Thursday, February 28, 2013

Top 5 Things to Consider When Hiring Your Realtor

It's almost Spring!  Spring is always the busiest season for selling your house.
First plan of action is to find a great realtor. I can't say enough good things about hiring a realtor instead of doing a For Sale By Owner. The Realtors I associate with are hard working, dedicated, and diligent about the details of getting your house sold.  They are master negotiators and that means more money in your pocket.

Here is my list of the 5 most important things to consider when hiring your realtor.

1. Do you feel comfortable with the listing agent?   You are going to be spending a lot of time communicating with your Realtor. Does your realtor LISTEN?  If in your initial meeting, they talk over you and interrupt while you are explaining the special features of your house, neighbors, neighborhood, etc. take a pass.  Pay attention to their education, CPE, and references.If your friends have a referral Realtor, interview them first.  You likely have the same tastes in agents.

2. Are they high stylin' and profilin'?  It has been my experience that the Realtors with their mug on on a van, billboard and commercials on TV are not always the best choice.  After the listing agreement is signed, they may pass you off to someone on their staff.  The Big-Deal-Realtors typically convince you to list your house for the lowest possible price.  Big-Deal-Realtors keep their numbers up by turning over inventory.

3. Are they Agggggessive in Marketing your house? Don't settle for a simple MLS listing
and flyer box.  Make sure they know the latest technology for marketing your house. A dedicated website is always a plus.
4. Does the realtor use a professional photographer to take home pictures of your house?  Point and click cameras shots don't cut it.  The majority of potential buyers go online.  Great pictures/videos help sell your house.  Many Realtors are slow to get on the bandwagon of professional pictures.  If the realtor doesn't offer a professional photographer, pay for one yourself.

5. Does the realtor use a professional stager?  Hello! A professional stager has experience and a proven tract record to get your house sold and for the most money.  Many agents will boast of having their own stager.  "Our stager" is typically someone on their staff  with other responsibilities and no training. You deserve more than genetic recommendations for preparing your house for sale.

How do you pronounce Realtor?
OK, here is a pet peeve.  The word is Real-tor. It is not Real-LA-ter.  There is no "A" the word "Realtor".  Pronounce it correctly and you'll get immediate respect.

Hope these pointers are helpful! 

Monday, February 25, 2013

2013 Oscars Trigger Cra-Cra "Designer's Brain"

Did you watch the Oscar's last night?

I watched the E! Oscar preshow and the first hour of the big event. (Don't think I'm cool enough to get Host Seth MacFarland's witicisms.)  I did check back to see some great moments, like Barbra.

While most folks were watching the performers, I was studying the stage design.  

They saw this:


I saw this:

I stumbled across this fabric online Saturday.  I'm considering this fabric, "Fahari Hibiscus", for a project.
OK, is it just me?

Did my train jump the track or do you get the reason I correlated the two?

Have you ever fallen victim to "Designer's Brain"?

Maybe I really am "Cra-Cra"!


Friday, February 22, 2013

Blogging Anniversary #1

A year ago, on my birthday, I launched, "An Affection for Staging".

Happy 1st Anniverary Blog!  Happy Birthday, me!

What an incredible year it has been.  So many new friends in blogland! Maria, Heather, Patty, Linda, Loi, Nancy, Brittany, Gina,Kim, Kelli, Kerri, Beth,Traci, Danni, Taylor, and Karen just to mention a few of my wonderful blogging buddies.  Is like being grown up pen pals!  Who knew you could develop such endearing friendships without ever meeting?

My passion is staging.  I stumbled into staging in Act 2 of my life.  Staging combines by my love of design, decor, and shopping for all things home related from fixtures to furniture. Staging satisfies both my curiosity and piques my interest on the crazy world of real estate.

Nothing compares to the thrill of the hunt for the perfect staging pieces.  Nothing is more gratifying than the Seller's reaction to the transformation of their home after staging.  Nothing is more rewarding than getting the "we are under contract" call. Nothing is as encouraging as reading a thoughtful comment under a post. (OK, OK...I'm being dramatic saying 'nothing is as great as'--excluding falling in love, babies, sunrises, etc.--but you know what I mean.)

I began writing this blog because I  had so much I wanted to share about my experience in staging.  Blogging allows me the opportunity to let it all out.

That even one person would be interested in what I have to say is flattering and humbling.

Thank you my foreign readers in Canada, Russia, South America, New Zealand. France, United Kingdom, Ukraine,Germany, Japan, and Slovenia.

Thanks my lovelies for responding with enthusiasm, sharing ideas and showing support.

Y'all are the best!  Happy Friday, y'all!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Value of Value?


Hello my lovelies!  StagerLinda here and needing to vent a wee bit.

I recieved another rushed phone inquiry.  Before I could explain how I work, (touring the property, taking pictures, writing a report, blah, blah, blah) Mz.Hurry-Up interrupts, "what do you charge?"  When I try to explain my rates for the Consultation Report, Mz. Hurry-Up stops me again and says, "for STAGING! What do you charge for STAGING?"

I've been doing this for years, so I have my elevator pitch pretty much down.  I find it very annoying (if you have every heard any of the Kardashian family describe anything that gives them displeasure, all 8 always use the adjective "annoying" at every opportunity) trying to justify the way I work.  The is client price shopping.

In staging school, I was told to say, "I can do as little or as much as you want."  Tried it.  What a fiasco!  It doesn't serve the goal of getting the house SOLD.

Expensive?  Yep. I know I am considered expensive.  I figure I have paid my dues.  I've consulted on a gazillion houses and have staged a bazillion.  I have education, references and media coverage.  Most important,  I don't really have any more learning curve mistakes to make. Pretty important when someone is helping sell your biggest asset, no?

Here's the rub, I require my written evaluation first.  The seller's have to take care of their end (cleaning, painting, packing, repairs, etc.) before I will stage.  Lots-o-stagers do 'walk-n-talks' and the seller takes notes.  I prefer a document that they can refer back to and one that explains why I am asking them to make the required changes for selling.  There are also delicate situations that can be addressed in a written report without embarrassing the seller.

Once a realtor said, "You didn't give me a price for staging in your report."

I replied, "I am going to have to take a pass on staging that house.  Thank you very much for considering me. I hope the report is helpful... "

When I was further pressured, I explained to the realtor, "That house is in deplorable condition.  My nice furnishings are not going into that filthy house.  If the owners don't care enough to take care of their own belongings, they certainly aren't going to take care of mine."

My Happiness
Awww....I feel better now!  Thanks for letting me vent! 

How do you sell your expertise? 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Cartoon Kooky is Spooky for Selling

Most of 'my realtors' have me consult on all of their listings.

Then there are 'the others'.  The other realtors call me when they have a problem house and don't know how to approach the sellers about it.

I want to share with you pictures from an old problem listing. Don't you think Friday is the perfect time for a smile?

Disney Devotion
When these sellers put their home on the market, they did not see a problem with everything Mickey, Pooh and Piglet, too.


 Dining Room wallpaper
Oh I'm sorry, you can't see the print up close.  Winnie the Pooh anyone?
Check out the room where all the magic happens.  Nothing spells romance more than Mickey & Minnie gazing into each others eyes over the master bed.

Yes! Those are Mickey Mouse sheets.

Then, a small Disney galley wall opposite the foot of the bed...

In the words of Cheryl Crow, "if it makes you happy"--go for it!  But ya just gotta give it up for selling.

Happy Weekend, y'all!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ode to My Valentine

The Notebook- My Fav Romantic Movie

This is a salute to my husband that I dearly love. This wonderful man does so much to make my life sweet.

He greets me each and every morning, while I am still snuggled under the covers, with a hot cup off coffee and says, "Good Morning, my love."

When I quit my high-paying sales job with a company car and great benefits, he supported me.  My last day, he met me at the front door with champagne and a toast, "To your new life!"

He answers every phone call with,"Hello, my love" ends every phone conversation with, "I love you".

He calls everyday to ask, "What do you need?"

Last week, I mentioned I didn't have enough money for my favorite Bacon and Ranch Grilled Chicken Salad at McD's. The next morning he left $25 cash next to my keys.

Yesterday, I received 2 dozen long stem roses.  The card read "Forever and Always. To my beautiful wife."

The Valentine's roses are not unusual. However, I have had a funky, nasty, ugly cold sore (I mean it is REALLY bad) on and under (TMI?) my nose for the last week.  I called to thank him for the roses and sweet card.  "I feel so ugly.  It was really sweet for you to call me 'beautiful'."

He replied, "I ordered the flowers before you got your cold sore." And we both fell into fits of laugher.

He is super thoughtful but his sense of humor is the most precious to me.  Happy Valentine's Day, my love!

Happy Valentine's y'all!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Don't Say 'Welcome' with Bad Feng Shui?

Hello again!  In browsing through my pictures for my post on Welcome Mats and the importance of the entrance to your house, I came across the picture below.

This is a gorgeous home.  The owner's had this cactus next to their grand front door entrance.  It was beautiful and healthy--but all wrong for the message you want to send potential buyers.
Stager Linda
Cactus equals cold and prickly.  Cold and prickly at your entrance is just plain old unfriendly--bad Feng Shui. 

It was replaced with a container of colorful annuals. 

Subliminal? Maybe. But don't you think it is better to error on the side of caution?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Top 5 Accessories You Need to Buy for DIY Staging - #5

This is the last installment of my series for DIY staging.  Let's recap:
#1  New Bed Treatments
#2  Lamps! Lamps! Lamps!
#3  Organic Elements
#4  Big Bold Art
 and now....
#5  New Welcome Mat

I know a Welcome Mat is not sexy or exciting.  But first impressions are everything.  99% of the houses I consult on don't have a suitable (much less attractive) Welcome Mat.

While the real estate agent is fumbling with the lock box and key (no disrespect-lock boxes can be tricky to open and often have multiple keys and 2 sets of locks to figure out), the potential buyer is accessing the entrance area.  Old, dirty welcome mats send the wrong message for what to expect.  The front door should be freshly painted and the light fixtures sparkling.

I know you have seen front porches like the one pictured below.  Notice how the owner's created a warm, inviting entrance.  A potential buyer will be eager to step inside.
Don't you adore this porch?  This painted  'welcome mat' sets the stage for this house.
Isn't this entrance is gorgeous!  Bright red geraniums lead you to the front door. I would nix the mat on the first step.  The welcome mat in front of the door should be in proportion to the size of the front door.  A larger Welcome Mat would look more grand for this elegant entrance.

Love, love, love this non-traditional welcome mat! The cheery colors make you eager to enter this house!
Selling your house is no time to display cute sayings ("Wipe Your Paws") at your front door.  (I'm not a big fan of wreaths either.) My preference for most homes is a simple Welcome Mat with a plain design in coconut husk.
Staging your house is not costly.  The return on investment is high and you get to take your new accessories with you to your next home.  Investing in the Top 5 Accessories You Need for DYI Staging will result in a quick sale and top dollar for your property.  Really.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Top Five Accessories You Need to Buy for DIY Staging #4

Thanks for all the great feedback on my DIY Staging series!

#4 BIG Bold Art

Use art that is big, bold and colorful.  It makes all the difference!  Kick your walls up a notch for selling.

For this dining room, I hung the mirror over the buffet vertically and stacked two paintings on the back wall.  The back wall faces the front door--first impressions, ya know.  (Also, painted over the rosey-red paint with and apple green to correspond with the painting.)

In this family room, a Geranium print was placed on the mantel to bring in some much needed color.  Arched metal work was placed on the top shelves of the built-ins to accentuate their architecture.



This Plain Jane bedroom cried for some jumbo artwork!

Never, ever, ever keep encased Memorial Flags on display when selling your house.  We do not, even for one second, want to resurrect sad memories of lost loved ones when people are considering moving into your house. 

This Van Gogh print might seem super large for this kitchen wall.   However, it is the wall facing the back door leading to the screened porch and deck.  This vignette,including the super-duper colorful print, creates a great focal point.

Keep-it-simple-staging.  (Don't get me started on doilies....)

In a vacant house, it is essential to use a large art.  The colors help warm up the stark white walls.



Monday, February 4, 2013

Top Five Accessories You Need to Buy for DIY Staging - #3

This is the third installment of 5 on DIY staging.

#3.  Organic Elements

Organic: of living things; relating to, derived from or characteristic of nature.

We are part of nature and therefore are attracted to and feel most comfortable surrounded around natural, organic elements.
Amazing Nature
This post is on some of my favorite organic elements I use for staging homes for sale.

Live flora and fauna:  Live plants lend life and vitality to a room.  Live plants must be lush and healthy.  There is no room for scraggly-yellowed-leaved-shedding-one-sided-Betty's.  Add live plants and your rooms will be infused with great energy!

Perhaps you remember I always use fresh Granny Smith apples when staging.

Oranges, lemons, and limes look great displayed.  Fresh herbs (Rosemary, Chives, Parsley-my favs) and add ambiance in kitchens.  Kitchens have too many cold, reflective surfaces.  Organic elements add warmth.

Of course, fresh flowers are always a welcomed addition to any room.
Martha Stewart

Nature's art:  Use seashells in bowls, coral, cones, nuts and gourdes in baskets, river rock on trays with candles, hurricane vases with dried lentils, beans, peas, coffee beans.
My Heart's Desire

Handmade: Handmade objects carry the love and attention to detail from the artisan that created them. Displaying textural woven textiles (pillows, throws, placemats, rugs), handmade pottery, iron work, soaps, and candles heighten appeal.

I love the knit pillows on this bed.  See how they change the look of the bed and make if feel more sumptuous?
Jeff Lewis Designs
I adore organics!  Nature is all around us.  Bring a bit of nature into your house and instant appeal for buyers!



Friday, February 1, 2013

Top 5 Accessories You Need to Buy for DIY Staging #2

This post is the second post in my series on the items you can buy to self-stage your house.
#2.  Lamps!
A room can't have too much light.  

Michael J. Smith
Sarah Richardson
Let there be light
I have yet to consult on a house for sale that has adequate lighting.  I will never understand folks aversion to buying lamps.  Lamps can be expensive but they make a huge impact on how your house shows.  The first thing a realtor does before the potential buyer tours your house is turn on all lights and lamps.  Proper lighting shows your house to its best potential.

Admittedly, I am a lamp junkie.  But I am a bargain shopper. Even high-end interior design shops often have lamps at reasonable prices.  Of course, Craigslist and consignment shops are a great resource if you don't want to pay retail.  I've stumbled on some great finds at HomeGoods, too.

A pair of candlestick lamps look great on a buffet.
AM DolceVita

Floor lamps look fabulous near upholstered chairs used for reading.  Floor lamps can be used near a sofa. However, you must build a vignette around it so it doesn't look like a flag pole extending out of the sofa.
This is a gorgeous master bedroom that is bathed in several light sources.

Small lamps are perfect on kitchen countertops, on bathroom vanities, and used in built in bookcases.  See how the small lamp above lightens the dark corner?

I have been in luxury homes where the only lamps on the main floor consisted of a floor lamp and two matching table lamps.  You know, the 3-in-a-box-set courtesy of BBB.  Use your 20% discount coupon and 'winner, winner chicken dinner'. In the words of Jerry Seinfeld, "not that there is anything wrong with that" but with a little shopping, there are alternatives.
Bed, Bath and Beyond

As I mentioned in my last post, accessories can move with you.  Here again, you can purchase new lamps for your house to show at its best and take them with you to use in your new home.

Buy a few stylish, contemporary lamps!  New lamps will update your decor and add a lovely ambiance to your home for sale.

Happy Friday, y'all!