Sunday, February 18, 2018

Does Wall Color Really Matter When Selling Your Home? (Spoiler: Yes.)

We all want to believe that we make decisions only after we've logically examined the facts. But are we really objective about how we decide things?

We buy cars that eat too much fuel but look luxurious, and shoes that feel uncomfortable but make us look sexy.

Emotions refuse to take a minor role when it comes to buying a house, too.

Home buyers are influenced by intangibles like aromas, sounds, memories, textures, and colors. Even buyers who collect all the pertinent data about things like price per square foot, neighborhood comparables, and average utility bills respond to a property on an emotional level as well.

As a home seller, your task is to make buyers fall in love with your home on all levels. Data matters to buyers, but so do the intangibles. Color is one of those intangibles.

Of all the surfaces in your home, walls are the largest. People touring your home will be surrounded by walls. That means wall color has a big impact on emotions. So it's  important to know what colors make buyers feel good.

Surveys Show

In 2016, approximately 560,000 new houses sold nationwide. Even though it's starting to look more like a seller's market in some areas of the country doesn't mean it's easy to convince a buyer to make that offer. Buyers expect homes to be well-maintained and look pleasing. Paint satisfies in both those departments. It protects and beautfies.

Certain colors are almost expected in certain rooms.
Bathrooms are a natural for pale blues, greens and teals.
Photo: M .House Montgomery 
The best part about painting is its cost-effectiveness. Whether you do it yourself, or hire others to do it, painting gives you one of the best returns on your staging budget. The right color can actually have a better ROI than a big-ticket renovation, according to real estate agents and home staging professionals I've talked with.

An interior design trends survey from 2017 found that more than one-third of respondents would choose a neutral color palette if they were redecorating their home. It's no surprise, then, that "greige" -- pale gray with a beige undertone -- and off-whites are still very popular choices when choosing a new hue for home staging.

Three Boxes to Check Off

We've all heard the advice that neutral wall colors will deliver the clean, non-polarizing canvas that allows buyers to picture themselves in your home.

The interior design industry generates around $10 billion in revenue every year. This figure tells me the average homeowner values her home's interior decor. She wants the latest looks. She wants comfort. And when looking to buy, she wants a turnkey property. Paint can go a long way towards creating all three of those ideals.

ONE: Today's Style 

Paint colors go in and out of style. Grey is still riding high and whites are always stylish. When you paint with a grey or white that plays well with the fixed features of your home, you've checked off the box for colors that are on-trend.

TWO: Comfort  

The colors that telegraph the comfort buyers are looking for are the colors that are not dark, unusual,  highly saturated, or otherwise alarming.

These wall colors -- turquoise and chartreuse -- are the kinds of colors that a new homeowner might find difficult to decorate around. Deep colors like these have too much personality. 
Also, it will probably take two coats of paint to change the color to something more buyer-friendly.. 

Bathrooms feel right when they are painted with cool colors, perhaps due to the association with water and cleanliness. Kitchens, bedrooms and living rooms can go either warm or cool, depending on the other features, like cabinets, countertops, and floors. Select comfy colors and you can check off box number two.

THREE: Move-in ready

Many buyers need to move out of their old homes and into new ones on the same day. Most people do not enjoy painting interior walls, especially if they are already living there. For these reasons, when you make your property turnkey, it's more appealing.

Choose interior colors anyone could love and you've removed the hurdle of a looming DIY project. Check off box number three.


With walls this color, the new owner can easily visualize her existing
furnishings in the space. Photo: Alyssa Rosenheck.
After you've finished rolling neutral paint on, you may need to really take stock of your furnishings and weed out the "color clutter," according to You might love that colorful duvet cover or crazy abstract painting you have, but if it doesn't go with the palette you've chosen, you might need to rethink. Aim for a soothing palette.

If your rooms begin to look boring, it's time to add color where it isn't a permanent part of your house. Here is where accessories like pillows, rugs,
books, and other props come in handy.

Choose these props with an eye to a color scheme based on three colors, all of the same intensity. It's a foolproof formula for a seamless look stagers prefer.

When your home on the market feels as special as those luxury cars and sexy shoes, buyers are attracted to it on a visceral level. Result: Up go your chances of a good purchase offer.

If you are selling any kind of home, you can get more tips on staging it in my $4.99 eBooks. Download and start staging your own home today so you'll attract a serious buyer.

Top photo: Phoebe Howard

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Lights, Camera, Escrow! Simple Ways to Sell Your Home During Winter

People buy homes at all times of the year, but winter isn't the most fun time to be a home seller.

Days are short. Weather can be unpredictable. Travel might be difficult or even unsafe. Schedules are cramped. And home landscapes lack the lushness and color of other seasons.

If you live in the most southern states, where winters mean drinks by the pool and driving to work with the top down, selling a home won't be as challenging, but for most of the U.S., selling in winter takes special planning.

Don't let the lack of sunshine, birdsong, and flowers bring you down if you're a wintertime property seller. Here are some simple ways to make your home stand out.

Curb Appeal

Even when Christmas is past, you can decorate your front entrance
to celebrate the winter season. What is special about winter where you live? 
Buyers judge your home from the outside, so landscaping is just as important in December and March as it is in June, maybe more so!

One reliable budget formula is that spending 5% of your home's value on landscaping can get you an ROI of up to 150%. But if that money is spent on spring flowering shrubs, summer annuals, and colorful fall foliage plants, it's not a well-designed plan.

Some shrubs that look interesting even when their leaves are gone are Japanese maples, witch hazel and red twig dogwood. Some shrubs that still look good during the cold month are hollies, boxwoods, evergreens. Even if the ground is frozen, your local nursery can supply you with small potted varieties of these plants to use as container plants near your entrance.

Other containers can still add color with flowering kales and cabbages, and evergreen branches left from your Christmas tree or prunings from a florist. Even spray-painted bare branches in a bucket can serve as your front entrance spot of color.

Take a serious look at your property in midwinter. Make sure fallen leaves, frost-bitten plants, dead tree branches, and downed limbs are removed. Mulch should cover beds that are resting.

With cold temperatures and dreary skies, potential buyers can have a difficult time picturing what your home looks like in summer. For winter listings, it's important to include a photo showcasing your home in its best season to help them see how it looks at other times of the year.

Safety first

When potential buyers come to your house, will they have a clear path through any snow? Your driveway, sidewalk, and porch should all be cleared of snow and ice to not only make it look nice, but to make sure no one gets hurt walking to or from your house.

Buyers don't need to be reminded of the work they will have to do to maintain a home. Please don't display a stack of snow shovels and bags of ice melt products. Keep them handy but out of sight.

It's also important to make sure visitors have someplace safe and convenient to park their vehicles. If your home is still on the market during the "mud season" common in areas where thawing snow and spring rains make a mess of unpaved roads and paths, let agents know about conditions ahead of time so no one gets stuck.

A place to put muddy boots and shoes just outside your front door and a box of disposable "footies" is a good idea.

Homes on the market in winter will be viewed after dark. Dramatic lighting on your exterior will
help show off the home, emphasize its architecture, deter prowlers, and make the property
look more cared for. Photo: Outdoor Lighting Perspectives

Lighten and Brighten

Realtors might be bringing clients to see your home after the workday is over, when it's dark. Motion-activated exterior lights are easy to install, especially if you can simply replace an existing fixture. Make sure all outdoor lights are functioning and have the maximum wattage recommended.

It's possible you may not have sufficient notice of when your home is being shown. Perhaps you are traveling, working, or you've already moved. In these cases, you'll need some timers on lamps to guarantee that some rooms are pre-lighted when people arrive.    

Because the harsh winter weather can leave you stuck inside, it's a good time to tackle some easy upgrades. If you're not one of the 20% of Americans who feel happy with their home decor, according to a HomeGoods survey, make some decisions about how to change things to make your space feel as inviting and homey as possible.

One budget-friendly way to do that is by painting your interior walls. Choose colors that are in style right now, like warm greys, violets, teals, and greens, to attract trend-savvy buyers.

Real plants and flowers can be part of your "lighten and brighten" campaign. Grocery store bouquets are inexpensive and can last more than a week if you know how to stretch your floral dollar.

Warm Welcome

Warm woods, a color scheme based on greens, fresh plants and flowers,
all make this room a welcome winter retreat. Photo: Flynnside Out Productions
While selling during the winter can be discouraging, there are ways to make the most of the season's charms. The Danish have a word for it: Hygge, and it means coziness. According to The New Yorker, "It is candles, nubby woolens, shearling slippers, woven textiles, pastries, blond wood, sheepskin rugs, lattes with milk-foam hearts, and a warm fireplace."

So, if you have a fireplace, make it a focal point in the room. Stage it with winter style.

If you live near winter amenities like ski areas, winter festivals, seasonal tourist attractions, or special winter scenery, make sure your listings highlight those features.

Keep your house interior comfortably warm. Potential buyers will feel immediately cheered by coming in from the cold.

Here's a bedroom that emphasizes the cozy qualities of winter in a cold climate.
Hygge depends on warm fabrics, layers of natural and textured materials,
 and intimate lighting. Photo: Achia Living   
But with the heat cranked up, it's important to ensure your home is properly sealed. If your attic is not properly insulated or if you have openings or air leaks, now is the time to take care of them. Doing so will not only lower your present energy bills but will produce a return on your investment when you sell.
In northern states, buyers will often inquire about heating costs, so it's a selling point if your home is energy efficient.

Why wait for spring?

If your home is on the market in winter you're bound to have fewer showings, but all it takes is one buyer, so focus on that thought, and stage your home to attract that person. Selling during the winter months can be discouraging but not impossible! With a little extra lighting, a toasty interior, some reminders of the season's pleasures, and maybe a snowman in the front yard, you're sure to attract that buyer who's ready to make an offer.

If you are selling any kind of home, at any time of year, you can get more tips on staging it in my $4.99 eBooks. Download and start staging your way to a more profitable sale today.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Essentials Every Homestager Needs

I ain't gonna lie. Staging a home, whether as a decor-challenged home seller or a professional homestager, can be hard work.

Can be. Doesn't have to be

The difference will be what you have in your toolkit.

I want to share with you my favorite time-savers and energy-savers. Anyone staging a home should have this equipment handy right from the start of a homestaging project. None of them are expensive.

Measuring Tape

One of the first steps you'll make when you stage a home is to take measurements. Measure the rooms, the furniture you'll use (footprint and height), windows and doors, and rugs. Keep these numbers with you when you shop. You'll prevent yourself from bringing home oops or having to live with things like draperies too short, a nightstand that's too tall, or a sofa that won't fit through your front door.

I like to carry a small tape measure in my purse. At home, it's handy to have a yardstick, a ruler and a measuring tape. Don't guess. Although my mother-in-law could take a length of fabric, hold one end up to her chin, and by stretching the edge of the cloth out the full length of her arm-- whether yardage at a garage sale or curtains at a thrift store -- know that it was exactly 33 inches from chin to thumb. Handy.

Paint Color Chip Charts

Decorators and other professionals are awarded paint companies' monster chip charts, or "fandecks"  to help them plan their designs and show options to clients. You can make your own more practical book of color chips that will guide your choices in textiles, furniture, counters and other furnishings.

Next time you are at the paint store or home improvement center, grab all the paint color strips that you think will work well with what you have at home and then make your own paint color book. I've previously given a simple and foolproof formula for selecting paint colors.

 A stager always carries color samples. Know your palette. 


I'm not embarrassed to admit I have an on-going love affair with gloves. How else is a girl supposed to protect her hands from cleaning chemicals, paint, and grime? If you do any landscaping, you need gardening gloves. If you strip furniture, you need heavy nitrile or viton gloves that safeguard your skin from paint remover. If you move furniture, you need gloves that help you get a grip on bulky pieces. If you paint walls or furniture, you need cotton gloves, nitrile or disposable latex gloves that make cleaning up afterward fast and easy.

Microfiber Cloths

One time you don't need to glove-up when cleaning is when you use microfiber cloths and water. We all love these cloths and mops and dusters for their ability to gather and hold the stuff that brooms and ordinary dust cloths send airborne.

For tougher grease and grime, you'll need to use your microfiber cloth with an all-purpose cleaner. I find windows and mirrors are easier to get streak-free if I use a glass cleaner on my microfiber cloth.

For real problem areas, like soot left on an acrylic shower stall wall from candles burned in the bathroom, bring on the magic erasers. P.S. real beeswax candles don't deposit soot on your walls or lungs. All paraffin candles do.

Most of us have some version of a Swiffer for floors. I also like the Swiffer WetJet, For quick dusting and reaching high places, nothing beats a long-handled microcloth duster. Buy your microfiber cloths by the bundle in the automotive department for the best price.

Milk Crates

You can strap this crate in your car with a seatbelt!
The reason I'm big on milk crates is that they are lightweight, economical, have handles, stack easily, and let you see the contents. True, they won't protect their contents from dust, mildew or other damage, but they are big helpers when you are gathering your homestaging supplies in a clean, climate-controlled space. They make transporting supplies easier, as well.

Best source for milk crates? The ones discount stores sell for $2.50 are fine for most storage and toting tasks. If you want to get all crazy and have color-coded or heavy-duty milk crates, here's an online source for that.

Clear Bins

Sometimes you need more protection and visibility than milk crates offer. Bring on the plastic, lidded tubs. There's no shortage of styles and price points.

It's smart to stick to one style of bin if you plan to store or transport staging supplies regularly. Matching ones will nest when not in use, and they will stack easily with lids on. They'll also make you feel and look ever-so-organized!

How much you want to spend depends on your budget and your fussiness. I find that discount stores have bins that are good enough, whether shoe box size or 72-quart, or anything in between.

I like clear bins because the contents are identifiable.


Having the right glue on hand lets you tackle any project at the right time, like when you want to do a group of repairs all at once, or when you need to make a quick emergency fix on deadline, or when the mood strikes at a crafting session.

What did people do before hot glue guns came on the crafting scene? Home stagers can use a glue gun to make no-sew draperies and pillow covers. They're indispensable for a million crafts projects joining metal and wood and fabric surfaces, but be aware that cold temperatures will break the bond. I once made a  twig trellis as a Christmas gift to my sister in New York. I glued all the branches together with a hot glue gun. Fast and fabulous! I drove from North Carolina with it in my trunk and when I popped the trunk in Brooklyn, the trellis was just a pile of sticks, having been undone by freezing temps. There's a lesson here: if you want to remove hot glue, just freeze it.

When working with hot glue, keep an ice cube ready for those inevitable finger burns. Putting ice on that burn for a few minutes will sooth the ouch and prevent a blister from forming.

Another boon to stagers is spray adhesive. Use it to bond new fabric to an old padded headboard, to turn a box spring into a bed pedestal by covering it with fabric, create montages for framing, recover a lampshade, decoupage a tray or plastic container, or cover ordinary shoe boxes with a pretty textile to create props for staging tabletops and closets. Please spray only with plenty of ventilation and not at all if you are pregnant.

I'm not a fan of super glue. I would rather use every crafter's favorite --  e6000. It dries clear, is easy to work with, sets fast and forms a strong bond for fabrics, ceramics, rubber. vinyl, leather, fiberglass, wood, and concrete surfaces. When I want a really durable bond, I'll use a two-part epoxy. And for temporary place holding, nothing beats a glue stick.
With a hot glue gun you can quickly hem curtains,
add trim to pillows or lampshade, and create crafts for
staging, like these faux pewter planters. For starters! 

Spray Paints

My preferred brand is Krylon. They spray evenly, don't spit, cover well, offer great color choices,  and I can use my handle/trigger attachment.

Scoop up a selection of the colors you'll use to reinforce your home's unique color scheme. I always have gold, silver, black and white. You never know when you'll be inspired to transform old into new, convert an assortment of odds and ends into a collection, or work a mismatched item into your grand plan!


To guide you on your homestaging journey, a book of tips. techniques and tutorials will help. You can download my $4.99 eBook, DIY Homestaging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar, and start your staging today.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Captivate Your Buyers in 2018 With These Home Design Trends

Are you ready for 2018? As a home seller you have to ask yourself, "Is my home ready?"

Although some buyers may not be tuned into current and changing decor trends, many will.

Your home will be compared to what buyers see on reality home remodeling shows and on Pinterest and decorating blogs. Brick and mortar stores will be showcasing the latest in furniture, bedding, accessories, appliances, and window treatments.

Trending styles look young and fresh to the eye, and buyers like being on the cutting edge, rather than spending money on what looks dated

Here are the predictions that come from authorities like Houzz, Trulia and others for what's hot for next year and beyond. Whether you decide to incorporate some of these trends or just one, there's no doubt that you'll entice buyers with your attention to detail. I've narrowed the interior decor industry trends down to the ones that make sense for people with a home on the market.

Instagram-Ready Decor

One of the reasons people buy homes is to reassure themselves and to signal the world that they are moving ahead economically. Everyone wants to be proud of his or her home, and that means showing it off on social media. 

Now's the time to evaluate how the spaces in your home photograph. Unexpected, beautiful, and functional are three words Trulia's Jay Britto uses to describe what Instagrammers around the world are looking for in their home decor

To get your spaces "upload worthy," get rid of clutter. The camera picks up all the messy areas. Then, make sure the lighting is flattering. 

Both interior and exterior lighting are important for cosmetic and functional reasons. When interior lighting is more than adequate, your home looks bigger and cleaner. What's a beautiful room without good lighting for snapping a picture?

The National Association of Home Builders took a survey and asked people what was important to them in a home. In its current "What Home Buyers Really Want" survey, they found that almost 41% of respondents said exterior lighting was important.

It makes sense. Good exterior lighting can make a property safer by deterring troublemakers, and also by lighting the way on paths and stairs. During the winter months, homes are often in the dark by early evening, and serious buyers will cruise the neighborhood of a home they are interested in. How does your home look at night?

Good lighting, colorful surroundings, a simple composition, an interesting
subject -- these are the elements for a winning Instagram shot.

Moody Hues

White walls may still be a safe trend, but Houzz predicts that more homeowners will be drawn to darker, cooler hues during 2018.

Clean, white kitchens are a classic that may never go out of style, but adding a touch of a trending color, freshens the look.

In fact, adding color throughout the home is another prediction on Houzz's list of 2018 design trends. These are the tones they expect to gain popularity:
  • Grays
  • Blues
  • Tobacco
  • Camel
If you're planning to sell your home in 2018, you might want to try out one or two of these shades to add just a little bit of pizazz to your space.
The dramatic color pops here are limited to what the buyers
don't have to buy.  They're temporary. But these colors help make the kitchen
more friendly and memorable. Photo: BHG 

Dramatic Color Accents

Home staging typically focuses on monochromatic color schemes, but if your home is large or lacking architectural detail or scantily staged, some color can add interest.

I'm not suggesting you paint a bedroom dark purple, but adding a statement wall to a small room can make that wall recede and create the illusion of a larger room. Conversely, painting one wall in a large room an accent color can make the room feel cozier.

Because they might want to repaint, buyers will moan over rooms painted unusual colors. But repainting one wall that's a color not matching their preferences is different from painting an entire room. Often, it's a simple, DIY project that can be done after new owners move in.

Adding a dash of intense color here and there might be just what your staging needs to give it the wow factor buyers seem to crave. Look for lamps, pillows, and tabletop decor to hit the stores in eye-popping shades. And ...there's always spray paint for giving boring items a trendy makeover.

Mixed Metals

Combining different metals is a trend any frugal home stager or home seller can applaud. Gone is the worry that unmatched doorknobs or lighting fixtures throughout your house will mark it as dated. So, keep your nickel hinges and chrome faucets and oil rubbed brass chandelier. They add eclectic details. And save you money.

Even if you don't mix metals in your more fixed furnishings like lights and faucets, you can add touches of silver and gold to your staging the way Diane Henkler did at her blog, In Her Own Style. She used metallic tape to add shine to her party supplies, shown in the top photograph.

Home decor follows fashion trends and women have been mixing things like silver bracelets, gold earrings and copper necklaces for the past few years. It's a kind of in-your-face-I'm-bold-enough-to-break-the-rules look.
This room includes pieces made from brass, tin and iron. When mixing metals, it's best to make just one 
of them predominate. The gold-toned frames and table are the stars here. Photo: styleathome

Sink Updates

Almost 14% of consumers report wanting to add a kitchen to their outdoor space, and they'd love a sink to go with it. Lucky you if you have such an outdoor feature or can add it!

Inside, updated kitchen and bath sinks are high up on Houzz's list of 2018 home design trends. If you're looking to really draw in buyers with your kitchen and bathrooms, consider the following:
  • Concrete sinks
  • Copper sinks
  • Stone sinks
  • Bucket sinks
  • Trough sinks
  • Patterned ceramic sinks
The modern farmhouse trend is still a big one, which means those trough sinks could really up your buyer's interest.
Buyers look for spa-like baths that feel clean and luxurious. The trends for trough
sinks, natural materials and mixed metals are apparent here. Photo:

Pattern on Pattern

A long time ago in a galaxy not that far away, pattern on pattern was a fashion taboo. Now mixing prints has made it to the list of top 2018 home trends.

Contrary to popular belief, mixing patterns doesn't need to be gaudy or too obvious. Bedrooms and living rooms are obvious places to start. Consider perking things up with a well-planned placement of pillows on a bed or sofa. I've written a simple formula for how to mix different fabric patterns and the also about how to decorate and stage with patterns. 

Juxtaposition of patterns isn't limited to prints and textiles. Surface textures count as patterns. For example, putting an ultra-fluffy throw blanket over part of a smooth duvet cover, or silky pillows on a velvet loveseat can give the impression of mixed patterns. And if you have a rustic twig chair and you set it on a polished concrete, you've mixed patterns.

Natural Materials

Materials given us by Mother Nature rather than the lab will be making waves in the year ahead. Think bamboo, cork, and reclaimed wood flooring, rattan furniture, hand-thrown pottery and handmade paper lampshades, living plants, concrete and natural stone countertops, and metal lighting fixtures.

Even if you are not planning any remodels before you sell, there are decorating changes you can make to add natural materials to rooms.

When you incorporate natural substances, you've given your home timeless style. Also, recycled and natural materials are usually more ecologically sane (greener).

Tips to Remember

An estimated 63% of potential homeowners believed 2017 was a good year to buy a home. With these home design trends in your pocket, you could make 2018 another excellent year for buyers. And yourself! Try one or two of these ideas out for yourself and I think you will discover the results will surprise you, not to mention warm the hearts of buyers.

Get more advice on how to stage a home by downloading my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar. It comes with my money-back guarantee that you will learn countless ways to make your home sale profitable.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Furniture Facts: The Bedroom Bench

Is your master bedroom lacking some personality?

Have you staged it to appeal to the masses by removing all those beloved furnishings that made it unique?

Let's bump it up a notch by adding the luxurious touch that a bedroom bench brings to the scene.

The addition of a bench at the foot of the bed can add that bit of flair that's lacking.

And the best part is a piece of furniture that adds so much to a bedroom doesn't have to bust your budget. There is no shortage of DIY versions you can choose from on Pinterest. If you look at what IKEA offers, you'll find a dozen basic benches for less than $100 you can customize with upholstery or trim or paint.

Sample Some Benches

These photos will get you started thinking about what style works for your staged bedroom.

Here's the classic and classy foot-of-the-bed bench -- tufted pastel velvet that begs you to sit down.
The curvaceous legs emphasize the old-fashioned, feminine look. Photo: Giannetti Home  
Leather-covered seating on rectangular metal legs creates a more masculine bench.
The metal repeats itself under the nightstand. Photo: Zoe Feldman Design
A soft and shaggy topping on this simple bench adds more texture to this bedroom.
Homestaging can mix decor styles and still look pulled together. Photo: Terracotta Studio
This eclectic mix of furnishings features a rustic bench at the foot of this tailored
bed. Matched dressers and lamps add some formal balance. Photo: Martha O'Hara Interiors 
Another Martha O'Hara bedroom, this one with a streamlined windowpane check
upholstering the simple bench for a retro look. 
This wide version gets its dressmaker details from piping on the knife edge cushion and
additional piping along the bottom of the bench box. Photo: One Kings Lane
The bedroom bench isn't always at the base of the bed. It can appear in a corner, under a window, or like
this one, centered on a rug to the side of the sleeping area. Photo:One Kings Lane.
Isn't this an inviting scene? The bedroom bench is sometimes a sofa
or loveseat. This side table is the perfect companion. Photo: Ivory Lane
A chest often stands in for the bedroom bench. This antique makes the room less pretentious.
Chests like this give you handy storage space, too. Photo: Ginger Barber
Someone's not afraid of mixing patterns. The clean lines of all its furnishings
keep this bedroom from looking fussy. Photo: Andrew Howard Interior Design
There's a bench for every decor style. See-through furniture like this Lucite bench is ideal
for homestaging. The geometric print cushion gives it some structure. Photo: Kelly Golightly

Here's the kind of bench that makes a dramatic statement. Its sinuous lines and zebra
print cushions make it the room's focal point. Enrika Bonnell Interiors

There's no rule that says a bedroom bench can't be two stools. These beautiful square upholstered
seats will never go out of style. Photo: Timber Trails Development

Poufs and ottomans substitute for benches. They're economical to buy or make, fun, versatile, and trendy. Photo: Brook Wagner Design 

When you stage with bedroom benches, you can leave them bare like these X-stools,
 style them with a throw, stack them with books, or add something like a hat. Photo: Chango & Co.

I hope these photos of bedrooms have sparked ideas for you to use when you stage your home. For more ideas you can use to sell your home fast for a price you like, download my $4.99 homestaging eBook and get the advice and encouragement you need.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Five Steps to Painfree Homestaging

"I'm not fixing it up for the next guy!"

That's a common expression I've heard from people preparing to sell their home.

I don't consider homestaging "fixing it up." Staging begins after you've done all the minor and major repairs your home needs.

Maybe staging a house sounds like lots of work and expense. Maybe just the thought of selling and moving makes you tired. Maybe no one is offering to help with the process. Maybe the last time you tried to sell a home it was a nightmare. Maybe you're worried about getting enough money to move to the home you really want. And maybe you aren't sure you can find that home!

Let's look at what you can do to smooth the process and take the sting out of getting your home looking great when it hits the market.

Step One: Plan ahead

The smartest home sellers are the ones who realized as soon as they moved in that one day they would sell. The average American stays 13 years in a home, even though people expect to stay much longer. The "forever home" is almost a myth.

As soon as you decide to sell, list what needs to be done. Have a schedule, Make a budget. Get estimates. Start educating yourself about things like market prices and decor trends. This is the step that will save you heartache and money because it minimizes impulse actions and uneducated decisions. You have time to shop around for that perfect drapery fabric at a great price or to locate the handyman you've always wished for.

Step two: Decide what stays

Choose your best quality pieces and mix them up with flea market finds.
Stage to make the space look simple and fresh like this room from City Farmhouse.
There's no sense cleaning what isn't staying for you to use to homestage, so before cleaning, pare down to what's important. This step will make cleaning, packing, and moving easier.

Judge every piece of furniture and decor accessory on its functionality and its ability to impress a buyer. Is that end table really necessary? Does it serve a useful purpose? Is it attractive? Does it make the room look better?

Keep the furnishings that you want in your next home and that will contribute to successful staging. Store the things that you want but that don't earn their keep as staging essentials.

Step three: Decide- What to DIY

Carpeting has to be clean and free from any off-putting
aromas in order to please buyers. Photo: Mohawk
Doing work yourself is homestaging's biggest money-saver, and I always encourage sellers to do whatever work they can if they need to keep expenses down.

It makes sense to pay for help if you have the kind of job that pays way more than what you will pay professionals to do work in your home, whether cleaning, carpentry, painting or any other trade.

Determine early in the selling process what jobs you will do yourself and what you will farm out.

If you enjoy the satisfaction of doing your own prep work, rent a carpet shampooer if you don't own one, and refresh your carpets. If you can't sew but you would like to, make your own no-sew window treatments. If it saves appreciable cash, paint your own furniture. If you want to have fun with a DIY project create your own artwork.

Remember that too many DIY projects can lessen the perceived value of your home. If you don't have the skills to do the job right, get someone qualified to do the work.

Step four: Recycle and Repurpose

Runner-up to homestaging's biggest money-saver is finding ways to reuse what you own and what you buy second hand. 

Teach yourself to be a thrifty buyer. Being a re-purposer calls for imagination, so be open-minded and flexible. 

Can you style that old television armoire as a bar cart? 

Does the outdoor furniture your neighbor wants to throw away need just a coat of spray paint to make your patio staging come to life? 

Be humble.     

Wherever you shop, whether at garage sales, local stores, or online, look for bargains. Ask for discounts. Use coupons. Wait for sales. Stick to a realistic budget. 

Step Six: Spend where it matters

Find an exterior house cleaning service if your roof looks
nasty. Dirt and mildew can be removed without damaging 

the shingles. Photo: Rose  City Pressure Washing   
Do repairs, then stage.

A house that needs repairs is appealing only to investors and flippers who hunt for a steal.

Spending some money to fix and stage your home will attract serious buyers who want move-in ready and are willing to pay for it.

Your home doesn't need to match all the state-of-the-art housing trends. But it has to be free from major repairs and obsolescence.

Hire a plumber to fix leaks, faucets, and toilets that don't work correctly. Pay an electrician to repair dangerous or horribly outdated electric systems and fixtures. Get an HVAC company to make sure your system is efficient. Repair the roof if it leaks or looks bad.

These are the infrastructures that matter. Assertive buyers will ask for a discount off your asking price for, say, a new roof. And their estimate of what a new roof costs will be higher than what you would spend for a new roof. That's just how negotiations work.

So, do repairs first. Then stage to impress buyers. For more tips to help you painlessly stage your own home to sell it fast for a price you like download my $4.99 eBook now.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Landscaping Your Modular or Mobile Home

If you own a mobile or modular home, you know the advantages of buying and living in one.

They're affordable, energy efficient, and well-designed for today's lifestyle.

When it's time to sell, you'll face the same challenges owners of conventional homes face. Your home has to look good from the outside as well as the inside.

But landscaping around a home in a mobile home park is not like landscaping a site-built, two-story Colonial on a one-acre lot.

For one thing, the land under the home is probably leased -- not sold with the home -- and the lot is probably small. The park will likely have restrictions on what you can and cannot do on the property.

But if your single wide or doublewide is situated on a generously-sized lot you own instead of on common ground, you can take on landscaping projects with a larger scope. Either way, curb appeal is just as important as when a conventional home goes on the market.

The Appeal of Mobiles  

Because its underpinnings are concealed nicely and its landscape has matured, 
this mobile home looks more like a conventional house  Photo:
People buy manufactured homes for different reasons. The most common one is economics. Single folks, young couples, retirees, and anyone tired of renting a house or apartment, are more able to become homeowners than if they went shopping for a conventionally constructed home. Mobiles are priced low because they are constructed in one-fifth the time and at half the cost of site-built homes. The builders don't have to hassle with weather delays and the entire building process is more efficient.

Some people buy mobiles when they learn that manufactured housing assembled in a controlled, factory environment uses fewer materials and generates 35% to 40% less waste than comparable site-built units. Yes, mobiles are "greener."

Unique Landscape Challenges

For a mobile home to look competitive in the real estate market, it needs to look, well, not too mobile. In other words, its wheels and axles, if they are still in place, need to be hidden. Make your skirting look as strong and straight as possible. The right skirting can make a manufactured home look more permanent and valuable.

If you plant shrubs near the skirting allow enough room so things like ductwork and plumbing can be reached. Sometimes maintenance people, or you, need to crawl under your house.

Another spot that needs cosmetics is the hitch. If it is not removable, can you conceal it with fencing, lattice, or a planting that covers it? Some people cluster a grouping of container plants or a raised bed built of blocks around the hitch.

Here is an example of a sidewalk extension using concrete pavers. You can make
an entrance garden wall from concrete blocks. The wall leads your eye
to the front door. Photo: MobileHomeLiving
Mobiles tend to look boxier than conventional homes. Having a porch, patio, deck or other "bump-out" helps to break up those boxy lines. But shrubs, either in the ground or in large planters, are another way to help soften the straight lines of your home and anchor it to the surrounding land.

If the space that surrounds your home is small, don't consider it a deal-breaker for buyers. Many will welcome a tiny lot for its low maintenance appeal. If privacy is an issue, lattice panels or 4- to 6-foot fencing might be your best option. It may not need to be a solid, continuous fence, since the illusion of privacy can be enough to create the sense of a private, outdoor space.

Make Your Entrance Important 

A common mistake homeowners make when they design their front landscape areas is to put all the interesting plants in the wrong location. When you're deciding what to grow where, add color and texture where you want people to look: your front entrance.   

Why? Because a well-designed front garden will make visitors and buyers feel welcome and curious about what's inside.

Your entrance area doesn't have to be large or extravagant. In fact, it should be simple but interesting. Incorporate some curved lines when you outline a bed. Aim for or a clean-looking border for a raised garden by using concrete blocks. Use an uncomplicated color scheme when you select shrubs and flowering plants.    

This retaining wall allowed the homeowner to hide skirting and give the look of a solid foundation. The gravel mulch,
mature shrubs, solar lights and colorful annuals are all easy to care for. Photo:

Containers are perfect for entrance gardens because you can easily maintain them while your home is for sale. If you have existing beds, you can add potted plants to these gardens to keep them looking colorful no matter what the season.

When you choose containers that match each other, they look cohesive.
Installation and upkeep are easier. And you can take "your garden"
with you when you move. Photo:
"Often the idea of mixing containers into gardening is not even considered. If you have potted plants, chances are they're on your porch or patio, but blending those into the landscape design is quick, easy and makes landscaping on a budget simple," writes Kalley Y. on The Clayton Blog.

Typically, homeowners can get a 100% ROI on the money spent on a home's curb appeal. So it makes sense that any improvements you can make to your modular or mobile home's landscape is money well spent.

Install Hardscape

Statistics say that the landscaping industry is set to experience an estimated 5.9% annual growth through 2019.

If you are beautifying your yard to improve your home's value, adding hardscaping is one easy way to do it. When you add things like wide steps and a landing, or a deck, or a concrete path, or a patio to your outdoor space, it's as good as adding actual square footage in the eyes of most buyers.

Concrete pavers surrounded by natural rock give this
winding path its personality. Photo: StyleEstate
Hardscape has the advantage of being quick to install, whether it's DIY or a professional job. Hardscape looks good from Day 1. You don't have to wait for it to grow the way you would for a flower bed or tree!

Build An Entertainment Spot

Another type of outdoor home improvement that can bring in significant ROI is creating an entertainment space.

A fire pit is the perfect way to start any entertainment space, It also makes an ideal centerpiece in the landscape.

There are countless ways to construct your own fire pit, but consulting a professional can often produce luxurious results that yield a higher ROI.

Stage your entertainment spot with some matching outdoor chairs to make it look more inviting. If you have a view, capitalize on that by putting seating where people can enjoy it.

Unless security is a problem, an outdoor dining area can be staged with table, chairs, benches, plants, lighting, and an outdoor grill. When they are shopping for a new home, buyers like to envision how they will entertain.

Favorite Tips 

A  fire pit is a magnet to people touring your property. Make it even
more special by adding seating and colorful cushions. Photo: BHG
When you add paths, make them direct people around your property so they can appreciate it from every angle.

Try to have some unusual elements in your landscape, some surprises for visitors, like a small fountain, a collection of one kind of potted plant, a jumbo shrub in a half barrel planter, or a birdbath tucked into a corner of your lot. You don't want all the same plants and landscape features that all your neighbors have. 

Choose the plants that front your skirting to be ones that keep their leaves all year long. No bare branches allowed up close to your home!  

Plant what thrives in your region of the country. Don't try to grow desert-dwelling cactus in states with humid summers. Don't try to grow heat-loving tropicals in northern states with long winters. 

Add color in broad sweeps. Avoid the polka dot effect of spreading various flowering plants in beds scattered across your property. Help people focus on your home. That's  what you are selling. Also, a complicated landscape looks like hard work to buyers who don't enjoy yard work.  

Finally, leave some areas of your yard as places to rest the eye. You can count on mulch, gravel, groundcover plants, or whatever kind of grass does well where you live, to create areas that are restful and easy to keep looking good year 'round. 

It's true that manufactured homes are often harder to renovate inside, but landscaping is a sound investment and can work wonders to enhance the best features and aesthetics of your modular or mobile home.

If you are selling any kind of home, you can get more tips on staging it in my $4.99 eBooks. Download and start staging your way to a more profitable sale today.

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