Staging and Style

Staging and Style

The 5 Biggest Yard and Patio Staging Mistakes

By Amalie Drury, guest contributor

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Photo credit: Crate and Barrel

A great outdoor space is at the top of many home buyers’ checklists. So even if your listing doesn’t include a large lawn or an over-the-top patio, it’s important to show buyers that the home still offers the perks of an indoor-outdoor lifestyle. Be sure to avoid these common outdoor staging mistakes.

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1. Overgrown Landscaping

Banish the weeds, and trim the bushes. Nothing makes a house look unloved faster than an overgrown lawn or a patio with dandelions poking through every crack. If the home’s current owners aren’t around to keep the landscaping in check, encourage them to hire a weekly service for the duration of the listing.

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2. Lack of Furniture

It’s hard to imagine reading on the porch or serving dinner on the patio when there’s no furniture around. On the other hand, if buyers see a dining table with a festive umbrella or a pair of cushioned lounge chairs with a side table for drinks, they’ll perceive the space as valuable additional square footage where they can unwind with family or entertain.

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3. Dust and Dirt

When patios and walkways go unused, they collect a layer of grime that should be removed when staging the home. Consider pressure washing surfaces and pay special attention when sweeping and dusting spots like exterior window ledges, thresholds, and basement stairwells.

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4. Clutter

To the buyer’s eye, certain items your sellers are used to seeing in their yard or on their patio can look like unwanted junk. Encourage your sellers to clear the clutter. Plastic storage boxes, toys (except for nice swing sets, which can be appealing in family neighborhoods), tools, faded furniture cushions, dated lawn sculptures, rusty grills … all must go.

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 5. No Flowers 

In the right season, colorful blooms in containers, window boxes, or beds can greatly improve the perception of a home’s exterior and outdoor space. Even in winter, you can fill planters with greenery and berries to welcome potential buyers and make the home appear cozy and well tended.

Amalie_MG_9500ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Amalie Drury is an expert on home design and furniture trends, writing on behalf of Crate and Barrel. She has covered related topics as a senior editor for magazine publisher Modern Luxury and as a city editor for women’s lifestyle site PureWow. She has also written for Time Out, the Chicago Tribune, and Sophisticated Living.

 

 

Staging and Style

Insider Tips on Staging a Living Room

By Julea Joseph, guest contributor

Make sure you show off the living room in your listings. Here are some simple lessons in staging your living room to give a great impression.

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Choose an on trend color palette that will appeal to buyers and showcase your home’s amenities. Tone on tone creates flow and space.

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A simple, opened room arrangement explains the room’s purpose, and also sells square footage.

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Add lifestyle defining accessories to create a story of how one could use the room. Create layers to give the space warmth and character.

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Make sure to update, uncomplicate and unify interior decorating selections, such as window treatments and hardware.

 

 

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Abbreviated doesn’t have to be boring.

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These simple lessons in home staging should inspire a vision of the art of home staging.  There is always the smart choice of hiring a home staging professional who can provide you with expert vision, those desired on trend ideas, and proper packaging of a home.

This post originally appeared at Tales of an Interior Stylist. Reprinted with permissions. Copyright 2017. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julea Joseph is the owner and lead designer at Reinventing Space in Chicago. Visit her website and blog at Julea.com.

 

Staging and Style

Educate Sellers How Home Staging Pays Off

By Patti Stern, PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

This spring has been one of our busiest home staging seasons with many sellers enjoying the benefits of preparing their homes early and marketing to targeted buyers – boosting the value of their property and selling quickly. However, there are sellers who are hesitant and still need convincing that home staging – whether occupied or vacant –  is a worthwhile investment, even in a hot market. Several key points can help overcome sellers’ uncertainty and assure them that staging before listing is a win-win decision.

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1. Basic updates boost perceived value

Today’s buyers are looking for an updated home in move-in ready condition and will usually pay more if they feel good about it. Simple updates such as freshly painted walls in universally appealing neutral colors, modern lighting, and polished hardwood floors make an immediate statement online and in person and will ultimately yield a quicker sale for top dollar.

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2. Helps buyers connect

Some buyers can be turned off by the cold feeling of an empty room or distracted by dated furnishings that suggest the home is old and neglected. According to the Real Estate Staging Association, a vacant property can take up to 78 percent more time to sell than comparable furnished homes. And with 95 percent of vacant or occupied staged homes selling in 11 days or less, there is no question that adding inviting style with modern furnishings helps buyers envision living in a space and get a better idea how a room can be used to fit their lifestyle.

 

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 3. Enhances key features

Buyers who can’t look passed dated carpeting or clutter that hides key features will most likely walk away immediately. Choosing a neutral palette with the right furniture arrangement and simple, elegant accents will allow architectural features to become a focal point, increase the perceived size of rooms and improve overall flow and ultimately make the property more memorable.

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4. Bedrooms are valuable real estate

Every decision that is made when marketing a home to sell should focus on the targeted buyer’s lifestyle and needs. An experienced stager will provide recommendations for what style furnishings and décor will be appropriate based on the demographics you want to attract to the property. For example, an extra bedroom that is now serving as an office, hobby room, or gym should be converted back into a bedroom to appeal to millennials with young kids (see photo above).

5. Less stress

A professional stager will eliminate stress by making the home selling process turnkey for clients. They will manage the entire process to make a property market-ready — from paint color selection, lighting updates, window treatments, floor refinishing, furniture rentals to packing and organizing services. They will do whatever it takes to appeal to as many buyers as possible and get the property sold quickly and for top dollar.

For more examples of interior decorating and home staging, visit www.pjstagingdecorating.com.
PattiABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patti Stern, principal, interior decorator and professional stager of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating, has been decorating and staging homes since 2005. She and her team provide turnkey, full service home staging and interior decorating to clients across Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts. She also developed an award winning staging program for luxury homebuilder, Toll Brothers. Her company has received Houzz 2015 and 2016 Awards for Customer Service. Stern has been featured in Connecticut Magazine, the Hartford Courant, Danbury News-Times and on NBC Connecticut and FOX TV. She is a regular contributor to REALTOR® Magazine’s Styled, Staged and Sold. For more information, contact Patti Stern at 203-640-3762 or patti@pjstagingdecorating.com

Staging and Style

Make That Home Greener: Energy-Efficient Mortgages

By Michele DiGirolamo, Guest Contributor from MoneyGeek.com 

If you’re in the market for a new home, there’s a way to save the environment and some cash at the same time: Consider a “green” mortgage.

An energy-efficient mortgage (EEM), the umbrella term for these types of loans, allows buyers to fold expenses for energy-saving home improvements into their mortgage.

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Photo credit: Shutterstock

EEMs are an option if you’re buying or building a home and you want to add energy-efficient features, if you’re refinancing a mortgage for a home you already own and want to add energy-efficient renovations, or if you’re buying a new home that is already energy-efficient.

The idea is that, in the long run, the money saved on monthly utility bills will offset the higher mortgage payment. The projected energy savings from the lower bills could also qualify buyers for a larger loan amount and a better, more energy-efficient home.

And at the point of resale, homeowners will likely benefit again, as the energy upgrades can boost the home’s value and attract buyers in a competitive market.

Improving Your Home’s Energy Efficiency

Green mortgages can be used to finance a range of energy-efficient upgrades, from weather stripping to new heating and cooling systems to double-pane windows and solar panels.

A required home energy audit provides recommendations for energy-saving improvements and estimates of the costs and savings of those improvements. Lenders use this information to determine how much you’ll save in energy costs with each improvement.

Fannie Mae, the Federal Housing Administration, and the Department of Veterans Affairs all offer a version of EEMs. The amount of energy improvements a borrower can finance varies by program, ranging from about 5 percent of the value of the property through an FHA loan to around 15 percent with a conventional mortgage. A VA EEM, available to military personnel, caps energy improvements at $3,000 to $6,000.

Understanding the Green Mortgage Lending Process

While securing an EEM can be fairly simple for the borrower, it can be cumbersome for lenders unaccustomed to the process of managing the “work flow” of the energy improvements, says Tonya Todd, senior vice president of strategic products at Mountain West Financial in Redlands, California. This may be why they aren’t more common.

“The loan itself is easy; it’s the facilitation that takes some work,” Todd says. “Lenders that are successful at this will find a local energy-efficient mortgage facilitator. The facilitator handles everything from A to Z to ensure a smooth and timely process for all parties.”

The facilitator works with the buyer, the energy rater, the contractor, the realtor and the lender to keep everything moving to avoid delays.

“After closing, the facilitator will ensure the installation of the energy improvements are completed,” she adds. “It just makes everything much smoother.”

So, if you’re interested in pursuing an EEM, go for it — just be aware you may have to put some effort into finding a lender.

“Niche lenders do offer these programs and do them well,” Todd says. “However, a lot of lenders do not offer them because they do not understand the operational component, or they don’t have the support system internally.”

More Homeowners Are Going Green

While they’ve been around in some form since the 1990s, eco-friendly mortgages even today are not particularly well-known. But that could be changing, Todd says.

“Energy-efficient measures are becoming more popular especially as homeowners are purchasing older homes that may not be so environmentally friendly,” Todd adds. “People are more aware of being green. That’s why homeowners are looking for features that will help them save energy.”

The average household spends more than $2,200 a year on energy bills, with nearly half of that going to heating and cooling costs, according to the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection’s Energy Star program. There are significant savings to be had by improving a home’s energy efficiency.

Other Ways to ‘Green’ Your Home

Even if you’re not in the market for a green mortgage, there are measures you can take around your house to save energy and reduce your utility bills. The following are some tips — some simple, some more involved — from the Energy Star program and other experts:

  • Turn your hot water heater’s thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Keep your refrigerator at 37-40 degrees and freezer at 5 degrees.
  • Install and properly use a programmable thermostat (this can save about $180 annually).
  • Install low-flow fixtures.
  • Do only full loads in the washer and dishwasher.
  • Fix any leaky faucets, toilets, pipes, and your roof.
  • Seal heating and cooling ducts (in the typical house, about 20 percent of the air in a duct system is lost due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts).
  • Seal the “envelope” of your home – the outer walls, ceiling, windows, and floor (this can save 20 percent on heating and cooling costs).
  • Replace the filters on your air conditioning unit, dryer, and furnace.
  • Turn off ceiling fans when you’re not home.
  • Set ceiling fans counter-clockwise in the summer to draw cooler air upward.
  • Dust your refrigerator coils.
  • Plant shade trees to cool your home.
  • Request a home energy audit for more tips and advice.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michele DiGirolamo is a former longtime reporter for United Press International and a freelance writer for MoneyGeek.com.