Home Staging Removes Buyer Roadblock

There’s no such thing as a perfect home. But if nearly everything is perfect, do you think a buyer could look past that imperfection?

Christine and husband, Shane, listed their third-floor, two-bedroom 1,200 square-foot Hartsdale, NY, co-op in early March, hoping to take advantage of the spring market. By the end of June they are concerned when it has not yet sold. They are equally concerned by consistent negative feedback, all focused on the fact that their balcony faces a brick wall. A single buyer roadblock.

Not wanting to reduce their price further, these savvy homeowners decide to take a different approach to selling. They call in home staging expert Susan Atwell of AtWell Staged Home in Somers, NY, for a “working” consultation.

Can home staging remove a bad view or put an apartment on a higher floor? Of course not. But what it can do is downplay the negatives and accentuate the positives.

For three-and-a-half hours we work as a team to rearrange furniture, art, and accessories while their young twins enjoy a visit to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. We also pick new paint colors for both bedrooms, the bath, and agree to neutralize the orange accent walls as well.

After spending 120 days on the market prior to staging, this home finally sells in just 40 days, after staging.

Here’s what the home sellers have to say about the experience:

Susan,
We are very happy with the results of your home staging consultation. We feel strongly that your guidance played a pivotal role in the selling of our home. After a frustrating 120 days on the market, our place sold a mere 40 days after we made your recommended changes. There are many things about the selling process that we would do differently if we could do it over again. Our biggest regret is not involving you from the start! Thank you again for your sound advice. We couldn’t have done it without your help!

– Christine and Shane B., Hartsdale, NY

Here are some listing pictures from both before and after staging consultation:

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Office – Before

office2_after

Office – After

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Master Bedroom – Before

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Master Bedroom – After

master2_beforeMaster Bedroom – Before

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Master Bedroom – After

master3_beforeMaster Bedroom – Before

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Master Bedroom – After

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Entry – Before

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Entry – After

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Living Room – Before

living1_after

Living Room – After

dining1_before

Dining Room – Before

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Dinning Room – After

 


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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?

By Susan Atwell as published in The Somers Record

j0438458To put this into perspective, if your doctor recommended a life-improving procedure, would your first question be, How much does it cost? or are you more likely to investigate the efficacy and perceived personal value of the treatment?

Let’s start at the beginning. What is Home Staging and why would I want to spend money on a home that I’m selling?

Home Staging is a marketing tool that uses decorating to properly prepare a home for sale. Staging shows off a home’s best features while downplaying its flaws. Its main objective is to sell your home quickly and at maximum value. In less analytical terms, Staging invites buyers to fall in love with your home.

Staging speeds home sales by making your home appeal to the largest number of potential buyers, and a faster sale generally leads to a higher sales price. Put another way, improve your product, and more people will want it. Simple, right? In this case, the product is your biggest asset—your home. And as with any form of marketing–or advertising–there is usually an initial investment made with the hope that the principal invested will be returned, along with a little profit, when the “product” sells. In the real estate industry, this investment sweet spot is generally accepted to be between one and three percent of the price of the home. (But most home sellers spend far less.)

The initial goal of any staging project is to make a home move-in ready. With that foundation, you can determine how much (or how little) investment is required. You also will need to know which projects are most essential for improving the salability and desirability of your home. If you are having trouble figuring this all out–and most home owners will–consider hiring a professional home stager. A stager will quickly evaluate your home and ensure that you invest your home-staging dollars wisely.

I recently talked Jayme, a Putnam Valley home seller, out of putting most of the contents of her home into storage. Instead we simply create a plan to equally distribute these items throughout the home. That advice alone saves her much more than the price of the three-hour consultation, and Jayme has an accepted offer within 48 hours of listing. To be on your way to a quick sale, consider starting with these six tasks.

  1. Clean, clean, clean. And then when you think you are done, clean again!
  2. Declutter spaces without leaving them feeling cold or abandoned. Remember, buyers need to make an emotional connection with your home.
  3.  Pack collections and items you will not need while the home is on the market.
  4.  Make necessary repairs, but don’t involve yourself in any major renovations (like that new kitchen remodel or master suite addition that you never got around to).
  5.  Paint walls with fresh, warm, universally appealing colors.
  6. Rearrange furniture, art, and accessories to create a flow that shows off the best features in every space.

If that sounds like a lot of work, you may be wondering if simply offering a lower price than the competition will guarantee a quick sale.

Here are two reasons price reductions alone won’t sell your home. First, price reductions won’t make buyers fall in love with your property. All buyers have a list of features they want in a home. But when they really love a home, they often throw out that logical list and buy the property anyway. If all buyers love is the price, they probably are not going to buy the property.

Second, price reductions still won’t make a home move-in ready. Many of today’s buyers are busy two-income families. They don’t have the time, money, or energy to do major fix-ups and renovations if they perceive your home as requiring too much work. They will instead continue their search, often paying more for a home that is move-in ready.

Think of selling your home as a competition. Those who prepare and train will always have the competitive advantage over those who do not.

Does home staging always work? No, it does not. But not for the reasons you might think. Staging needs to be combined with a realistic price that represents the current value of the home. No matter the market, there is no amount of staging that will make up for a home that is overpriced or underrepresented.

So back to the question at hand, How much does home staging cost? Many home-staging techniques like cleaning, decluttering, and furniture rearrangement, cost nothing to implement. And those recommendations that do come with a price tag will be returned at closing. Done right, home staging more than pays for itself.

I’ll leave you with this. If you could sell your home faster and for more money by making only a relatively minor financial investment, wouldn’t that be an investment worth making?

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

 


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Home Staging Works Any Time of Year

Another Heritage Hills estate transformed for a quick sale.

A popular Armonk model, this Heritage Hills estate is listed for sale at the beginning of December, a traditionally slow time of year for real estate.

Often I’m asked, “What is the best time of year to list a home for sale?” My answer is always the same, “When it’s ready.” Ideally, a home should go on the market with a big bang! Defined as a combination of the right price, the right presentation, and the right promotion.

To prepare this estate, the members of this family create a budget. The “musts” are cleaning, fresh paint, and wallpaper removal. They weigh the potential return-on-investment and also agree to install new carpet. This proves to be a wise choice when this 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom, 1,265-square-foot end-unit with stairs has an accepted offer the first week of January with a backup offer made in early February.

The final sale price is over 97% of asking. A relatively quick sale, especially when one considers the time of year.

The process begins with a total review of the home. We agree on the items to keep, which to remove, along with paint color, carpet options, and how to stage each space using what remains in the home. Family members purchase slipcovers, bedding, and towels, while donating some pillows, art, and accessories from their own homes.

This project proves once again that home staging works – any time of year – and that you don’t have to spend a lot to stage a home to sell. Using the items in the home, with a little help from family and friends, makes it unique and keeps it from feeling staged.

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Kitchen – Before Home Staging

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Kitchen – After Home Staging

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Kitchen – Before Home Staging

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Kitchen – After Home Staging

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Living Room – Before Home Staging

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Living Room – After Home Staging

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Living Room – Before Home Staging

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Living Room – After Home Staging

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Dining Room – Before Home Staging

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Dining Room – After Home Staging

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Bath – Before Home Staging

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Bath – After Home Staging

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Bedroom – Before Home Staging

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Bedroom – After Home Staging

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Bedroom – Before Home Staging

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Bedroom – After Home Staging

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Master Bedroom – Before Home Staging

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Master Bedroom – After Home Staging

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Master Bedroom – Before Home Staging

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Master Bedroom – After Home Staging

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Master Bath – Before Home Staging

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Master Bath – After Home Staging

 


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Westchester Putnam Real Estate Report: 2015 First-Quarter

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

The number of closed sales for the first three months of 2015 powered forward the momentum of this region’s real estate recovery that commenced in 2013. Altogether, Realtors participating in the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service reported 2,861 closed residential transactions in the in the first quarter of 2015, an increase of 309 sales or 12.1% over 2014’s first quarter postings.

The sales took place in Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange counties, and the property types included single family houses, condominiums, cooperatives, and 2-4 unit multifamily buildings. The closed transactions largely reflected listing and showing activity that took place during the late winter months of 2014 and January of 2015.

Westchester usually accounts for about 50-60% of the region’s total sales. The 1,620 first quarter sales there were 6.2% more than in 2014. Most of that increase occurred in the condominium sector; sales of single family houses and cooperatives were flat but on a high plateau with 2014’s level.

The other three counties in the region reported larger percentage increases in most residential categories, although against smaller numerical bases. Putnam County ranked highest with a 29.8% increase overall. Orange County ranked next with 23.8%, and Rockland posted 13.6%. Continue reading this report here.

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

 


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Is Home Staging Only for the Rich & Famous?

A strong belief that home staging works and that every home can benefit from professional home staging, leads this tiny bungalow to an over-asking sale price in the first listing week.

Lauralee’s home is rented to a bachelor friend. Knowing the home is going on the market soon, he allows us to prep it for sale while he is out of the country. Showing this cozy 1,100 square-foot Carmel, NY, bungalow spotlessly clean and lovingly arranged will be a huge help for potential buyers in seeing themselves living here.

During the initial 3-hour agent-paid home staging consultation with Lin Crispinelli of Houlihan Lawrence in Somers, NY, we begin the process of staging. We also create a plan to stage each space – inside and out – as quickly as possible.

Our biggest challenge? Use only items found in the home.

Now that we know exactly what to do, we finish the job in a single 8-hour staging day with the help of a team comprised of stager, staging assistant, agent, home owner, and handyman-gardener.

Lin brings the Dunkin’ Donuts, and coffee and Lauralee manages all the questions around what needs to stay, what can go, and where we can store things. Some of Lauralee’s items remain in the home’s attic and storage areas. Removing these gives us more room for neatly storing the tenant’s items.

Staging brings back the home’s eclectic and charming character, along with clearly defining each space. A thorough cleaning, followed by professional photography, and this home is ready to go on the market. All within just two weeks of the initial consultation!

The home sells the first week on the market for $390 – yes, $390 – over asking price.

Here’s what Lauralee shared about the sale:

“The house sold very quickly. The couple that bought it had been looking in Carmel for a while and they saw it the first week that we listed it. It took a little while to negotiate, but we closed in less than three months. I appreciate all your hard work. It made a tremendous difference in how the house showed.

– Lauralee D., Carmel, NY

Lauralee’s agent, Lin Crispinelli, and I have staged many homes together since 2009, this being the smallest. The largest being a 10,000 square-foot historic Katonah home that sells for a few million dollars. That home is on the market three times prior to Lin taking over the listing and suggesting home staging to the owners.

But no matter the price of the home, Lin knows that staged homes sell faster and receive more revenue for her clients. Lin also is not afraid to roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty – whatever it takes to help her clients.

The first home Lin and I stage is on the market 14 months prior to staging, selling just 4 days after it returns to the market. The next home sells the first week and when Lin calls me after the third home we stage also sells in a week, she leaves the message, “You’ve got that magic touch.”

So maybe I’m Lin’s good luck charm, or just maybe there’s a bit more to it than that!

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Loft – Before

loft1_after

Loft – After

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Dining Room – Before

dining1_after

Dining Room – After

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Kitchen/Dining Room – Before

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Kitchen/Dining Room – After

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Kitchen – Before

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Kitchen – After

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Dressing Area – Before

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Dressing Area – After

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Office/Sunroom Area – Before

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Office/Sunroom Area – 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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Living Room – Before
This before picture is taken at the end of the 3-hour initial consultation. The space is almost completely rearranged and a good start for the entire home’s transformation.

living3_afterLiving Room – After

 


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After Home Staging: Would You Buy Me Now?

After home staging the answer is a resounding YES!

Exterior3_afterThis historic 10,000 square-foot home on 38 acres and built in 1870 with multiple out buildings is for sale – again.

After 2 years and 4 agents, staging is recommended. The home is staged with minimal expense, and maximum effort.

The Clinton’s passed on this home. But would they buy it now, after home staging? We’ll never know.

After the sale, here is what homeowner Janet had to say about the experience:

“This wasn’t the first time we tried to sell our home, so we were open to new ideas. One of those ideas – suggested by our agents – was home staging. At first I was a little hesitant. To be honest, the idea of someone coming through my home and critiquing it made me a bit nervous and uncomfortable. But Susan dispelled all those fears and made me feel totally at ease. (The fact that she kept telling me I had good taste didn’t hurt either!) After all the staging was done, I wondered why I had ever been nervous. It was a lot of work, but overall the experience was enjoyable. And now I’m looking forward to buying a new home – in the area. We already plan to invite Susan to help from day one, so we may enjoy the home to its fullest the entire time we live there, not just when we are getting ready to sell. I also appreciate the fact that Susan used what we already had, and kept expenses to a minimum. After this experience, I would not hesitate to stage and look forward to working with Susan again when we purchase our new home.

– Janet D., Katonah, NY

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Entry – Before Home Staging

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Entry – After Home Staging

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Entry – Before Home Staging

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Entry – After Home Staging
New window treatments and rugs, combined with the home owners’ furniture borrowed from the adjacent living area, give this entry the formality it is missing. First impressions start here.

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Entry Staircase – Before Home Staging

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Entry Staircase – After Home Staging

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Sunroom – Before Home Staging

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Sunroom – After Home Staging

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Sunroom – Before Home Staging

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Sunroom – After Home Staging

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Bedroom – Before Home Staging

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Bedroom – After Home Staging

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Landing – Before Home Staging

landing1_afterLanding – After Home Staging

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Guest Bedroom – Before Home Staging

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Guest Bedroom – After Home Staging

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Family Room – Before Home Staging

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Family Room – After Home Staging

Every space is staged. Some need more work than others. The previous pictures are the most dramatic transformations. Here are some of the listing pictures for your enjoyment.

How often do you see inside a home this grand and historic without an admission ticket?

Listing Pictures…

Exterior1_after dining1_afterliving1_afterkitchen1_after master_bedroom1_after balcony1_afteroffice1_after

 

 


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Orange You Glad You Staged Your Home to Sell?

Joanne’s gorgeous home, with orange accents scattered throughout, could sell itself, but instead of relying on good bones alone, she hires a stager to get it just right.

exterior_springJoanne has a very special home in Ossining, NY. A modest 4,300 square-foot Colonial built in 2001, tucked away at the end of a private cul-de-sac, with a level yard, three-car garage, large basement apartment, and more.

Joanne finds AtWell Staged Home while reading the real estate section of her local newspaper, The Journal News, where AtWell Staged Home’s home staging advice is featured. We meet two times for a combination of nine hours of hands-on staging and consulting.

The home sells in about six weeks after going on the market for over 99% of list price. The agent and I are impressed with all of Joanne’s efforts, how great the home looks and shows, and are honestly surprised it doesn’t sell even faster.

After the sale, I catch up with Joanne by email. She says that the staging helps. She also feels that this house has a lot to offer over other houses on the market in that same price range.

I couldn’t agree more. Ultimately, it’s features that sell a home. What staging does is allow buyers to immediately see these great features. Home Staging eliminates the distractions while also directing a buyer through the home so he/she does not miss any of the good stuff. And this home is full of good stuff!

The product, the agent promotion, the location, and of course the price all come together for a quick sale and all because Joanne put in the effort to make it easy for potential buyers to love her home.

Joanne also shares one of her staging secrets. Not only do buyers like the way her home looks, she tells me, but they also like the way it smells. Using a simple “clean linen”–type scented plug-in appeals to the buyers without being overwhelming, proving that the nose also plays a big part in selling a home!

Finally, she adds that the home buyers like the house so much they want to buy most of the furniture. Joanne’s only regret is not selling them more!

Here are few of the transformations and a selection of listing pictures to enjoy.

Please note that these before photos don’t represent how Joanne lives in the home. They are taken at the end of the initial working consultation and while Joanne is in the midst of a massive clean-out and reorganization.

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Bonus Room – Before Home Staging

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Bonus Room – After Home Staging
No cost staging defines this space for multiple uses, giving buyers ideas for how they may choose to use this space.

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 Living Room – Before Home Staging

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Living Room – After Home Staging
This is a really fun room. A safari theme is simplified and furniture rearranged to draw the eye – and the buyers – into the room and over to the windows and view. Only the wall unit is removed. This is no cost staging at its best.

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Master Bedroom – Before Home Staging

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Master Bedroom – After Home Staging
New bedding makes all the difference in this space. In addition a dresser is removed and chair added.

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Basement Apartment – After Home Staging
View as you enter basement apartment.

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Basement Apartment – After Home Staging
Spacious and modern kitchen apartment.

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Basement Apartment – After Home Staging

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Dining Room –  After Home Staging

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Entry – After Home Staging

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 Family Room – After Home Staging

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Kitchen – After Home Staging

kitchen1_after

Kitchen – After Home Staging

 


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Home Staging Statistics 2015

National-Association-of-Realtors-2015-Home-Staging-Statistics

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has released its first ever home staging statistics report.

NAR surveyed real estate agents on the impact of home staging. Below are just a few of the key findings in the 2015 report:

  • 81 percent of agents believe it is easier for buyers to visualize a staged property as a future home.
  • Over 95 percent of buyer’s agents report staging has some effect on buyers.
  • $675 is the median dollar value to stage a home.
  • 12% of real estate agents believe that staging “increases the dollar value of the home” at least 11%-20%.
  • Only 19 percent say that home staging has no impact on the dollar value buyers are willing to pay for a home.
  • Almost a one-third (28%) of buyers are more willing to “overlook property faults” when the home is staged.
  • Only 10 percent of real estate agents say home staging “has no impact” on the dollar value of the home.

Click here to read the full report.

 


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Heritage Hills Estate Transformed for a Quick Sale

Using just what remains in the home, a Heritage Hills estate is staged and has an accepted offer in less than 30 days.

Faye and I have been neighbors for quite a few years now. And for the first few years I didn’t realize that she is also a real estate agent. I discover this accidentally, as it is my habit to go to the fitness center late in the evening and frequently Faye is working the security desk just outside.

Often we will talk; the typical neighborly type of chatting. I didn’t know that Faye’s last name is different from her husband’s so I never put two and two together. When I finally learn her last name, I realize that she has been on my mailing list for a while. It is nice to put a face to the name.

Faye also does a lot of volunteer work with At Home in Somers, an organization that helps seniors stay in their homes. When one of the members passes away, Faye knows that she can not only help sell the unit quickly, but more important she can help the family with the difficult task of clearing it out and staging it to sell.

That’s when Faye contacts me. Together we come up with a plan. It includes minor repairs, some painting, small updates, carpet cleaning, general cleaning, and of course staging using only what remains in the home.

We advise the out-of-state clients on the items to keep in the home and which to remove. To keep expenses as low as possible, Faye assists with contractors and even prunes the garden herself. And after the home sells, she helps the sellers remove the remaining contents.

The staging leads to two offers and a lot of positive feedback. Here’s what Faye has to say about this project and working with AtWell Staged Home:

FayeDeSanto“This was an estate sale, and all four children lived out of state. They trusted me to do much of the prep work to market and sell the home. I could not have done it without you and your staff. You were always prompt and kept expenses down for my clients. You made my work much easier and facilitated a quick sale. The clients were very pleased with the outcome.

Faye DeSanto
Real Estate Associate Broker
BHG Rand Realty, Somers, NY

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

(Click images to enlarge.)

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Bedroom – Before

bedroom2a_after

Bedroom – After
Window treatments removed, wall patched, carpet professionally cleaned, and staging make this room feel larger, brighter, and more inviting.

bath1_beforeHall Bath – Before

bath1_afterHall Bath – After
Wallpaper border is removed, and pink walls are neutralized. Only items purchased are two hand towels for $3 each.

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Hall Bath – Before

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Hall Bath – After
Same hall bath from a different angle. 

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Bedroom – Before

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Bedroom – After
Placing the sofa under the angled ceiling makes the room feel roomier.

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Bedroom – Before

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Bedroom – After
You can see more easily from this angle that the sofa previously blocked the entry to the room.

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Dining Room – Before

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Dining Room – After

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Living Room – Before

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Living Room – After

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Living Room – Before

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Living Room – 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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Kitchen – Before

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Kitchen – After

Laundry/Office – Before

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Laundry/Office – After
To learn more about this office transformation, click here.

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Master Bedroom – Before

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Master Bedroom – After
Carpet cleaning makes a huge difference in this space. The only furniture missing in this home is a bed. In order to define this space and show its true size, we create a makeshift bed with a foundation of 25 (free) packing boxes topped with a borrowed full-sized air mattress.

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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

Here are some additional after photos for your enjoyment.

Office – After

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Office – After

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Bedroom – After

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Living Room – After

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Dining Room – After

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Dining Room – After

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Master Bedroom – After

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Dining Room – After

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Dining Room/Entry – After

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Kitchen – After

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Kitchen – After

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Kitchen – After

entry3_after

Entry – After

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Patio – After 

 


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Westchester Putnam Real Estate Report: 2014 Fourth-Quarter and Full-Year

Below is the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors’ (HGAR) 2014 Annual and fourth-quarter report for Westchester Putnam real estate.

The recovery of the real estate market in the lower Hudson region of New York continued strong throughout 2014 including its fourth quarter. Realtors participating in the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service, a subsidiary of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, reported 14,169 closed residential transactions during 2014 among the four counties of the MLS’s core service area: Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange. This was the highest number for any year since the 2008-2009 recession and 1.1% more than in 2013.

The highest percentage increase – 6.3% – was posted in Putnam County. Rockland followed at 3.4%, Westchester at 0.6%, and Orange lost a little ground with a decrease of -0.8%. Westchester, Rockland and Orange Counties all edged back on total sales of single family houses with decreases of 0.9%, 0.6% and 1.7% respectively. However, they counterbalanced those losses with gains in their respective condominium and cooperative sectors. Again, Putnam County stood out with an actual increase of 6.1% in single family house sales.

The fourth quarter postings of 2014 were especially strong in comparison to the fourth quarter of 2013. There were 3,715 closings among all four counties during October through December of 2014, an increase of 6.9% over the same period of 2013, and on an individual basis each county posted an increase.  Continue reading this report here.

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

 


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