formal setting, plant in squares, rectangles or circles. For a more natural or informal look, use ovals, triangles, kidney shapes or a free-form shape that fits the location.
5. Plant both annual and perennial bulbs.
Many spring bulbs, including daffodils, scilla, chionodoxa, alliums and muscari, can be considered perennials, as they will return and bloom again every spring. In fact, most of these hardy bulbs will naturalize and multiply over time.
Tulips and hyacinths are often treated as annuals because they usually put on their best show the first spring after planting. In the right growing conditions (full sun, well- drained soil, hot dry summers), some tulips, such as Darwin hybrids, will re-bloom for several years. To ensure the most dramatic spring display, treat these bulbs as annuals and plant a fresh batch every fall.
6. Shop for large, high quality bulbs
When you are shopping for flower bulbs, pay attention to bulb size. Larger bulbs will produce bigger plants with more or larger flowers. Also remember that bulbs are perishable, so it’s important to purchase the freshest bulbs possible and store them in a cool, dry place until planting time.
Longfield Gardens is an importer of flower bulbs. For more information, visit the company’s website at longfield-gardens.com, or for more planting tips, visit Longfield Gardne’s blog at blog.longfield-gardens.com.
Source: REALTOR SSS
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine
Men have their man caves, but how about a space just for females? Welcome, the “she shed.”
These backyard retreats are becoming the latest buzzword in interior design — emerging as the perfectly carved out haven for the woman of the household who seeks a quiet place of her own. Women are transforming old backyard sheds or even building mini cottages to create a place of relaxation or where they can pursue hobbies, such as ceramics, painting, and gardening. They are designing these mini sheds with everything from crystal chandeliers to luxurious furniture to create a top-notched designed space with all those feminine touches their heart desires. The only rule: No men allowed.
Take a look at some of these ‘she sheds’ photographed on Houzz.
Source: REALTOR SSS
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR Magazine
The ancient design philosophy of feng shui is gaining more traction in real estate as the number of Chinese home buyers are taking a bigger liking to U.S. real estate.
Eighty-six percent of Chinese Americans believe feng shui will play a role in a future home buying decision, according to a newly released survey of 500 Chinese-American home buyers, conducted by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, in conjunction with the Asian Real Estate Association of America. What’s more, 79 percent of respondents said they’d pay more for a home that follows feng shui principles — an average of 16 percent more to boot.
Seventy-five percent of respondents said deal breakers for them, which follow feng shui principles, would be a home being located at the end of a dead-end street, having the stairs directly facing the front door, and if the front and back doors are aligned.
Chinese buyers spent a whopping $28.6 billion on U.S. residential real estate from April 2014 to March 2015, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. That is prompting more real estate professionals to take notice of what feng shui is all about and what could be driving some of this growing number of buyers’ interests.
Peruse this infographic from Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate to learn more about feng shui.
Source: REALTOR SSS
Does your listing’s curb appeal match it’s architecture? A new guide provides tips on how to achieve curb appeal that compliments a home’s architecture.
The Fypon Style Guide, created with Duket Architects Planners in Toledo, Ohio, provides tips on adding polyurethane products that match a home’s architecture in adding to its curb appeal.
“This free guide makes it easy for home owners, builders, and remodelers to add stylish architecturally accurate accent pieces to home exteriors,” says JJ Rogers, sales operations manager with Fypon. “These are lightweight, easy-to-install products that are designed to complement different styles of homes and eliminate people shuddering as they drive by a home.”
See the differences among some of the home styles featured in the guide:
Classic (including Georgian, Federal and Victorian styles): Earmarked by a strong symmetry and design elements that remain timeless, Classic style homes have impressive curb appeal because of their well-balanced front elevations. Exteriors are highlighted by columns, shutters, door surrounds and crossheads. Adding curb appeal: Classic rails and newel posts with trim collars, rail blocks, and baluster panels can enhance these house exteriors.
Arts & Crafts: Popularly referred to as Arts & Crafts, Mission ,or Prairie style homes, these simplistic house designs feature booth woodgrain and smooth textures on the exterior. Adding curb appeal: Fypon’s solid woodgrain closed-ended beam with a rafter end and a woodgrain bracket enhance the porch, which is commonly included on these home styles. A square top and bottom rail combined with a rail support block can help create a porch system when matched with square balusters. Dentil blocks, a timber trellis and fishscale panels also can help curb appeal on an Arts & Crafts exterior.
Mediterranean: Often associated with the 1920s and 1930s, Mediterranean style homes can be found in Spanish, Greek, and Italianate home designs. Known for having stucco walls and low-pitched roofs, Mediterranean style homes feature layouts inspired by lush gardens, courtyards, pools, and fountains. Adding curb appeal: Tile vents, corbels for under the roofline, woodgrain plank shutters, columns, and decorative accents for doorways.
Country/Cottage: Including Farmhouse and Cape Cod styles, these simplistic homes — often with sprawling porches — offer comfort and efficiency. Adding curb appeal: For farmhouse style homes with simple trim details, try louvered shutters, porch posts, louvers, and symmetrical brackets. Flat trim, crossheads and plain porch posts complete the farmhouse style. For a Cape Cod style home, try newel posts in straight and corner panel styles that can be coupled with a classic square baluster system. This straight-forward home design looks best when enhanced with crossheads over first-floor windows and dormer kits used to trim out second floor dormer windows.
Today’s Traditional: Rooted in historical styles, Today’s Traditional homes mix style with practicality, and Old World touches with updated charm. Asymmetric entry doors and windows can be topped with crossheads to add instant curb appeal. Straight columns with minimal details at the base and cap flank the entryway, while small porches featuring square balustrade systems allow a place to relax. Adding curb appeal: Raised panel shutters and eyebrow louvers enhance the exterior of Today’s Traditional homes that often sport window boxes of colorful flowers to complete the home’s overall curb appeal.
Source: REALTOR SSS