staged for upsell

Lighting when selling or updating

Lighting updates are a reasonably inexpensive improvements that can create an amazing difference in the overall appearance of your home. As a home stager I’m always looking at existing lighting fixtures to see if new fixtures should be considered to update the home for sale. When I’m wearing my interior decorating hat this is almost always an area that requires updating to bring a fresh new look and style to a home.

Local hardware stores are terrific sources for great lighting options that won’t break the bank. Consider updating pendant lighting over an island or the dining table overhead fixture. Under cabinet lighting in the kitchen is a dramatic possibility that costs very little to achieve. A home stager can help you pick out lighting, and some can even coordinate the installation with an electrician.

Here’s an example of a great light that was chosen for a client with an older home in the south end of Halifax. It really fit the style of the home adding elegance.

photo 3

And here is a photo from a vacant staging project where all the lighting was updated by the client shortly before listing.  Wow…love the lighting!

home staging halifax dining room

Need some help – contact me for a home staging consultation or decorating consultation. I’m here to help!

Clutter eats equity

As a home owner when you’re selling your home it’s often hard to detach yourself from your home and really look at it objectively. You’re so use to looking at your home that you don’t even notice how much you’ve gathered, or you can’t imagine how else to place the furniture. As we go through life we tend to collect or purchase things that catch our eye, or we’re handed down things from parents or grandparents, etc. Although we already have plenty, we take something new home and try to find a spot for it.

Some people feel that every wall requires a piece of art or wall decor – not the case. In fact, you’re just over cluttering and taking focus away from key elements of your room. Do you have a beautiful fireplace, but you’ve put so much on the walls and mantle that your eye really doesn’t know where to rest?

As a home stager when I go into a sellers home I’m an objective, fresh pair of eyes. I’m seeing things for the first time, and can almost instantly see how furniture can be re-arranged, what pieces might need to be removed in order to maximize the space and make it feel bigger. Often clients have too much furniture placed in each room. Having too much furniture makes the room look smaller, a vacant room on the other hand looks small. Having just the right amount of furniture makes it look larger. It’s a fine line that a home stager is really good at figuring out.

When I have clients that have several small pieces of artwork randomly placed on a wall I often take some of those pieces down during the consult so they can see the difference, and I’d say 99% don’t object…they can see the difference. Before removing a piece of art a client may be concerned about a nail hole left in a wall. I always explain that buyers won’t really notice the nail hole, they will however notice all the artwork randomly placed and clutter eats equity.

I often tell clients to think of graphic design, where white space is utilized. A good graphic designer leaves white space so it’s not too cluttered or too confusing. It doesn’t mean the space is actually ‘white’, but it’s left blank so there is focus on the key elements. The same goes in your home.

Think of your office desk…are you settled and productive when your desk is a mess? A clean, organized desk creates calmness and a home is no different. A home stager knows how to de-clutter a room and create this calmness. Buyers need to feel calmness and a get a good vibe from your home.

Remember clutter eats equity!! If you struggle with where or how to start, or what should be removed for décor or furniture call a home stager in for a home staging consultation.

The value of a pre-inspection when selling your home

Not so long ago it was strictly buyers who commissioned a home inspection as part of the conditions of an accepted offer. Nowadays the pre-inspection is moving rapidly from trend to essential for placing your home on the market. Here’s why. Placing that pre-inspection topper on your ‘for sale’ sign is an indicator of your own confidence in your product and a powerful marketing device. This doesn’t mean any potential buyers won’t perform an inspection of their own once an offer is hammered out. In fact, I would deem it a necessity. But the pre-inspection has significant value for the seller for a number of reasons.

Knowledge is Power

The ramifications involved in identifying problems beforehand go far beyond the simple knowledge a pre-inspection offers. Buyers are wary creatures. They naturally don’t wish to be saddled with the legendary ‘money pit’ and are constantly on the lookout for ammunition that will afford leverage for forcing down the price. This, of course, is as it should be in a healthy market but part of the seller’s job is to ensure there’s as little ammunition available as possible. Leave the inspection to the buyer and you may find yourself scrambling to remediate an issue within the time frame stipulated in your agreement of purchase and sale.

The period pending finalization of a conditional offer is a delicate one. This is when buyers can, for many reasons (inspection issues, financing, disclosures, etc.), lose interest or get cold feet, demand refund of their deposit and simply walk away. During the time you, as a seller, have accepted the buyer’s offer, your property has an acceptable offer and the conditions are worked off in a timely manner and as outlined in the agreement.  You may receive other and subsequent offers, however they are ‘back up offers’ so to speak and will remain so for the (unlikely) event your first offer falls through due to dissatisfaction of set up conditions. Whatever the circumstances, this is a period fraught with its own particular anxiety and stress. But discover problems beforehand, and it places you the seller in command. You can choose to fix the issues yourself or simply reveal them to any buyers along with valid estimates for their rectification. Choice is your ally.

From a buyer’s point of view, the pre-inspection portrays the seller as open and honest. It’s demoralizing to get excited about a home, place an offer and have it accepted and then discover major issues when an inspection occurs. Even the most seemingly pragmatic of buyers brings a degree of emotion to the process. A buyer who has been through this already by investing in their home inspector to find the chosen home is everything but what it seemed, or who has at some point in the past purchased the legendary ‘lemon’ will be gun shy. The enticement of a pre-inspection may be all that’s required to calm their fears enough to facilitate a viewing followed by a satisfactory agreement of purchase.

Uncle Bob

As is the case with sourcing a good realtor, having a top notch home inspector is just as important.  An inspector referred by someone you trust is a good place to start. After that, ask questions. How much experience do they have? Are they graduates of a home inspection program, do they have practical familiarity with the construction trades? Some of the best inspectors have been journeyman tradespeople, often retired from the rigours of their trade, with extensive renovation experience. They may be specialists in a particular aspect of the building trade, and are familiar enough with aspects of all other sub-trades (electrical, plumbing, carpentry and so on) that they’re capable of auditing all of your home’s systems. The cream of the crop will be ‘Peter Parkers’, possessing a kind of spider sense that will alert them to issues intuitively before they even identify the causes.

Having ‘Uncle Bob’ do your inspection is probably not a good idea, assuming Uncle Bob’s not a qualified inspector or tradesperson. Certainly it’s not going to cut it as a valid inspection you can employ as a marketing tool. On the other hand, you will encounter buyers who’re willing to have their Dad, or their Uncle Bob, do their inspection. Also not a good idea as it can open the negotiation process to a host of issues if they don’t have the credentials to back up their findings, whatever their validity. It’s essential that any agreement of purchase and sale stipulate that inspections are to be performed by a licensed professional who can be held responsible for their actions.

Whoever does your inspection note their level of preparedness. If they don’t arrive armed with the right stuff then warning bells should be ringing in your mind. I’m talking about ladders and a good flashlight, moisture and electrical meters, and a thermal camera at the very least. A proper inspection could easily take the better part of a day and will involve every part of the home and should be followed by a consult and a detailed written report of findings. Beware the inspector who breezes through in an hour, fills out a brief checklist and asks to be paid.

Get in the driver’s seat

If your realtor hasn’t already suggested a pre-inspection talk to them about having one completed. Once you’re armed with the results of the inspection you’ll have some decisions to make on whether to fix some issues or just get quotes for the buyer, however, either way you move forward you and your realtor will be in control and closing on your home should be quick and smooth.

For more tips of selling your home download my free-book The Smarter Way to Sell Your Home.

New study: Realtors say staging can increase the value of your home up to 6-10%

staged homes-01You’re thinking of selling, and like everyone, you want top dollar. Staging your home can be the ammunition you need to make your home stand out amongst the competition, and result in higher offers.

In a recent study by the National Association of Realtors® 2015 Profile of Home Staging, 49% of surveyed realtors who work with buyers believe that staging usually has an effect on the buyer’s view of the home. Realtors on the buyers side that took part in the study believe that staging makes an impact in several ways:

  • 81% said staging helps buyers visualize the property as a future home
  • 46% said it makes prospective buyers more willing to walk through a home they saw online
  • 45% said a home decorated to a buyer’s tastes positively impacts its value
  • 10% said a home decorated against a buyer’s taste could negatively impact the home’s value.

Top producing realtors understand the importance of a home looking great in order to market it more effectively and to bring in offers quickly. Many realtors that I work with provide a home staging consultation for every listing, as well as suggesting staging to their clients. In the study the majority of realtors that work with sellers were found to utilize staging as a marketing tool in at least some of the instances, with 34% utilizing staging on all homes.

In addition to attracting potential buyers more quickly, staging can increase the value of your home and bring in offers above asking price.  In the study two realtors groups within the study believe that buyers offer above asking price for staged homes as follows:

  • Offer a 1 – 5% increase on the value of a staged home
  • While another group believed it to be closer to a 6 to 10% increase on the value

Every location and market is different, however, no matter what the market, it’s clear that staging your home for sale can be a factor in selling your home more quickly, and possibly for more. To read more about the study click here.

What exactly is staging? Well, it’s more than just decluttering, and cleaning. Staging includes ensuring that each room in your home is being used in a way that is ideal for selling conditions, that furniture layout is optimal for great flow throughout your home, as well as prepping or lightly decorating your home to show well and create a must have.

If your home is vacant it’s even more important to stage your home. Vacant homes can be very difficult to sell. When you’re home is vacant, its void of character, rooms look smaller, the home feels “cold”, and I don’t mean temperature wise. There’s also nothing to focus on, so buyers focus on all the imperfections. Even if you’re still living in your home your goal should be to have buyers focusing on the beautiful décor – not the flaws.

To view a portfolio of my staging click here.

Call me at 902-830-3170, or email me at today for a consultation to stage your home for sale. I’d love to help you sell quickly and for top dollar!

Why less is more when selling your home

less is more when selling your home
Less is more is a phrase I use often when doing a home staging consultation. When a home is completely vacant besides buyers having a hard time visualizing the true size of the space, or how they would fit their furniture, they also see every flaw. There’s nothing else for them to look at or to distract their eye so they hone in on all the little flaws! On the other hand, if there’s too much clutter or a home is over decorated they don’t know where to look and can’t see past the clutter. If there is too much furniture the space will actually appear smaller.

Decorating to live is much different than staging to sell. When your home is on the market it’s important that potential buyers can see themselves living in the house – not you and your family living in the house. That means removing personal items, family photos, collectibles, trophies, etc.

Home owners tend to not notice their own homes any more. They’ve looked at everything so long they don’t see what other people see. A home stager can look at your home with a fresh pair of eyes and they’re trained to notice everything.

Storage areas and closets are important to buyers so make sure you purge these areas as well. Buyers are going to look everywhere in your house so don’t kid yourself that you don’t need to clean and de-clutter your closets. You also need to clean and de-clutter garages and sheds. Every inch of space is valuable when selling your home!

If you’re not listing your home for a few months use the time to start de-cluttering and sorting through those closets now rather than waiting until the last minute. You’ll be really glad you did! It will also give you time to sell any unwanted items, that’s always a great bonus.

On average a home owner should pack away approximately 30% of their belongings. Using a storage container such as PODS is a great solution for removing excess furniture, personal items and storage from your property. If you do use one make sure you have PODS store it for you off your property while your home is for sale. You don’t want to advertise to potential buyers that you don’t have sufficient storage or space in your home! The other benefit of using a POD container is that you’ve already got some of your packing done for when you move to your new home. You can have PODS deliver the POD container to your new home.

All this said, there is a fine line when it comes to staging a home for sale – you want to remove all the clutter, but you also need to add or keep a little bit of decor. For example, I hate when I see a kitchen table without something on it. Add floral or a beautiful decor piece that will accentuate the space, and add decor to a coffee table. Décor also adds softness to a room, a stark room is uninviting and cold. Adding the right décor and artwork to a fireplace mantle and arranging furniture the right way can create a beautiful focal point in the room. It’s knowing what to take away and what to add or leave that makes a space amazing and keeping in mind that less is more.

Why fall and winter can be the best time to sell

When fall sets in and the days grow colder many home owners that have their homes on the market decide to remove their listing until the spring. While others that were thinking of listing decide to wait until the spring to list their homes. A wise choice? Or are they missing out on a prime opportunity to have their property sell?

Less Competition

There is less competition at this time of year, in fact inventory levels can be about one-third of what is typically on the market. Many other home owners have removed their properties from the market at this time of the year while others also wait until spring. Less inventory on the market means you’re competing against less homes. Drive around or check online yourself to see what listings are still up in your neighbourhood. Or ask a realtor about listings data in your neighbourhood.  They have access to market data and can give you accurate data about your area to make your decision easier.

Motivated Buyers

Buyers that are looking at this time of year are usually very motivated buyers. Perhaps they need to be in their new home by January.  Many buyers have time off during the holidays so they focus on finding a home, particularly first time home owners.

Strengthen your position

Another reason to sell now is that it strengthens your position when you negotiate your next home purchase. Offers that are not conditional on selling your own home are much stronger, and can really tighten up closing dates getting you settled into your new home quicker.

Show your home at its best

As with any other time of the year, make sure your home is looking its best by de-cluttering, de-personalizing your home, removing excess storage items, and excess furniture. Consider having it staged to show its best.  Keep driveways and walkways cleared and salted for potential buyers. Also clear off decks and walk ways in the back – you want to make sure that buyers see these additional features of your home.

You can take advantage of Holiday Décor

Christmas decorations can add real ambience to your home and emotions play a big part in a home buyer’s decision making process. The key thing is to not go overboard, you want to add just the right amount of decor. Just like the interior, I tell my clients less-is-more.

holiday_decoratingFor the exterior no snow globes and giant blow up Santas in your yard!  Use soft white Christmas lights to frame and show off architectural details of your home. Note that white lights are the best choice when selling your home, they are a much more sophisticated choice. Use white flood lights used strategically to emphasize your shrubbery and the front façade of your home. Incorporate tasteful holiday wreaths and winter arrangements. All of these things will go a long way to add to your curb appeal.

For the interior, again less-is-more, and subtleness is key. Use holiday décor that complements the colour palette in your home and overall enhances your space, rather than distracting from it. Play up a fireplace mantle for example. If your home has blue tones adding red and green décor is not the way to go. Using white and silver décor would complement the space much better.  If you have earthy tones throughout your home using rich reds, greens and gold will work well.  Remember less-is-more, if you’re adding décor make sure you’re taking away some of your regular décor. Accentuate a bay window for example, but don’t go overboard and add décor everywhere – it becomes cluttered and distracting for a viewer. If possible use a tree that isn’t too big as you don’t want it taking over the space and making the room look small.  Once the holidays are over make sure you remove the decorations right away!

Think about hiring a home stager to assist in making your home look it’s best for those motivated buyers that are still out there looking.

Talk to a realtor before de-listing your home because this might be the prime time to sell in your particular market area, or if you were thinking of waiting until spring reach out to a realtor to get their advice on listing now.


Selling your home with pets

Selling a house when you have pets can be tricky. We all love our furry four legged friends, but often times the homebuyer who is buying your house does not. In order for you to get top dollar for your house, you may need to make a few changes while your house is on the market.

moving box dog

Why wouldn’t a homebuyer like your pet?

  • First of all, it’s your pet not theirs: yes, you may have the cutest cat or dog alive, but that doesn’t mean they are in agreement with you
  • Outsiders often see others pets as unpredictable, and often instill fear in people.
  • YOUR pet bites, claws, jumps, meows or barks excessively.
  • Allergies! Some people are allergic to animals and therefore want nothing to do with them.
  • Those without pets may see them as something that destroys a home and causes damage.
  • Or, they may just not be pet lovers.

So what should you do when you’re selling your home and you have a pet?

#1) Send your furry friend to the a day camp while your home is for sale.  This will ensure that if a last minute showing comes up that your dog is already out of the home.  Places such as Camp Bow Wow, and Petite Urban Pooch are great camps. Petite Urban Pooch is a new daycare just for small pooches in Halifax, NS. With an option like this you know that your dog is not going to be caged all day, and they will get to make new friends!

#2) Often times pets require lots of their own toys and have bowls and litter boxes. Always make sure that you have these things tucked away, especially during a show. The last thing a potential homebuyer needs to see is your pets belongings scattered all over the place. Tuck their beds away, keep their bowls in a place where it is out of the way, and ALWAYS make sure that the litter box is impeccably clean (nothing is worse than someone getting a whiff of a dirty litter box). If your cat has scratchers or a cat tree or perch, consider storing them away until the house is sold. You should also ensure that none of your pictures posted online of the house have pets in it, you should remove all pictures of your pet from the fridge/walls, and pack up any other tell-tail signs.

#3) If you have carpets, hire a professional to come in and clean them for you. Pets often cause many imperfections in your carpets, and homebuyers will be the first to spot them. If you cannot remove a stain, do your best to cover it up.

#4) Make sure that there are no odors associated with your pet. Cat urine is the WORST. You may not be able to smell it, so it is a good idea to bring in someone who is not at your house often to do a sniff test. Be sure not to use strong deodorizers, as many people are sensitive to smells, but ensure that you naturalize odors that are present.

If you cant get your pet out of the house during a showing, ensure that you have them in a carrier with a note telling viewers not to disturb them. The last thing you need is your pet interfering your potential homebuyers first impression of your house.

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