Re-posted from http://realtormag.realtor.org/sales-and-marketing/feature/article/2017/06/rules-for-hiring-high-quality-photographer [Editor’s Note: Need a photographer? Give us a call! We’ve got a recommendation!] Don’t let poor listing photos or restrictive copyright terms stymie your marketing efforts. Here’s what to look for in the right photographer for your real estate business. JUNE 2017 | BY ERICA CHRISTOFFER Fourteen of the last 15 homes Erika Villegas has sold went under contract within 10 days. One of them was previously listed by another agent and sat on the market for nine months at $199,000. When Villegas, SFR, a sales associate with ERA Mi Casa Real Estate in Chicago, relisted the property for $209,000 in May, it sold in five days. What made the difference, she says, was the photography. While the first agent put crooked photos taken with a cell phone of the home online, Villegas used a professional photographer. “People are looking online first and foremost,” Villegas says. “They’re seeing these homes and then contacting their agent to request showings. We have to approach marketing from that perspective.” Finding the right photographer for your listings can be a daunting task, especially if you’re a new agent or have had negative experiences in the past. But professional photography can make all the difference in the world to you and your clients. Learn how other real estate pros identified the right photographer for the job and what qualities to look for when it comes to photography services, image rights, and costs. Choose someone who’s familiar with real estate. Villegas says she chose her photographer, Tony Escareno, director of photography at 360 Media Services in Chicago, because he understands the business: His wife is a real estate agent. So, he’s willing to work around an atypical schedule. “He’s not a ‘this is how we do things’ kind of person,” Villegas says, adding that Escareno is open to taking creative, nontraditional listing photos. She adds his photography to Canva and Xpressdocstemplates to create printed marketing materials. “People have been surprised by his work.” You might find photographers with specific qualifications you seek at networking events. Nico Hohman, broker-owner of Hohman Homes in Tampa, Fla., met his photographer, Sean Febre, at a local Chamber of Commerce event. Hohman says he appreciates that Febre, owner of central Florida–based photo and video marketing firm Febre Frameworks, is also a young entrepreneur. Even more appealing is that Febre’s company, which grew from a two-person team to 20 employees in 10 months, focuses exclusively on real estate and isn’t dabbling in other types of photography. Febre’s photography packages start at $100 and increase based on the square footage of a home; virtual tours cost $50; and video walkthroughs are $150. Pay attention to their...

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Re-posted from http://www.hgtv.com/design/real-estate/top-10-tips-for-selling-your-home-during-the-holidays Attract homebuyers even during the holidays with these useful tips. The holiday season from November through January is often considered the worst time to put a home on the market. While the thought of selling your home during the winter months may dampen your holiday spirit, the season does have its advantages: holiday buyers tend to be more serious and competition is less fierce with fewer homes being actively marketed. First, decide if you really need to sell. Really. Once you’ve committed to the challenge, don your gay apparel and follow these tips from FrontDoor. Deck the halls, but don’t go overboard. Homes often look their best during the holidays, but sellers should be careful not to overdo it on the decor. Adornments that are too large or too many can crowd your home and distract buyers. Also, avoid offending buyers by opting for general fall and winter decorations rather than items with religious themes. Hire a reliable real estate agent. That means someone who will work hard for you and won’t disappear during Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s. Ask your friends and family if they can recommend a listing agent who will go above and beyond to get your home sold. This will ease your stress and give you more time to enjoy the season. Seek out motivated buyers. Anyone house hunting during the holidays must have a good reason for doing so. Work with your agent to target buyers on a deadline, including people relocating for jobs in your area, investors on tax deadlines, college students and staff, and military personnel, if you live near a military base. Price it to sell. No matter what time of year, a home that’s priced low for the market will make buyers feel merry. Rather than gradually making small price reductions, many real estate agents advise sellers to slash their prices before putting a home on the market. Make curb appeal a top priority. When autumn rolls around and the trees start to lose their leaves, maintaining the exterior of your home becomes even more important. Bare trees equal a more exposed home, so touch up the paint, clean the gutters and spruce up the yard. Keep buyers’ safety in mind as well by making sure stairs and walkways are free of snow, ice and leaves. Take top-notch real estate photos. When the weather outside is frightful, homebuyers are likely to start their house hunt from the comfort of their homes by browsing listings on the Internet. Make a good first impression by offering lots of flattering, high-quality photos of your home. If possible, have a summer or spring photo...

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Re-posted from http://www.hgtv.com/design/decorating/design-101/30-cant-miss-home-staging-tips Designed to Sell designer Lisa LaPorta shares some of her best home staging tips. Grimy bathroom walls are a major red flag to buyers. Here is an easy way to get rid of surface mold: Mix a spray bottle with one part water and one part bleach. Just spray it on the wall, and watch the mold disappear. Give it a fresh coat of paint, and your grimy bathroom will go from red flag to red-hot. Don’t replace a yucky shower door: Just scour it. A grimy glass shower door can really wash out your sale. Instead of replacing it, clean it with a mixture of one part muriatic acid and about 10 parts water. Scrub with steel wool. After wiping it down, reinstall the door and you’ll have a shower that’ll help you clean up at the open house. Avoid dated tile by painting. Bathrooms sell houses, but dated tile in a bathroom doesn’t. A low-cost alternative to replacing the tile is to use paint. First coat the tiles with a high-adhesion primer. Next, brush on a special ceramic epoxy covering. For a fraction of the cost of new tile, you will have an up-to-date bathroom that brings in big bucks. Pedestal sinks are a big hit with buyers. They show off square footage in small bathrooms beautifully. First, your old vanity has to go. Next, just hook up your new sink, and your bathroom will have dramatic appeal that brings in big bucks. Plus, buyers will see how much floor space your bathroom has. A master bedroom should appeal to both sexes. When you are selling, your master bedroom should appeal to buyers of both sexes. Get rid of features that seem too gender-specific. Paint the walls a neutral color, and choose bedding that matches. Then accessorize with items that complement the overall color scheme. Do you have an overpowering brick fireplace that sticks out like a sore thumb? Here’s an easy way to tone it down with paint. Use a rag or brush to rub a light coat of paint on the bricks, one at a time. This will give them a new tone without covering them completely. And, if you use a paint color that matches the walls, your fireplace will go from sticking out to standing out. Updating an old fireplace screen is a cheap (and quick) fix. After removing the screen and wiping it down to get rid of the dust, mask off the windows so you won’t get paint on them. Then, using a can of heat-resistant spray paint, give the screen a facelift. Hold the can about 18 inches away, and use long, even strokes....

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From post on http://www.forbes.com/sites/houzz/2017/01/06/top-10-home-design-trends-to-expect-in-2017/#6442c8b031d5 JAN 6, 2017 @ 06:00 AM Mitchell Parker, Houzz Editorial Staff Looking for some great ideas for your home? How about a voice-activated assistant that will give you a weather update while you pour coffee into a preheated mug from a warming drawer? Not your style? No worries — there’s something for everyone in this preview of 2017 design trends. We plowed into Houzz data, sifted through popular photos and articles, and talked to industry leaders for this look at 10 things we think you’ll be seeing more of in the home in 2017.   1. Satin brass. Brass finishes have been making a comeback in recent years, cherished for their ability to bring shiny golden tones to a space without the high price tag. But more recently, designers like Elizabeth Lawson have been turning away from the reflective finish of polished brass and embracing satin or brushed brass, which is more muted and warm. “I especially like a satin brass finish because it’s transitional and can complement a number of styles,” says Lawson, who used the finish in the kitchen shown here. “It also looks amazing against almost any color of the rainbow. I think we’ll continue to see rooms with satin brass for quite some time and also possibly mixed with other finishes for a more eclectic look.” 2. Voice-activated assistants. There’s been a lot of talk about voice assistants in the home. It’s something Shawn DuBravac, chief economist of the Consumer Technology Association, which puts on the Consumer Electronics Show every year in Las Vegas (Jan. 5 to 8, 2017), says will be big in 2017. Amazon’s Alexa, which is enabled in the Echo Dot shown on this side table, acts as a voice-activated interface for many smart home devices. Google Home’s voice assistant launched about a month ago. These devices work through activation phrases like “Alexa” or “OK Google.” The devices, placed throughout your home, are always listening in somewhat of a dormant state. Say the activation phrase, and the device fires up and awaits your command. Ask it to give you the weather or play a song from Spotify or dim your lights or power up the hot tub. Early last year, Amazon opened its platform to third parties and has since added thousands of integrated features from smart home companies like Lutron, Crestron, Philips Hue, Wemo, Honeywell, Nest, Samsung Smart Home to other services from Uber, Domino’s, NPR and more. Google Home just launched its voice-activated assistant about a month ago, and DuBravac says he expects the company to open the platform to third-party companies soon. “What you’re seeing is...

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From post on http://realtormag.realtor.org/home-and-design/feature/article/2015/10/understated-master-bathroom OCTOBER 2015 | 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 with a redone bathroom over an unfinished one, he says. Today’s understated master bathrooms are influenced by the following eight style categories. Encourage your...

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From post on http://realtormag.realtor.org/home-and-design/feature/article/2017/01/these-doors-can-modernize-your-listing-s-look We realize that this copy targets real estate brokers specifically, but you can easily imagine it addressed specifically to you. Just substitute “your home” every time the author says “your listing.” Good luck! JANUARY 2017 | BY MELISSA DITTMANN TRACEY A front door with pizzazz has always had a starring role in a home’s curb appeal. But lately, the doors inside a home are getting a closer look for their ability to add style and address design challenges. Strategically placed doors can offer privacy in open floor plan environments or increase the usability of cramped spaces.   Real estate pros Helene Bonello-Strauss and Malte Strauss with Trust International Real Estate LLC in Orlando, Fla., who also manage the staging blog idesigntosell.com, have used barn doors hung on sliding tracks above door frames and pocket doors, which tuck inside a wall, in several remodel and staging projects. “We use [barn doors] all the time in master bathrooms where there is a vanity area that is separate from the tub [and] commode area,” says Bonello-Strauss, also a home stager. In some older homes, vanities are located in the master bedroom rather than in the bathroom, a style that quickly can date a home. “Now we just close those off with a barn door, and buyers love that solution.” She also recently used two barn doors hanging from each side of an open door frame to solve an open floor plan’s privacy issue. The homeowners had built an addition off the living area that could be used as a guest bedroom, but they never installed a door to separate the bedroom from the main area. Bonello-Strauss added the double barn doors so the space could be used as a guest bedroom or opened to expand the living area when not in use by a visitor. “It truly makes the room and provides an architectural interest to an otherwise bland wall,” she says. But don’t be thrown off by the word “barn.” Your listing doesn’t have to be country chic to benefit from this space saver. The concept works in many styles, from walnut barn doors for traditional homes to galvanized metal doors for urban lofts, says Lynn MacMillan, with Gem Home Staging & Designs in St. Catharines, Ontario. Pocket doors vary widely too, from all glass to all wood and from designs that stretch to the ceiling to those that are only waist-high. Sliding doors can attach to a kitchen island and can be used to close off areas to pets or children when needed. “I prefer using sliding doors in all my projects,” says designer and architect Lilian...

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