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Staging and Style

What to Do if Your Home Doesn’t Sell

By Patti Stern, PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

Has your property been on the market for months with little buyer interest? With a competitive fall market ahead, it may help to reassess the condition of your home, make necessary updates, then
re-list a new and improved staged property to generate new buzz and buyer interest. Here are some questions sellers should ask themselves to get their home on top of the list and ahead of the competition.


Family Room Staging by PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

Does it Make the Best First Impression?

The key is to look at your home from the perspective of the buyer. With more than 97 percent of homes sold on the internet, the first point of engagement for buyers today is the online listing. Therefore, it’s more important than ever to feature professional quality photos using the best lighting to encourage buyers to schedule a showing. Once they arrive, be sure that your curb appeal and front entry are well maintained, tidy and welcoming by trimming bushes, cleaning walkways, making repairs and adding seasonal touches to the front porch.


Kitchen Staging by PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

Does it Appeal to The Target Market?

According to a National Association of Realtors recent trends report, 66 percent of today’s first-time buyers are Millennials and they are looking for a home that is in move-in ready condition. These buyers will turn away instantly if the home is dated and gives the impression that it’s in need of renovation. They will, however, ultimately pay more for a home that looks fresh and inviting. Be sure that necessary repairs and cosmetic updates are made such as freshening walls and cabinets with a coat of neutral paint, polishing hardwood floors, replacing lighting, hardware, appliances, etc.


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Can Buyers Visualize Living in This Home?

Whether selling an occupied or vacant home, keep in mind that If buyers can’t emotionally connect, it won’t be memorable. Consider renting furniture for vacant properties to show buyers how they can use their own furnishings in the space.  For occupied properties make sure there are no distractions such as personal items on walls, shelves and tables. Showcase every key room from the entry to the basement with a clean look and minimal accessories such as colorful pillows, wall art and simple vignettes.


Family Room Staging by PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

Are Key Features Highlighted?

Be sure that your home’s best assets are not hidden. Is your stone fireplace covered with a cluttered mantle or distracting wall art? Are hardwood floors covered up with dated carpeting? Are floor to ceiling windows hidden behind heavy curtains? Are built-in shelves cluttered with old books and photos? If so, remove and simplify to show these features off, bring new life and increase perceived value to your home.

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

The Chocolate Chip Cookie Effect: Home Staging Tips to Spark Love at First Sight

By Phil Karp, guest contributor


Photo provided by Phil Karp

It’s no secret that a properly staged home can sell faster than an empty one. But how far do you need to go to inspire the “chocolate chip cookie effect,” where a buyer walks in the front door and immediately feels right at home? Sellers often look to their agent for home staging advice, which can be based on initial impressions and feedback from early showings.

Here are five tips for effectively staging a home before the next potential buyer walks in the door.

1. Create a Welcoming Entry Way

When it comes to selling a home, the importance of curb appeal can’t be stressed enough. Buyers need to fall in love at first sight — which happens around the time they pull up to the front of a property. For sellers who need to spruce up their yard, recommend inexpensive outdoor projects like a garage door replacement or an exterior power wash.

2. Enlist All Five Senses

Rather than focusing solely on how a home looks, give buyers a multisensory experience. Smells like fresh-baked cookies or scented candles can help create a welcoming, comfortable atmosphere. Calming music can also help to set the proper mood for open-house tours.

3. Encourage Decluttering

When a buyer walks into a home, they need to believe in the possibility that this house could belong to them. Seeing personal articles like photographs, kids’ artwork, or pet toys can detract from the appearance of a home that’s ready for move-in. Any loose papers and other stray items should be removed from countertops and tables to avoid distraction.

4. Turn on the Lights

To avoid a dark and dingy look, be sure to maximize the use of available lighting. Open curtains for natural light and turn on overhead lights in every room. If further accent light is needed, consider bringing LED candles or portable lights to showings.

5. Keep It Natural (and Neutral)

Neutral colors are still a favorite of house hunters looking to add their own style to a home’s decor. If you decide to add accessories for staging purposes, go for neutral accents such as throw rugs, shower curtains and towels or linens. If sellers are willing, replace window treatments or repaint rooms with dated color schemes. Natural touches like flowers and plants can also add a breath of fresh air to a home.

Home staging can range from simple decorative touches to repainting rooms or removing furniture. As buyers move through the house, they should have a clean, consistent experience designed to show off the home’s best features and make them want to move in immediately. 

Phil - headshot_1About the Author: Phil Karp is a 25-year real estate industry veteran and head of Brokerage Services at Owners.com, where you can list or buy a home while saving money in the process. Phil loves offering staging advice on how to make your house feel like a home to potential buyers.


Staging and Style

7 Surprising Household Items You Can Use for DIY

By Jeffrey Ill, guest contributor

Scott Brothers_edited

The “Property Brothers” Drew and Jonathan Scott have teamed up with Esurance to create “DIY Ditties,” a series of humorous videos that offer tricks to fixing common household items.

Whether it’s a clogged shower drain, crayon-graffiti walls, or rusted chrome on your beloved ride, keeping up with maintenance can seem never-ending — not to mention, require a wide assortment of (sometimes pricey) products to remedy each mishap. But what you might not know is that in many cases a solution can be found in your pantry.

For DIY aficionados and novices alike, check out these 7 household remedies for common home mishaps.

1. Unclog Showerheads with Vinegar

Mineral deposits from hard water are known to get wedged into showerheads, causing the sprayer to go helter-skelter, or reduce water pressure. Luckily, vinegar can dislodge them.

Just remove the showerhead, soak it in a bowl of warm vinegar for about an hour, and most of the deposits should dissolve. Any remaining gunk can be gently removed with a brush. After you’ve demineralized your showerhead, top it off with a good rinse and re-attach it. Fast-flowing water — and a fresh start to your day — should be restored.

2. Baking Soda — The Be All, End All

While primarily used as a leavening agent, baking soda has prodigious amounts of applications — from putting out small grease fires, to pest control, to pyrotechnics, to teeth whitening and much more.

That said, baking soda also can be a wondrous cleaning agent. Using a damp sponge or gently bristled brush, it can help remove mold from shower curtains, clean gunk out of kitchen and bathroom sinks, and remove crayon art from the walls. Plus, baking soda’s a decent mustiness-remover and is often employed to rid the malodorous effect of used books. Simply sprinkle a little baking soda in a container or bag, place the book inside, seal it up for a few hours, and – presto — the baking soda should absorb the odor. It’s kind of like magic.

3. Cleaning Chrome with Cola

You can use Coca-cola not to just quench your thirst but also as a cleaning product too. It actually does fairly well as a chrome cleaner for tarnished, old car bumpers. Simply take some regular (or diet) Coke, a piece of foil, and scrub the chrome—what you should get is a gleaming luster.

There is a caveat, though. Coke’s combination of carbonation and low pH levels can help remove rust from brass, copper and other metal alloys but may be corrosive to iron, tin and steel.

4. Substituting a Phillips Head Screw Driver

If your Phillips Head is ever stripped or missing when you need to remove a screw pronto, you might have everything you need in your kitchen drawers (or junk drawer).

First, check the kitchen drawers for a butter knife or potato peeler (of course, the duller the better in this instance). Insert the flat edge of the butter knife or the top of the peeler into the screw head’s groove and turn it counterclockwise (remember, “righty-tighty, lefty-loosey”). Just be careful when you’re dealing with a stubborn screw since it can bend and damage either utensil.

If cutlery isn’t available, check your junk drawer for loose change or even an old club card, and see if either will do the trick.

5. Remove Car Scratches with Toothpaste

The Scott Brothers showed us how to clean headlights with toothpaste. But amazingly, toothpaste — particularly brands labeled with “tartar control” — can also help remove minor scratches from your ride. That’s because tartar control has grittiness, which can effectively buff out the edges of scratches.

Before applying toothpaste to the damage, be sure to clean the area first. Then, apply a liberal amount to a paper towel and spread it over damaged area. Leave it on for about ten minutes and then buff it out with a towel. Most, if not all, the damage should be gone. But if some remains, just repeat the process.

6. Deodorize the Microwave with White Vinegar

Got a foul-smelling microwave? The solution, once again, may already be in your pantry. Mix a half cup of water with a half cup of white vinegar in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave it on high to bring it to a boil. Odors will likely be vanquished and congealed food splatter should be loosened, making it easier to clean.

7. Repair Wall Cracks with Super Glue and Baking Soda

In lieu of wall spackle, the marriage of super glue and baking soda makes for a pretty strong sealant. Simply add a little baking soda to a drop of super glue, apply it to the damaged portion of the wall, and then — voila. What you get is much like a pliable, plastic surface that you can sand down to evenness.

Next time you need a quick fix around the house, save yourself some time and money by heading for your cupboards before you head to the store. You might find you already have everything you need.

And now that you’ve whet your DIY appetite, check out DIY Ditties with Drew and Jonathan Scott of HGTV’s “Property Brothers” for a few more surprising DIY tips and tricks.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeffrey Ill is the vice president of product at Esurance where he leads the homeowner insurance program. Being a 33-year veteran of the insurance business, he has held numerous leadership roles at major insurance companies and has been involved in a wide array of product implementations.

Staging and Style

Top Entryway Decor Ideas for 2017

By Katherine Medlin, guest contributor 

StyledStagedSold_imageThe entryway is a significant space within a home — it’s the first thing a potential buyer sees, and it sets the stage for the whole vibe of the home. Buyers can form opinions on a home within seconds of opening that front door. Your clients can make a few simple changes to their entryways to make that important first impression. Here are some hot trends for 2017.

Make the front door a focal point.

The door is the first thing visitors focus on at any home’s entryway, so make it impactful. Whether you advise your clients to paint it a bold color or add gorgeous greenery via a seasonal wreath, they can complement the home’s style and make a statement within a reasonable budget.

Invest in stylish but functional furniture.

Clients can create a welcoming vignette of furniture that beckons guests to the door. Design a space for dropping keys and handbags, and a place to sit and remove shoes. Think elegant console tables with drawers (that hide the clutter), woven baskets, and an antique rug. Remind sellers that they can take these new goodies with them when they move too!

Add art to the space.

Artwork in an entryway can make a big impact. Hang a beautiful piece of artwork or photography on the wall opposite the door. Choose carefully: You don’t want to put off buyers with something overly quirky. A mirror is a great choice and will help the entryway appear larger.

Illuminate the entryway with bold lighting.

The right lighting will give a welcoming feel to the entry, while being highly functional. Add a stylish lamp to the console table, or if the home has high ceilings or a two-story stairwell, go for a beautiful chandelier or pendant light in a timeless style.

Make a statement with striking wallpaper.

Wallpaper in bold patterns is making a huge comeback. Take a cue from designers in 2017 and work with the sellers to choose a striking paper for the entryway. This will add drama to the space and add that wow factor. To appease buyers who may not be sold on the pattern, choose a temporary wallpaper instead, which can be easily removed.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Katherine Medlin is an art historian with a keen interest in interior design and antiques. She writes foApartmentGuide.com and the Southern lifestyle blog Pender & Peony. She is based in Knoxville, Tenn.