“How Do I Look?” “What Do You Think?” Do You Really Want To Know?

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“How Do I Look?” “What Do You Think?” Do You Really Want To Know?

 

My daughter Joanna has that killer combination of complete honesty and willingness to say exactly what she thinks.

Admirable qualities? I think so.

Admirable, but not painless. I’ve been on the receiving end of her brutal truth-telling…

Me…showered, make-up on, hair done, dressed in a very carefully chosen outfit, ready to walk out the door, see Joanna, strike a pose and ask…

“How do I look?”

“What do you think?”

And what does Joanna say??

“You look nice mom, but you’re kinda getting fat, you really need to start walking or going back to Weight Watchers, and don’t scowl I can see all your wrinkles.”

OUCH!

I would have much rather heard…

“You look great Mom, it’s hard to believe you’re 50, you don’t look a day over 30, and damn you look good in those jeans.”

Yeah, that’s what I’d want to hear…but it wouldn’t be the truth.

Truth is, I did look nice, but I’ve also gotten about twenty pounds too chubby, and I don’t scowl but I do sometimes squint, and when I do, you really can see all my wrinkles.

Even though it can be painful, given the choice between hearing what I want to hear and hearing the truth…I’m picking truth.

Establishing where you stand on the “hearing what I want to hear –truth” spectrum is important when you’re looking to sell your house.

When you’re ready to sell and begin the process with selecting an agent, the “listing appointment” or ‘agent interview” eventually ends up being an invitation to answer the same questions I asked Joanna…

“How do I look?”

“What do you think?”

It starts out easy enough…We agents arrive at the appointment eager to meet you. We want to develop rapport, build trust, demonstrate our expertise. We come wanting to learn more about you the seller, we want to know why and when you want to move. We want to hear what you’ve loved most about your house, and what you’ve liked the least. We’re willing to let you show us every nook and cranny, we smile when you show us the pull out shelves in the pantry and we make a note when you tell us that you bumped out the family room an extra eight feet. It’s a lovely visit, all rainbows and unicorns, but eventually the questions need to be answered…

“How do I look?”

“What do you think?”

The listing appointment is often the first meeting between the seller and the agent.   No agent wants to tell someone they’ve just met the “house” version of…”You look nice mom, but you’re kinda getting fat, you really need to start walking or going back to Weight Watchers, and don’t scowl I can see all your wrinkles.” No agent wants to tell a seller that their house is worth less than the seller was thinking it was worth. No agent enjoys giving a seller a list of things to do to get the house ready for the market.  No agent wants to say anything that the seller doesn’t want to hear.

But it’s important that they do!

When you’re interviewing agents it’s easy to be lulled into believing what you want to hear. It’s easy to be lulled by the agent that tells you your house is worth the most. Easy to be lulled by the agent that tells you your house is perfect just as it is and you don’t have to do a thing.  But here’s the thing…hearing everything you want to hear isn’t going to get your house sold for top dollar any more than Joanna telling me “damn you look good in those jeans” is going to make me twenty pounds leaner. And if the agent you’re interviewing isn’t telling you some things you don’t like hearing, you’d be wise to wonder if the agent wasn’t erring on the side of telling you what  they think you want to hear over telling you what you need to know.

The truth is… sellers almost always think their house  is worth more than the market will bear and nearly every house needs to be tweaked if it’s going to get top dollar. The reality is…appropriately priced homes well prepared for a demanding market sell quicker and for more money than those that aren’t.

The best agents I know “err”. But they err on the side of sound advice over rapport. They err on the side of evidence over finger-crossing. They err on the side of market education and preparation over wanting to get your listing.  The best agents will answer the questions  “How do I look?” , “What do you think?” with the same brutal honesty that Joanna would.

Choosing an agent to assist you with the sale of your home is no easy thing. There are so many to choose from. My advice to you…line up some interviews, enjoy the visits and when it comes time to hear the answers to those two important questions…even though it might be painful, be open to hearing what you don’t want to hear!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Housing Market Has a Heart as Cold Winter

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I am SO done with this winter.

I’m done with hats and gloves and my expensive North Face parka that doesn’t keep me any warmer than my less expensive parka did. I need this winter to end; I need my chapped lips and dry cracked hands to heal. I don’t want to leave my kitchen faucet dripping so my pipes won’t freeze.I don’t want to buy any more salt.  I want to hear some birds chirp, I want to see a daffodil. I don’t want it to be below zero, I don’t want it to snow, I want this winter to be over, I need it to end.

It’s March. March weather in my hometown is never perfect. March usually means gray skies, chilly temperatures, highs  in the 40’s. It’s not beautiful, but there’s usually a sense that spring is just around the corner. Not this year. This year it’s polar vortex, this year, if it’s not snowing, it’s freezing. This year it’s the winter that just won’t go away…and I’m just gonna lose it.

As I look out the window and see the seventy-fifth inch of snow start to fall, one thing is blatantly clear…what I want and need just doesn’t matter, I don’t control the weather.  All the wishing, hoping, complaining, wanting and needing won’t change a thing. I better  just grab my hat, gloves and not warm enough parka, bundle up and deal with it.

You’d never know it by the weather, but  the spring housing market is underway. With the spring market comes a whole new batch of home buyers and sellers…and often they come to the market with  wants and needs regarding home values. It usually goes something like this…

“I need X for my house because I owe Y on my mortgage.”

“The house is worth more, but I need to get the house for X, I’ve only been approved for  Y.”

“I want X for my house because I want to put Y down on my next house.”

You get the idea.

With their wants and needs regarding home values, buyers and sellers want to control the ” weather”. It’s as fruitless for them as it is for me.

The market, not buyer or seller wants and needs, determine property values. The market delivers its weather in the form of supply and demand, closed comparables, appraised values, motivation of the competition. The market doesn’t care what a seller owes, or what a particular buyer has been approved for. A buyer wants this, a seller needs that? The market couldn’t care less. The market has a heart as cold as this never ending winter.

Buyers and sellers have to recognize that they participate within a market they have no control over. They can make the best of it, put their best foot forward in it, they can push it to its limits, but they can not control it or change it.

Like me, buyers and sellers need to bundle up and deal with it.

What does that mean?

For buyers,  bundling up means having that preapproval letter ready, making a realistic offer with attractive terms, maybe even including a heartfelt letter to the seller.

For sellers,  bundling up means having your house in tip-top shape, making the small improvements your agent and stager suggested, it means presenting your property in its best possible light to the widest audience and it means pricing it appropriately for the market.

This winter WILL come to an end, birds will chirp and daffodils will bloom…but remember the market’s heart…it’s cold, no matter the weather.

Bundle up!

Video…You Make Me Feel Like a Na-k-ed Woman (thanks Carol King)

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Video…You Make Me Feel Like a Na-k-ed Woman (thanks Carol King)

When I was a kid, I knew all the words to every song on Carol King’s album Tapestry.   Tapestry won the Grammy for best album in 1972. It is one of the best selling albums of all time. And at 9 years old, I knew every word to every song…not just the biggest hit, I Feel the Earth Move, but the words to Tapestry and Smackwater Jack too.

It must have been in 1971 that my parents gave me a Panasonic tape recorder and microphone for Christmas.

I remember the day I took my tape recorder up to my bedroom. I put Tapestry on the record player, plugged my headphones into the receiver and  pressed “record” on my Panasonic.  As Carol sang in my ears, I sang into my microphone.  I belted out the words…

“I feel the earth-move-under my feet, I feel the sky tum-b-ling down, tum-b-ling down,

I feel my heart start to trem-b-ling whenever you’re around.”

I sang right along with Carol. Our recording session didn’t end until we finished every song, sides one and two. We started with I Feel the Earth Move and I didn’t press stop until we made it through the last note of You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman. With our similar alto voices, I was sure you wouldn’t be able to tell us apart.

Until I played it back.

OMG.  I sounded nothing like Carol King.  Awful is an understatement.  What was I thinking?? I was horrified. The horrible sounds from that playback have been heard by no other ears than my own, and yet I actually feel embarrassed for myself just thinking about it. It was at that moment, at just 9 years old, I knew I would never, ever, ever have my voice recorded again.

Or so I thought.

The demands of a real estate agent are ever changing and growing. It’s not enough to have market expertise, it’s not enough to just know how to do the job. “Doing the job” is changing all the time, and an agent has to keep up.

Assisting sellers with the sale of their home and marketing that home demand that the agent keep up with the demands and habits of the buyer consumer. Where are buyers looking? What mediums do they prefer? What information do they want? When marketing a home for sale, a wide net needs to be cast, a multitude of mediums and venues must be considered.

You Tube is now the world’s second largest search engine.  You Tube is transforming the way information is searched for on the web. The statistics are astounding. I read somewhere that there are something like 6 billion hours of video viewed every month. Real estate agents must respond, our marketing must consider and embrace this reality.

So…what am I thinkin’? I’m thinking video.

Property videos are not commonplace in my neck of the woods, but I believe they’re coming.  Property videos are becoming more popular among buyer consumers. Photos, even professionally photographed, great photos are not enough. A photo slide show set to music, well that’s not video. Buyers want to walk through a house, get a sense of the ‘feel” of the property…and they want this before they make their first appointment.

So…from here on out…I’m doing video. I’m breaking that promise I made to myself at 9 years old. I don’t like the sound of my recorded voice, but so long as I don’t sing, maybe I’ll be alright. For now, they won’t be big productions,  no major equipment used. My Iphone is as easy to use as that Panasonic tape recorder. I’m a little nervous. Getting in front of a camera (even if it’s just an iphone) won’t be easy…it’s almost like being naked. And for me, it does bring back that  really, really, embarasseningly  bad memory of my Carol King wannabe voice.

I made my first attempt. It’s not perfect. (I forgot to shoot the bedrooms)…the camera work is a little shaky…it’s almost as if…”I feel the earth move under my feet…” Don’t worry, I’ve spared you that….

There you have it.

Here’s my advice…

For sellers:  Video may not be the be all to end all yet. But hiring an agent that’s keeping up with the ever changing demands of today’s buyers is important. Choose an agent that’s up to the task.

For my fellow real estate agents:  To those that are already rocking it with video, thanks for the nudge!  And for those that haven’t tried it yet: You don’t have to be able to sing like Carol King…just grab your Iphone and press record…we can do this!

Did your agent not tell you…or did you just not listen?

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I showed a house last week that I just can’t get out of my head. I’ve shown countless houses in similar condition, so I don’t know why I can’t stop thinking about this particular house.

It isn’t the house so much as it is a thought…a question really, that keeps running through my mind…

Did your agent not tell you or did you just not listen??

It was a nice enough house, there was nothing blatantly wrong with it. The entire selling family and their yapping dog were home for the showing and that didn’t help but it was the house itself that could have shown so much better. A good bit of decluttering, a fair amount of depersonalizing and a couple of coats of paint and the house would have shown and looked completely different. Better different, worth more money different.

And all the while I was showing the house, as I walked from room to room, the question kept running through my mind…

Did your agent not tell you or did you just not listen??

If this particular agent, in this particular instance didn’t tell his clients how to properly prepare their home for the market, shame on him. If the agent didn’t tell the seller to do the things that would maximize the sales price of their home, then he did his client a disservice. He didn’t do his job.

If the agent did tell them…if the agent let them know that the walls of family photos, the knick knacks on top of knick knacks, the lilac, pink and neon green rooms, their too much stuff and their yapping dog presence would be a hindrance to a top dollar sale…if the agent told them all that and they didn’t listen?? Then the sellers are fools.

Harsh, I know.

Lest you think I write this from my high horse, I have a confession to make.

In my earlier days, and regretfully more than once since, I’ve been an agent that “did not tell you.” Because I wanted your listing, I needed your listing, because I wanted you to like me, because I didn’t want you to be angry with me, because I didn’t know, because I was too new or too scared, I didn’t tell you. I didn’t tell you that the price you wanted for your house was never going to happen, I didn’t tell you that your house was dirty or cluttered or entirely too decorated. I didn’t tell you to get real, get cleaning and painting. I didn’t tell you to make sure you and your yapping dog weren’t home for showings. I didn’t tell you.

And I’m sorry. Shame on me. I did a disservice; I didn’t do my job. And I won’t let it happen again.

And I think that’s why I haven’t been able to get that house and the question out of my head until now…it’s been working its way through my mind until it could become this promise:

My seller clients may not always listen, it is their right to do as they wish…but wondering isn’t necessary…I told them.

What’s YOUR House Smell?

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What’s YOUR House Smell?

I went on a listing appointment the other day…met with a gentleman whose elderly dad passed away a few months ago. He’s getting ready to put his Dad’s townhouse on the market. The townhouse was tidy and pretty much ready for the market…as he was showing me around he asked me, “Does it smell like old guy?”

Does it smell like old guy? I hadn’t noticed any smell at all…

It made me think of my daughter Joanna. My daughter Joanna has one very keen sense of smell, particularly “house smells.” She claims that every house has its own unique “house smell.” There’s not a house that she’s been in that she hasn’t determined the pleasantness, or unpleasantness of its particular “house smell”. My sister Lisa I’ve learned has good house smell. “I love Aunt Lisa’s house smell, ” Joanna has said, “it always smells like Downy and laundry detergent.” Joanna’s on a never-ending quest to improve the house smell at our house. Not that it’s disgusting or anything, we do laundry and use Downy too, so I’m thinking our house smell is usually pretty decent. We do have a dog, and sometimes we’re a little late in taking the garbage out after something particularly odoriferous has been tossed in the can, so there are occasions when we do not pass Joanna’s house smell test. And on those days Joanna shames us for our house smell…tromps through the house with Febreze, scolding us as she sprays “linen and sky” throughout the guilty rooms.

Joanna’s a stickler about house smells…house smell is important to her.  And she’s not alone…house smell is important to homebuyers too. House smell is important, really, really important, when your selling your home.

A pleasant aroma that gently wafts through the air as homebuyers enter the house can enhance a showing…and a really bad house smell? Bad house smell can be a deal breaker. I’m only guessing but I’ll bet cigarette smoke and pet urine top the list of worst house smells…though reptiles and the heavy scent of curry pack quite a punch and can be a turn off as well. The point is, when you’re selling your house you have to be aware of your house smell.  And if it’s a bad house smell, you’re going to have to address it. You can’t just make a bulk purchase of Glade plug-ins and hope for the best, nope, you have to address it. A quick Google search will turn up a plethora of products, home remedies and solutions. Some smells will be easier to take care of than others, some may take a lot of work and maybe even a good bit of money. But it has to be done. Buyers don’t carry Febreze with them. They won’t scold you, but they will be turned off and move on.

Selling your house? Take a big whiff…make sure it would pass the Joanna “house smell” test. Think I’ll take her by that townhouse.

You’re Already Fashionably Late…Hurry Up and Get Here!

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You’re Already Fashionably Late…Hurry Up and Get Here!

Over the last two months or so I’ve listed a bunch of properties…several of them have already gone under contract and will be closing soon.

But I also have several clients that are not quite ready. They’re painting a wall, loading a POD, waiting for school to let out, waiting to open the pool, they’re making piles for the consignment store, Goodwill and the garbage can. They’re almost ready and their homes will make their entrance to the market soon.

It reminds me of a party and the guests that always arrive fashionably late…you know how it is…most of the guests have arrived and many are already enjoying themselves…they’re visiting and laughing, dipping into the hors d’oeuvres. And then there are the guests that are just sort of milling around and asking…”When are Jill and Bob coming?”, “Did they say what time they’d get here?” Or “Did you talk to Kim and George?” “Are they on their way here?” For those milling around guests the party hasn’t started until everyone has arrived.

As I listen to the birds happily chirping and see the crabapple tree on the verge of blooming it’s clear that spring is here. And because properties, (when priced and presented well), are “flying off the shelves” and going under contract quickly, I’m convinced the spring market is well underway!

And just like the party with the guests who are already having a good time, many spring buyers have already found their new home, and they’re just munching on hors d’oeuvers until the closing date. But like the guests that can’t enjoy the party until everyone arrives, there are buyers still waiting to see all the new properties the spring market will bring.

So…to my soon to be seller clients and anyone else that’s still prepping their house or thinking about selling this spring…

Pack up the POD, finish the wall, open the pool and get that stuff dropped off to Goodwill.

You’re already fashionably late! Just hurry up and get here…for some…the “party” can’t start without you.

Had an “I love my job” week

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Had an “I love my job” week

 
I had an “I love my job” week in real estate this week.

 
I got a new listing, sold one of my listings and had a buyer sale. That’s a good week. Selling houses means the promise of future paychecks and that’s a good thing. But a new listing, selling a listing and a buyer sale in and of itself isn’t what made it an I love my job week.

 
What made it an I love my job week was…Anna, Linda, and Joe and Britany…

 
This week I met Anna. I was interviewed and hired by Anna’s son Bob a couple of weeks ago. This week I was meeting Bob at the townhouse to have the photographs taken and to sign the listing paperwork. The townhouse belongs to Anna so she was there. Anna is 90 years old, born in 1923. Anna has moved to an assisted living community, she can’t really live on her own anymore, so she is sadly selling her beautiful townhome. Her age, her pretty white hair, the unsteadiness in her hands, as she signed the paperwork in that perfect handwriting you just don’t see anymore, the vulnerability of her demeanor…Anna moved me and I liked being near her. The townhouse is lovely and it will sell, but Anna was beautiful and getting to spend just that little bit of time with her…that was an I love my job thing.

 
The listing I sold is a house that’s been on the market for what seems like forever. The house belongs to Linda, it’s the family home; it’s her inheritance. Linda lives in Kentucky,  her husband is in Wisconsin where he was transferred over a year ago. The house selling means that she and her family can buy a house in Wisconsin and be together again. It’s been a long and difficult time for her and I am so happy that her wait is almost over. Listing sold…great. Seeing Linda get to finally be on her way…that’s an I love my job thing.

 
And then, just moments ago, I heard from the listing agent that the offer my buyers made on a house this week has been accepted. My buyers are Joe and Britany. They are a super sweet couple; been married for six years and are so ready to start a family. And they want the family they start to be close to Britany’s family…not 45 minutes away let’s make a plan for Sunday close, no, they want to be coffee close, stop by close. Showing them houses has been a family affair. Sometimes Britany’s mom and dad have come along; sometimes brother Ryan and his wife Kate have popped in to check out the house too. And whenever they all see one another, there’s handshakes and hugs all around.  Their affection for one another fills a room. They are all really good people so working with Joe and Britany has been a pleasure. And now they have a house! The house needs all kinds of updating: There’s wallpaper and paneling everywhere, bathrooms need to be updated, and the kitchen has awful fluorescent lighting that’s gotta go…and yet it’s perfect. Sold a house…great. Joe and Britany being over the moon happy and 60 days away from coffee-close…that’s an I love my job thing.

Definitely an I love my job week.

Happy Friday!

 

Top 10 Reasons I Love My Job

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Top 10 Reasons I Love My Job

With the spring market underway, my days have been long…working from sun up to past sundown, each morning passing a quickly accumulating pile of laundry as I walk out the door, and coming home at the end of long days with my personal to do’s left undone. I’ve not been out with friends, or gone to the show in quite a long time. There’s an ebb and flow to working in real estate…this is a “flow” time of year. So for now at least, it seems that “work” is all I do.

And yet, I’m happy. I won’t go as far as to say, as the expression goes, find a job you love and you won’t work a day in your life.  It’s work, but I do love my job.

Most people have long days, and work really really, hard and yet not everyone has a job they love, not everyone is lucky enough to be happy in their careers. I was just thinking about this the other day, when lo and behold, Forbes publishes an article that says real estate agents are among the happiest in their careers. Who would have guessed? You can check it out here:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/03/22/the-happiest-and-unhappiest-jobs-in-america/work

The article sites a study that was done that “scored” a variety of factors that affect workplace happiness: one’s relationship with their boss and co-workers, work environment, compensation, growth opportunities, control over the work one does on a daily basis and others.

There’s truth in the “happiness” factors though they aren’t things I’ve “scored” or even conciously thought about. But because of the article, I have thought about it. Forbes and its study had their happiness factors, and I have mine. With maybe some overlap…here are the top 10 reasons I love my job.

1. People and their stories.

Everyone has a story, and each one fascinates me. It’s the people I meet, that I would otherwise not have known, and the life stories they share with me that I love, love, love the most about my job.

2. Each day it’s something new.

Sure there are regular tasks but every day brings a different combination of things. New people, new properties, new obstacles to get past…no two days are ever the same.

3. You never stop learning.

While it can be intimidating to not have an answer for everything, as someone that loves learning, my job provides a smorgashboard of things to learn.   Market trends, new technologies, social media and the things that just pop up in every deal, means there’s always something to learn.

4. Real Estate Agents are a hoot…and I get to hang out with them everyday.

I think real estate agents get a bad rap. We’re mostly  genuinely good people.  While we may be in competition with one another we’re generally a pretty try to be helpful to one another bunch, we’re fun and funny…a real estate office is a great place to work. At least mine is.

5. A chance to do good.

Moving is high on the list of stressful things to do, so when I’m able to ease  stress and burden for my clients and to help them get where they want to go, it feels good.

6. You can let your freedom flag fly.

There are laws to obey and rules to follow as a real estate agent but there’s also plenty or room to run your business as you like. I’m my own brand, so I’m free to be me.

7. You get to solve mysteries.

He likes newer construction, she’s drawn to vintage homes…what house will we find that they will agree on? It starts as a mystery, but you get to help solve it…and always do! Solving mysteries is one of the more fun things I do.

8.Outlet for Creativity

I’m not artistic, but I like that my job provides an outlet for creativity…brochures, choosing the right photos, listing verbage, writing a blog…they all sort of scratch the creative itch.

9. You won’t get fired or layed off. 

Starting up, building business, surviving downturns…none of that comes easy…on the contrary…it’s really, really hard (at least it was/is for me). But if you can do it, you can make a decent living…and no one can take your job away. I like that.

10. I do love houses.

Any agent will admit, liking people and houses is not reason enough to do this job. Liking people and houses is only the tip of the iceberg! But with that said, I do love houses. Old houses and new houses, dated houses and rehabbed houses, big houses and small houses. I do love houses.

So…those are the top ten reasons this” happiest in their careers” agent loves her job.  Would welcome hearing why you love yours….

Purple Staging Will Do by Amy Curtis

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Purple Staging Will Do by Amy Curtis

My last post was my “confession” of faith in the benefits of home staging. I am a believer. But I have my limits…

Have you seen the clever Ace Hardware purple paint commercial??  The one where the woman is searching for the perfect shade of purple? Here it is…

Got it? There’s purple…and then there’s purrrrple.

This may lose something in the translation, but I think you’ll follow…

There are degrees of purple…from the basic purple to the more dramatic purrrrple. And guess what? When it comes to staging a home for the market, there’s staging…and then there’s staaaaging. I’m a believer in the basic purple sort of staging.

Let me explain.

It was just this time of year three years ago and I was listing a home.  When I met with my clients they told me they had already contacted a home stager and were working on their “staging” list.  I thought it might be a good idea….until they told me what the stager had instructed them to do: Repaint the house (inside and out), replace all light fixtures, repave the driveway, relandscape the exterior, replace the garage door, buy “art” and rent furniture. We were in the midst of a rapidly depreciating market and the stager had made recommendations that would have cost thousands of dollars and would have taken precious weeks of market time to complete. And this for an already cute as button house with a gorgeous remodeled kitchen on a large beautifully landscaped lot. The house was already highly saleable, in a desirable location and the sellers were reasonable on price.

Kinda like purrrrple…this was staaaaging.

I suppose if money were no object and there was nothing but time and a seller could rest assured that they’d get back every dime spent, sellers would staaaage. They would just go ahead and remodel kitchens and baths, they’d tear up carpet and lay hardwood floors in their place, they’d paint the whole house in the latest shades of cream and beige, they’d remove all their knick knacks and art and drop a small fortune at Pier 1 to replace it all, they’d call contractors and landscapers. But let’s get real.

Why go with purrrrple when purple will do?

Purple staging is demphasizing seller decor and highlighting the home’s space and features. Purple staging is rearranging furniture for better flow,  it’s pulling pieces from some rooms to areas or rooms that need to be given a purpose, it’s tidying up closets and packing away personal items. Sometimes it includes jazzing up the bedding in the master bedroom, maybe replacing a light fixture or two or purchasing a statement piece of art or accessory that can be used or enjoyed in the sellers next home. But most of all, purple staging is realistic. Purple staging shouldn’t take more than a couple of hundred dollars or a week to complete. And though it’s not staaaaging, purple staging can still make a world of difference in the presentation of a home.

With spring market underway, time is precious…purple staging will do!

So yeah…I’m a believer. A purple staging believer.

 

I welcome your thoughts.

Home Staging…I’m a Believer by Amy Curtis

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Home Staging…I’m a Believer by Amy Curtis

I’ve had a conversion of sorts. Nothing road to Damascus like, nothing quite that dramatic or life changing, but a conversion nonetheless. A conversion that does have an impact on the work that I do in helping clients sell their homes.

It’s home staging. I’m a recent home staging convert. A new believer.

Home staging has been around for years. Statistics show that staged homes sell quicker and for more money than homes that are not staged. A quick google search provides an avalanche of statistics, information and evidence of the benefits of home staging, and yet, I remained unconvinced. I remained uncompelled to embrace home staging and incorporate it into my services to sellers.

Why? How could this be?

I’d always thought there was something a little disingenuous about “staging” a home. The connotation of the word…stage…as in “stage” a play, or “stage” a crime. Stage is a performance, it’s not real life, it’s not the real thing. Something about the sound of it always made me think of it as an attempt to pull the wool over a buyer’s eyes, and the idea of that just never sat well with me.

And too, “staging” sounds like a big production, a big expensive production and who wants to get involved in that? When someone has decided to sell their home, they’re kind of done with their house. If there’s time and money to be spent, most sellers would rather spend it on the next house, the new house, not the house they’re trying to get rid of. So, staging as a production just never made sense to me either.

But I’ve changed my mind, I’m a believer.

It’s happened gradually and over time. It’s happened because of the homes I’ve seen and sold. It’s happened because of the homes I’ve seen that never seem to sell. It’s happened because I’ve found a really good home stager. It’s happened because I’ve seen up close and in person the difference staging can make.

In practice, staging needn’t be a big production. In practice, there is no pulling the wool over the buyers eyes. Home staging is simply the last important step in preparing a home for the market, because staging is the process through which a house is separated from its seller and introduced to its new owner. The “staged” home is a home in the midst of its “conversion.”  A staged home allows the buyer to become a “believer” that they’ve found their just right for them home.

Home staging…I’m a believer…Are you?  I welcome your thoughts.