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All the agents are saying that it’s a seller’s market, right? They said it would be easy and you would get a great price. They said now is the time to cash in on your equity because homes are just flying off the shelf! Then, why isn’t your home selling?

If your listing has been on the market for 30 days or more with few showings scheduled and has not received an offer, something has to change! You need to sit down and take a hard look at the feedback you have received and the impression your home is making on buyers.

So let’s talk about first impressions. Roughly 95% of potential buyers will view your home on-line before they decide to step foot inside. What are the listing photos saying to buyers? Is the curb appeal shot revealing green grass and leafy trees? Christmas decorations? That is telling buyers your home has sat on the market since last year and will lead them to believe something is wrong. Buyers will assume many people have scheduled showings but not purchased it. Current buyers will think past buyers have already passed it up and assume it would be a waste of their time to go see it. It won’t sell if you can’t get them inside.

Now let’s address the interior photos. If the listing is vacant, are the rooms void of furniture? Empty rooms make for boring photos. Did you know that survey’s show only 10% of buyers have the ability to visualize a home’s true potential or how their furniture will look in the home? Consider a full home staging as a chance to make a new, first impression. Listing photos that show a home luxuriously staged will motivate buyers to want to see more. When they arrive, staging will allow them to see the lifestyle they are looking for, an example of how their furniture will fit and connect with buyer emotions. Suddenly they can visualize family dinners and cozy evenings in front of the fireplace. Now comes the offer. Did you know that a survey by the National Association of Realtors revealed that Home Staging can increase the dollar amount of an offer by 1-10% and 70% less time on the market? See this report for more helpful numbers NAR Research and Statistics

Case in point. The seller was on their 3rd Realtor. The home had been on the market for over a year without one offer. Although it had beautiful new hardwood floors and fresh paint. It was empty. I was called in to stage which added warmth and style. I saw and added an office spot to an otherwise overlooked space. I also addressed the entryway that had an odd space which seemed useless. I added a chair and a mirror to show a convenient spot to put on your shoes and check your look before heading out the door. The home sold in 6 days.
Visit my site to view  Before & After Staging

Case in point. The small home above had been listed since early December. The feedback was….the rooms are too small. Not sure how or if their furniture would fit? Doubtful that they could get a queen size bed in there. The seller decided it was time to make a new, first impression and contacted me to provide a solution with a full home staging. I was able to show buyers that 11 people could sit in the open concept and a queen bed would not only fit, but with plenty of room left over for dressers. The home sold in 5 days after staging. The seller recouped their staging investment plus more!

We live differently than we sell. If you’re still living in the home, did you style up the home by using what you already own? One of the services I offer is a Re-Design. I have been trained to view the home through a buyer’s eye and reflect on the experience buyers need to have on-line and during a showing. Visit my site for more detail on each service I provide. Service options and package pricing The fact is, if you’ve lived in the home for more than 2 years, you have become blind to it’s flaws and seeing the layout in a new way. Let’s take a second look at the home you are trying to sell and the impression it’s making on buyers. You might need to invest in some upgrades or improve on the staging you previously attempted but together, we can do this!
For more great information on listing photos and their message, you may also want to read Listing Photos Can Speak Volumes, and it's Not Always Good
Author

As a Certified Home Stager and the owner of Staging Consultants, Home Staging & Styling, my goal is to help you sell your home quickly and for the highest offer. Certified by www.homestagingresource.com/ and recognized by Houzz.com for best in Service 2015, 2017 & 2018.  Recipient of the Battle Creek Area Chamber of Commerce, Business Excellence Award and Published in Michignan Home and Lifestyle Magazine.

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​Smart home technology may make it easier to rent or sell a home, especially to a younger audience. A survey by the NAR (National Association of Realtors) showed millennials (born between 1980 and 2004) to be the highest demographic of buyers in today’s market. Another recent survey revealed that 85% of millennials are willing to spend more money to rent or purchase a home that includes smart technology. Considering those stats, now is the time to incorporate smart home technology into your plans for flipping or updating a home for the market.
Think about it. Why not? The younger generation has grown with technology being a big part of their lives and they seek it in everything they purchase that utilizes electronics. As part of the older generation I remember watching Star Trek and thinking how cool it would be to have a communicator so I could talk to people and be mobile. Now I bank, shop, travel, watch TV and get recipes on my phone! Yes, times have changed and it’s time to incorporate technology into the home. Just like lighting is the jewelry in a home, technology can be just the bling millennials are looking for.
Surprisingly, there are a lot of gadgets out there that don’t break the bank and could help your listing stand out from the crowd. Additionally, smart technology could help older homes maintain their character while still appearing relevant in today’s market.
Most everyone is familiar with Alexis, Dot and Google Home. My research for this blog opened my eyes to more helpful and less known gadgets and here are my top pics based on affordability, function and ease of installation.
SMART LOCKS can be conveniently controlled through an App and allow the owner to remotely provide access to friends, family or anyone they approve without sharing a physical key. The owner also has the piece of mind knowing when the home is entered or exited with a notification from the same App. Smart Locks work with existing deadbolts and can be installed in minutes. Prices range but the average is $150. While keyless code locks are about half the price, most don’t offer the technology of remote access or entry notification so I don’t consider them quite as “techy”.
When it comes to SMART THERMOSTATS, I think the Venstar Colortouch is sure to impress younger buyers. Visually, the colorful screen attracts the eye and the screen saver can even run a slideshow of your favorite photos! Remotely control the heat, air and check the weather outside with an App. For $182.00, it’s an affordable upgrade to any home.
Remote control, DUEL ON/OFF OUTLETS allow the owner to control anything plugged in to it and have the flexibility of controlling each outlet individually. Buyers will appreciate the ability to manage lights and appliances from anywhere with an App on their smart phone. For $50 per outlet, you can choose which areas would benefit the most with this technology.
And finally, everything you love about Alexa, the Amazon Echo can show you things too! What busy mom wouldn’t want the convenience of “hands free” assistance and instant access to music, videos, security cameras, phone calls and more! Control multiple devices with voice command, get the news or even call an Uber! For $230, your home will easily stand out from the crowd and appeal to today’s buyers with this handy built in assistant!
For more great tips on preparing your home for sale and the process of home staging, visit www.stagingconsultants.biz Serving South Central Michigan with all the tools and services you need to successfully prepare for the highest offers. I’m here to help! 
Author

As a professional home stager with over 10 years of experience, I'm dedicated to staying in touch with the wants and needs of today's buyers so I can keep my clients well informed on the latest trends. 

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I've seen it many times. So has your Realtor. The eye roll. The heavy sigh. Hands thrown in the air. "What am I supposed to do with all this stuff?!"
​Moving can be stressful and packing becomes overwhelming when you have accumulated years or even a lifetime of stuff. Today’s busy sellers have jobs, families and house hunting to juggle. Whether staging your home to sell or simply packing up to move, the maxim less is more always applies!
 
First, concentrate on one room at a time or even one space at a time, like a closet, built in cabinets, bathroom vanity or kitchen cupboards. The important thing is to negotiate your time so you can stop at any time and be DONE with that particular space. I like to work from the top of a home, down or start with the least used room like a guest room, den or basement so when that space is finished, you can close the door with at least some assurance that it will stay clean and organized while you turn your attention to other areas.
 
For instance, if you only have an hour or two to spare, don’t attempt the entire master bedroom. Focus on the closet or dressers as a smaller task so when you’re done, you’re done and can start in another area at another time. For the same reason, if you are setting aside an afternoon, concentrate on one room that can be accomplished in that time period. Don’t try to get the entire house done in one day because (A) it won’t get finished and (B) you will end up with piles and messes everywhere. Clutter creates stress for the mind so the goal is to have your work area cleaned up so you gain a true sense of accomplishment and peace.
 
More importantly, follow through at the end of each task by taking unwanted items to the trash, donation center, consignment or storage so accommodate for that time as well. So…”I have 1 hour to spare, I will clean out the dressers, decide what will be donated, re-sold, thrown away or put in storage and then move them there. Task accomplished! Tomorrow I will do more”.
 
If you are moving and have followed my advice, you might want to consider having a garage sale because you will most likely accumulate enough items to justify the time. Instead of placing items in tubs or boxes, simply move them straight to the garage and start setting up for your sale. Big ticket items like furniture sell quickly at garage sales. Home décor accessories also sell well. Stage your sale so it doesn’t feel like a flea market mess. Show buyers how well some items can go together by color or era. Price items to “sell” and negotiate willingly. Price items as a bundle so the buyer has to take all. Remember, you are trying to get rid of things so let them go!
 
Having a garage sale accomplishes 2 things. You get a few extra bucks and items are carried away by other people. In addition, when items don’t sell for cheap prices, you will feel better about letting them go to a donation center and writing it off on your taxes. I recently had my garage sale and made $600 the first day! I put that chunk in the bank and pocketed the money I made the second day. I don’t recommend a long 3 day weekend sale. Most garage salers won’t visit the second or third day because they think all the good stuff is gone. I held mine on Thursday and Friday. Friday was half off everything and I closed early to have the rest of my weekend off. It was easy cash and the donation center is picking everything else up. DONE!
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For the past year, I’ve been scouring real estate websites for a new home. Of course, as a professional home stager, I can hardly get past the dark, dingy photos. Unmade beds, dark brown paneling, cosmetic covered bathroom sinks and wallpaper. Oh, the wallpaper! No wonder they are selling.....they must be miserable there? And then there is the mysterious lonely vase of flowers in every room. The exact same vase of flowers, that is. I think it wanted some attention so it followed the photographer around.
Needless to say, though the home may have had the right amount of bedrooms, a decent size kitchen and the coveted storage space I desire…..I just can’t get excited about any of them. I feel the dread of disappointment just from knowing that there will be too much work to do. And why would I pay that price for the opportunity to work my butt off for the next few months before I can or would want to move in?!! Recently updated kitchen, it says! Sorry, but I don’t consider 2010 as recent. That just means that it will need to be updated again in the next couple of years and there is 7 years of gook in the corners of those cabinets.
Now, I’m a professional home stager, right? I have vision so I can see past the clutter but as a potential buyer, I need to make some kind of emotional connection with the space. Like most buyers, I’m looking to upgrade, not go backwards.
Then the day came, when I got a tip that a couple in the area was thinking about selling. I scooted over there to look. Hmm, it appears to be the right size. It has extra out building storage. The lawn is manicured and lush. The curb appeal was excellent so of course, being me, I waltzed up and knocked on the door. I was greeted by a smiling couple and explained the circumstances. They happily gave me the tour, apologizing that they were not expecting company so the house was not as clean as it would be for a showing. I beg to differ….the house was immaculate!
Right away I noticed tall ceilings and a gas fireplace. Bonus! The tour went on to reveal an all seasons party spot, more bedrooms than I had hoped for and a large kitchen. Each room was neat and tidy, beds made, counters clear and her taste was equivalent to mine. The traffic flow was perfect and focal points were highlighted. This lady had a talent for decorating. One room had been set up with bunk beds for grand kids and I could see my future grand kids there. I could literally see them and they aren’t even born yet! The kitchen table was positioned perfectly in front of the sliding doors that led to the deck and I could see dinner gatherings taking place. I could see myself cooking in that kitchen. I could see all of this so well that I became a little emotional inside. The bedrooms are a little small and I didn’t even look at the closets but I didn’t care. The staging had connected with me emotionally and allowed me to see what life could be like living there.
This is it! I’m in love! We exchanged contact information and I’m prepared to make an offer. The next day I woke up and thought, wait a minute…her staging worked on me! And I’m a stager! 
Whether you need an entire vacant home staged with luxurious decor or your occupied listing needs some styling in order to emotionally connect with buyers, I can help and I love doing it! 
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I have written about the importance of preparing and staging a home for sale. Realtors and Home Stagers fully understand the strategy behind it and we can push our client’s pretty hard because we want the best for them. We want them to reach their goals and get the highest return on their investment. Today, I felt it was important to remind ourselves that a home can be more than a monetary investment. For a seller, it may also be an emotional investment. A home holds memories of life gone by, hard work and a sense of security in the world. The process of letting go can bring excitement about the future but it can also bring a sense of sadness and loss. There are lots of reasons for selling a home like, moving up, a growing family or a new job! But, there are also reasons that aren’t so exciting. You see, I know, because I’ve experienced them first hand.
My “marriage” home was a fixer upper. I poured my heart and soul into it. I brought my babies home to it. I learned how to garden, raised pets, buried pets, loved, lived and thought I would die there. It was never meant to be a starter home and although it was the first, it was a forever home. So when I got a divorce and had to leave, it was like cutting off an arm.
Last year, I experienced selling my childhood home. My parents had built that house and raised 4 daughters there. Though I had grown up and moved away, I always knew where “home” was and I visited my mother often. There were memories in every corner. I couldn’t walk down the hall without remembering our cat always had her kittens in that closet. The Christmas tree was always in the same corner. Many holiday parties and I could still see my family gathered in the kitchen. When mom passed, friends and neighbors stopped in to talk about the old days. The house held memories for them too. As the trustee and a professional home stager (thank god), I carried out my duties and knew what had to be done. The packing, donating, sorting, painting, fixing and staging was stressful enough. Each step of the process felt like I was erasing an entire era. It felt like I was betraying my memories. The loss of a parent and then the family home was, at times, unbearable. It was difficult just to call a Realtor. By the time I found myself at the closing table, I was numb.
I think it was a survival tactic put forth by my brain.
Next week I get to do it again. Ugh. This time it’s my aunt’s home that my mother had inherited. Although I didn’t grow up there, it still holds memories and a nostalgic tie to family and the past. It also represents pleasant and exciting dreams of the future. I tried to keep it. I wanted to own it and retire in that warm place with tropical breezes. But alas, it’s not in the cards. The trip will be bitter sweet. I will say my goodbye’s and there will again be tears.
So Realtors and Home Stagers alike….remember, the house you are excited to get your hands on, can hold a lot for the seller. At times, they might seem difficult to work with. At times your meeting may seem like a counseling session when all you want to do is paint and replace that hideous tile or get your sign in the front yard. Be there for them! Be gentle, be kind and respectful. Listen and understand that detaching can be like letting go of a life, love or dream.
©Staging Consultants, LLC 2017
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