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10 Things Your Home Stager Did NOT Learn From HGTV

We get it, you've watched all of the home renovation and home sale shows, read all of the online articles and tips regarding setting up your home to sell, and you have checked off everything on every home selling checklist you could find, so why would you need to hire a Professional Home Stager? We often hear homeowners say, “I don’t need a stager, I watch HGTV all the time, and I know that I need to remove the clutter and the personal items.”

 

These reality shows have really put the home staging industry in the spotlight over the last few years, and have helped homeowners to better understand the importance of preparing their home prior to listing it for sale. But, while these shows provide the basics of what this preparation involves, they don’t provide the full picture of what it really takes to properly style and STAGE your home in order to evoke the emotional connection that your prospective buyers are looking for.


Your home is one of a kind, and it should be treated as such! You want to stand out from the competition, so why would you use the same checklists as everyone else? Would you clean your own teeth, or would you choose to hire a trained professional to do this for you? Your home deserves the right attention with specific recommendations, geared towards your home, from an expert that specializes in doing just that, in order to highlight your home’s greatest features. So what are these articles and lists NOT telling you? As a Home Stager, these are just a few of the things that we have learned, through our professional training and many years of experience:

 

      1.      Where to place YOUR furniture so that the room remains open and inviting, while maintaining function and flow

 

This does not mean simply moving all of your furniture to the edges of the room. This means understanding proper traffic flow, as well as the latest furniture styling trends. We will evaluate what should stay, what should be removed, and where to properly position your furniture to optimize flow, eliminate awkward spaces, and highlight the best features of the room.

 

      2.      Shelf Styling

 

By far one of the trickiest decorating techniques to master, this is the art of filling the shelves to catch your eye, without diverting your attention from the room. This means selecting the right size and style of pieces to compliment the space and the shelving unit, and understanding the balance between too little and too much.

     

      3.     Paint Colour selection

 

Just because a colour is popular or trendy, does not mean that it’s the best one to use for your home. Colours are selected based on lighting, home style, and the colour of the finishes of the home. Sure, we have our favourites, but each colour is selected to best suit the home.

 

      4.     What local trades will provide you with the best services, at the best value prices

 

We have spent a great amount of our time forging valued relationships with highly skilled trades to ensure that you receive quality work, every time. We only work with professionals, and often these professionals will provide special discounts to our clients.

 

      5.     Where to shop for the final touches and accessories that your home needs

 

We spend more time than anyone shopping for home décor items and finding the best deals, and we can provide you with some direction on this to help you to avoid driving all around town looking for the perfect piece. Of course, you would save even more time if you hired us to provide you with the accessories and accent pieces that your home needs.

 

      6.     Which updates/upgrades will most benefit YOUR house in YOUR market, neighbourhood, and price range

 

We not only evaluate what upgrades and repairs would add to the value of your home, but we look at what will help to increase it’s overall sell-ability – upgrades are not worth much if they’re not the right ones to entice your specific buyers. We consulted on a home once that spent a great deal of money replacing their kitchen, but for their target market, their funds would have been better spent doing other repairs to the home and minor updates to the kitchen.

 

      7.     How to make a bed

 

Forget what your mother taught you – making your bed before work, and styling your bed to sell your home are completely different! I can’t tell you how often we see this common mistake in listing photos.

 

      8.     How to utilize a piece of furniture for an alternate purpose

 

This does not mean putting an end table in an office and calling it a desk. It’s about thinking outside of the box when it comes to finding the right piece, often within your home already, to fulfill a purpose for a room and help to clearly define the space.

 

      9.     How to enhance your curb appeal

 

Yes, cut the grass, trim the trees, and mulch the gardens, we know that you have that covered. But there’s likely more that you should be doing. If your buyers are not engaged with the home before they get to the front door, you could potentially lose out on that sale. We are property stylists, and we want to be sure to create an inviting space, inside and out.

 

      10.    How to maintain function and daily life, while living in a staged home
 
      We understand that it’s not easy to maintain a show-ready home, but we have seen it all and are prepared to provide you with easily implementable solutions to help you to get through the day-to-day. Of course the best part is, in a professionally staged home, you won’t have to maintain it for long before it’s SOLD!

 

The checklists and tips you find online are a great step towards preparing your home, but a Professional Home Stager can provide you with the specific recommendations that will help you to bring in the buyers and sell your home.

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Is Furniture Holding you Back?

Are you looking for the perfect home to fit your couch, a Persian rug or maybe a dining room table?  Does this make sense to anyone, why are people buying homes for objects and not for those people who are living in the home?  Too many times I’ve seen families turn down the perfect home in the perfect neighbourhood because it won’t fit their bedroom set or their mirrored dresser. 


Don’t let your things rule your life, the people who live in that home now obviously have a bed and it seems to fit, so sell your larger than normal bed and buy one that fits in that perfect house, or trade with a family member if the item is important to the family.  I understand keeping a family heirloom, but if your home budget doesn’t allow you to buy a home with a living room that is 20x20 then maybe Grandma’s rug should go to a family member who has space for it and then you can find a home that is right for you and your family, not a rug that you feel obligated to keep.


Reality is budget is a large deciding factor in what kind of home you end up in and if you are forced to choose the home with the largest dining room to fit a table you never eat at, you may be giving up on other items that you need such as an extra bathroom, a large yard or even a home in a condition that you can move into right away.


The best suggestion I have to avoid being caught in buying a home for your items is to make a list of why you are moving from your current home, these are items that are driving you out of your current place and into a new one.  Once you know what is driving you out of your current home, what is on your list of need to have and nice to have, knowing the difference between need and want can be very difficult but make the process easier.  If you are buying the home with another person, I strongly suggest making this list together, you may find out that your spouse hates that large couch you inherited and buying a home with space for it makes no sense if it’s uncomfortable anyways.


Remember when you are looking for a home why you are moving, I’m sure your bedroom set didn’t wake up one morning and decide to move because it didn’t like your current neighbour, if you have to part with some items to move to where you want to be, I’m sure your happiness in the new home will outweigh the cost to replace an item that is too large for your new home.

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Is your Furniture Holding you Back?

Are you looking for the perfect home to fit your couch, a Persian rug or maybe a dining room table?  Does this make sense to anyone, why are people buying homes for objects and not for those people who are living in the home?  Too many times I’ve seen families turn down the perfect home in the perfect neighbourhood because it won’t fit their bedroom set or their mirrored dresser. 


Don’t let your things rule your life, the people who live in that home now obviously have a bed and it seems to fit, so sell your larger than normal bed and buy one that fits in that perfect house, or trade with a family member if the item is important to the family.  I understand keeping a family heirloom, but if your home budget doesn’t allow you to buy a home with a living room that is 20x20 then maybe Grandma’s rug should go to a family member who has space for it and then you can find a home that is right for you and your family, not a rug that you feel obligated to keep.


Reality is budget is a large deciding factor in what kind of home you end up in and if you are forced to choose the home with the largest dining room to fit a table you never eat at, you may be giving up on other items that you need such as an extra bathroom, a large yard or even a home in a condition that you can move into right away.


The best suggestion I have to avoid being caught in buying a home for your items is to make a list of why you are moving from your current home, these are items that are driving you out of your current place and into a new one.  Once you know what is driving you out of your current home, what is on your list of need to have and nice to have, knowing the difference between need and want can be very difficult but make the process easier.  If you are buying the home with another person, I strongly suggest making this list together, you may find out that your spouse hates that large couch you inherited and buying a home with space for it makes no sense if it’s uncomfortable anyways.


Remember when you are looking for a home why you are moving, I’m sure your bedroom set didn’t wake up one morning and decide to move because it didn’t like your current neighbour, if you have to part with some items to move to where you want to be, I’m sure your happiness in the new home will outweigh the cost to replace an item that is too large for your new home.

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Why Neutral Is Best When Selling

Often times when I view a home for the first time during the staging consultation I see rooms painted in bright colours. Accent walls, matching trim, I’ve even seen colourful ceilings! Sometimes the colours work beautifully in the space, highlighting the furniture or artwork that the homeowner has. Other times the colours just aren’t the right hue and don’t work with the fixed elements in the room (cabinetry, built-ins, flooring, etc.)


Regardless if the colour works in the space or not, when it comes to selling your home, neutral colours are best. Bright, bold colours can really take over a room and can be the only thing people take away from that room. They will forget how many windows the room had – “Did it get a lot of natural sunlight?”; How big the room was – “Would our 9 piece dining room set fit in that space?”; Fixtures that will be purchased with the house – “Was there even a chandelier?” Potential buyers will walk away only remembering the bright red walls, and possibly the fact that they hated them. To sum it up, bright colours can be a distraction from what you’re really trying to sell in the space.


When I recommend to a homeowner that walls should be re-painted a neutral colour I often get different responses. A common response is...”But I LOVE this colour! I chose it myself! I get so many compliments from all of my friends!”


Usually the problem isn’t the actual colour itself. I tell them to definitely use that colour in their next home since it’s a fantastic colour. It goes back to the difference between Interior Decorating and Home Staging. What works for Decorating doesn’t always work for Staging. Decorating is about making a room appeal to the homeowner where Staging is about making a room appeal to a broad range of potential buyers who likely have different tastes than the current homeowner. We are also focused on drawing attention to the selling features of each room – size, architectural details and updated finishes. These things can easily get lost when the wall colour in the room takes center stage. Remember – potential buyers coming through your home are on average only spending a minute looking at each room. They will remember what grabbed their attention first, and that’s usually the paint colour if it’s not a neutral colour.


The other response I often get is that it is way too much work to re-paint. That the colour is too dark, it would take primer plus extra coats of paint, that the room is too large, the ceiling is too high and sometimes I hear that they just don’t want to pay for it.


Painting is the most cost-effective investment you can make in your home that will make a huge difference. By painting your walls a neutral colour, you are making your home move-in ready. No matter who buys your house, they will be able to move their furniture in and not have to worry about it clashing with your previously selected paint colours. Today’s buyers want move-in ready homes and are willing to pay extra for them. Purchasing a home today isn’t easy, and many buyers are maxed out financially just buying the property. They have no budget left for updates, including painting. Also, if you think it’s too much work to re-paint – so will the buyer. They will skip over your house to buy one that is already move-in ready.


When it comes to selling your house, it’s best to repaint in neutral colours before listing the property. Save the bold colours for your next home.

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When Should You Stage?

Q: Should I stage my home before or after I list it for sale?

 

A. You want to address the condition of your home and have it staged prior to putting it on the market as you only have one chance to make a great first impression. The first 2 weeks will be the busiest for viewings of your property as Real Estate Agents will be notified about the new listing on the market. The buyers coming through your property during the first 2 weeks are the most serious buyers who will view the home. Waiting to stage your home after it has been listed for awhile causes you to lose out on creating the right impression with the initial buyers who viewed your home. This means your home will be on the market for a longer period of time, losing its appeal, interfering with your life and costing you more money. The longer your home sits on the market, potential buyers question why it hasn’t sold yet and are more likely to offer less money for your home.

 

A study done in 2008 by the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) shows that un-staged homes were previously on the market for an average of 57 days and had not sold. Those same homes were taken off the market and staged, then re-listed. Those properties on average sold after 6 days after they were staged, which is 89% less time on the market.

 

Be sure to remember that 2008 was statistically a poor year for real estate sales due to the recession. The study done by RESA shows that staging proved to sell properties at a significantly higher rate than non-staged properties, even in a down market.

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Multiple Offers - Seller's Perspective

When you list your home, I know that all sellers dream of having multiple offers, how much better can selling your home get, it sells quickly and you get to choose the best offer of the bunch!  If multiple offers are what you are looking for, here are some tips on how to create multiple offers and some things to watch out for if they come up.
Price your Home Right:  Price is what drives buyers into your home, if they don’t perceive it to be priced right they won’t be willing to look at it quickly.  If a buyer or that buyer’s agent believes that the home is priced below market value, they will be willing to drop everything and look at your home right away, only when you get multiple buyers in your property quickly can you get multiple offers.


Have a great Product: 

Price might bring them in the door, but the quality of your home is what will get them to buy.  Make sure that your home is fully ready for sale before you list it, if items are incomplete or it’s not cleaned, decluttered and staged then your home won’t stand out and make those buyers feel that they had better buy this one before someone else does.


List close to an Open House: 

If you list your home and have an open house planned for a few days later, buyers will feel the pressure to look at the home before the open house and to possibly offer before that open house as well, remember a buyer feels that the less eyes on a property the better the chances they will not have to end up in multiple offers


Make sure your Agent works for multiple offers: 

If you are looking for multiple offers, make sure that your agent is calling all agents who have been through the home that have showed interest or haven’t left any feedback at all.  Your agent should be making sure that they are exploring all options for more offers if that is what you are looking for.  Also, keep in mind

that some buyer’s will shy away from multiple offers, so you do risk losing those buyers if you are too aggressive.


Once you receive the Offers: 

once you have been advised there are multiple offers coming in, you will meet with your agent and all of the offers to choose which one works best for you.  Remember that the buyers have put their best foot forward, so you won’t often be able to send them back for more money.  While price is obviously a very important factor when you look at the offers, other factors to consider can be close date, conditions like financing, inspection and even sale of the buyer’s home.  Make sure that you choose the offer that works best for you and if you have to ask the buyer to make a few tweaks hopefully it can be done.  Be cautious of accepting an offer that has no conditions, in a few cases, buyers can get caught up in offering on a house before they have their financing pre-approved and could end up backing out of the offer, at which point, you would have to go back to the other buyers and hope that they are still interested in buying your home.  Not only can choosing the wrong offer cost you valuable time on the market, but it can also cost you more money if the other buyers are not interested, of have chosen to lower their original offer.

 

Whether you end up with multiple offers or just one offer, remember the end result is the same, your home will sell for market value and you’ll be moving onto your next adventure!

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Multiple Offer - Buyer's Perspective

Multiple offers are the things dreams are made of for sellers, but a nightmare for the buyer.  Today I wanted to provide some tips for buyers who end up in a multiple offer situation. 

1.  Don’t wait:  If you’ve found the one, don’t wait to offer on it.  Every day that you wait, other buyers are looking at the property and the more people that see it, the more likely you are to end up in multiple offers


2. Be Ready:  Have your mortgage pre approval, once you have your mortgage pre approval you’ll know what you can afford and you’ll be confident when you put in an offer.  If you have a questionable pre approval it is advised to not get into a multiple offer situation


3. Have your Professionals Ready:  If you do in fact end up offering on a multiple offer situation, you may be asked to tighten up your time frame to complete home inspections and final mortgage approvals and even lawyer tasks.  It is best to know who you will be using for these services and to make sure that you have them ready when you are.


4. Let you agent know your position: Having open and honest communication with your real estate agent is best and you need to let them know how you feel about multiple offers.  If you are willing to compete for the perfect house or if you are willing to walk away and keep looking.  If your agent doesn’t know your true feelings for the house or your motivation, they won’t be able to properly assist.  Remember, with a signed buyer’s commitment, your real estate agent is working for you and you are free to tell them how much you love or hate a house and don’t be afraid to hide your true feelings, chances are your agent doesn’t own that house and won’t be offended.


5. Plan a Strategy:  I can’t give up all my multiple offer strategy tips here, but those of you who have worked with me in multiple offers are aware of what can be done.  One tip that I will provide to everyone is don’t compromise on the big items, if your agent is asking you to remove your conditions of financing (if your financing is unsure) or to remove a home inspection, those aren’t items you should be compromising on.  Maybe not asking for that wall mounted TV or appliances you know the owners want to keep are good items to remove from the offer, but not items that can affect your ability to purchase the house, the added stress isn’t worth it.


6. Remember it’s your Best Shot:  Make sure when you are choosing what price you are going to offer in a multiple offer situation that what you are offering is your one and only chance.  This price is the price you have to live with, make sure it’s a number you can afford, a number that doesn’t make you second guess how much you spent on the house and a number that isn’t just below the other offer and when you found out you lost the house over $1000 you don’t want to kick yourself over and over again.


7. Feel Good about your decision:  Remember that if you don’t get the house you wanted there is always going to be another that you love even more.  If you did get the house in the multiple offer, Congratulations don’t worry if you paid a little more than you wanted, the house was the one and you’ll be there long enough to make a return on your investment.


Multiple offers can be exciting and nerve racking at the same time, make sure you are prepared if the situation arises and remember if you work with a good agent and the home is meant to be yours, it will be!

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Home Staging in 3 Steps

Having your home staged by a professional Home Stager is a 3 part process:

 

Part 1 is the Staging Consultation. Whether Occupied or Vacant, the Home Stager will meet with the homeowner and go room by room to address the current condition of the home. We will provide a full, detailed report with recommendations for the homeowner to complete in order to prepare their home to be listed for sale. This could include, and is not limited to, painting, cleaning, de-cluttering, updating, neutralizing, depersonalizing, organizing, reconfiguring and removal of furniture and accessories, exterior, landscaping and curb appeal improvements. We are able to walk through the home with “Buyers eyes” and make you aware of the things that buyers will notice. The report also includes an Open House and Showing checklist for the homeowner to refer to before their home is viewed by potential buyers. We will also include a proposal outlining the investment of going forward with showcasing the home.

 

Part 2 is Completing the Recommendations. The homeowner is responsible for completing the recommendations outlined for them in the Consultation Report. This crucial step prepares the home for part 3 of the Home Staging process. It is important to address any repairs or updates needed to improve the overall condition of the home. If necessary, the Home Stager can supply the homeowner with a list of tradespeople who can assist them in completing these tasks.

 

Part 3 is Showcasing the Property. This is when the Home Stager returns to the home and completes the transformation. A team of Home Staging Professionals will go to work placing furniture, artwork, accessories, lighting and other necessary design elements to showcase your home at its best and brightest. We use our training and experience to highlight your home’s best features in order to attract the best buyers who will bring you the best offer. We take into account how each room will show in MLS photos as well as how buyers will navigate through the home during showings and Open Houses. 

 

In occupied homes, we are able to work with the homeowner’s existing furniture and accessories to better market each room. We are also able to bring in an assortment of pieces if necessary.

In vacant homes, we are able to supply all furniture and accessories necessary to showcase the home.

 

Showcasing can be completed throughout the entire property or just the impact rooms, meaning we can work with all different budgets.

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What is the difference between Home Staging and Interior Decorating?

Home Staging is a highly effective and proven real estate marketing strategy used to aid in selling a home that is listed for sale. Home Staging is about merchandising the product (the home) to appeal to its target market, in order to secure an acceptable offer in the least amount of time. Home Staging is about appealing to the buyer, not the homeowner's personal tastes.

 

Interior Decorating is for the homeowner’s enjoyment, reflecting and appealing to their individual style, taste and needs. It encompasses all, or a combination of, selecting finishes, colour schemes, furniture, fabrics, lighting, artwork and accessories as well as their final placement within the space. Interior Decorating is very personal to the homeowner.

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Are you Attending Open Houses?

Attending open houses can be fun, you can see your neighbours homes, get decorating ideas, go into large homes and dream of the possibilities; but are you doing it right?  When you attend an open house the agent working that open house is there to sell that home or to connect to potential clients.  Are you leading that agent on?  Are you pretending to be an interested buyer?  Are you not interested in the home and walk around giving negative comments? 


While as a realtor we are happy to have people come through the open house, there is some etiquette that we would expect.  If you are a neighbour and simply coming through to “check” out the house just let the realtor know.  I often find that neighbours can be the best source of finding buyers for a home, they let all their friends know how great the neighbourhood is and they see the signs go up first, but if the realtor hosting the open house thinks you are an interested buyer they may be wasting valuable time speaking with you at an open house when they could be answering questions for a truly interested buyer.   The same rules apply if you are a person who frequents open houses as something to do on the weekend or is looking for decorating ideas.  A simple “I’m just looking for decorating ideas” or “I’m a neighbour, not looking to buy myself” can go a long way in an open house and will most likely guarantee you won’t be hounded for information either.


If you are a buyer who is interested in buying but the house is not what you had expected, simply leave.  Remember the agent doesn’t own the house and while constructive feedback is appreciated, often the agent is aware of the condition of the home and if there are obvious defects, they are aware of that too.  When you walk through an open house with lots of negative opinions and there are other people in the house, remember that this may be the home of their dreams or their budget may differ from yours and this home is all they are able to afford and they will make it work.  If you walk around and provide negative comments around every corner you may be jeopardizing the sale of the home.  The agent will not be offended if you simply walk in, say it’s not the right home for you and leave. 


I look forward to seeing you at any open house I hold and hope if you attend other agents open houses that you keep these tips in mind, happy hunting!

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Contributors

Jennifer Roth
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February 5, 2015
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Stephanie Catcher
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December 31, 2014
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Gary Brown
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Liana Carvalho
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