Posted in Staging Tips, by Blog Contributor By Audra Slinkey, Home Staging Resource Sometimes it can be a challenge convincing the home seller to use a certified staging professional so I created some visuals using the latest, 2014-2015 statistics to assist agents in getting the point across to their clients. Professional home staging is not only for homes that are a “mess” but it also makes a huge difference in the selling price for homes that are “typical”. In fact, statistics show that it doesn’t matter whether the home is vacant, occupied, a fixer or a beauty — when a certified staging professional gets a hold of it, an average 10 percent better sales price can be expected! Sellers can be nervous that the stager is going to tell them to make expensive improvements to the home, but the reality is that only improvements that will have a BIG IMPACT on buyers and a good return on investment will be recommended. That same home staging survey of over 3,500 homes sold showed an average 1000 percent return on investment when the seller spent a mere 1 percent of the value of their home. OK, so maybe spending an extra $20 to wash your car before selling it is not worth the $200 more you got in price BUT the $4,000 you spent on staging your $400,000 home is probably worth the $40,000 on average return you will see over your neighbor who did nothing…especially if the $40,000 is tax free! Staging has always had an impact on the speed of sale, but in this market, I think it’s wise to be the agent known for getting top dollar for your clients, not just a speedy sale. In fact, the savvy seller is wise to the agent who prices low and sells quickly compared to the agent who is pricing right and getting top dollar. In my neighborhood, where everyone is on a “Google group” chatting, the agent who took a bit longer to sell a home (3 weeks) but made the neighbor $85,000 over what the “quick sale” agent got another neighbor, is definitely the agent all my neighbors are going to use! Those poor agents had no idea we were commenting on their performance but I don’t think my neighborhood is all that unusual…do you? Every agent knows that the moment their buyer is visualizing themselves in the home, the offer comes next.  Why?  Because people buy on emotion and being able to “see” your family living in the space is essential! What’s the point in hiring a professional photographer if the room is not completely dialed in? The combination...

Read More

Forget the extravagant bling of the 1980s and monochromatic spa look of more recent years. Home owners desire a more affordable, personal style, along with water and energy conservation. | BY BARBARA BALLINGER Master bathrooms, along with the average home’s overall footprint, grew larger in recent decades. And with more square footage came excessive luxury and expense—tubs with aromatherapy kits, exotic countertop materials, coffee makers, small refrigerators, and showers for two with an arsenal of body sprays that performed like a human-sized car wash. But changes are afoot. As homes have decreased in size, many people prefer to put any extra space into other areas of the house, such as closets, says Stephanie Pierce, senior manager of the design studio at MasterBrand Cabinets. They also don’t always see the need for more than one tub in the house, and often there’s already one located in bathrooms designated for children or guests. Concern about getting money that’s been invested in a remodel back at resale is another driving force spurring home owners to spend less on master bathrooms. It’s tough to justify significant expenditures when buyers seem to attach greater value to adding a deck or replacing a garage or entry door, according to the 2015 “Cost vs. Value” report. Bathrooms remodeled with upscale finishes and fixtures, for example, cost around $54,115 this past year and returned only an estimated 60 percent of that in the sales price. Less costly midrange redos brought back a better return of 70 percent, according to the same survey. Yet, having a personalized, functional master bathroom with a touch of luxury remains a buyer priority. “People aren’t going to the extreme they once did, but they want a room that looks fresh,” says Sarah Barnard, a designer in Santa Monica, Calif. Rather than relying on trends from the hotel industry as has been popular in years past, Elissa Morgante of Morgante-Wilson Architects in Chicago says, home owners are more likely to use their own needs as inspiration. Case in point: Nikki Wheeler resisted a designer friend’s advice when remodeling her master bathroom in her 1890s Denver home. “She was pushing me to knock down walls to create a magnificent oasis. I thought with an older, more historic home, creating these giant hotel-style bathrooms didn’t fit,” she says. Wheeler kept within the existing footprint, adding a vaulted ceiling and upgrading the shower, countertop, cabinets, and floor. Making these types of changes can make a big difference when selling, says sales associate Paul Wyman of The Wyman Group in Kokomo, Ind. An outdated bathroom requires a lot of work, and most buyers will favor a house...

Read More

Will this winter pack a wallop? Help home buyers and sellers understand how to prepare for a variety of weather challenges.  | BY BARBARA BALLINGER Mother Nature often doesn’t provide advance warning that she’s about to unleash freezing cold temperatures and mountains of snow. Those living in colder climates are wise to prepare, whether they’re sellers needing to clear walkways and maintain a furnace in good condition or buyers eager to know that their future home will be well insulated and energy-efficient to avoid surprises after they move in. Knowing how to winterize a home is more than half the battle. Here are 10 challenges you can help your clients avert: Ice dams Accumulations of ice form at a roof’s edge and prevent melting snow from draining properly. Water backs up behind the ice and often leaks into the house, damaging walls, ceilings, insulation, floors, furniture, and more, according to Steve Kuhl, owner of The Ice Dam Company and Kuhl’s Contracting in Hopkins, Minn. Why they happen: Kuhl says the dams result from multiple variables interacting: the home’s quality of insulation, amount of ventilation, and architectural design; the climate; and the home owners’ lifestyle. “We see more ice dams when home owners want their interiors warmer. Ice dams are primarily the result of heat escaping into areas of the roofline where it’s not supposed to be. The heat melts the snow on higher roof areas, and the melted water travels to areas where it’s below freezing such as the eaves. It then refreezes and accumulates into a dam that prevents melted water from leaving the roof,” Kuhl says. Solutions: Two main strategies help eliminate ice dams. The first is architectural and more expensive. “Home owners can increase their insulation and ventilation, which often costs between $8,000 and $15,000. The advantage is that the work improves the home’s energy efficiency. The second involves installing heat cables on the lower edge of a roof in a serpentine pattern to stop water from freezing and backing up. That typically runs between $1,000 and $2,000,” Kuhl says. Extra tips: It’s a common misconception that keeping gutters and downspouts clear will eliminate ice dams, but Kuhl says it’s a good idea to perform the task at least twice a year (more often if a lot of trees grow near the roof). Home owners should also be aware of how much insulation is suggested for their area by referencing resources such as Energy Star. Collapsed roof It doesn’t happen often, but an extraordinary amount of snow can become excessively heavy and push in a roof. That happened last year in many parts of the country,...

Read More

Forget the extravagant bling of the 1980s and monochromatic spa look of more recent years. Home owners desire a more affordable, personal style, along with water and energy conservation. | BY BARBARA BALLINGER Master bathrooms, along with the average home’s overall footprint, grew larger in recent decades. And with more square footage came excessive luxury and expense—tubs with aromatherapy kits, exotic countertop materials, coffee makers, small refrigerators, and showers for two with an arsenal of body sprays that performed like a human-sized car wash. But changes are afoot. As homes have decreased in size, many people prefer to put any extra space into other areas of the house, such as closets, says Stephanie Pierce, senior manager of the design studio at MasterBrand Cabinets. They also don’t always see the need for more than one tub in the house, and often there’s already one located in bathrooms designated for children or guests. Concern about getting money that’s been invested in a remodel back at resale is another driving force spurring home owners to spend less on master bathrooms. It’s tough to justify significant expenditures when buyers seem to attach greater value to adding a deck or replacing a garage or entry door, according to the 2015 “Cost vs. Value” report. Bathrooms remodeled with upscale finishes and fixtures, for example, cost around $54,115 this past year and returned only an estimated 60 percent of that in the sales price. Less costly midrange redos brought back a better return of 70 percent, according to the same survey. Yet, having a personalized, functional master bathroom with a touch of luxury remains a buyer priority. “People aren’t going to the extreme they once did, but they want a room that looks fresh,” says Sarah Barnard, a designer in Santa Monica, Calif. Rather than relying on trends from the hotel industry as has been popular in years past, Elissa Morgante of Morgante-Wilson Architects in Chicago says, home owners are more likely to use their own needs as inspiration. Case in point: Nikki Wheeler resisted a designer friend’s advice when remodeling her master bathroom in her 1890s Denver home. “She was pushing me to knock down walls to create a magnificent oasis. I thought with an older, more historic home, creating these giant hotel-style bathrooms didn’t fit,” she says. Wheeler kept within the existing footprint, adding a vaulted ceiling and upgrading the shower, countertop, cabinets, and floor. Making these types of changes can make a big difference when selling, says sales associate Paul Wyman of The Wyman Group in Kokomo, Ind. An outdated bathroom requires a lot of work, and most buyers will favor a house...

Read More

It’s a common problem. You know you have way too much stuff for your available space, but you become paralyzed at the thought of decluttering. One solution is to start with something that takes minimal effort but makes a big impact in your home right away. From carving out a bit of breathing room in your closet to making a dent in the junk drawer, these five ways to begin the decluttering process are relatively painless. You can do this! Priestley + Associates Architecture Where Not to BeginDon’t plan to start with a major weekend-long purge. Plan to start being the key phrase. A big decluttering weekend can be a great way to make progress, but carving out such a large chunk of time may not be easy to arrange — and if you keep putting off getting started because you’re waiting for a big space to open up on your calendar, you could be waiting a very long time. A Darling Felicity Photography Don’t start with other people’s stuff. Oh, it is so tempting, I know! But although you may be dying to bag up your least favorite items from your spouse/significant other/kid/housemate’s space, resist the urge — it’s not likely to go over well. Even if you have way less clutter than the other members of your household, it’s important to take responsibility for your own part. If you’re lucky, the clutter-clearing bug will be catching! California Closets Don’t start at the front door. In theory, the entryway is a wonderful place to begin decluttering. But guess what tends to accumulate around the front door? Stuff you actually use a lot. That means that while there could be a few things to get rid of in this area, it’s more likely that the stuff just needs to be put away. But if everywhere else in the house is packed, there’s nowhere for the entryway clutter to go. Le Michelle Nguyen Where to Begin1. Discard a few clothes. Removing some of the clothes and shoes you don’t wear from your closet and drawers is a good first step. By clearing out a bit of space in your bedroom closet, you can then tuck away some of the extra items (jackets, scarves, shoes) cluttering up your entryway, in effect clearing two areas of your home at once. If you’re following the Marie Kondo method of tidying, this is also where she recommends beginning. How to: Try not to get hung up on winnowing down your entire closet right now; just grab a few no-brainer items that obviously need to go (socks without mates, worn out sneakers, ill-fitting pants), toss...

Read More