A walk-in shower is a definite
upgrade for today's buyer.

I try to stay current with trends in real estate.

Not only do I have a home on the market, but I want to help you sell your home, so learning about what's happening to the U.S. economy and the housing market is part of my job.

Today I read an article from RISMEDIA, (the RIS stands for real estate information systems). In an item dated August 23, 2010, RIS summarized a recent report from two government agencies -- the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

These departments look closely at our nation's housing market, and pass their findings on to other government departments.

This report showed that in July, housing prices remained level after 30 straight months of decline. I see that as good news.

Also, the report noted, historic low interest rates continue to promote home affordability and refinancing options for Americans. That's more good news.

RIS pointed out that the housing market still remains fragile as evidenced by a slight increase in foreclosure starts and with serious delinquencies continuing to work through the pipeline.

What this news might mean to you is that you needn't assume your home will depreciate further.  Of course, in some markets, mostly large metro areas, values have not gone down.  I hope your home's value has been stable.

Something else I take away from these findings is that if you have a staged home you have an edge over the growing number of foreclosures on the market because typically, foreclosures are not staged.

This week I also read an opinion piece from Allison Arieff.  For four years she has written a monthly column called "By Design" about housing, food and shelter for the New York Times, and formerly was editor of a magazine entitled "Dwell."  She knows about houses!

Ms. Arieff notes that 2009 showed a trend toward people building smaller homes.  Of course, the lousey economy is the major reason, but that fact doesn't change the statistic.  The point is Americans are learning that a well-designed, affordable home is preferable to a McMansion.  Here are some quotes from her NYTimes story: 

"Perhaps recognizing that they’ll be staying in their homes longer, buyers are starting to look for universal design, ranging from wheelchair-accessible bathrooms to single-story homes — options that will allow them to 'age in place' — in other words, move into a home they can grow old in. They want accessory dwellings (aka granny flats) to accommodate rising numbers of children moving home after college and aging parents needing care."

"So far, the market isn’t offering many of these, a lack one can chalk up somewhat to inertia but also to legitimate obstacles ranging from zoning and code restrictions to difficulties with financing."

You can read her entire article here

Any time you can make your home be more barrier-free,
you have a selling advantage.

What you can learn from these reports is that if you have the kind of home that can fit into today's changed buying patterns, let your staging emphasize those qualities.

Make sure the basic systems to your home -- heating and cooling, roof, plumbing, electrical  -- are well maintained and as up-to-date as you can manage.

Make the most of the space you have. A room with a closet should be staged as a bedroom, especially if it is on the ground floor.

Educate yourself about zoning restrictions and other local ordinances if you have a "granny flat," like a room over a detached garage or a guest cottage. Look for ways that your home will appeal to people house hunting with an eye to the future, like raising your washer and dryer to a friendlier height, and enlarging narrow doorways.

Home staging means dressing your house to sell to today's home buyer, so understanding current trends gives you an advantage over sellers who are out-of-touch.

Be sure to download my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar, to get more advice that will make your home staging effective, economical and easy!