“Ask the Home Staging Expert®” – Have you ever been asked to stage a house you just can’t help?

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Hi, Lori – I’ve been staging homes for several years and was recently asked by a Realtor to come in and give his client an estimate.  When I got there, I was shocked and had no idea what to do or where to begin.  It was a borderline hoarding situation!    I told them I couldn’t help.  Both the Realtor and homeowner seemed really unhappy with me.  It made me feel bad, but I didn’t want to charge them when I knew it was not at all something I wanted to deal with.  The entire appointment was uncomfortable and awkward.  Has this ever happened to you?  Any suggestions on how I should handle this situation if it ever presents itself again?  

Stager in Buffalo

Dear Buffalo Stager – I have definitely run into this a few times myself.  And I do give you credit for being honest with them.  There’s no point in wasting their time and money if the job is beyond your scope of services and/or skills.  Both the Realtor and homeowner were well aware of the situation.  In fact, I’m sure that’s why the agent called you in!  As long as you didn’t hurl insults at them on the way out the door, there is nothing to feel bad about, so please don’t beat yourself up.

What I typically do in this case is tell the homeowner I would be happy to come back and stage their property once it’s been cleared out.  I then explain that it would really be in their best interest, both time-wise and financially, to hire an organizing pro to tackle the excess before staging it.  I do have a few organizers I’ve worked with in the past and am happy to recommend them, then I tell the agent and/or homeowner to give me a call back when they are truly ready for staging.

No harm, no foul, and you actually did help by offering the best solution you could under the circumstances.  I would start aligning myself with a professional organizer or two in your area who specialize in hoarding, then pass their name and contact info along if you ever run into this situation again.  Sometimes, part of being a professional home stager is simply having the ability to point someone in the right direction.

Hope this helps and wishing you continued success!

If you have a question for “ASK THE HOME STAGING EXPERT®”, please contact lori@homestagingexpert.com.




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Looking to Update Your Basement? Try this Awesome Flooring Option!

calibamboo floors basement

When it comes time to sell…or any other time, for that matter…creating livable space in what might normally be considered an unlivable basement is a HUGE selling point, no matter where you live.  But flooring is often an issue.

Because many basement floors are poured concrete, and just due to the nature of basements in general, moisture seeping through is frequently a concern when it comes to flooring.  While most professionals recommend tile or carpeting, there’s a fairly new product around that hasn’t quite caught on yet like I believe it should.

Cali Bamboo offers what I think is one of the best alternatives on the market!  A water-proof, click-together vinyl plank-flooring system that is as easy on the eyes as it is on the pocket book.  I’ve actually ordered several samples and have had them laid down on my floor over the past few months to test them out.  Not only are they durable, but they are the closest thing to looking like the real-deal in a vinyl floor option that I’ve seen.

calibamboo floors closeup

Unlike the glue-down type vinyl plank-flooring, there is no adhesive to contend with and this product will actually stand up to time without peeling away and looking like a total mess.  The strips lay flat as it uses the same type of click-together system as a floating laminate floor.  Likewise, the very nature of the finish is quite lux for a vinyl flooring product and super easy to clean.  I could actually see it in a bathroom or kitchen, as well.

calibamboo floors kitchen

This would be a beautiful option for the DIYer’s!  As per their website, this flooring is commercial grade, 100% waterproof, and has a 50 year residential warranty.  Comes in a variety of styles and colors, and samples are available.  Pick up a few to test out the lock-together system yourself and see if I’m not right about this amazing floor!

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“Ask the Home Staging Expert®” – How do we sell a house when we live next to messy neighbors?

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Good Morning, Lori!

Here’s an issue my partner and I are having and we don’t know what to do.  We are getting our house ready to sell and have followed every bit of advice we can find.  We think our place looks pristine, inside and out.  The problem is, we live next to neighbors who have other priorities.  Their yard is a mess, there are knee-high weeds or taller everywhere, they have a junk car parked in the alley next to their garage, there is junk metal scattered around, and the entire place looks dilapidated and awful!  How do we appeal to buyers when they know they are going to be living next to that mess?  They are very nice people, they just don’t seem to care about their property.  Should we ask them to clean it up?  If so, how do we ask without offending them?

Good Neighbors in Shreveport


Dear Good Neighbors

That is definitely a sticky situation and unfortunately, no amount of staging can stage away the neighbors!

Yes, I would definitely approach them and yes, they might be offended.  But really, what other choice do you have?

Ideally, it would have be great if you could talk to them while you’re working on an exterior project of your own.  You could simply say something like, “Hey!  I’m hauling a few things away today!  I can grab that pile for you if you like!”  Or something to that effect.

But I have a feeling a more direct approach is going to be necessary.  Tell them you are selling, let them know you mean no offense, and offer to do the work.  Approach it gently and maybe start with something small.  Like the weeds.   (Hey, for all you know, they will welcome your assistance!)  You can get more involved and tackle more projects as you go.

If that get’s you nowhere, you could also try calling the city, though I would only use that approach as a last resort.  But many areas have ordinances that your neighbors are likely violating.  While I certainly wouldn’t want them to get into trouble, it is not fair that the condition of their home and yard might impact the sale of yours.  So that would be my final solution if directly approaching them doesn’t work.  If you explain the situation to your city, they will likely be more diplomatic in their approach.

And finally, while it certainly won’t resolve the problems next door, you might consider a privacy fence or privacy hedge to lessen the impact and use sheers on the windows facing the neighbors.  It won’t hide the mess, but it might downplay it enough to make it less of an issue.

I feel for you!  Hope you can get this resolved and wishing you all the best for a successful sale!

If you have a question for “ASK THE HOME STAGING EXPERT®”, please contact lori@homestagingexpert.com.

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The Top Three Investments that will Help You Sell Your House

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Getting ready to sell?  Or maybe your house is already sitting on the market going nowhere fast.  Whatever the case, your goal is to appeal to the most potential buyers as possible, and we recommend these three updates to garner more interest for the biggest payback…

1)  Paint Your Walls Neutral – We can’t stress this one enough!  Fresh, neutral colors have been proven to appeal to more potential buyers.  It’s not a gimmick, it’s a fact!  And paint is one of the cheapest upgrades you can make to your home.  Say so long to your lavender walls…you can paint your walls any color you like in your new place…and instead opt for a nice, creamy white, taupe, or tan so more buyers will be able to envision themselves living there!

2)  Update Your Flooring – Potential buyers absolutely LOVE new carpeting!  The look, the feel, the fact that they won’t be living on someone else’s old floors.  But if you really want to impress them, go for wood or wood-look laminate!  While replacing flooring is never cheap, it costs a lot less than your first price reduction.

3)  Perk Up Your Landscape – Trim back those overgrown trees and shrubs, or cut down anything that is dead or dying altogether, replace the yellow, weedy lawn with sod, drop in a few colorful plants, add fresh mulch, and you’ve just increased your curb appeal 100%!  A landscape that looks well-maintained, SELLS!

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“Ask the Home Staging Expert®” – How many houseplants are too many when your house is on the market?

Got PlantsHi Lori -

Dear Home Staging Expert -

I’m a Real Estate Agent in Florida and I have a client with a lot of houseplants.  I mean A LOT of houseplants!  They are everywhere and seem to be multiplying!  The homeowner is very proud of her collection, but those plants are the first thing you see when you walk in the door and they are overwhelming.  On top of that, a lot of them look like they’re on their last leg.  Personally, I would have tossed many of them out a long time ago.  How do I tell my client we need to thin out the jungle?  And what do we do with all those plants?  

Desperate Realtor in Boca Raton

Dear Desperate Realtor,

Too much of a good thing is just too much, no matter what that ‘thing’ happens to be.  What this listing is suffering from is really nothing more than clutter.  It just happens to be living clutter in this case.  While the homeowner might love all her plants, you are going to have to be honest and let her know they are going to be a distraction for buyers and will need to be corralled.  If you come up some options before you approach her, she will be more likely to agree.

You could find out if she might have a close friend or relative or maybe even just a friendly neighbor to farm them out to while her house is on the market.  It might seem like an impossible quest, but I have frequently found people with green thumbs are friends with and/or related to other people with green thumbs, so it’s not really that far fetched.

The best idea short of removing them from the home is to gather all the plants together and display them in one place as a grouping.  Perhaps a sunroom or a sunny, secondary bedroom, or even somewhere outside.  Since you’re in Florida, I’m sure they will do well out there.  But the key is to group as many together as tightly as possible in one area so you don’t distract from the space itself.

If some of the plants are sickly and the homeowner doesn’t want to get rid of them, try trimming off the dead leaves and plant several together in one pot, or tuck some silk greenery along in with them to make the arrangement look more lush.  It almost sounds counter productive, but I’ve had to do it before myself, and it will actually make everything seem well-cared for as a whole and the sickly plants will blend in rather stick out like a sore thumb.

Totally fine to use a couple of the healthier plants here and there to stage the property.  I use plants all the time.  But you definitely don’t want potential buyers remembering all the greenery and forgetting about the positive features of the house itself, so make sure to use discretion when placing them.

Hope this helps and thanks for the great question!

If you have a question for “ASK THE HOME STAGING EXPERT®”, please contact lori@homestagingexpert.com.


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Selling a Home with Wallpaper

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When I was a kid, my grandmother lived in the sweetest 1940′s bungalow and every single room, including the sun porch and pantry, was covered from top to bottom with wallpaper!  From lush florals, to rosy pink stripes, to Nordic tile designs, I loved every square inch of it!

Today, I don’t think I would be near as excited to have every wall plastered with so many colors and patterns.  And I know potential buyers won’t be, either.

While wallpaper has definitely been making a comeback, the problem is that most wallpaper styles are very design specific.  That fact alone is almost always going to ensure that wallpaper is going to be viewed as dated and typically not something a new homeowner is going to want to live with.

The advice I gave about selling a home with wallpaper well-over a decade ago still holds true today.  Should you try to sell a home with walls that have been papered?  That all depends on the wallpaper design, your price point, and how many rooms.

Ideally, removing the wallpaper is always the best solution.  But I do realize that some homeowners don’t want to do that for a couple of reasons.

1)  There is an emotional attachment to the wallpaper.

2)  It’s a lot of work and can be expensive to remove.

But those two reasons are exactly why it should be removed!

1)  You can’t take it with you!

2)  Guess what?  Potential buyers see removing wallpaper as a labor intensive and pricey project to tackle, too.  So getting rid of it really is your best option.

In some cases, if the wallpaper is neutral…as in, a tone-on-tone pattern or simply a textured pattern…it’s not the worse thing in the world.  As long as it’s in good condition, not peeling at the seams, not a bright color or busy pattern, and has not taken over every room of the house.

And depending on the price-point of the listing, I still recommend painting over it in some cases.  Do keep in mind that someone looking at a $500K home is not going to take kindly to wallpaper that’s been painted, however.  Also remember that painting over wallpaper is not like painting over drywall.  Besides proper prep work, you can’t slap on paint like you’re white washing a fence!  Too wet and that wallpaper you didn’t want to take off to begin with is going to start peeling off on it’s own, and you’re going to have a very big mess on your hands and end up removing it anyway!

But there are also a couple of staging tricks to downplay wallpaper if you decide not to remove it.  If the pattern is bright, busy, or both, get rid of all the artwork on the walls which will clash and make it stand out even more.  Opt instead for plain-framed mirrors, or try moving a large piece of furniture to block some of the pattern on the largest part of the wall, like a glass cupboard in a dining room.  You aren’t actually hiding it since it’s probably everywhere else in the room too, but it will tone it down somewhat and not make it the first thing that pops right out at you when you enter.

While you do have a few options when it comes to selling a house with wallpaper, the best solution is still removing it altogether to ensure that wallpaper doesn’t come between you and a solid offer.




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