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9 out of 10 home buyers search internet photo’s when looking for listings. They are doing their research online, gaining their information and comparing homes. So what are those pictures worth for a residential real estate listing? If the images are well done, they can result up to a 3.9% increase in the final sale.
What is a well done image? One that enhances the scene- a photo that tells more of a story. As a stager I review a lot of listings and it still amazes me to see images of rooms that do nothing for the home.
Here are some of my ‘cringes’ and simple suggestion to correct the problems to make your home attractive to buyers
Prepare your house first, if you are unsure where to start get a professional stager in to help you set your priorities. Remember to interview your agent too, to ensure you have one that will be marketing your property correctly.
First ask yourself, when was the last time you updated your décor? Was it in 1990? Before?
Decorative fashion trends come and go but some of the choices we made then, could be the biggest selling offenders now, if you are trying to sell. I have said it before, and will say it again, you need to be objective when marketing a house for sale. Here is a list of the biggest offenders to buyers and how to correct them making your home look like it is in this century.
The biggest offenders to buyers now are:
Dense floral wallpaper and fabrics. Look at your walls, furniture, and drapery this was a big trend and nothing screams outdated more than seeing these. Remove the wallpaper and slipcover the furniture if you cannot replace to remove these offenders.
Wallpaper boarders around the ceiling or as a chair rail. These were an inexpensive way to add detail to a room because the finer details of crown moldings dissipated. Remove these and simply paint the walls one color.
Shiny brass hardware, unless high quality, do not stand up to time and start looking pitted, discolored and rusty. Today the choice is matte if you still love brass, or replace with nickel or chrome. Replace door knobs, faucets, lighting fixtures and handles on cabinets to something more desirable and with trend today.
Overstuffed furniture; I get it “it’s soooo comfortable” but 9 times out of 10 it is too large for the space it occupies and is not in style today. Buyers will see this cumbersome furniture literally as the “elephant in the room,” remove and update.
Lots of color and texture – think bright tiles all those mixed patterns, sponged walls, lots of color all very visually stimulating which is not what you want when selling. Tone it down to neutral colors, use the texture and color as accents in the room in pillows, art etc., not throughout the room as the feature.
Carpeting in bathrooms; one word, YUCK! When selling you want to create the spa like feeling in the baths. Spotless clean bathrooms are what a buyer wants, so lose the carpet and invest in a tile floor if you need to, but remove the carpet. While we are talking about carpets, remove area rugs too for photos and when you are showing. Clean fresh open space is what buyers love.
Wall to wall mirrors on slider closet doors are no longer in fashion. Remove and paint the doors or replace if needed. Mirrors do help a room look larger, but today mirrors are decorative accent pieces. Even in the bathroom the trend is to have a decorative mirror with a nice frame versus the large piece. Look at something like Mirror Mates to improve yours.
Tiffany style glass hanging lights. If the furniture, walls and overall ambiance are updated these might work, but if the furnishing through the space are from 1990’s or earlier they will look really dated. Either remove and update with a more current style light fixture, or time to purchase new furniture. The light fixture might be a little less expensive when selling.
As you can see in the picture examples these are houses did not sell quickly because the overall image they projected was dated. Buyers could not see themselves living in these dated homes and moved on to ones that were updated and felt fresh. Keep this in mind when you put your house on the market, it can make a difference of lingering or selling.
When it’s time to paint a room, do you agonize over which color will work? Have you painted a room you chose from a chip and through “this will be it!”; only to find it is not the one? Paint color can be tricky but it does not have to be.
I recently attended a conference in Toronto to learn how to make sense of it all. There are many blogs, websites and tons of information on color, but they are typically just that, information on color. When it comes to finding the right paint color it can be tricky because there are so many elements in the room to consider. If they are not being considered, you will feel like the room is not “quite right,” but not knowing why it is not “quite right.”
A great example I have, when I first moved into my house I chose fabric for drapes in my dining room because I liked it. Similarly, I found wallpaper that I thought would look lovely giving me that beautiful airy tone on tone look I was trying to achieve. Low and behold once the room was completed it was OK but not “quite right.” Yes, everyone said they “loved” the room but something was off. One day my daughter said “Mom, I think the drapes are faded or something,” they looked dirty compared to the wall paper! When choosing fabric for the drapes and the wall paper they looked ok together from the samples I had, but the beige’s were “not quite” right. That’s when I fell upon Maria Killam’s blog and discovered it’s all about the undertones.
The yellow/beige in the drapes was not working with the pink/beige in the wallpaper making the drapes look dirty. Needless to say it became a huge project (info for another blog) to remove the wallpaper and paint to make everything work together; an expense I could have avoided if I only knew then what I know now!
Through Maria’s course I learned to distinguish the difference in colors, and why they work or do not work within a room. You see you need to take all the element in the room, distinguish which undertones are going on, if the color is on the warm or cool side of the spectrum, muddy or clean and then you can start to eliminate some colors to consider others. I truly believe either you are born with this instinct or you need to learn it. Not all is lost, I mean 90% of the time I was getting it right but did not know why. Now when I have a client say “but I really love this color, can’t I use it instead?” I have the facts and ways to show why a color is the correct choice over another so that the room looks great, not that “not quite right look.”
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You say you are ready to move, your house on the market, but it’s not selling. There are many factors that can be causing your house unfortunately not to get an offer. These are the 8 most common reasons.
Think back when your realtor toured your house and you discussed what should be done prior to selling, and spoke about the pricing did you…
A cluttered home eats equity. A home that is filled with furniture and your personal collections can be overwhelming buyers. All the stuff you have not been using for six months can be packed up and put in a storage unit. By doing so your rooms will start to appear more spacious.
Yes it’s hard, all the memories that have been created in those four walls is hard to part with. Nevertheless, if you cannot be objective and realize that your house is now a product on the market with similar, that needs to attract a buyer, you will not be able to sell. Marketing the house involves price and product, if you are not willing to listen to professionals as to what the best price is to market your home, and how to stage your home to appeal to buyers, you will have a tough time selling.
Stay For the Showing
I know it is hard to leave your home open to someone you do not know. Buyers want to know what they are purchasing, they will open closets, drawers, check out your refrigerator, and they want to freely comment on what they see. They will feel uncomfortable doing just that with you there, moving onto the next house.
Hire a Cleaner
A buyer enters your home with eyes wide open, they see everything. This is the time where every surface needs to be white glove clean. Look up and around every room, if you see any look of wear or dirt and you cannot get it clean, then replace it.
Open Windows and Window Treatments
Buyers love light and bright. If you have heavy window treatments remove them, even lace curtains panels, and screens remove and let the light shine in. Having all windows clean too is important. Then if the weather permits open a window or two and let the fresh air in. Fresh air helps eliminate odors and is far better than masking them with candles, and air fresheners that buyers could be sensitive to.
Remove Excess Furniture and Neutralize
Although you may feel your furniture is situated perfectly for viewing the TV there may be too much making the room feel cramped and difficult to navigate through. Buyers like light and bright spaces, the less furniture the more spacious a room feels. Along with the packing move a few unnecessary pieces out opening the room. In addition, keep in mind light neutral furniture allows buyers to look at the room, not the furniture. You want them to see the spaciousness and feel that their personal items can fit into the house.
Forget About Your Honey Do List
Make sure all repairs and taken care of before your house goes on the market. Remember, once you have an offer, an inspection will take place; any potential problems can make you lose the sale. Buyers today are looking for homes that are move in ready with little to no maintenance issues.
Have Professional Photos Taken
Remember the photos online are the first impression buyers get of your home. If the photographs reflect the beauty of the home then you will get the buyers requesting a showing. If your photos are not impressive, you are losing potential buyers at a click.
Other good reads to get your house sold…
Eventually we adapt to the smells of our home and we don’t even notice them anymore. Unfortunately though when you are ready to put your house on the market, if you have odors that linger, it can very well be a turn off to potential buyers. So how and where do you attack the smells so they are non-existent without sprays, candles and other artificial air deodorizers?
If you have animals you can guarantee you have pet odors. I love Fido too but when selling you have to be conscious that not everyone loves animals or their odors. If you have pets, you need to be fastidious with grooming. Clean pets smell less. The areas where they relax also need to be considered. Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum and vacuum again; every surface your pet chooses to relax on and in; they retain lingering smells that need to be addressed. Hair, slobber, litter boxes, excretions etc. all contribute to the collective smells. If you have animals that are not bathed or groomed that live in cages, their “homes” will need to be cleaned daily also to keep the odors at bay when you are selling. Neutralizing the odors can be done by cleaning with a simple solution of ½ vinegar ½ water. Washing bedding with baking soda and regular detergent can also help neutralize the tell tail odors of pets.
The musty smell that can be a turn off to buyers. Check for mildew and mold on surfaces of items stored in this area. Mildew is usually gray or white, if it’s fuzzy it’s mold, neither are desirable when you are selling. Clean the surface that has it with 1 part bleach 4 part water. If you are able to let light into the area do so. Also run a dehumidifier to continue to keep the air dry and the moisture at bay. Trick people use to absorb odors are bowls of vinegar, or baking soda, or even kitty litter (provided you do not have a cat that might use) to remove the lingering smells.
I get the question quite often, will buyers open my fridge/freezer? Of course, they are looking to see if your house is a good investment and are scoping out the product they might purchase. Therefore expect buyers to open your fridge, but make sure when they do they are not met with a cloud of air that smells of lingering food. Clean out your fridge of its entire contents and wash all surfaces with a solution of ½ vinegar and ½ water add an open box of baking soda to absorb any odors that could occur. Anything that has been in the fridge that is expired throw out, any food that is over 3 days old throw out, and maintain the interior of the fridge throughout the selling period of the house. Same goes for cooking while your house is on the market, do not cook items that produce a strong odor before a showing, if you are craving those types of foods, go out and have them.
Insure there are no lingering odors, start by cleaning ALL the bedding first. This will neutralize any smells, and if not purchase new. Sprinkle your mattress with baking soda and let it sit a while to absorb odors, then vacuum. If your bedding is old or not in the best condition, invest in something new, the nice thing with bedding is that it goes with you when you move; so treat yourself and invest in something beautiful. I also suggest that this is a great time to replace old pillows with new fluffy pillows to make a relaxing statement to buyers. Again it all moves with you so invest in something you like.
Addressing just these four areas can make a significant difference in the air quality of your home. Start with these and have an objective friend or family member stop by for a sniff, if odors still linger, keep cleaning!
Realtor.com pooled information from across the country to see what buyers are currently investing their hard earned dollars on when it comes to purchasing a home. I will recap a few of the highlights from the article here.
As always location, location, location as we always hear is one of the biggest factor when people purchase a property. That being said the most important feature happens to be good schools. The homes located in good school districts sold on average in 76 days, with a median price on the house being $330,000. That tells me that communities should make sure their school boards are making sure the students graduating better be a top product if you want to increase or maintain the equity in your property. While location is popular so are views. If you are in an urban area and have a place with a view of the city you will do well when selling. Other desirable views are golf courses, lake views, mountain views and then ocean views.
Price of course is always a factor when investing in property. The strongest price range was $200 to$250K with an average of 83 days. Not too surprising the trend I keep reading about are buyers downsizing, and small starter homes are being snatched up quickly. The $150 to $200K range was close behind at 86 days.
Size matters, but this time it’s about the square footage of the home. A 1500-2000 sq. ft home has been selling over the 3000-3500 sqft home by two weeks, the bigger you go the longer the house is on the market. Tiny houses are all the rage, along with energy efficiency too. Those trying to get into the housing market because rentals are actually not the best deal on the block anymore are jumping on these smaller homes.
The study did numerous other areas too, but one I thought interesting was their ‘hottest amenity’ category. Here they show that having stainless steel appliances are most desired. I am just wondering if it is that stainless is desirable or is it that most homes have stainless appliances that sell today so that is the reason why it ranked so high. Many trend predictors are saying for kitchens, the stainless trend is waning, but nothing is coming out on top as a new trend so the kitchen trend category I believe is still up in the air. Black appliances are being seen, and integrated appliances are being shown more and more, but there is not a surge in anyone particular area.
I would be interested to hear what is trending in your particular market versus the findings from realtor.com. Let me know
There have been numerous studies on color and how a color can affect your mood. I have found this fascinating because when I go into a house to do a consult when people are ready to move, it humors me how defensive they can be about the colors in their rooms. When selling, your goal should be to appeal to the broadest range of buyers. So knowing color can relate to people’s emotions, why not go with colors that do not elicit a negative mood, but a positive impression so that they fall in love with your house?
We hear neutral colors are great when selling, but rarely know why. A neutral color does not just have to be white or beige, they can have green, blue, yellow, gray etc. undertones. A neutral color typically is one that does not necessarily elicit a reaction of feeling. So how do you create a house that is neutral but not boring, one you can live in but is easily transferable when you are ready to sell? That’s asking a lot out of a color!
When a client is willing to take the advice that painting is one of the biggest bangs for the investment when selling, we choose colors that will complement the furnishings but also convey to the entire house. Choosing colors can be a challenge but by choosing the right ones they should convey a feeling of warmth and the room should stand on its own, not the color. An example is this bathroom. Although the color initially worked with the room, by selecting one a little different made the room appear larger and cleaner- ooh ahh what buyers love!
Certain colors convey different emotions too. Colors that should be painted over before selling are orange, reds and deep purples. These are high energy colors that are very subjective to many people. If I have a client that absolutely LOVES their purple I suggest possibly consider going a lot lighter on walls and keep the accents in the room. So there are ways to work around bolder colors without changing everything in your house.
Keep in mind when selecting colors that unless you are planning on dwelling only, and not selling you can choose an array, but if selling keep to a few colors in rooms per floor, using a neutral color such as a soft gray or beige to connect the rooms to one another. The only mood you want to elicit when selling is inviting and tranquility, the mood of “this is the home I have to have.”
Color can have a significant impact on how we feel, perceive something, and react to things. Because of emotions, different colors can elicit feelings throughout the house subconsciously. The questions comes to which colors are best for some rooms and not others, and why.
For example yellow is associated with joy, happiness, intellect and energy. Because it evokes a pleasant, cheerful feeling it is a great color to use in spaces that you want to be uplifting. It is a color that would be good to have in an office, child’s room, kitchen or even a family room where there is a gathering a friends, family and acquaintances.
Blue one of the most popular colors maybe because it is considered with stability providing a calming and serene feeling. In home décor it can be used as a neutral (think blue jeans), to combine other colors within a room. Blue of course is associated with water so it is a perfect color for bathrooms, due to the calming effect. It is considered to suppress appetites I think because, we have very little blue food, but if that is the case it would not be choice then for a kitchen or dining area.
Red is a very popular color in décor because of the energy it gives off, its stimulating visibility is full of ego. It would be a great color for a child’s playroom, or an exercise room. Red, orange and bright yellow are two very subjective colors though when used in home décor so they should be avoided as a paint color on walls if you are trying to sell your home.
When we think of the outdoors green comes to mind because of trees, and grass. Green is associated with newness, nourishment and a fresh start. It is believed to relieve stress and is easy on the eyes- probably why you see shades of green in places of healing.
But when choosing colors for your home do not rule out what are considered neutral colors- gray, whites, browns. These are great for connecting spaces with color, but they are also great for spaces to play up color. Both Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore picked neutral whites for 2016 Color of the year for the serenity and calmness they can create, but also giving individuals the ability to off set other colors if one so chooses. Neutral colors also help highlight architectural details which is important when selling a house; you want buyers to be looking at the house, not at the “things” within the room.
Color does play a big role in the feeling of rooms, so when choosing, it is usually the last design element to go into the room, but one of the important details to set the entire mood. If you are thinking of changing your colors, feeling something is not quite right in a room, consult a professional to help you ensure that what you are painting will convey exactly what you intend. Do you have a color story you can share? I would love to hear.
Winter the days are shorter, colder, making us feel cooped up. Spending more time indoors can effect your mood, but so can the colors you use in decorating your rooms. If the colors in the rooms are not quite right they could be causing you to feel depressed, lethargic, and sluggish. By simply changing out colors in a room it can lift your mood significantly.
Color plays a role in how we feel about a lot of things consciously and subconsciously. Think of food, if the color is a little off we won’t go near it. Would you want to dig into a juicy green steak? When looking at products manufactures know which colors will out preform in sales over others. They might throw in a “pop” color just to test but stores will most likely invest less in that different color over the tried and true they know will sell.
Think of your home, the color in some rooms can affect your mood. Do you have a favorite room in your house? Think of the colors that are in it, they probably play a big role in why you love that room. Let’s face the fact, color is personal. Colors evoke emotions, look at the 2016 colors that Pantone selected this year; a soft pink – Rose Quartz and soft blue- Serenity. Some designers are excited to embrace while others absolutely abhor them. They feel that the colors are too passé from the 80’s when they were popular. But like fashion everything is cyclical. So how do you pick colors that you will love in your house?
I advise clients to find a color that they love to use as a base color, this is one that you will have the most of throughout your home. How do you find a base color? Look in your closet and see what colors of clothing you tend to navigate toward, or try creating a collection of things you love on Pinterest board and you will start seeing a reoccurring color.
The main color that you love should be on the walls of rooms that are visible to one another. If you get stressed picking colors choose a lighter tone of the color or softer feeling which will play a little more neutral. To amp it up add accessories in darker shades of your fav color. As a simplified rule, choose three colors per living floor space i.e. upstairs can be treated differently than downstairs. Use a neutral but complementary color to connect spaces such as hallways. If you are using more neutrals for the main areas of the house, you can use bolder color in the connecting area that complements too. If choosing a color freaks you out, get a base idea of what you like, gather some pictures that inspire you and contact a local professional to help you with a paint consult. The time spent will be well worth the minimal cost and save you time and money in the long run.
If the color you love is in the majority of the space in your home, it can significantly change your mood and feeling about rooms that you think are not that great. I would love to see your transformations of your spaces that lift your mood!
Other good reads:
It’s the little things that can make a huge difference, and when we have been living in our houses we tend to overlook or no longer see the little things. Cleaning is one of the easy, inexpensive ways to make a great impression in a house. Although you might think “oh that’s small, who will notice” you’d be surprised what stands out.
Here are some cleaning secrets that will impress any discriminating buyer:
Floors– I have said it many times, if you cannot clean it to look almost new, then replace it. Along with your floors look at your baseboards, make sure they are not marred or dusty. Using a microfiber rag that is damp to clean will be a good start, then touch up scuffs or repaint if needed so they look fresh and clean.
Bathrooms– these are tough because they are used every day, but it is one of the more “important” rooms that can make or break a sale if they are not clean. I suggest to clients use a toothbrush and cleaner to get all the grime up so surfaces are sparkling clean. Spend a little money by purchasing new white towels and shower curtain, they will make the room feel clean. If you have a family that will turn your whites into browns, keep a set of “show” towels set aside just for that. Small investment/huge impact.
Closets– there is always a lot going on behind doors, so sometimes you just have to clean it up! Before you list your property edit out the clothes you have not worn for over year, then if you need more space remove what you haven’t worn in six months. Then arrange by “style”- all shirts, all skirts, all pants, and then sort those by color grouping like colors together. Why? It reduces the visual clutter, and makes closets look large. Buyers love big closets. I also suggest in the process of editing also get everything off the floor in a closet except shoes. Again, it makes the closets appear larger, and buyers like that.
Kitchens- similar to bathrooms they can be a challenge to maintain, but they are also considered one of the “important” rooms buyers will pick one house over another for; therefore make sure yours is spotless. Similar to closets buyers will be opening cabinets, drawers and your refrigerator so those need to be organized and clean too. Every few days wipe your shelves down in your fridge, throw out food that is left over, and make sure the interior is fresh smelling. Adding fresh flowers to a counter is also a beautiful added touch that will impress for a small cost.
Marketing a property in today’s technology oriented world, whereby 90% of buyers are looking online for their next home, the little things can make a huge impact. Spending a little extra attention to the cleaning will obtain positive outcomes.