When Home Staging is Personal

master2_afterAfter a close neighbor’s passing, AtWell Staged Home helps the family move on.

I meet Maddie almost 20 years ago when I buy my first home in Heritage Hills. She is one of my neighbors in our little cluster of eleven units. Through the years Maddie and I share many hellos, neighborly conversations, a few recipes and meals, and most recently, cluster-captain responsibilities (she volunteers me because, as she says, you’re doing everything a cluster-captain does anyway).

Last October while I am getting out of my car, I notice her younger sister (who lives just around the corner) pull in and park. I ask if she needs any assistance, and as we walk to Maddie’s unit, she tells me that she is there to visit Maddie’s two daughters, Nancee and Susan. They are beginning the process of clearing out Maddie’s home, now that Maddie has moved closer to daughter Susan in an assisted living facility. I ask if they have any plans for the unit, and she thinks they are preparing to sell. I then ask if she thinks it would be out of place for me to ask if they need assistance.

I don’t know how my offer to help will be greeted by Maddie’s daughters, but I know from all my experience how overwhelming it is to not only have to clean out a loved one’s home but to also make all the decisions related to fix-ups, home staging, and selling. Where do you make your investments? What do you need to do to sell? Where do you start?

Maddie lived in this home for 30 years. She had been a smoker, and that is this home’s biggest challenge—a hurdle most buyers cannot get past. I suggest a 10k budget to avoid an even larger price reduction.

Within an hour we have a plan, and Nancee and Susan support it 100%. The home staging plan works, and there is now a lovely retired couple calling this their permanent home.

The unit receives three offers during the first three listing days and finally sells for 99% of asking.

The first task is to remove the carpeting. Next, the vents are cleaned all the way into the air-conditioning unit. Finally, we paint, add new carpet, take up the dusty rose colored tile in the entry and lay new linoleum in the kitchen, extending it through the entry. Hours and hours are spent cleaning the furniture and fixtures that remain. We even remove the awning to let in the light and show off the private deck.

July 2, on what would have been Maddie’s 93rd birthday, a celebration of her life is held at the Presbyterian Church in Katonah. The girls share how they have gotten closer during this experience, and I witness it firsthand. There is never an argument or frustration, and each manages the part that best suits her personality. I know Maddie is so proud.
Susan and Nancee are more than pleased with the work and confide in me that they never really knew how nice this unit is until the staging is complete.

“Amazing transformation!! Thank you so much.” – Susan, Maddie’s Daughter

Neighbors come in all flavors, and I have been blessed. I will always remember Maddie fondly, and I think of her often.

(Click images to enlarge.)

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Living/Dining Room – Before

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Living/Dining Room – After

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Living/Dining Room – Before

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Living/Dining Room – After

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Living/Dining Room – Before

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Living/Dining Room – After

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Living/Dining Room – Before

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Living/Dining Room – After

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Living/Dining Room – Before

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Living/Dining Room – After

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Living/Dining Room – Before

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Living/Dining Room – After

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Kitchen – Before

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Kitchen – Before

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Kitchen – Before

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Kitchen – Before

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Kitchen – Before

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Kitchen – Before

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Bath – Before

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Bath – After

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Bath – Before

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Bath – After

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Bedroom – Before

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Bedroom – After

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Bedroom – Before

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Bedroom – After

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Laundry – Before 

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Laundry – After

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Master Bath – Before

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Master Bath – After

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Master Bedroom – Before

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Master Bedroom – After

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Master Bedroom – Before

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Master Bedroom – After

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Master Bedroom – Before

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Master Bedroom – After

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Deck – Before

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Deck – After

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Deck – Before

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Deck – After

 


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Cooking Up a New Kitchen

Planning an overdue kitchen upgrade is no longer keeping this couple up at night.

Poor Ron. He struggles for months planning his new kitchen upgrade. Finally, wife, Mary Lou, contacts me to put an end to his suffering.

We meet at their home, and within 30 minutes of seeing the current layout, learning what they want from the space, and understanding their budget requirements, I change every single plan that Ron has previously made. And the best part, it’s exactly what they want.

Within 2 weeks we are working with kitchen designer John at Kitchen and Bath Design Center in Bedford Hills, NY, to perfect our design concept and give Ron and Mary Lou choices that fit both their budget and style.

Finally, I shop with Ron and Mary Lou for flooring and a decorative pendant to complete the look. Meanwhile, Ron undertakes the task of finding a contractor and the best deal on new kitchen appliances.

This kitchen loses a table while gaining function and storage. The fact that it is now more beautiful is a welcome bonus. The large dining room is the next space to be transformed.

Here’s what Ron and Mary Lou have to say about their experience with AtWell Staged Home.

“When we started working with Susan, we presented her with a real challenge. Our kitchen desperately needed more countertop and storage space, but we did not want to expand the footprint of the room.

Susan’s design turned the room completely around, literally, putting the sink under the window. This was something we had always dreamed of doing but did not think was possible.

Now we’re in a brand-new kitchen with so much countertop and storage space that we have yet to use all of the cupboards!

We love the new design and all the new features, such as larger and more energy efficient appliances, under-cabinet and recessed lighting, self-closing cabinets, and a built-in microwave. Best of all, we finally have our first dishwasher. Something Susan insisted we include, and are we ever glad she did!

Susan expertly guided us throughout the entire process and was always available to answer our questions or address our concerns. We’re thankful for her input and design ideas and would highly recommend her.”

Ron & Mary Lou F.
Yorktown Heights, NY

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Kitchen – Before Remodel
View from Living Room

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Kitchen – After Remodel
View from Living Room

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Kitchen – Before Remodel
View from Living Room

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Kitchen – After Remodel
View from Living Room

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Kitchen – Before Remodel
View from Dining Room

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Kitchen – After Remodel
View from Dining Room

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Kitchen – Before Remodel
View of Back Wall

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Kitchen – After Remodel
View of Back Wall

 


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Flip This House Staging

Home staging reaps higher returns for house flipper.

living1_listingHouse flipping is popular once again. And today’s house flipper is even more savvy than those in the business just a few years ago. They have to be. Successful flippers understand the value that staging a home to sell has to their bottom line. Making the sale as quickly as possible is key to return on investment, and in house flipping, ROI is king.

Time is the enemy of house flippers. The key is to fix up the home as quickly as possible and return the new and improved version to market in record time.

The longer it takes to fix, upgrade, and sell a home, the less profit for the investors. Marketing the upgraded property is the final step, and home staging is a huge part of that marketing plan. Creating a beautiful home that helps buyers connect emotionally speeds the sale.

When Mike and Shannon contact me about staging their house flips, we work with them to create the most cost-effective house flip possible.

How does AtWell Staged Home do that? Well, in this case, we rent only the larger pieces of furniture—sofas, beds, tables, chairs, area rugs, lamps—while building an inventory of art, accessories, bedding, and towels for our flippers, Mike and Shannon. Using this rinse-and-repeat technique doesn’t just minimize the monthly rental, it also speeds the staging process. We keenly understand ROI and focus on making our clients money.

Here’s what Mike and Shannon have to say about their first flip of a $250,000, 1,700 square-foot raised ranch on a cul-de-sac in Stratford, CT:

It’s funny, but the house had its first offer BEFORE the open house and then got a full asking price offer the day of the open house. I found out they want to buy the house and everything in it. Exactly as it is. Lock, stock & barrel. Nice job! Truly appreciate all your help and flexibility with our very fluid construction schedule. I’m blaming you for the quick sale 😉

– Mike & Shannon Robinson
NorthAmericanHomeSolutions.com

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Entry/Living Room – Before

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Entry/Living Room – After

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Living Room – Before

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Living Room – After

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Living/Dining/Kitchen Area – Before

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Living/Dining/Kitchen – After

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Kitchen – Before

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Kitchen – After

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Master Bedroom – Before

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Master Bedroom – After

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Master Bedroom – Before

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Master Bedroom – After

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Sunroom – Before

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Sunroom – After

 


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It All Boyles Down to This: Looks Count (to Home Buyers)

By Susan Atwell as published in The Somers Record

It All Boyles Down to This: Looks Count to Home BuyersRecently, I was up late, channel-surfing when I came across a documentary on singer Susan Boyle’s 2009 meteoric rise to fame. You may remember her as the frumpy, 48-year-old that blew everyone away on Britain’s Got Talent.

It all begins when the nervous but “cheeky,” Susan walks onstage and declares her intention to become the next British singing superstar. The audience and judges react as if they’ve caught a live one. You can see it on their faces. The audience smells blood in the water and expects her performance to be a train wreck. How could someone who looks like this possibly think she has anything to offer? Looking back, even Simon Cowell, every singers toughest critic, admits his rush to judgment.

So what does all of this have to do with real estate and selling a home? Everything. Singer Susan Boyle proves that first impressions and looks count—probably more than we like to admit.

We are superficial. We believe that what we see is what we get. The phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover” would never have made it into the public consciousness if it were not human nature to do just that. We have trouble seeing past the surface, seeing the potential and the possibilities, and this is why we must impress our audience of home buyers as soon as they see the home on the Internet or open the front door. If those first impressions are not good, few buyers will be inclined to take a deeper look.

All Susan Boyle wants is a chance to be seen, to be heard, but with her facade, those chances are greatly diminished. The same is true for selling a home. If those online photos don’t inspire, no visits will be made.

It’s a shame, because there could be something quite wonderful hiding below the surface. But most potential home buyers just can’t see it, and perhaps worse, they won’t see many of the positives that are right under their noses if the negatives jump out at them first. No matter if it’s a sellers’ or a buyers’ market, these home buyers will not waste their time and will simply go on to the next home.

Selling a home is a competition, a tough competition, where your home is up against other homes similar in size, price, and location. The hardest part about preparing your home to sell is stepping into your buyers’ shoes and trying to see your home through the fresh and objective eyes of the buyer. If you are having trouble with this—and 80% to 90% of sellers will —bring in your agent, an honest and objective friend, or consider employing the services of a professional home stager for an impartial opinion from someone who knows what buyers are looking for in a home.

Susan Boyle’s hair, makeup, clothing, all make her appear much older than she really is. Does your home’s décor leave the same impression? Does your home look old, neglected, and leave buyers thinking that it is not being well maintained? How do you unleash the inner beauty in your home? Staging, of course. A professional stager is your home’s personal stylist. Relying on luck to sell your home is not a marketing technique, staging is.

In 2009, the Internet, the media, the world went wild for a singer, but many were as focused on her image as on her voice and doubted that she could overcome the odds against her, proving yet again that looks count. It took an amazing amount of talent and dedication to craft for Susan Boyle to overcome the initial impression she made, solely because of her appearance. If she had been made over prior to this competition, maybe she wouldn’t have waited almost 48 years to become a star. How long until you stage your home into an overnight sensation?

Click here to download and share this article in PDF format.

 


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Westchester Putnam Real Estate Report: 2016 First-Quarter

Get “The Skinny” on the Westchester Putnam real estate market in this 2-minute video:

Below is an excerpt from the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors’ (HGAR) 2016 first-quarter report for Westchester Putnam real estate.

Realtors operating in the four-county lower Hudson region served by the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors reported 3,391 closed residential transactions during the first three months of 2016, an increase of 530 sales or 18.5% from the same period in 2015. The burst of closings largely resulted from market activity that took place during the winter months of 2015 and the first few weeks of 2016. The chart below shows that first quarter closings are not only increasing but are accelerating with yearto-year increases of 10.8% from 2013 to 2014, and 12.1% from 2014 to 2015. The sales activity in 2016 was accompanied by relatively flat average prices.

Westchester County, typically accounting for 50-60% of the region’s real estate sales, posted a 14.0% first quarter gain over 2015. Setting aside its relatively small multi-family sector, cooperatives were the best performing sector with a 17.5% increase over last year. Condominiums followed at 15.7% and single family houses at 11.2%. Altogether there were 1,847 sales, an increase of 227 units over last year’s first quarter total.

Orange County continued its high volume sales activity of the past several years with a remarkable 33.0% increase this past quarter: 822 units in 2016 versus 618 in 2015.

The backbone of the Orange County market is its concentration of single family houses in the range of $200,000 to $230,000, a pricing level that is the most affordable in the region.

Lightly populated Putnam County posted 255 sales, a 30.1% gain over last year. Rockland posted the lowest overall increase among the four counties, 9.4%, although its single family house sector stood out with a respectable 16.6% increase over last year. Read the complete report here.

To compare this report with earlier reports, visit HGAR.com.

 


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The “Art” of Home Staging

A professionally designed home needs a little art and gentle touch to bring back its designer charm.

When Kevin purchases his 5,500 square-foot home in Armonk he likes the former resident’s decor so much that he acquires most of that too! Sadly, he isn’t in the home long before needing to sell.

Not having enough time to finish the decorating, AtWell Staged Home is brought in to add those finishing touches. We rent a few pieces of furniture, some lighting, but mainly art. It’s amazing what a few pieces of art can do for a home. We decorate with what exists in the home, along with a small budget of $500 for pillows, plants, and accessories.

This 1.3-million-dollar home sells quickly, and it all starts with an agent-paid 3-hour home staging consultation. Kevin decides to hire AtWell Staged Home to implement the entire plan—not just the staging—but also finishing the basement, which has been damaged by water.

Instead of returning to the original color palette, we bring in a neutral gray carpet, paint the walls a coordinating light gray, and replace the whitewash wainscoting with a solid coat. Now this room can work as a playroom, bonus room, gym, or whatever the new owners would like.

Here’s what Kevin has to say about the staging experience:

My home appeared more attractive and stood out on the market because of Susan’s work.

My Realtor recommended Susan to help with the staging of a home I was selling in Westchester. Susan did an amazing job of explaining the process, and quickly simplified the elements that she thought would have maximum impact on a prospective buyer, to help him get a vision for what the home could be when designed and furnished. She coordinated virtually every detail, including arranging for some furniture to be brought into the home to show off some of its best features.

The photos were terrific, and the feedback from prospective buyers who toured the home was very positive. It sold quickly, in no small part due to Susan’s expertise.

I would highly recommend her. She is professional, talented, and she made the process easy.

– Kevin S., Armonk, NY

(Click Images to Enlarge)

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Entry – Before

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Entry – After

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Dining – Before

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Dining – After

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Dining – Before

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Dining – After

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Living – Before

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Living – After

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Master Bath – Before

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Master Bath – After

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Master Bath – Before

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Master Bath – After

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Sunroom – Before

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Sunroom – After

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Office – Before

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Office – After

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Master Bedroom Entry – Before

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Master Bedroom Entry – After

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Family Room – Before

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Family Room – After

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Kitchen Work Area – Before

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Kitchen Work Area – After

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Basement – Before

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Basement – After

Enjoy these additional listing pictures:

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Family Room – After

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Family Room – After

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Living Room – After

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Living Room – After

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Kitchen – After

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Sunroom – After

 


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Making-It-Real Home Staging

patio1_listing_afterA few deals drop along the way, but in the end two buyers fight over this very “real” property.

It sure does take longer to sell than anyone would have expected, but this is the reality of the real estate market. Fresh paint, wallpaper removal, refinished hardwood floors, new carpeting, and updated light fixtures are the main focus of this home staging project.

We finish with a deep cleaning and staging using the 92-year-old home owner’s personal items, art, and furniture. A few new pillows, bedding, towels, along with new chairs for the kitchen, and an air mattress for the master bedroom are the only items purchased.

Making this home feel and look real–and not staged–is always our goal.

The home owner is the sweetest woman you could ever meet, and her daughter Barbara manages the entire project from 3,000 miles away. We even perform the initial consultation with Barbara offering guidance by phone, as she knows every inch of this 1,900 square-foot two-bedroom condo on the water’s edge in Rye, NY.

Here is what Barbara has to say about the staging and experience of working with AtWell Staged Home:

Susan,

You are a genius. Truly, I am grateful beyond words for your dedication, eye for detail, kindness, patience, and flexibility.

Your work is a masterpiece, and I am so grateful that you created such a perfect “look” for the condo. We’ve received lots of compliments, and those belong to you. Perhaps the greatest accolade came from our very own Realtor who recommended we go with the higher end price based on how well the home shows.

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! The place looks and feels so good that I want to move in.

Please use me as a reference as needed. You do great work and provide phenomenal service. I have only good things to say.

From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!

– Barbara S., Rye, NY

Below are the before-and-after pictures. Except as noted, every space is staged using just what we find in the home.

(Click images to enlarge.)

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Bath – Before

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Bath – After

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Bedroom – Before

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Bedroom – After

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Bedroom – Before

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Bedroom – After

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Butler’s Pantry – Before

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Butler’s Pantry – After

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Entry – Before

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Entry – After

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Kitchen – Before

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Kitchen – After

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Kitchen – Before

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Kitchen – After

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Living Room – Before

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Living Room – After

living2_beforeLiving Room – Before

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Living Room – After
I just can’t help myself and add a touch of whimsy with a pink lobster pillow on the pink chair. When a home has an ocean view, how can you not bring in a subtle reminder?

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Dining Room – Before

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Dining Room – After

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Dining Room – Before

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Dining Room – After
The dining room is accessorized with wine bottles. The brand? Why “90+” of course. (Again, I couldn’t help myself.)

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Dining Room – Before

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Dining Room – After

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Dining Room – Before

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Dining Room – After

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Master Bath – Before

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Master Bath – After

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Master Bedroom – Before

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Master Bedroom – After
The mirror over the master bed, acting as a headboard, looks great but also reflects the room’s ocean view.

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Master Bedroom – Before

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Master Bedroom – After

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Master Bedroom – Before

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Master Bedroom – After

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Patio – Before

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Patio – After

 


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Educating Home Sellers on Home Staging Benefits

HowMuchDoesHomeStagingCost_eBookIf you haven’t already, don’t forget to download your copy of How Much Does Home Staging Cost? eBook.  This complimentary publication is written specifically for agents to share with their clients. It will educate home sellers on all the home staging benefits.

How Much Does Home Staging Cost eBook answers all your clients’ questions about Home Staging:

  • What is Home Staging?
  • What is Home Staging’s ROI?
  • What are the benefits of Home Staging?
  • Can a Home Stager help me sell my home quickly?

This eBook features the following articles, as published in The Somers Record.

How Much Does Home Staging Cost?
As a home stager the first question I often hear is, How much will it cost to stage my
home? But really, the fundamental question to ask is, Can Home Staging help me sell
my home faster and for more money?

An Inconvenient Truth about Selling Your Home
4 tips to minimize the stress and inconvenience that comes with selling your home.

Going for the Gold: Why Staging Your Home to Sell is Like Training for the Olympics
Selling your home is a competition, but it doesn’t have to be as challenging as the
Olympics if you employ these 5 simple steps.

Home Staging Proof: Solid Science Proves Staged Homes Sell Faster
Even if you haven’t staged your vacant or occupied home yet, that’s OK because
evidence shows that it’s never too late to stage.

Selling an Inherited Home: What You Need to Know
Having purchased, staged, and viewed so many homes and estates over the years, I’ve compiled a few lessons learned to help you when selling an inherited home. These rules apply to all homes being sold but are especially relevant to those caught in the emotional and often rushed selling situation associated with an estate.

Also included, a list of services offered by AtWell Staged Home.

No email opt-in required. Read and review the eBook by simply clicking here. Then save this PDF file to your hard drive.

Feel free to share it with your own blog readers, newsletter subscribers, clients, colleagues, managers, Twitter followers, and Facebook fans.

The spring season is almost upon us.  Let’s teach sellers how Home Staging is an essential marketing tool to help sell their homes quickly and for top dollar.

 


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Westchester Putnam Real Estate Report: 2015 Fourth-Quarter and Full-Year

Get “The Skinny” on the Westchester Putnam real estate market in this 2-minute video:

Below is the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors’ (HGAR) 2015 Annual and fourth-quarter report for Westchester Putnam real estate.

The recovery of the real estate market in the lower Hudson region continued apace in 2015 as total sales in the region reached and exceeded the 15,000 sales level last attained in the pre-recession years of 2006 and 2007. Realtors participating in the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service reported 15,324 closings of residential transactions (excluding multi-family units) in 2015, an increase of 1,769 units or 13% over 2014’s level.

The largest increase on a percentage basis occurred in Orange County where the 3,284 reported sales were 26% ahead of last year’s total. On a straight volume basis, Westchester, as the largest county in the region, posted 9,401 sales for an increase of 9% over last year.

By property type, the condominium sector performed exceptionally well in 2015 in some counties. Orange County’s 356 condo sales were 31% more than last year, and Westchester’s total of 1,315 sales was up by 20%.

The brisk pace of sales across the region and among most of the property types tracked by the MLS (single family houses, condominiums, cooperatives, 2-4 family houses) continued all year long and into the last three months of 2015. There were 4,313 closings in the fourth quarter, an increase of 16% over the comparable period in 2014. Those closings largely followed from marketing activity during the late summer and early autumn months. Continue reading this report here.

To compare this report with earlier reports, visit HGAR.com.

 


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Basement Remodel: With a Little Help from a Pro

Julie is stuck with her basement remodel after she purchases furniture and paints. She reaches out to Susan Atwell of AtWell Staged Home for help to finish the space.

bonus1_after_cropHave you ever struggled with a DIY project? It seems so simple, but when you’re done, it’s just not quite what you hoped it would be? Julie found a way to have DIY satisfaction with her basement remodel while saving money on full design services.

As a home stager, my favorite projects are spent collaborating with home owners. A client that wants to do it herself but needs a little design guidance, someone to bounce ideas off of, to go shopping with, or to hire the perfect contractor.

For Julie, we start with a two-hour consultation in her home. We review the projects she has already completed and discuss changes she would like to make. At the same time we discover her likes, dislikes, and vision for her home.

The initial consultation is a total “brain dump” of ideas not only for the specific space but also for the other spaces in her home. Each room is interconnected and understanding how Julie lives in her home is key.

The meeting is thorough, and our goal is to prevent expensive mistakes. One of my favorite sayings is, “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” Having the opinion of a professional before any more money is spent will give her confidence and guide her in the right direction.

At the initial consultation, the ideas proposed include creating a separate laundry room, adding an electric fireplace to work around an awkward corner unit, improving upon a built-in wall cabinet currently hiding pipes, and enhancing the flow of her home office. At our follow-up visit, we review the ideas with contractor Andrew Spector of A. Spector Home Improvement. Once the design is agreed upon, all we have to do is shop for pillows, art, a custom area rug, and a fireplace insert.

My goal is to help as much (or as little) as needed. To give my clients the courage to move forward with their ideas while guiding them in making cost-effective decisions that will work for them now, in the future, and, of course, when they sell.

Here’s what Julie has to say about her basement remodel:

“I am so happy with the basement renovation, my updated office space, and new laundry room. It’s so nice to be able to exercise in front of the TV, turn on the fireplace any time of year, close off the laundry area so the sound does not compete with the TV, and just to have such a huge built-in laundry workspace compared to before. Working with you and Andrew (the contractor you recommended), really was a pleasure. Finally, and most important, my daughter absolutely loved the renovated basement! She thoroughly enjoyed all the changes during her summer break from school. My sister was over recently and loved it as well. Can’t thank you enough for the wonderful job you did. I could not have done this by myself. I think it all came together just perfectly!!”

– Julie O., Somers, NY

(Click images to enlarge.)

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Basement – Before

bonus4_afterBasement – After
All the bones are here. The walls are freshly painted, furniture is new, and the floor is a nice neutral tile. We fix the oddities, as described above, making sense of what is there. It’s now a great space for her daughter to hang out, for entertainment, or to get away from it all.

bonus1_beforeBasement – Before

bonus1_afterBasement – After

office1_beforeBasement Office – Before

office1_afterBasement Office – After
Julie needs a great space to work, but she also needs a space that can serve as a guest room. The door is changed to swing to the right, cable is moved to the left wall, and the exercise equipment is moved to a larger space in the basement where she can work out and watch TV. The room is balanced, more spacious, and Andrew helps Julie pick a paint color to match the bedding.

laundry1_beforeBasement Laundry Area – Before

laundry1_after

New Basement Laundry Room – After
Actually, there is no dedicated laundry room before—just a huge space with the laundry recessed into a tiny hole in the wall. Now Julie has an area that she can close off from the living area, or keep open, as she folds her clothes on a spacious built-in counter. Personally, I’m envious of this laundry room!

Additional interior views of the new laundry room.

laundry2_afterlaundry3_afterlaundry4_afterlaundry5_after

 


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