The Third Rule of Home Staging: Add a Splash Of Color

When it comes to staging a home for sale, the classic advice to keep color schemes neutral is still spot-on. White or pale hues make a space feel simple, serene and more expansive. These unobtrusive colors act as a blank canvas; they allow potential buyers to imagine themselves living in the home.

But many homeowners who already have colorful walls or furniture may wonder if it’s possible to keep some color in their staged home. The answer is absolutely yes. You can maintain – or even add – just a pop of color to create the right amount of personality and style in your staging. In fact, a splash of color can make a space feel designed, perhaps allowing it to linger in the memories of prospective buyers. As a bonus, color can also brighten your listing photos. Remember, you’ll want to add the color only after you’ve done the first two steps of home staging, paring down and freshening up. Here’s a game plan for strategically adding color to each staged room of your home.

Brighten the Living Room

Throw pillows are easily found and often cost-efficient. On a sofa, they’re a terrific way to add a burst of color. Select throw pillows that complement the sofa and room. You might go for a bright contrast, like royal blue against white, or bright yellow on a beige sofa. It’s all right to choose patterned, floral, solid or metallic versions. The key is to look for a color or combination of colors that will add visual interest without taking over the room.

Leroy Street

Color-coordinating your display shelves is another smart and budget-friendly way to infuse your living room with a little color. When editing your bookcase or shelves, try keeping books of the same color or combinations of colors together. You might be surprised how a simple stack of brightly colored red or blue books can transform a shelf or an accent table.

Living room

If the thought of parting with that pair of brightly colored armchairs gives you trouble, rest assured that you might not have to let them go. Once you’ve given the room a neutral and soothing palette overall, try reinstating that colorful furniture piece or accessory. Perhaps balance it out with a paler counterpart, as with a light-colored throw on a chair, or white books on a colorful table.

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The rule of thumb is that if it’s a visual distraction, you should remove it. But if your punchy piece complements the space and adds just the right amount of personality, it can stay. A buyer might remember the cool house with the interesting blue velvet ottoman, especially among a sea of all-white homes with nothing memorable about them.

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Bring a Splash of Color to Your Kitchen

Look to surfaces such as a countertop, an open shelf or a stovetop as opportunities to add a pop of color here and there in the kitchen. You don’t want to introduce clutter, but you could replace necessary items — teakettle, dish towel, cookie jar — that are neutral with colorful equivalents that tastefully brighten the space.

Linden Ave. kitchen no. 2

A terrific option for adding color to a kitchen is to highlight colorful seating options. Bright bar stools or dining chairs can really make a kitchen come to life.

Another great idea for adding temporary color that many stagers use for both photos and open houses is a simple bowl of fruit on the counter. Try using a single color, such as all green or all red apples. For a warm personal touch at your open house, you might leave a note offering the fruit to your visitors.

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A Bedroom That Oozes Calm

A well-staged bedroom should feel like a relaxing hotel room, with nothing too personal showing. Pale or white bedding and minimal accessories will contribute nicely to a soothing scheme.

Adhering to a hotel-like feel for your bedroom, however, doesn’t mean that you can’t add a color or two. Your bed wall is the perfect place to feature a different hue. Stick to peaceful or classic colors that will work nicely with your neutral bedding. White or ivory bedding looks sophisticated against a navy wall. Similarly, a soothing aqua or pale blue painted wall would freshen up a drab or dark space, making it more inviting and relaxing. Add a mirror to your painted bed wall to help create an elegant and calming retreat.

Family Loft

As with the living room, you can also opt for colored throw pillows or one colorful piece of accent furniture to add subtle drama to the bedroom. As long as it doesn’t detract from enhancing the room’s size and relaxing nature, a little color can brighten a bedroom nicely.

Bathrooms Are for Color

Fresh and clean is how you want your bathroom to read to any prospective buyer. Crisp white towels and a sparkling shower or tub do wonders to brighten an outdated or worn bathroom. Surprisingly, so does a little color on the walls.

So if your bathroom still feels a bit drab after cleaning and updating the space with new hardware and a fresh glaze on the tub, try painting one or more walls in a classic or fresh color. This can add a bit more style to the room, with the added perk of helping to conceal aging walls and distract the eye from other outdated features.

Wyndmoor Residence bathroom

Look to classic colors like navy or charcoal gray to pop against your fluffy white towels or help make white tiles look brighter. Alternatively, a refreshing color such as pale aqua can evoke the palette of clean water, resulting in a soothing feeling.

Colors you might steer clear of for a painted bathroom wall are nonsoothing brights such as orange or emerald green. While these primary colors can make a fun statement, they don’t evoke a serene or clean feeling for the purposes of a bathroom.

Dress Up Your Exterior

Last but not least, it’s time to address accenting the exterior of your home with a burst of color. Painting your front door and shutters in a color that coordinates with the rest of your house will add curb appeal.

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Bright and classic colors such as red, green and blue are great options, especially to coordinate with planters and brightly colored flowers.

Home Staging Hingham, Scituate, South Shore, MA

As an added element, look to the season to dictate your choice of flower and splashes of color. Red tulips are fantastic in the springtime, while orange and yellow give a sunny glow to a home in the fall.

WRITTEN BY NEILA DEEN, HOUZZ

WANT TO INSPECT MY PROPERTY? GET A WARRANT…

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Recently, a Federal Court ruled unconstitutional a city ordinance that mandated inspections of rental housing. (Baker v. City of Portsmouth, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Sept. 30, 2015) The Youngstown, Ohio, ordinance, adopted in 2012, required the inspection (and any required repairs) of single-family dwellings before they could be issued a permit which would allow them to be operated as a rental property. The scope of the inspection included a list of eighty search items.

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America provides that:

“the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things seized.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has written that “The basic purpose of this Amendment… is to safeguard the privacy and security of individuals against arbitrary invasions by government officials.” Moreover, it has said, “the physical entry of the home is the chief evil against which the wording of the Fourth Amendment is directed.”

The problem with the Youngstown ordinance — which has subsequently been revised in a way that will make it compliant with the court’s ruling — is that it did not provide a mechanism for obtaining an administrative (court) warrant authorizing the inspection. If a property was scheduled for an inspection, the owner’s only choice was to comply or either be denied the economic benefit of renting the property or face a criminal charge for violating the ordinance. The owner had no opportunity for a neutral party (the court) to review the extent of the inspection or the authority of the inspecting entity.

The Portsmouth ruling is not going to change the world of compulsory home inspections. Many jurisdictions around the country have ordinances requiring the inspection of homes that are to be used for rental housing. Others mandate inspections upon changes or ownership, even if no commercial use of the property is anticipated. Courts have determined that legitimate government (read “public”) interests are at play in these situations.

But, in such a case, if the owner does not consent to the inspection, a warrant must be obtained before any sort of punishment can be invoked..

While Baker v. City of Portsmouth may have no earth-shaking effects, it does remind us that we live in a country where the idea of “the sanctity of the home” is to be taken seriously. And that is no small thing.

Bob Hunt is a director of the California Association of Realtors®. He is the author of Real Estate the Ethical Way. His email address is scbhunt@aol.com.

Written by Bob Hunt

WANT TO CAPTURE THE MILLENNIAL MARKET? THESE ARE THE 6 THINGS YOU NEED TO DO

Millennials are elusive. Especially when it comes to homebuying. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to find them and turn them into clients. Here’s how.

1. Specialize in tiny homes

While there is a loud and proud contingent of empty nesters, wanderers, and other assorted devotees of living small, the trend has also captured the interest of millennials. Is this the end of the McMansion? Probably not, but the desire to live small so you can live large is gaining in popularity with this influential group.

“Many millennials are starting to embrace a minimalist and simplified lifestyle preferring smaller, more affordable homes,” said Millennial Magazine. “In fact, experts have suggested the movement toward buying tiny houses in which the financially conscious are preferring to live in super-small homes – usually around 200 square feet – is a prime solution for millennials who are dreaming of homeownership.”


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2. Do as they do

In other words, get those texting fingers ready. You might not get a response with a phone call or an email. It might also make sense to think about other ways to connect with millennials, like improving your Twitter game and learning how to use Snapchat.

Snapchat is the fastest-growing social media site and the app du jour for millennials. This “storytelling platform,” as Inman calls it, provides visual content – “a defining feature of modern society (that) has become essential to capturing an audience’s attention,” they said. “The numbers speak for themselves to illustrate its importance – according to TechCrunch, Snapchat has 6 billion video views a day, a number that has tripled since May 2015.” Furthermore, “More than 60 percent of U.S. 13- to 34-year-old smartphone users are using Snapchat.”


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Real estate agents looking to connect with millennials on their level and “capitalize on the spontaneous nature of Snapchat by taking users on tours of a home as well as answering any questions they might have in real time.”

3. Speak their language… or at least understand it

Communication styles define each new generation. But today’s millennial slang and language patterns may be setting up a generation gap like never before.

You don’t have to go to extreme lengths to learn and use a bunch of new slang terms that may or may not sound ridiculous coming out of the mouth of a 40-something (that would be totes unprofesh, after all). It also may feel a little cloying. The goal is simply to be able to understand each other and stay on the same page.

Want a quick study of what to expect? Check out this article from the Washington Post about “totesing.”

4. Go where the jobs and amenities are

Cause that’s where millennials are going. “The young and educated are interested in more than just a hefty paycheck,” said Business Insider. “In a new report on the top destinations for young college graduates, the American Institute for Economic Research finds young people are drawn to city amenities in addition to jobs. The rankings examined eight economic and quality-of-life factors that young people look for in a new city, the top three factors being: high density of people with a college degree, a low unemployment rate, and the ability to get around the city without a car.”

The top three cities on their list: Washington, DC, San Francisco, and Boston (You can check out the rest of the list here). Does that mean you have to move to one of those cities? No. But broadening your horizons so that you’re also focused on a more vibrant part of your area could prove profitable if you’re trying to capture the millennial market.


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5. Sell what they want

Yes, real estate agents often show clients properties outside of what they’ve asked for, whether that’s a slightly larger abode, or a more expensive one (“but it’s move-in ready!), or one that’s in a different neighborhood. You never know what might click with a client. But showing a millennial a single-family in the ‘burbs when they’ve expressly asked for a condo in the heart of the city will not only be a waste of time, it may even anger your client to the point of wanting to sever ties. Break a millennial’s trust by not listening to their needs, and you just might be done.

6. Bring in a partner

If you just don’t get millennials, and they just don’t get you, consider partnering with someone who can bridge that gap. It could be a profitable arrangement for both of you.

Written by Jaymi Naciri

STAGING A PHOTO READY HOME

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Your home’s first impression may not be one that is face to face with a prospective buyer. In today’s world, 84 percent (National Association of Realtors) of home buyers start their search online. That’s an impressive figure, and one that means your home needs to make a strong virtual impression.

Part of this impression is made through online photos. And as you begin the listing process, your agent will want to set up a time to come and photograph your home.

How can you stage your home to be photo ready?

Showing your home is about creating a story line. A home buyer is looking for certain amenities and specifications during their buying process, but in addition, they are looking for a home that will give them the lifestyle they seek. To answer this need, you must make sure your home has an ambiance that is appealing.

A properly staged home can tell this story in pictures.

To create a virtual experience and ambiance, one must develop a plan. What is the demographic of your buyers? Is this a home that will interest empty-nesters, large families, or vacationers?

Once you have distinguished this, then consider what story each room should display.

A step for all buyers is to remove clutter. Grab a box and walk through each room. Pick up the kids’ toys and games. Take your old magazines and papers to the recycling bin.

Next, tidy up. Buyers will notice if there are marks on the wall and dust bunnies on the floor. They will notice if your kitchen sink is full of dishes. So, sweep the floors and wipe down counters and mirrors. Replace burnt out light bulbs. And give each surface a nice dusting.

Now, make repairs. If you have very obvious issues in your home that need attention, there will be buyers who notice. This includes that cabinet door you took off to repair, and the tile work that needs regrouted. It also includes terribly dated wallpapers and borders. Making these repairs before your photos are taken could increase the number of buyers who request a showing.

Now that your rooms are clean, de-cluttered, and in good repair, its time to “edit.” Step back and take a look at each room with new eyes. Less is more when it comes to photos. You want a story line, yes, but you also want the room itself to shine through. Remove unnecessary knick-knacks and decor.

Is this a home that has good entertaining potential? Set up your dining room and table with your best china. Light candles and set out fresh flowers. In your kitchen, have a plate of fresh baked cookies sitting on a plate. And don’t forget to take pictures of the yard and landscaping, as well.

During the photography session, embrace natural light. Not only do buyers look for homes that are light and bright, but natural light also has a way of opening up spaces. Try to arrange a time for a photographer to come when the sun is out!

Be sure the photographer takes several pictures of each room and from different angles. Most MLS sites allow for your agent to list over 20 pictures of a home. This means you should show your buyer as many pictures as possible, in order to give them the clearest vision of you home and its setup.

Good luck during your selling process!

Written by Realty Times Staff

 

 

A SELLER’S GUIDE TO A WINNING OPEN HOUSE

Holding an open house for your soon-to-be-listed or newly on the market home is a lot like being on a game show where edging out the other contestants in a short period of time is key. In TV game shows, such as “Jeopardy,” the contestants don’t automatically know answers to so many trivia questions; they study and they plan and they make it appear to viewers like they walk around with that body of knowledge every day. Open houses need to be thought of similarly. Once your home is on the market, an open house is your opportunity to plan and strategize how you are going to win over buyers in very short time.

Even in a strong real estate market where houses sell quickly, it’s still important to ask your agent to hold as many open houses as possible until the home sells. One reason is that even buyers with agents still like to look at homes on their own without feeling the pressure of a home tour. Sometimes their agent is out of town when your house goes on the market. Many buyers are not represented by an agent and the only way for them to tour a home is through an open house. Your agent will plan the open house to include everything from signage to freshly baked cookies. As a seller, you should take the following steps:

Depersonalize

Back to the game show analogy, think of depersonalizing as studying the answers and questions before trying out for “Jeopardy.” Your house is lovely for how you live in it, but buyers don’t want to see youin your house. In fact, the more your house makes it difficult to guess who lives there (age, religion, gender etc), the better. Take down personal photos, religious emblems, the cute collection of mini ceramic frogs, etc. Analyze your stuff for whether it’s morally, politically, or otherwise socially objectionable and remove all of it. You don’t want to eliminate buyers because they are turned off by your personal tastes.

Declutter

While you are depersonalizing it’s also a good time to declutter as the two go hand in hand. The more simple and understated your home is, the more likely buyers can see the home for what it is and imagine themselves in it. When you have too much stuff cluttering walls and counters and shelves, buyers turn their focus toward those things and sometimes even make the assumption in logic that if you are cluttery, then you are disorganized, which means maybe you don’t take care of the house as well or as on time as you should. A good rule of thumb is to box up or store at least half of the smaller items displayed in your home.

For example, how much is on your kitchen counter right now? Now imagine reducing that number to just three things. What would you choose to keep versus store? Some sellers are benefited by going to other open houses in their area and looking at how other people have decluttered and arranged what is left. Online pictures, such as what is found on Pinterest, can help too. Often you can get some good ideas on what works visually just by seeing how others do it. When you are all done decluttering, clean your home like never before because buyers notice dirt and grime. Hire a maid service if you have to.

Lure Them In

The outside of your home is as important as the inside, especially the front entry area. Before an open house, take care of simple yard maintenance such as mowing, edging and weeding flower beds. A fresh layer of mulch adds color especially in winter months when not much is blooming. At your front door, clean off spider webs, blown leaves, and place a large, colorful pot of annuals or anything you can buy in season.

Complete Your Honey-Do List

While you have the yard power tools out, dust of your workbench and take a walk around your house inside and out. Make a list of all maintenance issues such as wiggly door handles, missing fascia, paint that has chipped, etc. and repair them before the open house. Buyers see even the smallest of maintenance issues as an extension of the condition of larger items such as roofs, plumbing and major appliances and assume you haven’t taken care of the home. You might talk to your realtor about a pre-inspection to deal with all home maintenance and problems upfront, before you get into contract with a buyer.

Be Cautious

Once you have taken the above steps and you are ready for the actual open house, there’s one last thing to plan. Protecting your valuables and identity. It might be rare, but criminals do use open houses as a way to case a house or to find collateral to steal identities. Make sure indoor safes are locked and hidden. Store heirlooms, checkbooks, prescriptions, and valuable jewelry away from prying eyes. Utilize a reliable, trustworthy, identity theft protection service to see you through the entire listing and sales process.

Written by Realty Times Staff

5 FRONT YARD LANDSCAPING TIPS THAT WILL WOW BUYERS

Your front yard is the red carpet inviting buyers into the beauty that is your home. If it’s rugged, messy and unkempt, buyers will take one look and then keep on driving to the next property on their list. Don’t let that happen by making your front yard luscious and as amazing as the inside of your home.

What areas should you focus on in your front yard? Where do you start? To help you break down the revitalization of your front yard, here are the steps you should take:

1. Cut the grass.

Buyers don’t want to trudge through high grass as though they were in the Amazon or on a safari in Africa. This means the lawn mower needs to be out at least once a week if not every other week, keeping it trimmed and maintained. It also needs to be green so it looks alive and lush. Water so the sun doesn’t dry out the lawn and turn it yellow or brown. A professional landscaper can help maintain a balance of trimming and growth so it looks just right for buyers.

2. Plant more shade trees.

One or two trees in the front yard are all right, but if you want to really add some shade, plant more. Shade trees will detract from the glare of the sun, and it can help decrease the temperature of the house if they’re placed close to windows. It also will help keep the lawn green with moisture. You can plant trees that are shorter and will grow by the time the new owner buys the home, but be sure they’re strong and can handle the climate.

3. Install outdoor lighting.

Outdoor lighting is a good way to both illuminate the house at night and accent parts of your yard. Depending on where you install the lights, your house will look very appealing at night to those buyers who might not have time to do their shopping during the day. Outdoor lighting also helps to illuminate a path like a sidewalk to get from the curb to your front door for easier navigation. It helps to accent the beauty of your landscaping which all together increases the beauty of your home.

4. Consider adding flowers for more color.

If your front yard has a lot of greenery, you should increase the yard appeal by adding more colors. Flowers are a great and simple way to do this, as well as shrubbery with different blooms. Perennials are the best for this because they last for more than a year, which means less maintenance for the seller and the new homeowner. They come in a wide variety of colors and types so the yard can be decorated with any number of them while still requiring less maintenance.

5. Keep everything clean!

In addition to keeping the lawn trimmed, everything else should be clean. Anywhere that can build up dirt or grime – siding, porch, front door, driveway – should be cleaned on a regular basis. Buyers don’t want to see a lot of dirt and mess, and it will detract from them wanting to walk into the house. So take a broom, a power washer and a few hours on the weekend to keep everything sparkling clean. Don’t have a power washer? A professional power washing service can cost as little as $293.

Written by Realty Times Staff

HOOK A HIGHER PRICE FOR YOUR HOME

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When you receive an offer from a homebuyer, chances are it will be less than you expected. The housing turmoil of the last eight years has taught buyers to go in low, except in the most heated markets.

It’s natural to get angry and indignant, but you won’t get a higher offer that way. You’ve got a fish on the hook, and jerking the rod won’t land it — you’ve got to reel it in. Like a good fisherman, you want to get the fish to the boat alive before you decide whether to throw it back.

Before you fire back a reply, try to understand why the offer is so low. Sometimes the buyer will tell their agent and their agent will tell your agent. First look at the comparables they’re using — are they relevant? Is the condition of your home better or worse than other similar homes?

The first offer is your reality check. If your agent told you to declutter, paint, repair and deep clean and you didn’t do it, then the offer is showing you the error of your ways. Unless you do some drastic corrections, the only thing you can do is negotiate the buyer’s low offer upward.

Negotiation typically works best when both parties get what they want. For example, you may be willing to take less money in exchange for a cash offer or a quicker closing. Your buyer may be willing to pay closer to your asking price in exchange for paying their closing costs, which could be several thousand dollars.

Your willingness to negotiate depends on several factors:

Can you get something you want in exchange for conceding something the buyer wants?
What are your market’s conditions? Do buyers have the upper hand or do sellers?
How badly do you want to sell? Are you willing to let a few thousand dollars stand between you and the next stage of your life?

Start from a position of strength — an offer shows you have something the buyer wants. Unless the buyer can get the same thing for less elsewhere, you can safely counter the buyer’s offer.

Keep in mind that a buyer will only pay what he or she believes your home is worth. Buyers respond to price, location, and condition. What you paid for the home, or what equity you need out of it, aren’t relevant to the buyer.

Homes in top condition sell for the most money. You can’t negotiate your home’s location, but a poor location can definitely be improved by putting your home in the best condition possible.

If your home isn’t spotless and move-in ready, then condition is likely affecting the price buyers want to pay for your home. You can either make the repairs and updates your buyer wants, or you can counter with a carpet allowance, pay HOA fees, or some other concession that will please the buyer.

Before you negotiate any offer, you need to know whether or not you have a solid, serious buyer. This is where your real estate agent is indispensible. Your agent can act as a go-between to make sure your buyer is qualified by a reputable lender.

She can give you feedback on your home’s price, location or condition, and make suggestions on where you can improve your negotiating position.

Once the buyer makes an offer, your agent can advise you how to negotiate the offer, based on the contract terms, and what she can find out from the buyer’s agent about your buyer’s motivations.

Your agent can’t tell you what to ask for your home or what you should accept, but he or she can tell you what you can do to improve your contract negotiations.

If you don’t agree to the buyer’s terms, and counter the buyer’s offer price, or change the day of closing, or some other term, the home is not yet under contract. Your buyer can initial his or her acceptance, and you have a binding contract.

Or your buyer can do nothing, and you may have lost an opportunity to sell your home.

Written by Blanche Evans