7 Budget-Friendly Ways to Give Today’s Home Buyers What They’re Looking For

blog-give-buyers-what-they-want1Home owners are sometimes reluctant to invest money when putting their home on the market. Sooner or later, they’ll be moving out anyway and extensive renovations often only increase home value by a fraction of the project’s costs.

So why bother?

It’s simple: doing nothing could cost you far more in the long run than the small amount you’ll spend doing simple home-improvement and prep projects. It could mean the difference between multiple offers that increase the selling price, and a home that stagnates on the market while you continue to pay mortgage and utility costs.

To maximize your selling and renovation budget, pay attention to features that will make your home more attractive to today’s potential buyers:

 

  1. Add new “jewelry” to important rooms. Bathrooms and kitchens are the most expensive rooms to remodel, but a full-scale renovation isn’t always necessary to show a home in its best light. Less expensive updates, like replacing cabinet hardware, faucets, or lighting or adding a fresh coat of neutral paint, go a long way toward creating spaces that feel modern and clean.
  2. Add flow. The majority of today’s homebuyers prefer open floor plans, a feature that’s especially hard to come by in older homes. Before putting your home on the market, reduce the amount of furniture in your house — put it in the garage, off-site storage, take it to a friend’s house, move it to another room — to create an open flow between rooms and the feel of more open space in the home.
  3. Add light. Ample daylight is highly desirable among most home buyers. Remove heavy curtains or draperies, trim shrubbery or trees that may be blocking light, and move furniture away from windows to let the sunlight in.
  4. Update technology and energy efficiency features. Today’s buyers are growing to expect app-driven technology and energy efficiency in their homes. Adding features like a smart thermostat, USB charging ports, LED lights, ceiling fans, or security systems that can be operated from a smart phone are small investments that may give you an edge as a seller.
  5. Create a home office. Telecommuting is still on the rise, especially in suburban Houston, TX communities like, Katy, Sugar Land, and Cypress, making a dedicated home office space essential for many buyers. Consider turning a fourth bedroom into an office or use a small desk, lamp, and a chair to create the feeling of a separate space in a larger room.
  6. Use professional photos. According to the National Association of Realtors, more than 90% of all home buyers begin their home search on the Internet. A fantastic online photo presentation is essential to bringing those buyers to your front door. Photos should be plentiful, well-lit, and ideally, shot by a professional real estate photographer with a wide angle lens. And for heavens sake, DECLUTTER AND CLEAN UP BEFORE THE PHOTOGRAPHER GETS THERE! I dare you to go online right now and see how many listing photos you can find with piles of toys, fast food bags scattered on kitchen counters, and toiletries strewn across bathroom sinks and showers. There’s nothing worse than multiple photos of badly staged rooms, and sellers who do this are LEAVING MONEY ON THE TABLE.
  7. Stage it. Don’t underestimate the influence of HGTV and Pinterest with your potential buyers. Home decor-related websites and tv shows permeate the market, and today’s home buyers want the current trends. Sometimes even small changes, like adding a few modern accessories, can help your home appear more contemporary and up-to-date. Getting feedback from a professionally certified home stager can reap huge benefits in terms of learning the best (and worst) ROI updates and additions you can make to your particular home.

Do you have suggestions for budget-friendly renovations for home sellers? Comment below! If you need some help getting started, give Three Bears Home Staging a call at (832) 377-0785 to schedule a Walk & Talk Consultation . We can give you feedback that will put you on the right track for a faster sale and a higher profit!

Title photo credit:  “Holding phone with iPhone app on screen” by www.yourbestdigs.com is licensed under CC BY 2.0

3 Misconceptions About Home Staging

Nearly half of all Realtors believe that a staged home can bring a higher price than a non-staged home. According to the National Association of Realtors 2015 Profile of Home Staging, 32% of buyers’ agents believe staging a home increases the dollar value buyers are willing to offer by one percent to five percent. Another 16% of agents believe it increases the dollar value buyers are willing to offer by six percent to 10 percent.

With so much money at stake, why do some people still fail to stage their homes? Possibly because of a few misconceptions still surrounding home staging…

1.  Staging is only necessary for unoccupied homes.

No way! While vacant homes do benefit from the addition of furniture and accessories, staging an occupied home can have a tremendous impact on your listing photos and on how potential buyers view the space. The best part? It usually costs less because a professional stager can work with what you already own. Often something as simple as rearranging furniture can better showcase the hidden potential in a room.

livingbanda

This home is clearly occupied, but we removed unnecessary pieces and rearranged the furniture to showcase how bright and spacious this living area truly is!

2. My stager will just tell me to paint everything beige and make it neutral.

Sometimes–but here’s the thing: buyers must be able to envision themselves living in the house. This is much easier for them to do when they’re NOT surrounded by the seller’s taste-specific design choices, family photos, and references to hobbies/sports/universities/religion throughout the house. Buyers need to see your house, not your stuff. On the other hand, there are sellers at the opposite extreme who completely eliminate all coziness and create an environment that is far too empty and sterile. A good stager will help you find the right balance between effectively depersonalizing and creating a comfortable, welcoming space that invites buyers to picture a romanticized view of what life could be like if they purchased that home.

bluebedbanda

We were able to work with this client’s existing color scheme and furnishings to create better MLS photos and show off the spaciousness of the room.

3. Staging is basically just decluttering.

First of all, let’s talk about that terrible word “decluttering.” I hate it and don’t use it with my clients. Simplifying is a much more accurate word. Decluttering implies that your stuff is either messy or junky, and the bottom line is that, no matter how great (or not) your belongings are, removing extra distractions will help potential buyers focus on the architectural details of the home. That being said, adding decor in a very intentional way (eg., a large bowl of bright, beautiful lemons to highlight a gourmet kitchen island or setting an elegant table in the dining room to help buyers envision how easily they could entertain) is an important part of styling the home for photos and for visits from buyers.

LivingRoomBandA

For this client, we hid the toys and rearranged the remaining accessories to highlight the height of the fireplace and the spaciousness of the room.

If you need a little help getting your Katy, TX home ready to go on the market, give the home staging experts at Three Bears Home Staging a call at 832-377-0785, and we’ll set up a Walk & Talk Consultation to get you started!

3 Ways to Make Buyers Run Screaming from Your Home

blog-3-ways-to-make-buyers-run-screamingWhen staging your home for sale, it’s important to create an atmosphere that promotes peace, tranquility, and respite from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. You want buyers to linger and visualize the lifestyle they could lead if they lived in a home like yours. Yet even in the most beautifully styled house, buyers will run screaming if it’s too hot, smells like an ashtray, or has 4 or 5 cats traipsing about. Learn these three surefire triggers that will have potential buyers heading for the hills:

  • Strong smells. We all become “nose-blind” to some degree when it comes to the smells in our own homes. Cigarette smoke, pet odors, food, and mildew are the most common offenders I find in clients’ homes. Eliminate odors completely to avoid distracting buyers. You want a buyer thinking “How soon can I move in?” not “How soon can I get out of here and wash this smell out of my hair and clothes?!”
    • Curious about using air fresheners? Not always a good idea. Read our article on Scents That Sell.
    • Tip: Textiles can hold smells. If you have lingering odors, try laundering, cleaning, or removing possible culprits (carpets, rugs, curtains, pillows, pet beds).
  • Uncomfortable temperature. Take the outside weather into account, and make sure the temperature inside your house is comfortable for buyers — around 72 degrees F. If you typically keep your home warmer or cooler than most people find comfortable — either for cost savings or your own personal comfort — be sure to adjust the temperature prior to any showings. Buyers will walk out of a home that’s stiflingly warm or freezing cold, sight unseen.
  • Unruly pets. A “for sale” home should convey an atmosphere of relaxation from the moment a potential buyer steps in the door. Barking dogs, overly friendly cats, or squawking parrots do not promote relaxation. Nervous animals create nervous buyers. Whenever possible, completely remove animals from the home during showings. If it’s not possible, be sure animals are safely secured in an area that will be minimally distracting to potential buyers. While you’re at it, hide or eliminate as much evidence of pets as possible (e.g, litter boxes, food dishes, pet beds, cages) prior to showings.

It’s nearly impossible to be objective about smells, temperature, or your fur babies. Ask a professional home stager, your Realtor, or a friend you trust to be brutally honest with you, LISTEN to what they have to say, and make adjustments. Don’t risk losing a sale because of something that’s simple to correct!

Need some feedback on your Katy, TX home for sale? We’d love to help you with a Walk and Talk Consultation! Contact Three Bears Home Staging here to set up an appointment!

Photo credit: Karl-Ludwig Poggemann via Flikr

5 Tips for Staging a Media Room

blog-media-room-staging-tips

This beautiful room was pulled together by one of my clients after a Walk & Talk Consultation. The styling here really helps buyers visualize themselves enjoying “movie night” in the comfort of their own new home!

Media rooms are an especially attractive asset to high-end real estate buyers who expect luxury features in a home. Just like any other room, staging a media room well means creating a space that helps potential buyers dream about what life could be like in your home! Use these tips to show buyers your media room is the perfect place to hang out and relax!

  1. Neutralize paint. I tend to see an unusually high percentage of red media rooms in my consultations. Remember, the goal for staging is to create mass appeal in order to attract a greater number of buyers. While a thoroughly red media room works beautifully for many home owners, such a strong design statement will likely limit its appeal to potential buyers. Softer, more neutral tones promote relaxation and better allow a buyer to envision the space as their home instead of being reminded it’s still yours.
  2. Use vignettes. Vignettes are little groupings of props or decorations that create an emotional connection point for your buyers. They romanticize your home! If there’s a wet bar, set out a tray with a couple of empty stem glasses and a wine bottle. Setting a coffee table with (fake) popcorn and soda invites potential buyers to picture themselves relaxing in the home with a great movie!
  3. Hang oversized artwork. This is a great trick for media rooms that are devoid of electronics. Hang a large art piece in place of the screen for a touch of color on that giant blank wall. In the Houston area, local artist Stephen Scott creates large scale custom framed art and photography to complement your decor. Visit his site at http://artreka.com.
  4. Invite relaxation with plush seating. Add lots of pillows and a coordinating throw to create a comfortable space where buyers dream of unwinding. Hint: If you’re missing your red paint, throw pillows are a great way to add some pops of color back in to the room–and you can take them to your new house!
  5. Maximize lighting. Buyers respond best to “light and bright.” Media rooms, however, are typically dark and often windowless. Add a floor lamp, open windows, and turn on all lights during showings so that buyers can see all that this room has to offer.

If you still need a little help getting your media room just right, call Three Bears Home Staging & Redesign at (832)377-0785 to schedule a consultation. We’ll help you get your media room ready for show time in no time!

Drapes and Wallpaper in Home Staging

blog-Drapes-and-WallpaperStaging is 100% visual marketing. It’s about creating the most demand from the largest number of potential buyers. In most cases, drapes and wallpaper of any kind are extremely taste and style specific. To increase the appeal of your home with more buyers, we recommend removing wallpaper and drapes in most cases.

Most buyers will not appreciate the elegance of your custom drapes or the pattern of your wallpaper. Are you willing to gamble thousands of dollars in your hard earned home equity by waiting for that one buyer who can either see past those things or who loves them?

Common Home Seller Questions

“Are you saying I have bad taste in drapes/wallpaper?”

No. We’re not anti-wallpaper or anti-drapes when it comes to decorating. The home you live in and enjoy should be personalized! Decorating is not staging, though. Staging is about marketing your valuable product (the house) in a way that will statistically net you a higher profit, less time on the market, and fewer buyer objections.

“But the draperies/wallpaper were very expensive! Don’t they add value to the home?”

No, they don’t. Value is based on your square footage and comparable sold homes with similar amenities in the immediate vicinity. Drapes and wallpaper won’t alter the value. What they can do is increase or decrease the mass appeal of your home and the amount of time it sits on the market.

“I’m afraid if I remove the wallpaper it’s going to tear up the walls.”

It might, but guess what? Potential buyers will likely have the same thoughts. And they’ll add it to their mental list of projects to be updated when they move in, which reduces the amount of money they’ll be willing to pay for your home and the likelihood that they’ll even make an offer.

Occasionally, it is possible to paint over wallpaper, but this requires special prep (read tips from both Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore that detail the circumstances where this is possible). A qualified, professional painter (we can make recommendations) is often one of the best investments when preparing your home to sell.

“But my wallpaper/drapes are so cute/whimsical/classy/neutral! Do I really need to take them down?”

Yes. Buyers will see what you want them to see. With very, very few exceptions, wallpaper and draperies put limits on the potential buyers can see in your beautiful home.

“Buyers are going to decorate this house the way they want to anyway. Can’t they see past my decor?”

No, most can’t. Statistically, only about 10% of buyers will be able to look past personalized decor and visualize your home’s potential for their lifestyle. Most buyers want a home that’s move-in ready. That means instead of seeing all the beautiful potential of your spacious kitchen or bathroom, they’re going to see dollar signs and a room they need to spend time and money renovating.

“I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll just wait and see what kind of feedback I get after I put my home on the market.”

By waiting to remove things about your home that, most buyers typically find objectionable, you limit your market and risk sitting on the market waiting for that one buyer who can either see past the wallpaper or who loves it — an expensive gamble for most sellers.

If you need more help getting your home ready to go on the market, give us a call at (832) 377-0785. Our popular Walk & Talk Consultations provide home sellers the guidance and immediate feedback they need to get top dollar and a quicker sale!

Photo credit: tapetenpics via Flikr.

Staging a Home That Buyers Will LOVE This Valentine’s Day

Home staging is about creating a love connection between the property and potential buyers. As the home seller, you have a HUGE advantage: a perfectly targeted, captive audience and an opportunity to make multiple good impressions! Most buyers who come to your house are good prospects. They are actively shopping for the product you are selling, and if they’ve made it inside your front door, your house probably already meets their general criteria.

Each room gives you, the seller, the perfect opportunity to make dozens of first impressions. It’s critical that those first impressions are good ones! Most buyers have trouble seeing past overdone, older, mismatched decor, unusual smells, dirty carpets, and strong paint colors. If the property isn’t in move-in ready condition, they will go down the street and purchase a similar house that is.

living-BEFORE

Before staging, this high-end home was dark, cave-like and uninviting. Buyers won’t linger long in an environment like this.

Conversely, a home that is open, updated, inviting, that looks and smells fresh and cared for subconsciously invites buyers to visualize themselves living in it!

This is why home staging is critical! By removing clutter, depersonalizing, creating warmth and cohesion — in short, staging the home — you have the power to move the buyer from looking at your house to evaluating whether it could be their home.

living2-AFTER

A little staging went a long way on this property! We lightened, brightened, and re-arranged to create an open, spacious feeling that will leave buyers saying, “Yes! This is it! This is the one!”

 

Remember — buyers visit a home for logical reasons (it’s in the right neighborhood, it has enough bedrooms and bathrooms, it’s close to work). But they make OFFERS based on EMOTION! A certified professional home stager from Three Bears Home Staging and Redesign can help you create a love connection for your property! Give us a call at (832) 377-0785 to schedule a home staging assessment today!

“Merchandising” Your Space for Home Buyers

blog-merchandising-your-spaceWhat people actually do and what they dream of doing are often two very different things. For example, not all buyers entertain lots of company… BUT they all ENVISION a lifestyle of entertaining. Interesting, isn’t it?

Home staging is 100% visual merchandising. It is about creating spaces that bring the vision to life — spaces your buyer demographic can dream of or “aspire to.” By staging your home, you help buyers transition from the logical decision to visit your home (because it fits their size/location criteria) to the emotional decision to make an offer (because they can “see” their family living in that home)!

The below chart helps you creatively view the differences between the “vision” staging creates for buyers who walk through your home and the way we typically live!

 Buyer Aspiration Cheat Sheet

Buyers aspire to: Buyers do not aspire to:
  • Expensive things like paintings, wood, silver and glass
  • New and modern things that signify fresh and clean “updated décor”
  • Trends that are timeless
  • The good life of travel, entertaining friends, gourmet cooking, wine tasting, espresso drinking and a luxurious, leisurely lifestyle
  • Electronically savvy (flat screens, surround sound and laptops)
  • Light and spacious surroundings
  • Harmonious and updated color combinations
  • Cheap things like plastics, particle board or aluminum
  • Old and dated items that signify tired and dirty
  • Fads that are tiresome
  • The boring life of 8 to 5, dreary, plain, vanilla and uninspiring.  (i.e, getting rid of any traces of life or décor)
  • Electronically last century (tube TVs, wires galore and big stereo speakers)
  • Dark and cluttered spaces
  • Clashing, non-rhythmic, half-hearted color choices done on the fly

Hands On Exercise – Grab one of your favorite home magazines or catalogs and flip through the pages.  You will see that every photo is “visually merchandised” to create a longing in the viewer. We want to create that same merchandising vision in every room of your home!

Need help creating that vision? Three Bears Home Staging & Redesign can help! Give us a call at (832) 377-0785, or fill out our contact form today!