Bathrooms: Easy DIY Staging Tips

blog-bathroom-staging-tipsFirst impressions are especially important when it comes to bathrooms, an area where potential home buyers don’t typically spend a lot of time. We’ve outlined a few of our favorite tips for staging your bathroom (and some easy updates even if you’re not trying to sell your home).

  1. Keep it sparkling clean. Remove all traces of dirt and mold from shower doors and tiles. Get rid of rugs and fuzzy toilet seat covers, wipe down baseboards, sweep and mop floors. Dirt, hair, mildew and soap scum are major turn-offs for buyers.
  2. Remove clutter–even if it’s functional. Buyers don’t want to see your combs, toothbrushes, hair dryers, and toiletries stacked on the counter. Keep these personal items in a caddy to easily store out of sight in a cupboard when not in use.
  3. Add spa-like accessories. A few candles, decorative soaps and a beautiful plant (we like orchids) can help any bathroom feel a bit more luxurious. Avoid the temptation to use heavy deodorizers.
  4. Replace old bathroom fixtures with new ones. Sleek, modern fixtures can give your bathroom an instant facelift at a fraction of the cost of a complete renovation. Shop your local home improvement store for inexpensive cabinet hardware, faucets, shower heads, towel bars, toilet paper bars and lights.
  5. Add some high-quality plush towels that coordinate with the rest of the bathroom’s color scheme. Hide your “real” everyday use towels (just toss them in the in the dryer out of sight) when buyers are coming through and put out fresh clean ones — neutral colors typically work best for photos. To get a “spa-like” look, we recommend rolling up a few white hand towels to place on the counter or next to the tub.
  6. Keep counter wipes, glass cleaner, and paper towels handy in every bathroom for quick clean-ups. You never know when that call will come from a potential buyer who wants to tour your house!

Making a few budget-friendly changes can get your bathroom looking great for any target market. Need more staging tips for your Katy, Cypress or Houston area home? Three Bears Home Staging can help! Contact us here to schedule a Walk & Talk Consultation or call (832) 377-0785.

3 Easy Steps to an End of Summer Declutter

blog-endofsummerdeclutterI really dislike the word “declutter” — to my mind, it implies messiness, dirtiness, and disorganization. I prefer “simplify and reduce” because it feels less judgemental and more direct (the Google search engine tells me I’m in the minority as far as which phrase people actually search, though). The truth is, even the neatest, most organized of us have clothing that needs to be purged; books we’ll never read again; stacks of paper or kids’ artwork that needs organizing; or maybe even an extra piece of furniture that we don’t love but still have sitting in a corner because we never found the right spot for it. Whether you’re getting ready to sell or staying put, it’s very difficult for people to see the details of your beautiful home when there is too much stuff. “Less is more” is especially true when it comes to staging your home for sale.

As summer comes to a close, take the time to do a little simplifying and reducing. Getting rid of extra stuff is not as hard as it seems — in fact, there are plenty of places that would love to have it and will give you money for it! And when you properly dispose, recycle, or donate your unwanted items, you help keep the Earth a little greener for everyone.

Here is our three-step process for finding good homes for your extra “stuff”:

  1. First, grab three large plastic bins and two trash bags.
  2. Label the bins and bags as follows:Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 12.58.12 PM
  3. Go through the room and ask yourself these three critical questions:
    • Do I love this item?
    • Do I use this item?
    • Does this item fit the style or vision I am trying to create?

If the item does not meet at least TWO of those qualifications, place it in its most appropriate bin.

Store. For those items that you “only love” or “only use annually,” consider storing them. If you’re finding quite a few items in your storage bin, don’t worry! It’s okay to simply store those items to unpack later.

Sell. Craigslist.com, eBay, Facebook, NextDoor, and consignment stores are a great way to sell your more valuable items. Online options generally require far less time and energy than a garage sale.

Donate. Consider simply giving other items to those who need it. List items you don’t want as “free” on Craigslist and Freecycle, and someone will pick it up at your house shortly. You can also donate to the following organizations in or near Katy, TX (some even offer pick up services for large items, such as furniture and appliances):

Recycle. Don’t trash old electronic equipment! These devices often contain valuable and rare metals, as well as chemicals that can be harmful to you and the environment. Electronics should never be thrown in the trash or burned. For old TVs, computers, refrigerators or large appliances, make sure to dispose of them properly by calling your city to see where each piece is best recycled and handled. Best Buy also offers free electronics recycling.

If you’re getting ready to put your home on the market, we can’t overstate how important it is to simplify and reduce so that potential buyers can see all the beauty your home has to offer! If you need help getting started, give the professionals at Three Bears Home Staging a call at (832) 377-0785 or fill out our contact form here.

Title photo credit:  “Flex Tote – 1K52 – Large – Closet2” by Rubbermaid Products is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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How to Stage a Bookshelf

Built-in shelves can be especially tricky when staging your home for sale. When they’re overflowing or crammed too tightly (as many of them are), they give the impression that there’s a lack of space. Use our tips to learn how to stage a bookcase like a pro!

Three Bears Home Staging

On this client’s bookshelf, we arranged items that were similar in type (books) and color (red vases) in a zig-zag pattern between shelves to keep a viewer’s eye moving over the entire bookcase and to provide balance.

  • Pack away 50% of what is in your bookshelf.
  • Remove any paperback books, as these appear less attractive and sophisticated than hardback books. Hint: Flip book jackets on hard cover books and recover books with the plain white side facing out. Alternatively, you can turn books backward so that the spine is facing the back of the wall and the page edges are facing out. Both methods create more visual uniformity on the shelf.
  • Vary the stacking of books, both vertical and horizontal.
  • Group accessories in odd numbers — usually 3 to 5 pieces
  • Push the books to the back of bookshelf to create more space.
  • Organize accessories from tallest to shortest, but try and keep books at even heights.
  • Add organic elements, like plants, wooden bowls, shells, or accessories with natural textures.
  • Arrange items that are similar in type or color in a zig-zag pattern between shelves to keep a viewer’s eye moving over the entire bookcase and to provide balance.
  • Use one or two large accessories vs. several small accessories give a more spacious feel and will generally photograph better. Using pieces larger than a grapefruit is a good rule of thumb.
  • Remove any family photos or accessories buyers can use to profile you (no references to your hobbies, interests, political or religious preferences) – when in doubt, take it out. *Remember, this pertains to staging — if your home isn’t for sale, you can make your shelves as personalized as you want!
  • Remove anything resting atop your bookshelves as it gives an already tall piece more height and disrupts the balance in a room.
  • Consider balancing a bookshelf on one side of the room with a tree on the other side of the room.

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Do you have a favorite tip or trick you like to use for staging shelves? Comment below! And if you need a hand staging the bookshelves in your Katy, TX home for sale, we can help! Give the home staging experts at Three Bears Home Staging a call or contact us here for more information on our services.

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

How to Make Your Bedroom More Romantic

How to Make Your Bedroom More RomanticYour master bedroom should be a relaxing, romantic respite from the chaos of the world around you. Whether you’re staging your home for sale or just trying to create a more inspiring vibe in your current space, a few simple changes this Valentine’s Day can add romance and calm to your bedroom sanctuary:

  • Tidy up. Lots of clutter lying around can be a a source of white-noise type anxiety for some people because it’s a constant reminder of chores that need to be done. Remove the piles of laundry, stacks of books and papers, and other “stuff” piled on nightstands and dressers to create a calmer, more peaceful space.
  • Make it plush. Think upscale hotel bedding–lots of pillows, cozy blankets, and extra soft sheets.
  • Freshen up. Are there weird smells in your bedroom? No? Are you positive? Most of us become “noseblind” to the scents in our own home. Textiles can hold a lot of odors so launder draperies and bedding. Sprinkle carpets with baking soda, wait 30 minutes, then vacuum to remove even more odor. Houseplants are another great way to continually clean the air. Open windows to air out the space. Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned, light a scented candle for a little fragrance and ambiance.
  • Examine your lighting. Soft white bulbs are ideal for bedrooms — avoid “daylight” bulbs or fluorescent overhead lighting when possible. Subtle, ambient lighting, like a table lamp, is even better.

And of course…fresh flowers and a little chocolate are always a nice touch!

How to you make your master bedroom a more beautiful, relaxing space? Share with us! And if you’re thinking of selling your Katy, TX home soon, give us a call. Our Walk and Talk Consultations provide home sellers with immediate feedback on how to get top dollar and a quick sale.

Photo credit: Tobias Wutzow via CreativeCommons.org

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!

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.

Is Home Staging Tax-Deductible?

Photo by StockMoneys.com

Photo by StockMoneys.com

As the April 15 tax deadline approaches, I wanted to remind you that in many cases, the cost of home staging is tax-deductible!

Barb Schwarz, ASPM®, IASHP® and The Creator of Home Staging®, provides the following information:

According to CPA/CFE Rob Unger of the accounting firm Judelson, Giordano & Siegel, P.C., “Home sellers can benefit from home staging, as the fees for staging services can be considered as advertising costs, according to IRS guidelines. Since a home stager prepares your house for potential homebuyers, the IRS considers the service as an advertising expense, as long as the home stager has been hired for the sole purpose of selling your home. The costs of staging are subtracted from the proceeds of the sale of the home and decrease the total realized profit. In summary, the IRS’s position is that Staging costs are a legitimate selling expense for both primary and secondary homes and are therefore tax deductible.

However, it is important to note that if a house is staged and then taken off the market, the staging expenses are not tax deductible.”

One note: be sure to ALWAYS check with your own CPA concerning all tax write-offs, tax information and the above information as well to see how your own unique situation may be affected.

Are you selling a home this year? Need a little help figuring out how to get the quickest and most profitable sale? Give Three Bears Home Staging & Redesign a call at (832) 377-0785!

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!