Beat the Stress of Selling Your Home

Friday, September 03, 2021

I know there are people in the world who look forward to prepping, listing, and showing their home when they sell it. I have never met one of these people. I only hear that they exist! 

Most people feel overwhelmed in this situation. The decisions. The tasks. The schedules. The people. The money.  

I think the difference between the people who easily handle the stress of selling, and the people who dread it is experience -- how many times they've done it. So, let's look at the advice these experienced sellers give for making the selling process less stressful.

When the home you are selling is staged, it gives you an edge
 over comparable homes that aren't staged. Staging
gives buyers an emotional connection. Photo: Pottery Barn

Have a plan

Some of what makes up the selling process will be beyond your control -- things like how the economy is where you live, what outstanding livability factors are in your area (like schools, hospitals, taxes, water quality, etc.), how many buyers are looking for your kind of home, how quickly you need to sell your property, and what your ongoing costs are. 

But you can reduce your worry about these unknowns by making a map of what is within your control.

What's your choice for handling decisions? Perhaps you gather advice from experts or educate yourself online. A licensed Realtor is going to be one of these consultants. Enlist one from the beginning and you'll unburden yourself from some of selling's hassles and potential slip-ups. 

Make a schedule for yourself, however you like to plan your days, weeks and months. Distinguish between what you can delegate to family, friends, or paid professionals, and what you need to do yourself. Distinguish between what's urgent and what is a mere distraction. Once your tasks are prioritized and scheduled, you're bound to think more clearly and make good decisions.

I've blogged about the five steps to pain-free home staging so you have a good framework to plan your staging.  

Staging your own home can be an enjoyable as well as
economically wise experience if you plan your
time, energy and budget. Photo: Stone Meadow Homes.

Take care of yourself

During busy and stressful times of our lives we often put self-care on the back burner, and it's during these times that we need to take the best care of our health -- both mental and physical.

I'm not talking about bubble baths and wine (although these things can certainly come in handy!). Preparing your home for market calls for some energy and even strength to declutter it, clean it, and stage it so buyers love it.

Don't ignore your body's well-being. Keep up your appointments with your primary care physician and others who help you stay healthy -- any specialists you need or others you see regularly like a chiropractor or physical therapist or your yoga classes. 

Staying mentally healthy will keep you on an even keel. Don't go it alone. If you don't have a close partner in residence, connect regularly with a family member or friend who can lend emotional support. It may take the shape of a daily Facetime with your sister out of state, or a weekly chat with your Realtor. 

It's important to connect with people who give you confidence and understand what you aim to accomplish. Your discussions don't always have to revolve around real estate, moving, cleaning, and home staging. Sometimes a movie, some escape literature, your favorite music, a massage, or a dinner date are perfect excuses to relax and give you a fresh perspective. 

When you're selling, surround yourself with
a support network, and ignore the people who refuse 
to acknowledge the value of home staging. Real estate
stats show that staged homes sell faster
for better prices.  Photo: Stone Mountain Homes

Get the look, get the book

Don't leave here before you download my eBook DIY Home StagingTips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar. It's just one more way to keep the stress out of getting your home ready for its real estate listing. I promise my eBooks will make your life easier because I've done your homework for you -- all the tricks and techniques that the pros use to make a home fabulous and unforgettable.  

How to Sell Your Home Online

Monday, August 30, 2021

Although I always steer sellers towards using a real estate company to list their homes, some people want to go FSBO.

But if you are a DIY home stager, you might have what it takes to be a DIY home seller!

It will take some skills and determination to do it right, but that is what all DIY-ers have in common.

Many industries have been changed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the housing industry is one of them. People are now experiencing more virtual tours and online homebuying, effectively keeping people safe as they buy and sell houses. There is more familiarity with Zoom meetings and Facetime, and that removes some stumbling blocks that existed pre-pandemic.

There are multiple approaches to selling your own home. Read on to learn my advice if you decide to list and market your own home.

Get inspections done

Start your process by scheduling a home inspector to physically come and go over your structure with a fine comb. He'll examine your roof, foundation, HVAC, electrical systems, plumbing, and structural components. Then you'll have a printed inspection report. Anyone financing the purchase will need to buy a separate inspection to show his lender, but your report can build a buyer's confidence.

One inspection you might consider is having your home checked for radon. With more people concerned about healthful living conditions, it could become an issue during your negotiations. One in every 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated to have radon levels at or above the EPA action level. You can also hire a pest control company to test for wood-destroying insects and other pests.

Keep a file of warranties and manuals that come with major appliances. Be prepared to document work that was done to make repairs in electrical or plumbing issues. Paperwork and computer files like this build trust for a potential buyer.

Take good photos and videos

Good images sell homes! Once you've de-cluttered and cleaned and staged your home, your next step is to hire a professional photographer. It's going to pay for itself as reflected in your asking price, selling price, the response you get, and the timing of the sale.

Make it easy for people to know what your home has to offer. Post only clear, accurate, well-lighted, high-quality pictures and videos Since COVID-19, many buyers submit a purchase offer based solely on the listing specs and those photos, something that was hardly conceivable until recently, but something that saves everyone valuable time and energy.

Just as important as the photos is the information you list about your property. I've blogged about how to write a good real estate listing sales copy and about the seven magic words that sell real estate.

Good photos show three surfaces -- ceiling, floor, and wall.
And they tell the viewer something about the floorplan. 

Stay safe

If you're going to be doing this kind of financially important business online, make sure you have good antivirus installed on your laptop or computer so that you are safe while online. The increasing use of the Internet has led to a rise in cybercrime. Don't be a victim. You'll be exchanging delicate, confidential data while your home sale is progressing and you can't risk being hacked. 

Keep yourself safe as well! One advantage to working with a Realtor is that professionals who show homes always get information about people before they take them on a home tour. Consider doing the same thing -- asking for contact information and such things as how the financing will be done. It will deter troublemakers and help you prequalify people. 

Consider working as a team so you are never alone with a prospect. Don't do spontaneous, unscheduled showings. Carry your phone. Consider having protection such as pepper spray or a stun gun. Here is a company I am familiar with that sells self-defense products especially for women.  

When showing your property, always act and dress
professionally and trust your instinct about the
people who are entering your home. Photo: BHG

 Let buyers know

Your next step is researching online to find the websites that have the best reviews and are the most popular. It's the only way to give your home the visibility it deserves and the credibility it needs. This kind of legit exposure will make it less likely for you to be targeted by scammers.

There are now a whopping 1.8 billion websites operating simultaneously throughout the world. You'll have your choice of many where you can advertise your home. You can list in multiple places, like Zillow or Trulia, and on sites such as Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. You can work with a real estate company or FSBO websites to have the home be on MLS listings. Don't forget to let friends, family, and co-workers know about your home. Have a sign on your property, if allowed by your local ordinances.

Some buyers begin their search for a home by visiting FSBO websites exclusively. If you have good photos and good data you will shine among the listings that look hack or poorly presented. The typical FSBO seller does not have the experience or the will to be a salesperson for his own house. Don't be that person. Get educated.

Many buyers think your home will be bargain-priced
if it is for sale by owner, but don't assume you have to sell
below fair market value. There's no reason to give away money 
 you saved by selling your own home. Photo: MLSmyhome 

Selling a home without a Realtor can be risky, but if you have some information technology skills and the ambition to devote yourself to the process, it can be satisfying and economical. Some Realtors will act as advisors for a reduced rate or make other arrangements to be of assistance. And you can always turn the job over to a qualified listing agent if you find the job gets overwhelming or not productive. You'll definitely want to hire an attorney for the closing.

Give these tips above some consideration, and you may land a buyer for your home faster than you anticipate.

It's Show and Tell Time for August

Saturday, August 28, 2021

I'm happy to share with you what grabbed my attention during the past month. Let's all savor the last weeks of less structured time and get ready to launch into the fall season ahead. And cooler temps I hope.

House and garden

A mostly white kitchen is timeless. I loved looking at these 25 examples. Although these photos are not necessarily examples of the kind of staging that sells a home, there's usually something that can trigger your thoughts about how a home on the market can look better to buyers. At least you will see kitchen styles that are trending. 

Don't miss the chance to taste some kitchen eye candy
with these delicious kitchen pictures. Photo: Apartment Therapy

This summer has been a good one for gardens, with plenty of sun and rain. I'm glad it was the year I decided to focus on a cutting garden. Since it's in the backyard, it doesn't have to be beautiful from the street, and I don't feel guilty about cutting whatever blossoms or greenery I fancy that day. It's given me a lush variety of fresh flowers indoors week after week, starting with plants like lilies, irises, and snapdragons in the spring, and gladiolas, gomphrena, and celosia this summer, with a promise of freesias and zinnias all autumn. 

Cosmos and sunflowers grew as tall as me.
I'll definitely expand my cutting garden next year. 

Mindfulness

If you are staging your home it's probable you are decluttering it. And if you are beginning to think that you have too many books, it's time to read this short post from How Stuff Works that lists the best ways to downsize your book collection. 

Are you a creative person? Right now you can find out with this simple, 4-minute test for creativity. It's fun, you'll have your answer right away, and there are no strings attached.

Do you have a creative mind? Find out now. Photo: Fast Company

Armchair travel

Whether you are a true Anglophile or not, there's bound to be some inspiring views for you on Ben Pentreath's blog. He's an English architect/city planner/interior designer/nature lover who usually spends weekends in the country after a busy week working in London. He always posts gorgeous photos of the English countryside and that simple, leisurely English lifestyle. You might also enjoy his company's interior design portfolio.

Wherever Ben Pentreath goes he takes pictures for his blog. 
This one captures a relaxing moment from a weekend in Scotland.
 
It wasn't until I left home that I realized how uniquely charming it is where I grew up around Mystic, Connecticut was. Every location has something special about it. I hope you have many things to love about the place where you live. Fun Fact: The movie Mystic Pizza was only partially filmed there. 

Mystic has been inhabited since the 1600s and has a long history
of early American shipbuilding. It's now known for its recreated
Olde Mystik Village, Aquarium, Seaport Museum, boating,
plus all the restaurants and shopping tourists expect. Photo: Redfin

Food prep

No matter what school of nutrition you subscribe to, it seems like there is agreement about one thing across the board -- that vegetables are good for you. I am aiming for more variety of them in my menus. To that end, I purchased The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook to give me some new ideas. It does not disappoint. Whether you are eating vegan or keto or standard American diet (aptly given the acronym SAD), there are ideas and recipes for anyone to try. I especially liked the Tuna and Zucchini Burgers, and the Eggplant Relish Spread.  

All my recommendations are based on my own experience,
not on affiliate links or paid endorsements. 
Whenever I think my diet for the day is missing enough leafy greens, I turn to a product I always have on hand -- Green Magma. It's a powder of dehydrated barley grass juice. It's rich in enzymes and Vitamin A, as well as other important elements. It's quick and easy to mix up a snack that's healthful. Just whisk it up with water or liquid, like fruit juice, coconut water, or almond milk. Great addition to smoothies! 

My favorite formula is to whisk 2 teaspoons Green Magma powder, 
with 1/2 cup yogurt, and about 6 ounces of pineapple juice    

Enjoy your September. And remember to stay curious!  

Four Ways to Fail at DIY Home Staging

Thursday, August 19, 2021


The faster your home sells, the better. Staging will make that happen because staging helps buyers respond favorably! 

When you DIY your home's staging you can reap the benefits that come with staging your own home. But you have to do it in an effective way if you are going to coax a generous purchase offer out of home buyers. I've noticed that there are four major failings homeowners make when they tackle the job themselves. I don't want you to make these mistakes.  

The decor is dated

Smart home staging can help your home look newer, even if you have not made major upgrades and remodels to keep up with changing styles. 

You may not have a trendy open floor plan, but you can still have a wall color that's consistent throughout the house to create a more modern, open feeling. You may not want to buy a new couch to replace the beat-up one in the family room, but you can purchase slipcovers to give it a fresh, new look. You may not want to replace that laminate counter in your bath, but you can add a trendy new faucet there. 

The bed in the above photo from Southern Living doesn't represent the latest style, but the textured side table and the distressed rug are both styles that are current now.   

Browse shelter magazines, department store displays, Instagram, and decor and online furniture sites to stay current and educate your eye about what accessories like table lamps, vases, artwork, rugs, and pillows reflect todays' decorating style. 

Newness is especially important if your home is likely to be on the radar of younger buyers and first-time homeowners. Everyone wants to move up the ladder socially, and being on-trend is one signifier of that.      

Making an effort to look current isn't difficult. Sometimes all it calls for is putting a few pieces of furniture in storage. 

Everything in your home on the market doesn't have to
 be new, but everything can't be old, either. Photo: Dwell 

The house has off odors

To make sure your home smells great, deep clean it. If this is too difficult or time-consuming for you, get quotes from some cleaning services. You may be surprised how low the cost can be. Professionals who clean for a living know how to be efficient and have the equipment and supplies to do a quick and thorough job. 

Remove anything that has any even slightly unpleasant scent. Invite over a friend who has a sensitive nose. The most common offensive odors are from pets, whether cats, dogs, or birds. Nicotine, mold or mildew, and cooking aromas are others. 

More and more of what we buy now comes scented with chemicals to make them seem cleaner or somehow "friendlier," But these scents are often offensive to chemically sensitive people. Other buyers may interpret an overly fragrant home as hiding problems like dampness, sickness, or embedded grime, so don't over-scent.  

Don't let your pets sabotage a profitable home sale.
Here are 14 ways to get rid of dog smells
 from various surfaces 
without harming anything.
 
Photo: TheHoundry      

The photos are poor

Your online listing is the new curb appeal. Your home's photos are the way to impress buyers enough to schedule a showing. 

Statistics show that listings with professional photographs sell 30% faster, and can list for $3,000 to 11,000 more than homes photographed by nonprofessionals.   

So, anyone who doesn't hire the services of a professional photographer when it's time to list is being shortsighted. If your listing agent will not pay for a real estate photographer, you should either find another agent or negotiate a way to share the cost. I guarantee it will pay for itself. What you pay a professional photographer will be less than your first price reduction. 

Photos should do more than just inform. They should flatter the property. I don't mean they should be dishonest. But crooked, poorly lighted, inaccurate colors, and other signs of amateurish photography work against your chances of even getting people to call their agent. 

The average home doesn't need 30 photos and drone photography to pique buyers' curiosity. One or two shots of each room and a few of the exterior are generally enough when accompanied by a listing that describes details like room measurements, special upgrades, and high-quality materials such as granite counters, composite decking, bamboo flooring, or maple cabinets. 

You're in denial 

As a seller, you can't adopt the attitude that if it's good enough for you, it's good enough for the next owner. Selling a home is like running a small business, and the customer (your buyer) is always right. I've blogged about the six types of sellers who are problems

Some Realtors suggest that as soon as your home's listing goes live, you take a vacay that first week. It will make it easier to show your home. And you will have earned the downtime. 

Stage your home, price it fairly, and then keep it clean and uncluttered. Be part of the team that sells your home -- your listing agent, other brokers, the photographer, your family, anyone you hire to do repairs, and even your neighbors. You never know who is going to spread the word that your beautiful home is for sale.  

Get the look, get the book

Part of your support team should be my home staging eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar. You can download it right now -- it's a 155-page pdf -- and start increasing the value of your home today! 

Six Small Details That Make a Big Difference

Tuesday, August 10, 2021


Whether it's a dinner party, a vacation trip, or an outfit you've assembled for an evening out, it's often the small touches that put the finished product over the top and make it special. Home staging is no different. 

Once your home is decluttered and cleaned, and you've arranged furniture, it's time to add those all-important details. It's not difficult to do when you concentrate on just these six finishing touches.  

Pillows artfully arranged

Every bed needs them and most couches benefit from some kind of pillow arrangement.

One common pillow-aranging formula is simply to place matching pillows on the ends of a couch, and then work your way to the center with an additional matching pair, then one singular styled pillow in the center. You can follow the same formula for beds, starting from the headboard and working forward.

Pillows in pairs look more "decorator high end" than an assortment of pillow styles on either the staged bed or the couch. Unless you're after a grandmillenail style decor, which I can't recommend for staging a typical home on the market, limit the designs and color scheme of your pillow collection in any one room.

The above photo of couch pillows from Overstock strikes a happy medium. They don't all match exactly, but they certainly share a similar flair with a nearly identical color scheme and the embellishments they display.     

Tabletop arrangements

Tablescapes, those little vignettes on horizontal surfaces in your home, add a good dose of personality to your home. They give people on tour something interesting to look at, and ideally tell something about your home, even if it's just creating a mood. Indeed, the definition of the word vignette means "a brief evocative description, account, or episode." 

There's a standby technique for composing a good vignette. Start with a foundation like a tray, flat basket, large platter, book, or table runner. Collect an assortment of interesting objects, such as bowls, beads, candles, boxes, glass or ceramic ware, a small sculpture, a plant, or some flowers. Finally, narrow your selection to just the few that contribute a variety of textures, heights, colors, sizes, and shapes.

You can find examples of good home staging tablescapes on my Pinterest boards for Tablescapes and for Vignettes.  

A kitchen counter that's been decluttered is a perfect
place to add an arrangement that says,
"You will love cooking in this kitchen!" 

Seasonal touches 

When you add some seasonal touches to your decor, you are letting buyers know that your home is loved and tended. Some examples might be autumn place settings in the dining room, or summery annuals blooming on your front porch, or a wintery evergreen wreath on your kitchen wall. These touches all represent what the season feels like in your locale.  

Make your seasonal touches arrangements that are easy to change when seasons change, so if your home selling season spans two seasons it never looks stale. You don't need a complete bedding changeover from autumn's warm tone duvets and fur pillows to springtime pastel bedspreads. Work outward from neutral basics and add small touches that are in tune with the season's vibe.     

End tables

Whether we're talking about side tables for a living room, a bedside table, a table for toiletries and towels in a guest bath, or a garden stool next to an outdoor lounge chair, these small tables are what make a home look comfortably accommodating. 

It can't be just me who thinks it's disconcerting to see a comfortable chair plunked solo in a living room arrangement, unanchored by a side table. That's where someone would place a drink, book, phone, or remote. Let's be guided by "form follows function." 

Likewise, everyone needs some kind of table or comparable surface next to a bed. Small tables may not technically be considered little details, but they are small in comparison to what other furniture should be in a staged room.  

A side table in the bedroom doesn't need to be expensive or large. 
Often a tray stand, cubicle, or repurposed table can as useful and
charming as a conventional nightstand, Photo: Southern Living

Flowers or foliage

Of course, you needn't use fresh flowers or even real plants. I'm a member of the booster club for silks ever since they stopped looking like your grandmother's ugly plastic and velvet roses. Today's fakes are indistinguishable from real blooms and stems. 

There's a reason decorators add flowers and plants to rooms being staged for their portfolio, and why they add them to houses on a home tour.  

I've blogged about how to make faux flowers look their best for staging, and how to make silk plants and flowers look more convincing

The greenery in the center of this seating group adds
color, texture and the fresh feeling that only plants and
flowers can add. Photo: Whitney Durham, Ballard Designs

Bath towels

It's critical to have towels that look brand new in bathrooms. They should be extra fluffy, matching, and neatly grouped to look like what you would find in a resort hotel. The expense needn't be a big one, and let's face it -- won't it be nice to have brand new towels when you move into your next home?

White is the best color for bath towels when you stage.
Even inexpensive towels look impressive if you fold
or roll them right. Photo: Bedding Love To Know

Get the look, get the book

I prefer the phrase "God is in the details" over the more negative, "The devil is in the details." A positive attitude about the staging and selling of your home makes the process a whole lot less stressful.     

To further reduce the stress of selling your home, don't leave here without downloading one other important detail that will make your home staging a success -- my eBook DIY HomeStaging Tips to Make Your Home Sell Fast For Top Dollar. It's a 155--pdf that will take through all the steps of staging that gets results with the least amount of work. Let me share all my secrets with you to make your staging get the results you want. 



It's Show And Tell Time

Friday, July 30, 2021


Here are my picks for the month, a sampling of what brought a smile or new insights to me as I browsed the web, along with some of my favorite products. I hope you find something useful or that tickles your mind or your funny bone. 

People and places

Speaking of tickling your funny bone, if this doesn't get you laughing, nothing will. I don't watch much TikTok, but this top clip caught my attention and is too good not to pass on. 

We're planning a two-week vacation to the Florida panhandle in late August. I have a system for getting us ready for travel and a glitch-free stay. It's similar to this list of vacation packing and travel tips.     

His wife once formed a club she called "Wives Against Collecting." Nevertheless, I love seeing someone carry throughout a long life his passion, like this man who collected one unique item -- 45 rpm vinyl records. He says that as a 13-year old, he hollowed out the fattest book he could find, added holes to the back, and hid his transistor radio in it so he could listen secretly to his music at school and in his bed at night. That's him today in the photo above.

Enjoy some armchair travel with these winning photos from an iPhone Photography Awards Contest.  They make me want to experiment more with my iPad's camera.

Even non-fashionistas can
enjoy reading YouLookFab
to learn how to look better.  

Style

This is a simple, 25-tip list summarizing how to make personal fashion decisions easy, and always look and feel stylish, written by one of my favorite bloggers, Ang at YouLookFab. 

If you have one of those ordinary, office chairs at a desk in your home and you'd like to give it a new look, here is a tutorial that shows how to cover an office task chair using fabric.  

Selling a home

Here is an important post explaining the pros and cons of working with a Realtor who is acting as a dual agent. Spoiler: there is not much to support having a dual agent, but there is a workaround. 

Whenever you buy or sell a property, the negotiations are what often determine whether the exchange goes smooth enough so that everyone is satisfied with what they got. Check out this excellent run-down of the pros and cons of the counteroffer in real estate negotiations.   

Even in a sellers' market, negotiations are crucial if you 
want everyone to leave the closing table feeling like the sale was fair. 

Products I like

When is soap not really soap? This soap is actually what soap is supposed to be, the one we use almost exclusively at our house because it's free of harmful ingredients smells good, lathers well, and isn't expensive. Have you ever noticed that many "soaps" are labeled "deodorant bar" or "beauty bar." This is true of gels, foams and liquid "soaps." That's because technically, they are detergents rather than true soaps, which are simple combinations of vegetable or animal fats, plus scents and coloring.  

You can find real soaps online, at larger
retail stores, and at local farmers' markets.

Even in today's digital age, when texting and emails are replacing written snail mail, I like to send (and receive!) handwritten thank you cards. My favorite sources for notecards are museum stores. Here is advice from New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art on how to write the perfect thank you note

Museums, historic homes, and botanical gardens
are prime sources for interesting notecards.


Using commemorative postage stamps like these
adds an additional personal touch to any piece of mail. 

In the kitchen 

Everyone needs a seasonal, go-to recipe for those times when you are called upon to make something from your kitchen using what you probably have on hand. Here is the recipe that comes closest to the zucchini cake I bake whenever I need something for a pot luck meal, a committee meeting, a condolence offering, or an impromptu dessert to satisfy a craving. No summer is complete without one serving of zucchini cake! I bake it in a bundt pan and even without extras like cream cheese frosting or chocolate chips or walnuts, trust me, it's always a hit.  

Unfrosted, this cake becomes an easy,
out-of-hand snack cake for picnics and lunch kits.

I liked these instructions on how to care for cutting boards and spoons made of wood. I use my two bamboo cutting boards daily. They're not as fussy as other woods are about getting wet. As long as they don't stay wet, they don't warp or crack like other woods can. 

Books 

This month one of the books I enjoyed reading was The Night Portrait, by Laura Morelli. It's a historical novel that alternates between two different time periods and locales -- the 1940s in Poland and the late 15th century in Milan. It recounts the history of Leonardo da Vinci's portrait of a nobleman's mistress, a priceless painting that centuries later was stolen by the Nazis. You can read the story's overview here.

I always suggest people read reviews for books or movies I recommend because personal preferences vary widely. 

This is the groundbreaking portrait considered 
Leonardo de Vinci's best work.  

If you read to your young children or grandchildren, there's a source for out-of-print, classic children's books you might not know about. You'll find everything from Harry Potter and Star Wars books to charming vintage (but new) ones like Golden books, Madeline, and The Runaway Bunny. 
If you enjoyed these books as a child, why not let 
the next generation enjoy the simplicity of older classics.

None of the products or sites I recommend here are here because I earn money from endorsing them. I am simply passing along some of my personal preferences. 

How to Market Your Home to Millenials

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Most Realtors and home stagers agree that when you have an understanding of who your potential buyer is, staging and selling your home gets easier. 

You don't want to shoot your foot off by marketing to a specific and narrow group of buyers, but since Millenials represent 37% of today's homebuyers, you'd be wise to find ways to appeal to them. These are people between 22 and 40 years old. 

Although there will be some needs that your home might not answer for these buyers, there are bound to be features your property has that this market craves. And there are likely other features that you can easily add or imitate.   

Here are the features that are important to these buyers.  

Low maintenance living

Young singles and couples are likely to have full-time jobs, young families, and busy social lives. They'd rather not spend their limited leisure time taking care of tedious household chores. And they may not have the skills or equipment to do things like pressure washing, carpet shampooing, gutter cleaning, window washing, and other tasks common to homeownership. 

They usually prefer hard flooring over carpeting. One hard flooring material that takes a minimal amount of upkeep is luxury vinyl planking. I have it through my home and cannot believe how simple it is to keep it looking clean. 

Other details Millenials would appreciate are windows that tilt in for cleaning, jumbo gutters with gutter guards, LED lights, metal roofing, non-staining countertops like quartz, and cement fiber siding. These are the kind of things that make a home low maintenance. If your home has any of these perks, be sure your real estate broker knows the specific benefits of them so she can point them out and include their specs in the MLS listing.    

Exterior routines necessary to keep a home looking good include lawn mowing, pruning, fertilizing, edging, watering, and weeding. Now's the time to minimize these tasks by scaling back labor-intense landscaping. Replace fussy flower beds with groundcovers, hardscape, or small shrubs in a mulched bed. Limit turf areas to what's necessary to keep up to neighborhood standards and provide grassy play areas. Get rid of thirsty or disease-prone trees and shrubs. Use native plants that thrive in your climate.  

Stay true to your horticultural zone so you can conserve water,
grow healthy plants, and simplify yardwork. Photo: Bob Vila 

Flexibility  

Today's homes and today's buyers aren't like those of bygone eras. Today's young buyers generally run away from the formal dining room and traditional wood cabinetry, pastel tiled bathrooms and carpeted floors, matching gold hardware and chandeliers, vertical blinds, and wallpaper borders.  

The attraction now is a layout that can accommodate a growing family of assorted interests and needs. Younger buyers will be looking for flex spaces -- areas and rooms that can be used in a variety of ways and change when needs change. Examples are a guest room that can be a craft room, or a finished basement that serves as the family room. I have seen homes where a wide hallway serves as a home office, in another, a landing is used as a reading nook, and in another.  

If you have areas in your home that do not display dual-purpose possibilities, you can stage them to help buyers see the potential. Possibly your home office can include a daybed, or a mudroom can include a sewing station. 

An enclosed porch is often used in the American South
as what's called a "summer sleeping porch." Photo: Seth Benn 
  

This craft room could be used as homework central, 
workout space, extra bedroom, or home office. Photo: Toll Brothers

Useable outdoor space

Even though Millenials don't want to be tied down with yard work, they still want to be able to relax, entertain, and play outside. If your home does not have some kind of level area like a porch, deck, or terrace for these kinds of uses, consider adding a patio of concrete pavers. It could be a weekend DIY project that would definitely add value to your property. 

Other popular outdoor attractions are a firepit, a fenced backyard, a picnic table, and a garden shed. Check that these upgrades are included in your listing info and are photographed. 

In some locales, a chicken coop, pollinator garden, vegetable patch, herb bed, pit for playing horseshoes, shade pavilion, privacy hedge or screen, rain barrel, inground irrigation system, pool, or putting green would get noticed and appreciated. It depends on the lifestyle where you live, what the norm is, and your price point.   

High-tech perks

Millennials grew up with computers and smartphones. If you are part of this demographic, your home may already sport some of today's high-tech amenities. If not, consider making a few of them part of your home's list of bragging rights.  

Some of these additions that wouldn't be difficult or costly are a programmable thermostat, a security system, an under sink water filtration system, low-flow showerheads, faucets and toilets, and a video doorbell. If your appliances are new, they could be smart appliances. Other impressive upgrades include a whole house water filtration system, on-demand hot water heaters, an electrical system that easily handles multiple electronic needs, and a home theatre that conveys with the property.  

Turnkey residence

Because they want a home they can move into without the bother and additional, unknown cost of what it would take to make it suitable, Millenials will shy away from homes that need even minor remodels like painting interior walls, replacing toilets, shoring up a porch, or even changing ugly ceiling lights.    

And when it comes to the more serious repairs, they are even more skittish. If any of a home's infrastructure systems like plumbing, electric, and HVAC are obsolete or poorly maintained, they send up serious red flags for younger buyers.  

That's why it's good to hire a home inspector before you list your property. What you pay him will save you money in the long run because flaws that potential buyers discover will be bargaining chips during negotiations. It will be cheaper for you to fix them than it will be to reduce your price by what their real estate agent insists it will cost the new owners.   

Installation errors can lower HVAC efficiency by up to 30%, so why not have a heating and cooling company give your system an inspection and a tune-up, and an appraisal of its condition? A termite inspection is usually free. An electrician can provide you with quotes for work to be done and the same is true of a plumber. Armed with these kinds of figures, you can decide what, if anything needs to be done, and you are more equipped to negotiate knowledgeably. 

New appliances 

Your major appliances don't have to be brand new, but if you want to impress the Millenial market, the newer they look, the better. New or like-new appliances build confidence in home buyers, particularly in first-time buyers who might be accustomed to living with mom and dad or renting a well-equipped condo. 

If you decide to replace major appliances, look for a retailer who will give you a discount for purchasing the refrigerator, dishwasher, and range as a package. Or, shop for scratch-and-dent appliances that don't have obvious damage. Big box stores usually have a section for these discounted appliances, some of which were returned only because the previous buyer changed his mind. 

If your appliances still have years worth of reliable service in them but need some cosmetics to make them look new, there's a paint for that. Actually, a few different paints. Rustoleum makes a spray paint to refresh white appliances. Krylon makes an appliance touch-up paint in a tube designed to cover minor chips and scratches. If you want to convert white or almond appliances to a stainless finish, there are black and silver paints for that also, paints and techniques you can read about by searching online for "refinish appliances with paint."  

What's not to love about a laundry room that
is equipped with the latest in washer and
dryer models, but also an overhead, adjustable,
 vintage drying rack? Photo: Jean Stoffer Design

Trendiness 

The latest styles and trends are more important to Millenials than to other market groups. 

Two ways to make your home look newer are with today's window styles, and with the latest in hardware details like doorknobs, hinges, lights, and faucets. 

Contemporary windows can give a building an entirely new look, both inside and out. If your windows are more than 20 years old, they are not energy efficient and probably show their age as well. I suggest you get a price quote from a local installer, and I think you will be surprised by how economical and quick this project can be. Look for the blue Energy Star sticker and be sure your Realtor stresses that energy expenses can amount to a savings of  7% to 15%  --  something every buyer is looking for.

Selling time is time to take a critical eye to the hardware in your home. If you replace old brass door handles with black hardware your home will look more in step with the times. 

The same is true of lighting, both inside and out. A stroll through the lighting department of any home improvement store will teach you what's on-trend and energy-efficient for chandeliers, vanity lights, and exterior fixtures. Poking around Pinterest will show you numerous ways to update older lights to make them look trendier.   

New vinyl windows in this kitchen made the room look
new and clean. Stainless appliances, a butcher block island,
and a modern chandelier add to its appeal.

Not every Millenial buyer will want a separate dining room, but 
most will like a flex space like this one. This photo and
above photo: DWD Discount Windows and Doors


Get the look, get the book

When you reach out to a younger market, you'll be competing with landlords who are renting homes to this same market, especially in these 13 cities it is cheaper to rent than buy.  Five years ago over half (65%) of the people 35 or younger rented where they lived. And it could be higher now with a hot sellers' market. Usually, landlords do not stage a property, so you'll have a distinct advantage over those properties if you stage your home.  

You may not be able to change the location of your house or the architectural style or the square footage of your house, but you can certainly make your home more attractive to Millennials in numerous ways. And the best part is that most of your tweaking and upgrades will appeal to other home-buying groups as well. 

Don't leave before you download my staging eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar. It gives you all the advice and encouragement you need to get the best deal in the shortest time. Let me share with you what I have learned from my years of buying, staging, and selling homes for a profit.  



How to Harness the Power of Collections When You Stage Your Home

Friday, July 16, 2021


It's not unusual for DIY homestagers to hear that collections have no role to play in a staged home. The reason given is that a collection will make a room look cluttered -- the curse of home staging. Or that a  collection will be too personal. Or too expensive or too precious. 

But -- surprise -- there are ways that a collection can be a valuable part of good home staging.  

It just depends on what and how and even where a collection is displayed. Let's look at the times that you could make a collection work to increase the appeal of your home for sale.   

None of the items are priceless

Everything you do to prepare your home for the real estate market should be done with an eye to making the property more valuable. The right collection of interesting objects, arranged well, can do just that. 

The best collections for staging make a home feel cared for by owners who have an enviable lifestyle.  For example, a collection could hint that the current owners travel, or have a sense of humor, or have leisure time for hobbies, or are especially well educated. 

You don't need to spend big bucks to curate a collection that looks valuable. Mixing some inexpensive knockoffs and garage sale finds with more unusual pieces yields interesting arrangements. The photo at the top shows a grouping of a few statement pieces of ceramicware interspersed with ordinary bistro dishes, Asian rice bowls, and even some plastic dinnerware.     

Some of its items are unique

Whether made up of purely decorative or else everyday useful objects, what makes any collection special is that it contains some things that aren't ordinary. If it's a framed collection of sheet music, some pages could be foreign. If it's a collection of vintage luggage, some could have rare travel stickers on them. (hint: these stickers can be purchased as reproductions). If it's coasters, aim for one from a famous bar, restaurant or casino. 

But since you don't want anything stolen or broken, anything valuable or precious to you should be kept out of reach, or framed, or locked behind glass doors.      

If your collection is made of simple things from nature like feathers, seeds, leaves, or pressed flowers, it will need a few unique feathers or shells or seeds to make it look special.  A display of shells could include some pristine starfish or extra-large conch shell. Especially a frugally or hastily assembled collection may need elements to make it look like it has some provenance or history.

Often an ordinary collection can be staged to make it look more unusual by adding a related element. A 1940s sewing machine could be part of a display of vintage sewing patterns. An early American flag could accompany a collection of old military medals. 

A collection doesn't need to be valuable, but at least some
of its items should be unique. Photo: etsy 
Think about adding seasonal touches with small collections like  
this stack of children's Christmas books when you list during December.  

It's actually curated   

Arranged haphazardly, a collection of dull objects just looks like a mess. You can't expect a heap of cheap baskets from Goodwill to make much of an impression of quality. 

Perhaps you already own a collection. Ideally, it's made up of items that over time you've purchased or found, chosen because they had some appeal to you. If that's the case, I'm sure your collection has its own character since you didn't simply acquire it as a kit. 

But if you don't have a collection already, don't hesitate to either begin or finish or even purchase one in one shopping trip or online swoop. A stroll through a flea market or antique mall might give you all the novelty salt and pepper shakers you need to make a statement up high on a shelf over the breakfast nook.  

Ask yourself, "Does my collection fit the message I want my home to convey?"  Is your home cottagey, sophisticated, quirky, minimalist, coastal, modern farmhouse, historic, colorful...or what? You can create vignettes of carefully chosen items to emphasize the style and feel of your home.  

What not to show off as a collection -- beanie babies, Barbie dolls, CocoCola cans, Disney toys, Pez dispensers, Elvis memorabilia, MacDonald's crap, Pokeman stuff, lawn flamingos, ... I think you get the idea. I hope I don't sound elitist when I emphasize the importance of making your home reflect your quiet, good taste through and through. 

Matching frames help create a clean aesthetic to this 
handsome collection of sepia photos of trees. Photo: Pepperfry
Outdoor collections can be part of your home staging.
This grouping of hosta plants makes a more interesting
addition to the landscape than a mass of identical plants. 

It adds personality

Not all rooms are interesting enough for people touring your home to want to linger. Studies show that the longer a person spends inspecting a home, the chance of a purchase increase. Remember too, that normal belongings you use on a regular basis can be considered collections. Collections can even indicate how a space can be used. 

For instance, a display of purses in the closet, an exhibit of wine bottles on your bar cart, or coffee mugs at your coffee station, or the placement of everyday dishes on your kitchen's open shelving are all legitimate collections and deserve attention to how they are arranged. They are part of your selling team. 

Resist the temptation to carry a collection onto a theme for a room or (even worse) a whole house. If you collect rubber ducks that are on display on a bathroom shelf, you don't need a rubber ducky shower curtain and a rubber ducky nightlight too. This will only cheapen the collection. 

More advice on what not to do: don't display campaign buttons or banners, guns, knives, high school sports trophies, valuable gems, taxidermy (unless you are staging a hunting lodge), erotic art, or weird things like scary masks or gnome figurines. People prefer to buy homes owned by people like themselves. Help them easily relate to you.   

Before you declutter and pack extra belongings
for moving or storage, consider what might
be worthy of staging as a display, like
this shoe arrangement.  Photo: The Home Edit

It doesn't overwhelm 

Don't allow your collection to be a room's focal point by being too large, too colorful, or too unusual. It shouldn't make people stop and study the details. Let it cast a spell but not distract from your home's overall appeal. A little vignette of vintage books on a sofa table or old alarm clocks on a bedroom dresser, or a fishbowl of imported soaps on a bath vanity can be part of the supporting cast instead of the star of the show.

Natural locations for collections are coffee tables, mantles, bookshelves, high ledges, and bare walls. You don't want your collection to take over the room visually. Let's say that you already own a sizeable collection of Vera scarves or antique postcards or CD cases. My advice would be to frame four or six and arrange them as a grid on one wall. 

Consider tucking small collections in unexpected places, such as some old license plates in the garage or a few antique tea canisters in the pantry. These become some of the memorable details of your home.  

A collection can often be placed safely out of reach
and be a subtle, visual treat. Photo: A Beautiful Mess 
Clustered together and carefully arranged on a ladder, this 
collection of quilts sends a comfy, friendly vibe to anyone
touring the home. It enlivens the corner of the room
without "taking over." Photo: Blueisbleu blog  

It shows a variety

A good collection consists of things that are alike but not identical.  Even a collection of brass candlesticks, or similarly-sized stuffed panda bears, or round white plates, or Santa cookie cutters will look boring if there isn't enough variety. There is a sweet spot in every collection between diversity and uniformity.    

Art collections are a little tricky to get right in a staged home. Unless you collect a particular format or theme (such as framed silhouettes or Japanese block prints or watercolors by one particular artist) an assortment of art is going to be just part of your home's interior decor. Art certainly helps sell your home, but it doesn't have to be a collection. 

There are no two exactly matching items in this collection.
They share similarities, but are different enough
to make an interesting display. Photo: Lodge Cast Iron  

Get the look, get the book

So, when you declutter, think again about how some of your belongings can be clustered into collections, whether photos, signs, souvenirs, vases, or hats. A collection done right can be a handsome space filler or colorful addition to a corner, a bookcase, or a wall that had you stumped because it looked bare and boring. 

There are dozens of small ways and unusual ways you can use decorator tricks and professional home stager techniques to make your home more desirable to buyers. Download my eBook DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast for Top Dollar to learn how you can easily stage your own home to increase your profit and sell your home quickly. 



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