Tag Archives: Real Estate Staging

WHAT SHOE IS ON YOUR BEST FOOT?

Real estate staging is a tool savvy home sellers and good realtors use to market a property.  As with any marketing strategy, staging helps ensure a property is ‘merchandised’ to attract the largest number of prospective buyers.  In a nutshell, it’s all about putting your home’s proverbial ‘best foot’ forward.

Contrary to popular belief staging is much more than depersonalizing and decluttering.  While no one relishes the though of spending money and working countless hours on a property just to turn around and sell; staging can make all the difference between getting people in the door or being ignored.

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Of course, every home seller must decide how much they are willing to do and to invest in the sale of their home.  No one else can make that decision.  But, depending on how dated the property and its decor are, a reasonable staging budget is somewhere between 1/2% to 1% of the anticipated list price.  That usually covers most minor updates, staging props and of course the services of a professional stager.  Changes to infrastructure like flooring, kitchens and baths will obviously cost more.

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Stagers aren’t magicians!  While we have been known to work magic from time to time, our ability to make dramatic transformations in a property is clearly linked to the staging budget set by the seller.  That can apply to both the amount of time working on the project as well as the amount of things we change or add.  Think of it this way.  If the act of staging helps put the best foot forward, the budget for staging buys the shoes!

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While it isn’t necessary to totally renovate a house prior to putting it on the market, the more that’s done to shorten a future buyer’s ‘to-do’ list, the better the chances of selling quickly and for more $$$.

Working with a limited budget, it’s important to focus on the main living areas first which might include a finished basement.

With time or $$$ remaining, focus on the master bedroom, bath and all other bathrooms.

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Finally, if anything is left, turn your attention to guest or kid’s bedrooms since most people can envision the potential of those spaces.

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We just finished staging a nice property in Cary, IL this week.  After some time sourcing a limited amount of staging art, accessories and other props, we arrived at the house ready to pull together work the homeowner had already started.

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While the transformation isn’t always spectacular, the end results are no less impressive.   Using only available furniture, we rearranged each room to maximize it’s visual appeal.  Mixing colorful staging art and accessories with the owner’s decor helped give even more punch to the spaces.  And with over 85% of buyers shopping online first, the listing photos have to be memorable to get them in the door.

Again, staging is all about putting your property’s best foot forward.  If you think about it, nobody remembers Dorothy’s house when it fell into Oz.  (It’s a good thing she wasn’t  trying to sell!)  But, the munchkins sure as heck remember those ruby-red shoes.  The moral of the staging story…. when you’re putting your best foot forward, make sure you’re wearing kick-ass shoes!

Happy Staging from Decor Designs!

 

 

 

 

NOT SO VACANT STAGING

The housing market is more competitive than ever.  Gone are the days of simply putting a sign in the yard and listing on the MLS .  What might have sold a home not so long ago isn’t the case anymore.  Armed with the internet, home buyers are better equipped than ever to make a more educated choice with a few simple clicks of a mouse.  A vacant property is up against stiff competition in any market.

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Staging a vacant property gives potential buyers something to look at beyond the inherent flaws in almost every property.  Awkward room layouts and unusual spaces are even more obvious when a property is vacant.  Outdated hardware, fixtures & finishes are glaringly obvious when there isn’t anything else to catch the eye.

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We recently had the chance to help with a vacant staging in Crystal Lake, IL.  The out-of-state owner had been working with a neighbor and former stager to complete the home’s updates.  She had already helped with new fixtures, appliances and tile backsplash as well as refinished floors and needed repairs.  Once the updates were finished, she encouraged the owner to hire our team to bring in the wow factor, adding color and visual interest to the updated and neutralized spaces.

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As with any staging, I tell my clients “getting them in the door” is key.  Not only do you have to actually get them to the property, you have to get them to love the house from the second they step inside.  Listing photos have to pop in order to entice an actual tour of the property.  And studies have proven most buyers make their initial impression within a few seconds of walking in the door.

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Focusing on the first floor, we staged the foyer, living room, dining room, kitchen, family and hearth rooms.  On the second floor, we staged the master bedroom and bath.  A successful vacant staging finds the balance between adding enough furniture and accessories without overcrowding.  A good staging plan warms the home and explain the spaces accenting the home’s best selling features while distracting from those that might not.

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This vacant property now invites buyers to take a closer look.  Bright colors add warmth and contrast with the desired neutral backdrop.  Furniture makes the spaces look bigger rather than smaller and it helps buyers envision their own furniture in the rooms.  Simple props add the look and feel of ‘lived-in’ home.

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This beautiful property now stands out from its competition.  It’s sure to get people to notice in the listing photos and to get them in the door.  I’m confident it will sell quickly and for top dollar.  And, isn’t that the point?   Happy Staging from Decor Designs!

 

STAGING PUTS BEST FOOT FORWARD

You know what they say about first impressions.   It’s always a good idea to “put your best foot forward”.  Chatting with another decorator this week, that idea came up several times.  And it got me thinking.  I always tell clients, especially clients looking to sell their home, that staging helps them “put their best foot forward”!  She and I agreed staging doesn’t always guarantee a sale.  However, it IS all about making a good first impression with potential buyers.

House sold sign

The reality is that very few people really want to spend money on a house that they’re selling!  Who could blame them?  It’s hard to spend money on improvements to a property that you’ve probably already emotionally detached from.  While statistics show that staged homes sell faster and for more money, staging is a difficult sell to homeowners who just want to move on.  So when you get that staging estimate, here a couple things to keep in mind:

One…. What are your monthly carrying costs for the house?  At the very least, it’s likely you have a mortgage and/or equity loan, property taxes, insurance, utilities, lawn care and other routine maintenance.  Add those things together.  Even if your staged home sells 1 month faster than it would otherwise, chances are you are close to breaking even with the cost of staging.  The longer your un-staged home languishes on the market, the more carrying costs and price reductions will cost you.

Two…  the success of your staging will largely depend on the budget you give your professional stager.  Think of it like this.  Staging will indeed help you put your best foot forward.  But, what kind of shoes will you have on?  Your staging budget is akin to your shoes.  Unless your stager has an adequate budget to “tweak”, adding things that might be needed to update and enhance your decor, your results could be limited.  If you really want to put your best foot forward, you probably don’t want to wear crappy shoes!  No, you DON’T need Ferragamos or Jimmy Choos.  But are those bargain bin beauties really the first impression you want to make?  I think you get the idea!

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As with all things, finding a happy medium for your market and price point is key.  An experienced stager will work with you and your realtor to come up with a plan and budget that won’t break the bank while maximizing your impact!

With over 80% of prospective buyers previewing properties online before they even look in person, first impressions are crucially important.  Staging your home will ensure your home is putting its ‘best foot forward’.  Just don’t forget the shoes!

Happy Staging from Decor Designs.  815-245-2433

 

STAGING WITH PURPOSE

Have you ever wondered why builders go to such great lengths to decorate model homes? After all, they aren’t in the business of selling furniture, artwork or accessories.  Of course, the answer is simple!  They know all to well that you’re not just selling the box of a house, the roof, the rooms or the fixtures.  They’re selling the DREAM!

Shoppers buy logically based on necessity.  But, generally, they justify that purchase emotionally based on how the item (in this case a house) makes them feel.

Staging goes way beyond depersonalizing and decluttering a space.  You have to sell the dream that living in your home (can be).  That holds true even if you are finished with that dream and ready to move on.

Every room in your home needs to have a clear purpose in the eyes of your potential buyers.  In other words, if it’s a bedroom… it should probably be a bedroom.  That’s why people are looking at your house.  If they’re looking for a larger home, chances are they need bedrooms, not turtle habitats or gyms or offices.  The same holds true for every space in your home.  Every one of them needs to showcase how functional it can be helping the new owner to live the dream.

I recently helped stage a property in Kildeer that had a unique selling conundrum.  What do you do with a non-functional sauna?   While a buyer might see this as a neat feature, it’s definitely a costly fix to get in working order.  So what to do?   Why not turn it into a wine cellar?  Just off the basement man-cave complete with bar, this potential problem suddenly has purpose and a new life as a wine storage area.  With a few bottles of wine and props, the hidden potential in this space is uncovered.  And the space goes from a liability to an asset for buyers.

So don’t sell yourself short when selling your home!  Give each space a clearly defined function that alines with what prospective buyers need to live the dream.  Try to anticipate what buyers are looking for and give it to them.   If you have a space that has become a catch-all or a liability, (like this sauna) give it a new purpose so buyers look past the “to-do” that could kill the deal before it even starts.

If you need help uncovering the hidden potential in your listing, give us a call!   Happy Staging from Decor Designs.  815-245-2433

 

 

 

STAGING SELLS

Are you a shopper?  I know I am!  Granted, a big part of what I do is shopping.  My clients send me out into the sea of retailers to find the perfect things for the perfect spots in their homes because they simply don’t have the time, patience or know-how to do it.

If you’re a professional shopper, or maybe even if you aren’t, you begin to learn the tricks of the trade.  You learn which stores have sales and when.  You learn when stores get new merchandise.  You learn how to stretch shopping dollars just that much further.  And you recognize good merchandising when you see it.

In the simplest terms, (real estate) staging is all about merchandising.  It’s showcasing the selling strengths of a property while disguising its weaknesses.  People often buy things they don’t even really need simply because of how they were merchandised or marketed to them.  Why wouldn’t the same concept apply to home buyers?

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We recently staged a wonderful, ranch home in a great location in Rockford, IL.  The seller understood the importance of first impressions and putting her best foot forward.  Since there are still pockets of real estate that aren’t performing as well one might hope and she felt like hers might be one of them, she decided that staging was the key to make her property stand out as a YES in a sea of Maybes!

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After our initial consult, my client had plenty of homework.  She had to go ahead and begin the moving process by sorting through things to keep and by getting rid of things she no longer needed.  While she was busy with that, we went to work finding the few key things she needed to pull her staged look together and wow prospective buyers.

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As you can see, the Before and After pictures of this job prove that the key to getting offers and even getting buyers in the door is marketing!  The most impactful new additions were inexpensive but colorful window treatments in the main living areas.  The majority of the rest we were able to do using what she already had once the unnecessary furniture and clutter were edited out.

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SETTING THE STAGE

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If you’re selling a piece of real estate, keep in mind that buying, whether you like to believe it or not, is as much an emotional activity as a practical one.  I’m sure you’ve heard that people buy emotionally and justify logically.  The same is true when buying a house.  So if you can make an emotional connection with your buyers, you’ll tip the scales in your favor. That’s where home staging plays the biggest role!

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Getting buyers to picture themselves living in and doing all the things that turn a house into a home is key!  The less you leave to the imagination the better.  From fresh flowers on the kitchen table to table settings in the dining room to serving trays in the bedroom, all these things create a powerful emotional response with buyers.   Staging isn’t about spending a fortune.  It is about highlighting the positive selling features of a home and making that emotional connection with prospective buyers.

Master bedroom before Master Bedroom After

 

Last week we helped a client do just that in their Huntley, IL home.  After running into this homeowner at Pier 1 and discussing the best way to set the dining room table, I was asked to come over for a staging consultation, suggest homework and then come back with a few new purchases to complete the rest of the rooms as well.

Guest Bath Before Guest Bath After

And while I’m no professional photographer, I think these Before & After photos show just what a difference staging can make.  I have no doubt this home, which languished on the market last year, will sell quickly now when it is re-listed.

Family Room Before Family Room After

 

 

 

 

 

HOME STAGING NO MAGIC BULLET

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Has anyone else noticed an uptick recently in the number of real estate listings? I guess it’s no surprise that the number of inquiries I’m getting about home staging are on the rise as well. If you aren’t familiar with home staging, you are missing out on both opportunities and dollars if you’re selling your home.

Quite simply, home staging is preparing a private residence for sale. Staging’s goal is to make a home more appealing to potential buyers, thereby selling more swiftly and for more money. And since real estate is the single largest investment most people make in their lifetimes, it is important to maximize your return on investment when selling.

To be perfectly clear, staging IS NOT a magic bullet! Staging is just ONE part of a well conceived plan to help sell your property. Marketing, pricing, homeowner involvement and even a certain amount of sheer luck also play crucial roles in the sale of any home.

Marketing, including great listing photos, is KEY to putting your home in front of as many potential buyers as possible. Online shopping has created a very savvy consumer base. And with well over 75% of prospective buyers house shopping online as well, you’d better make darn sure the photos and video tours of your home make people wanna take a closer look.

Pricing is also key. Again… online shopping empowers buyers, more than ever, to make better choices when buying a home. Comparison shopping by price, location and style is as easy as a few clicks of a mouse.

House sold sign

But don’t despair! You still have one very important card up your sleeve. Buying is as much an emotional activity as a practical one. People buy emotionally and justify logically. So if you can make an emotional connection with your buyers, you’ll tip the scales in your favor. That’s where home staging plays the biggest role.

Getting buyers to picture themselves living in and doing all the things that turn a house into a home is key! The less you leave to the imagination the better. Stores cleverly arrange and merchandise items to drive sales. Why not use some of those same tactics to sell your home?

Keep in mind that staging takes time. Whether you plan to do the work yourself or with a professional stager, give yourself plenty of time to make the necessary changes. Make a plan and stick with it.

While staging isn’t the only thing that will sell your home, it is hugely important to getting a faster and more profitable sale. Don’t sell yourself short in the process of selling your home.

Happy Staging!!!!

BEST OF HOUZZ IN SERVICE 2015

For the second consecutive year, we are honored to receive the Best of Houzz in Service distinction.

Remodeling and Home Design

Thanks to each and every one of you who took the time to let us know how we are doing by writing a review on Houzz.com. Without the kind words and complimentary reviews from our wonderful clients, this achievement would not have been possible.

Recognition is great. But, your support and enjoyment of our work is what makes it all worthwhile.

Thanks again!!!

THE BASICS OF HOME STAGING DEDUCTIONS

Real estate stagers help prepare your house for sale to attract as many potential buyers as possible. And since we are seeing an increase in the number of home sales and stagings in some Chicagoland markets, the question of deducting home staging costs has been popping up.

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After Google-izing the topic, these general rules seem to apply:

• According to IRS guidelines, a professional home stager’s service fees (considered an advertising cost) can be subtracted from the realized profit on the sale of either a primary or secondary home provided that the stager was hired for the sole purpose of selling the house.

• In addition to retaining the paid invoice for the stager’s services, it is a good idea to have your home listed and marketed by your realtor as “professionally staged”. This is just one more way to justify the deduction.

• No matter how many DIY shows you’ve watched on HGTV, staging done by you (the homeowner) is not a deductible expense. Whether or not the cost of a home staging consultation alone is deductible is unclear.

• Remember that expenses incurred to repair and maintain your home, even if done in preparation to sell, are not deductible expenses according to the Internal Revenue Service. So, while it would be nice to deduct them, fresh paint, new window treatments, carpet and other home decorations are not tax deductible (even if recommended by a professional home stager).

• With a few exceptions, only a home stager’s service fees are deductible. Items purchased for staging and then kept for personal use are NOT deductible. However, items that are rented for staging (i.e furniture, art, accessories from a stager or other source) and then returned are deductible if not rented for personal use. This would specifically apply if you are staging a vacant property but might be more difficult to justify if the home is occupied while “staged”.

• One very important reminder about home staging deductions, if the house is staged and then taken off the market, the staging expenses are NOT tax deductible even if the home is re-listed. Only staging costs incurred with the second listing would be eligible deductions at that point.

All of this information and more is readily available online and in IRS Publication 523 “Selling Your Home”. Since I’m not a tax preparer, and since the IRS loves to change the rules on a whim, please check with your accountant or other tax professional to make sure you correctly take advantage of any and all current deductions that may be coming to you.

REAL ESTATE STAGING REAL RESULTS

Prospective home buyers almost always buy emotionally first and justify logically second. Why not help them develop an emotional attachment to your property? Using some of the same techniques stores use to entice you to buy, real estate stagers help reveal the emotional potential in your home.

Since we’re seeing a slight uptick in the housing market, staging projects have also been on the rise. I had the privilege of finishing just such a project this week. This beautiful three-story home, complete with sparkling, in-ground pool, sits on a spacious, private lot in Cary.

As with every staging, we began by eliminating personal effects, family photos, thinning closets and clutter. Then we maximized each room’s visual appeal by making changes that showcased the potential for each space. Some changes were simple… like rearranging furniture for improved traffic flow. Others were more involved like changing window treatments, bedding, artwork, accessories and more for an up-to-date look.

Since more than 75% of home buyers shop online first, it’s crucial to make an impression just to get them in the door. Bright warm colors generate excitement. So, we added hints of red, orange and yellow in many of the key rooms to make them memorable for buyers.

The end result is an even more beautiful home that is enticing to buyers and will generate more traffic and higher offers.

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