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According to the Real Estate Staging Institute, a staged home sells 70 percent faster than a non-staged home. Are your listings staged to sell? Or are you sabotaging the sale? Expert stagers share the most common staging mistakes below. Help your sellers avoid these mistakes so you can sell their home faster.
1. Mistake: Not creating space. “People often move because they want more room, so make sure the house feel as spacious as possible,” says Egypt Sherrod, host of HGTV’s “Property Virgins.” “Clutter robs a home of valuable space. Make sure everything is cleared from the countertops and remove at least two-thirds of books on the shelves.”
“Furniture, art and accessories that are not scaled correctly for a room are a big mistake,” says Dawn Alpern, associate designer at Interior Transformation, Inc. “These items need to fit the room. It doesn’t work if they are too big or too small.”
“Closets should be half full, and buyers should be able to see the bottom of the closet. If they see a jam-packed closet, they will think it’s too small for them. Bedrooms should contain only a bed, nightstand and dresser. In the master bedroom, swap out the king-size bed for a queen-size bed to create more space,” says Sherrod. “Throughout the house, pull furniture two or three inches out from the walls and allow the corners of a room to be visible.”
2. Mistake: Excessive furniture. Too much furniture, or oversized furniture, can ruin a home sale. There needs to be enough room for buyers to walk in and out of all the rooms in your home. If there is any doubt that a piece of furniture may be too big or distracting, take it out, says Cannon Christian, president of Renovation Realty.
“Remove the seller’s giant family-size couches, chairs and tables and replace them with rented mid-size or small furniture to make the room feel more spacious,” says Scott Sorrell, CEO of Sales Adrenaline.
3. Mistake: Household smells. “The only thing as important as decluttering is having an immaculate house. A house that smells odd to a prospective homeowner, whether because of a cat’s litter box, dogs, or exotic food can easily be a deal breaker,” says Sherrod. “Don’t try to mask anything with potpourri, or by baking cookies. Just open windows a few minutes before a showing to let in fresh air.”
“Having a professional cleaning company come in to scrub walls, floors, carpets and windows can make an amazing difference, both in general appearance as well as removing odors. If the smell persists after the cleaning crew has finished, consider replacing any carpets used by animals,” says Russ Tybus, co-owner of Morris Organizers.
“We were recently in a listing with a newer kitchen, updated utilities and very little clutter. The real estate agent did a nice job staging the house, but what they missed was overwhelming. There was a very distinct smell of animals. Candles were lit, which only drew more attention to the fact that they were trying to cover something up. On top of that, most of the floor moldings were filthy, covered in everything from scuff marks to food splashing and slobber. That home was likely to be known as the dirty animal house, when the home was staged very nicely,” says Tybus.
4. Mistake: Failure to edit. “The failure to edit can include too many personal items, clutter or disastrous decor. If your seller thinks the home is edited as much as it can be, tell them to edit again. The goal should be to remove virtually everything that would allow a buyer to picture the current owners in the home,” says Rhonda Duffy, owner of Duffy Realty of Atlanta.
Sherrod encourages using vignettes throughout the home. Vignettes are groupings of accessories, usually in threes. It could be three pieces of art on the wall, candlesticks, something tall, medium and short. The shapes and colors can help draw the visitor through the room and make the room visually interesting.
5. Mistake: Having more than one focal point in a room. “Every room needs a focal point, but most people never figure out what it actually is,” says Alpern.
“As a rule, in the bedroom it is the headboard, in the bathroom it is the vanity area. The living room’s focal point can be the television, the fireplace or the window, says Karl Lohnes, interior designer and co-host of HGTV’s “This Small Space.”
6. Mistake: Color Faux Pas. Lauren Schreyer, broker at Related Realty cautions sellers not to choose drastic shifts in color from one room to the next. “It’s critical to maintain a continuum of a neutral paint color throughout the main areas of the home to provide a sense of openness and flow. This also helps make a home feel bigger,” says Schreyer.
“Neutral doesn’t have to be bland and boring. Everything doesn’t have to be tan or beige—certain shades of grey, green and even purple can be neutral,” says Alpern.
7. Mistake: Covering up the light. Lighten up! “You want as much light to come in as possible. Remove unneeded blinds. If there’s drapery, pull it to the side. You want people to come in and say, ‘I could live here. It’s nice and bright,’” says Sherrod.
8. Mistake: Skipping the walk-through. “Make a trip through the home with your sellers and test all cupboards, cabinets and drawers for proper opening and closing,” says Christian. “Buyers will hear squeaky cupboards or see jammed drawers as something they will have to fix if deciding to buy the home. Replacing hinges or greasing drawer tracks is inexpensive and quick.”
“If there’s a door that needs fixing, or wall that needs painting, now’s the time to address it,” says Jay Hart of Sold with Style.
“When buyers see these repairs, they will speculate about the ones that they don’t see. It sends the message that the home is not well maintained or cared for.”
9. Mistake: Neglecting the exterior. “The front porch is the home’s first impression. Encourage your sellers to paint the front door, place seasonal planters on each side of the door, keep lawns freshly mowed and remove garbage cans immediately on trash day,” says Sherrod. “Pressure-washing outdoor decks and aluminum siding can also do wonders for a home’s first impression and boost a home’s value.”
Looking for more staging tips? Learn the Luxury Home Staging Secrets that Sell.
“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” ― Albert Einstein
Setting goals is a great way to get things accomplished. Goals are like a map… they provide you with direction and give you something to move toward. Without them, you can do a lot of work, a lot of striving, and a lot of trying… but if you don’t know which direction is the ‘right’ direction, you may very well end up wasting a lot of your energy crossing and then re-crossing the same old ground.
This can eventually lead to burnout, frustration, or even worse… it could tempt you to give up altogether on what you wanted to accomplish.
So without further delay, here are 3 goal setting tips that actually work! All of these tips can add value to your goal-setting experience, and can help to make your efforts more streamlined and efficient.
1… Set short, medium, and long term goals
When you set a long-term goal, it is always a good idea to set a series of medium and short term goals along with it as well. This will help to keep you from experiencing the frustration that can set in when you try to achieve a big goal all at once. Short and mid-term goals serve as destination markers along the path that lead toward where you eventually want to be. Making a plan is a good thing, but setting these short and medium-term goals along with it can make it even easier to stay focused and on track.
2… Set realistic goals
Every successful goal-setter knows that setting goals that are unrealistic usually results in failure. This doesn’t mean that you should ‘aim low’ or doubt your ability to achieve what you set out to do, but it does mean that you should be rational and settle in for a long-term commitment as opposed to adopting the ‘fast and furious’ mentality. Remember… slow and steady wins the race!
3… Write down your goals and look at them every morning
Reviewing your goals when you wake up in the morning is one of the best habits that you can get into because it will help you to get your priorities in order as you start your day. Keeping your goals fresh on your mind will remind you to work hard because it will remind you of what you will achieve if you stick with it.
The time has come for you to close. There are just a few simple tasks that stand between you and the threshold of your very first home. Here are some pointers to help you, as a first-time homebuyer, keep your cool and cross the finish line successfully.
Although it’s a date that you’ve been counting down to for the last thirty days or more, it’s a date that often gets pushed back and adjusted at the last minute.
At this point, you are at the mercy of the lender, the underwriters, and/or the closing attorney. Try to allow for some flexibility in the initial planning of your move so that you can easily adjust accordingly. If you have a moving truck lined up, people in place, and other things scheduled, try to have a back-up plan just in case there’s a subtle bump in the timing of your closing. Prepare yourself to be patient and flexible.
Before signing on the dotted line, make sure that you’ve conducted a final inspection of the property. The purchaser has the right to make sure that the property has not dramatically changed in its condition since the time that the contract was fully ratified. Normal wear and tear is to be expected, but if there’s a large patch of carpet missing underneath where a couch once sat, make sure to bring up this concern with the sellers. Make sure that all major appliances and fixtures that were included in the contract have been conveyed with the property. This is your last chance, so take a careful look at the home.
In the final hours, be sure to be in close communication with your closing attorney to get an exact amount of funds that will be needed at closing.
Also, be sure to ask the attorney about the delivery of funds. If the attorney expects funds to be wired, you’ll need to know your bank’s deadline for wire transfers on the day before closing. If it’s a cashier’s check, make sure that you have all the information you need to complete the transaction.
Signing the papers
Be forewarned that if you finance the purchase of your first home, there will be a lot of paperwork at closing. It’s a relatively fast appointment, but there are a ton of documents involved. Take your time reviewing all the documents that you are authorizing. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if there are items that seem unclear.
As you approach your closing date, keep your eye on the prize. You’re so close to becoming an official homeowner! Remember that patience, flexibility, and taking the time to do your due diligence leading up to the final transaction will pay off when the keys to your new home are placed in your hand. For more homebuying tips for a first-time buyer, visit the Homes.com Idea Gallery.
As I think back on some of the conversations I've had with frustrated sellers, buyers and renters I notice 3 themes that continue to come up. To be sure, the sign of a good Realtor is one who listens. Listens for your input, motivation, and reads your body language. Remember what we say is only a portion of how we communicate.
Here are three tips to ensure that you get the best results from your relationship.
1) Agents are not mind readers! While some are very skilled at drawing information out of you, others may need a little help. If you notice the conversation drifting away from topics that are important to you, you may need to steer the conversation back to your points. Remember, you are hiring this agent to represent you and what's important to you. At the end of the discussion have the agent recap and recite back to you what their understanding of the major points you just discussed.
2) What you hold back get's held back. Sooner or later the delinquent payments, bankruptcy or that small leak that was never addressed will come up. We want you to have the desired outcome that you are looking for, so it is better to put it all on the table upfront. If you’re not comfortable divulging that kind of information then this may not be the right agent for you. Release them and keep moving. Your shared goal is to provide you with the strongest negotiating position possible and that comes from putting it all on the table. Agents with life experience and not just in real estate bring a lot to the table because they can show you positive ways to present the same information and minimize any negative impact.
3) Live accountably. Be a man or woman of your word and expect the same. What I love about this profession is that is all about bring groups of people together to accomplish a goal. And it has an ending point. I have always said, buying or selling a home is a process, not an event. So in all the highs and lows make sure you are living up to your part of the agreement. If you say you will make your home accessible for showings, do it. If the agent says she will have something to you by a certain date, expect it and if not hold them accountable. If the contractor get the job and then changes his tone after the first disbursement, have some serious upfront consultation before your three weeks behind schedule.
I wish you much success and see you at the table!