30. April 2013

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If You Won’t Play The Game, Get Off The Bench

Not too long ago, I went to watch a university hockey game. I love college hockey. It’s fast, skilled and all the players are usually determined to play their best. On this particular game I was excited to watch a player who had played with my son, many years ago in minor hockey. His name was Kyle. He had much success in his hockey career and was in his final year of eligibility. He was the leading scorer of the team. In fact, scouts came to the game from a couple of semi-professional leagues just to watch him play.

I best remember him as extremely skilled but very independent and hot tempered. You really didn’t want to get on his bad side. In the second period, I noticed the coach wanting Kyle to get back into the bench. Kyle refused to skate to the bench. He finally did and an argument ensued in front of all who were in attendance between Kyle and the coach. Kyle was eventually ordered to leave the bench and never returned to the game. He didn’t like that, but neither did the coach. Kyle wasn’t much of a team player, that game.

So what does hockey have to do with home staging? Everything. Like many companies and projects, successful home staging has a team approach. In many ways, the real estate agent is like the general manager, selecting the right players who will best sell the client’s home quickly and at the best price. Choosing the right home stager is critical to the sale of a home. Proven experience and skill should always be a metric for success. Sometimes the real estate representative will micro manage a sale, others will delegate. Each has its merit but in the end, the real estate agent is accountable for the success or failure of a listing. This is where the team players all have to step up and be the best.

I can best speak from the perspective of a furniture rental company, who has been involved in many home staging projects. Yes, I have always considered furniture rental as a member of the team. Furniture rental companies don’t just rent, they sell a service package that totally supports the home stager and in essence, the real estate agent.

From quality product, to delivery, to install to pick-up, rental companies need to be depended on to fulfill the expectations of their clients, often the home stager. But, we are a team. I have always found that the most successful home stagings and furniture rental installations are dependent on reasonable planning time, high organizational skills from all involved and mutual respect of all team players. There is NO sense to bully, force or take advantage of others, thinking that one is not as important as the other. I used to roll my eyes at the dynamics of a Donald Trump Apprentice episode. Leaders must lead, but there should be mutual respect from each other. The goal is always to succeed in selling the home in the most cost effective way in the shortest time possible at the best possible price.

I remember when I was approached by a very good client, a home stager, and was asked if I could lower my pricing by 35% for a particular project that had a very tight budget. I agreed. I knew neither the homeowner, agent nor home stager were taking advantage of each other. It was just a calculated financial issue. I was being part of the team. I have also been asked to buy particular custom products to make a staging more successful. I understood, and we did. We looked good doing it, the home stager looks good for the quality of the staging package and most importantly the real estate agent looks good selling the home at maximum price.

My final point is that if we are all players on a team, the team should be carefully selected. When approaching a furniture rental company, find out how many home stagings they have experience with, ask for references if you wish, find out if they are totally dedicated to furniture rental or do they do home staging on the side. A true furniture rental company will NOT participate in home staging and will often refer up to three home stagers to an end user or real estate representative, IF ASKED. The fewer key areas for conflict of interest, the better. I would like to add that loyalty goes a long way. The more the team stays together on home staging projects, the more flexible they are to each other. Truly a furniture rental company, if successful can become a home stager’s BFF!

Now let’s get back to Kyle. He in fact realized his behaviour was a detriment to the team. He didn’t score any goals the next game but he did get 4 assists! He understood what team meant. I think all those involved in real estate and home staging have their own teams. Consequently, players change, often for the sake of improvement. Vince Lombardi, legendary NFL coach said it best about the value of a team. He said, “individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” May you and your team continually achieve success!

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28. April 2013

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Strategic Accessorizing In Your Home Staging Plans

In the world of interior home design, accessorizing is known as the ‘icing on the cake’. It encompasses the finishing touches, the fixtures of color, shape, size, and texture that complete the look and feel of an area of the house. Accessories can leave a big visual impact, or make the style you are going for memorable to the viewer. In professional home staging, accessories assume an important role in appealing to the emotions and senses of potential buyers, and if the right accessories are used, home staging efforts can make the house more marketable.

During the planning stages and discussions with a home staging professional, a specific budget and strategy for accessorizing should be determined and prepared. This is an excellent idea in order to avoid spending too much money and effort on buying the main furniture pieces or fixtures of a room or area of the house, and then ending up with very little or no resources for the finishing accessories.

The following are some simple suggestions and tips for accessorizing around the home:

Shelves and display cases – Books aregreat for accessorizing shelves and display areas around the home. They also add charm, personality and character to the space, and books and magazines can be chosen to reflect regional or cultural flavors (i.e. picture books about your town’s history).

Layering is a technique – You can think of accessorizing in much the same way you complete a clothing ensemble using layered clothing. The results will not be successful if the basic steps are not done right. Renovations, repainting jobs, lighting replacements, and other things that need fixing or arranging should be in place before you add the final accessorizing touches.

Accessories are accent pieces – Look around the home and focus on those nooks, corners, and spaces that lack a decorative finish. Always remember that accessories are generally not meant to take away the focus or attention from the focal point of a room; if an accessory that you install in an area of the home is hogging all the attention, it becomes the main attraction instead of the complementary element.

Don’t overdo it – As previously stated, accessories are intended to complement, so avoid too much accessorizing. Keep it simple and minimize the clutter, but the décor of the area should be completed by the accessories. Colors can be bright or bold, but they must, as much as possible, blend in or work with the overall style of the home.

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26. April 2013

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Why Vacant Properties Don’t Sell

Every Realtor and Stager knows that vacant properties are difficult to sell and they tend to get over-scrutinized by buyers. In the absence of furniture and decorating, an empty house or room tend to draw the viewer’s attention to its inherent flaws and the prospect of an uncertain layout.

An empty home has no story, it has no personal touch. Without a story, a vacant property is emotionally unappealing to viewers. It takes more than a few minutes of the home buyer’s fertile imagination to put life in to a property without furnishings. Stagers who create lifestyle in vacant homes are good at injecting warmth and personality to an empty space. With limited time and budget they create miracles, they give the home a story.

Many newly-constructed luxury homes take months to sell even after the builder has poured hundreds and thousands of dollars into the construction, using the best craftsmanship and materials. In my work as a Home Stager I see this everyday. Experienced builders nowadays put aside a staging budget because they have found out, the hard way, that all their investment and effort can go to complete waste without the finishing touch of staging it.

Staging vacant homes can be an expensive proposition but furniture rental companies make it much easier for owners of vacant homes to rent furniture and furnishings instead of purchasing them. It is very important to remember that the style and condition of the furniture and decorative items can make or break the deal. It is better to find out what the right look is before heading out to the rental store. The best way to ensure a showstopping presentation is to hire a professional stager solid experience staging vacant properties. Their portfolio should prove their credentials; make sure the photos are examples of their own work and are not stock photos.

It is possible for you, the home seller, to stage your own vacant property, but you have to know what to rent (or buy) to furnish the home and what to avoid. The overall look of a well-staged property is not the same as a personal living space. Model homes and staged properties are furnished and decorated with mass appeal in mind. A well-staged home is neutral yet exciting. This is key to making every buyer feel like they can make the home their own with maybe a few little changes. The deal feels within reach, the house looks liked it is already lived-in and this sense of certainty a buyer feels usually brings in the right offers.

You may be the buyer looking at a vacant property and want to decorate your own way, but the fact is, it is far easier to start from an existing layout a than a blank slate. This is why builders always create a model home because they know from experience that furnished and decorated homes have an unmistakable advantage over vacant houses.

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23. April 2013

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Staging Your Bed For Home Selling Success

As you plan your staging strategies for your bedrooms, the main focal point of the area should be the bed. It is okay to accessorize or deck out your bedroom with great window treatments, creative light fixtures, and other nice touches and décor, but the center of a bedroom should always be the bed. As such, it should be accorded the most attention and detail, because it has a lot of potential to either make or break the ambiance that you want to achieve in your bedroom.

Go all the way

According to Alex Newman, author of Hot Property: Easy Home Staging to Sell Your House for More Money in Any Market, a professionally-made and creatively decorated bed has much to offer. “The more beautiful and lavish, the more people will be stopped in their tracks,” she says. The perfect bed starts with clean, crisp linen and sheets that complement with the overall color scheme or theme of the bedroom.

A luxurious-looking bed does not necessarily mean one that costs you everything you have in your bank account. Web retailers offer great prices on linen, pillows, and other bed trimmings so you can get the look that you want for your bed at a fraction of the cost. Keep in mind that any bed sheets, blankets, duvets and accessories that you buy for your staging needs can be brought with you to your new house, so you are making an investment for the future at the same time.

Be generous with pillows

Big fluffy pillows make the bed look more inviting and enjoyable. You can use pillows of different sizes and shapes, and set them up against the wall or headboard or laid flat across the bed. Try not to put too many pillows however; too much can be distracting or make the bed seem cluttered, so just make sure to put the right number and size of pillows appropriate for your bed space.

Canopy beds, sleigh beds, adjustable beds

If you can work it into your budget, consider buying a new bed that would blend in with your staging plans. Canopy and sleigh beds are some of the more common bed designs, and you can easily find both traditional and contemporary styles of each. If you have a small bedroom area, adjustable beds are also a convenient option. A generally more expensive, time-consuming, but dramatic option is loft beds; they are great for small bedrooms as they maximize space while utilizing modern design trends.

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