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5 Steps to a Buyer’s Heart

Stage “Emotional Connection Points” Just Like the Pros

Close your eyes. Imagine sitting in a cozy chair reading a book by lamplight next to a crackling fire. Sink into a giant ocean of bath bubbles taking in the smell of lavender and rosemary as candles cast shadows on your bathroom wall. Venture out to your back patio to sip wine and watch the sun set as you wind down your day. Now imagine you walk into a house for sale and can immediately see yourself in all three of these scenarios! Can you say S-O-L-D?!

The secret is in the emotional connection these pictures paint. The idea of relaxing at the end of a long day, spending time indulging in fantasy through literature, or taking in the beauty of our world without having to say “hurry up, it’s time to go” speaks to our hearts. It brings a sense of calm, a sense of peace, the idea that our lives will somehow no longer be as busy and chaotic as they normally are if we spend time in this place. 

 Spoiler alert … home stagers know this and we plan accordingly. The tray on the bed with coffee mugs and a book? The wine glasses and cheese tray on the kitchen counter? The basket of fluffy white towels in the master bath? These “vignettes” as they are called are not by accident. They are purposeful. They tug at a buyer’s heart and make buyer’s “emotionally connect” with a space they are touring. In other words, they help buyer’s visualize a serene and tranquil life in a property they are viewing. 

 So how can you create these emotional connections in your own home as you attempt to entice buyers? After you have done all the “standard  staging stuff” – de-cluttering, removing personal items, stashed cleaning supplies, and optimized furniture and accessories  to create a spacious and open interior -- try adding these five vignettes to really tug at those heart strings.

 1.    Entryway– Add a fresh welcome mat that says “hello” or “home” or something of the sort to subtly plant the thought “this could be my new digs” along with colorful, welcoming flowers ideally in blue or yellow. Afterall who doesn’t like thinking they have an amazing green thumb and can grow these if they live there?!

2.    Kitchen– Create a welcoming coffee bar for guest. Think coffee maker, cute canister for coffee beans, a catchy sign (“I like coffee with my cream and sugar”) and a couple of matching mugs.

3.    Living Room– Turn that arm chair into a reading nook. Stage it next to a floor lamp, drape a cozy throw casually over the back of the chair, and place a basket of magazines within reach. Get crazy and leave a magazine with a beautiful layout (think Travelmagazine island vacation scene or Architectural Digesthome furnishings) open on the side table.

4.    Back Patio– Place a tray with wine glasses, a pretty bottle, and small succulent or candle on a side table under a covered patio next to two side chairs.

5.    Master Bath– Think of five-star hotels or your favorite spa. They all have those lovely fluffy, white robes and lush white towels. Make your master bath feel the same with a basket full of NEW (these are cheap and worth the investment! My favorites come from Target.) fluffy white towels placed on the counter or by the tub along with some cute soaps and a loofah or bath salts. Know what spas and luxury hotels DON’T have? Mismatched towels! So if you put the basket of white ones on your counter, be sure you take down the old threadbare colorful ones hanging on your towel racks! Whatever is featured in the bathroom should look consistent and match!

 These definitely aren’t the only ways you can draw buyers in, but they certainly help pique their interest. When you are looking for an easy and inexpensive way to make your home stand out from the crowd, take advantage of these tips from the pros and speak to your buyer’s hearts. Hopefully their hearts speak to their heads and you will all be signing on the dotted line before you know it! 

 Of course, if you are looking for more professional inspiration and want help getting your house in tip top staging shape, give us a call; we would love to help!






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From the Dog Days to Fall Days

 Five ways you can stage your home to enjoy the season

Every year when it’s “back to school,” I start counting down the days until September 1. My favorite time of year is Christmas so my favorite season is fall. Fall marks the official beginning to Christmas in my book. Fall decorations, cooler weather, Halloween then Thanksgiving … they are like the appetizers for my main course. The calendar may disagree, but in my book September 1, is the official start to fall and according to people in my household, when I start cooking again! (It is true, I take a “life hiatus” pretty much all summer long … sandwiches for dinner, mac-n-cheese at least once a week, nachos whenever you want … that’s a story for another day!)

It doesn’t take much to start the transition in my house and get everyone feeling in the spirit. If you want to start taking advantage of the coming merriment, here are a few easy ways to “stage” your house so it feels “fall-ish” and starts getting you in the spirit for the most wonderful time of year! If nothing else, when you live in Central Texas and the thermometer is still hitting triple digits, feeling fall-ish gives you an opportunity to at least pretend it is cool outside! 

 

 

1.    Buy this candle and burn it often! HEB begins putting them out mid-July. I buy them in bulk and burn them daily (though my family hides them until September 1 –see above)! Makes my house smell perpetually like “falling leaves, football, north winds, apples and pumpkins, cinnamon and spice, and bales of hay!”

2.    Take stock of your transitional décor – throw pillows, centerpieces, etc. Look at those pieces that can be easily (and inexpensively) changed out. Find pieces either from around your own home (maybe that rust colored vase in the upstairs media room actually would look great on your dining room table with some faux branches – voila! Fall centerpiece!) or go on a quick shopping spree. Choose warm, rich oranges, olive greens, harvest gold, and rust tones to scatter throughout your living room, dining room and kitchen. No matter your standard décor, adding rich fall hues will undoubtedly pull some of the fall outdoors, in.

3.    Take a good look at your front door. Pull out the struggling begonia blooms and wilted geraniums who could no longer take the heat, and replace them with chrysanthemums in a variety of fall colors, sunflowers, or crotons all of which sport the rich warm colors associated with fall.

4.    Collect and stack firewood by your hearth or just outside the door. It is a great activity for kids, will look inspiring to make you envision cozy nights in front of the fireplace sipping cider and binging on Halloween candy, and will be a constant reminder that those days are truly just around the corner.

5.    Bake something and bake it often! Use your crock-pot as much as you can! Pumpkin bread and apple cinnamon anything are my fall go-tos along with any soup I can come up with. A sweet and savory smelling kitchen permeates the mood of the whole house, gets every mouth watering, and inspires lingering around the family dinner table, a sure sign of the family time holidays promote. 

The swimming pool may be closed and morning traffic may once again be tolerable only with a good cup of coffee and book on tape, but don’t let it discourage you as you look back at the dog days of summer. Start celebrating the coming seasons by adding a little fall to your household today! And if you decide you need a little help finding the right “look” to match your own style preferences and current décor, Starfish Home Staging is happy to help!

 

 

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FIVE WAYS TO A FABULOUS FIRST IMPRESSION

Curb appeal! That first first-impression a buyer gets when they drive up to your house. Will it sell what is inside? Just as a pretty bow with matching paper piques your interest in a Christmas package, so too will a fabulous front door.

Here are five easy steps to creating a first impression that really sells!

1.     A new coat of paint – Weather and time don’t mix well with front door paint and stain. A fresh coat of paint or stain will really focus a buyer’s attention as they make their way up your front walk and give your front porch new life. If you are looking for the perfect front door color try timeless classics like black, charcoal grey, or a medium dark stain. Anything too flashy will be too distracting. While you are at it, add a new door mat that complements the style of your home. Or consider at least tossing the old one which mostly likely is tired and well used by this point.

2.     Freshly cut grass – Consider hiring a lawn service to manicure your yard on a weekly basis while on the market. Fresh cut grass not only smells good, but is also very inviting.

3.     Mulch, mulch, mulch – Neglected flower beds are overrun with weeds, leaves, misplaced rocks, and an overall dullness. Fresh mulch will add a uniform look and pop as someone scans the front of your house.

4.     Sweep the patio, dust the door, and clean the windows – Your house will thank you for brushing the dust out of its eyes. Sweep under that front door mat and behind the flower pots. Get rid of the unwanted leaves, dirt, and dead bugs. Especially if tree pollen is high in your area (like oak is right now in Central Texas!), you will notice your door gives off a yellow/brown/greenish hue. Grab a damp rag and give the entire door a once over. And if you have windows in your front door, make sure to clean them so they sparkle and shine letting as much light through as possible.

5.     Focus on flowers – Take stock of whatever greenery may be on your porch. Consider removing all potted plants except for just a couple in uniform pots. Definitely remove any who have seen better days or are needing a little (or a lot!) of love. Use two matching planters and place on either side of your front door with a welcoming and bright hue … bright green ferns, stark white petunias, or brightly blooming Indian Hawthorns. Just make sure whatever you place by your door, you keep well-tended throughout the duration of your sale period. Water regularly; trim away dead blooms and brown leaves. Nothing says, you don’t want to live here, like a host of dead, decaying plant life right by the front door.

Now that you have the buyers' attention and have made a fantastic first-impression, they will be ready to come in and see what more your house has to offer! If you need help getting ready, let me know!

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Remove personal. Keep personality! 

Definitely one of the first rules of staging is "take down all personal photos" ... those snaggle tooth elementary school pics, the smiling clan wearing mouse ears, and the beautiful wedding party gathered to celebrate your big day. Those are personal. They make your home "yours." And they communicate just that to someone walking through the front door for the first time. Someone whom, if you are serious about selling your house, you would like to see the house as "theirs"!

That being said, it can be overwhelming and daunting when a professional home stager or realtor walks through and says "take it all down!" Selling a home is difficult enough without adding stress (and expense with all new art!) over how to redecorate ALL of your walls. So where's the happy medium?

Take a good hard look at your personal mementos, for example, the silver antique spoon collection hanging in the dining room. Yes, it is personal, but it is also appropriate dining room "art." It adds personality without being specific just to your family.

And your son gazing out from the top of Enchanted Rock? Well what better way to say "buy this house and you'll be on top of the world?!"

Or what about the backlit shadow print of your three-your old and German Shepherd gazing outside. Also, personal, but again adds interest and personality to your home. It communicates a message that "our home is so relaxed and happy, giant dogs and small people live in harmony gazing longingly out to our beautiful street." (Okay, maybe you didn't really get all that from one photo but it does communicate peace and tranquility -- two emotions that a buyer should feel when they check out your marketable digs.)

Another good one I recently saw was a cool wooden collage board of destination and "action shot" photos ... river rafting, rock climbing, and fishing. Great focus on the scenery in all the photos! Very small smiling faces. Message received? Check out how adventuresome this house makes your family! 

Finally, one home I was in had a huge wall covered in antique black and white (presumably of family members) 8x10  prints of vintage smiling faces hung in a collage setting. While they were personal in nature, the overall effect of so many together in such similar styles gave a loving, homey feel to the room.

So before you panic over where in the world do I store 16 tubs of giant wall art and photos, put on your art critic hat. If the focus of the print/painting/etc. could have an objective vibe, don't sweat it. Leave it up. Let it communicate the peace, adventure, tranquility, and comfort your house has to offer. Because who doesn't want their home to feel like that? Certainly not a potential buyer. 

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