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.

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