“Ask the Home Staging Expert®” – Show third bedroom as an office, a bedroom, or both?

free bedroom office

Hi Lori -

We’re getting ready to sell our two-story, three-bedroom single-family home. I work from home and the third bedroom serves as my office and our guest bedroom, housing only a daybed and a desk. For staging, I’m not sure how to handle the room’s closet. It’s a pretty sizable walk-in and it currently stores our winter coats, wrapping paper and other items that would normally be stored in a basement or attic — because we have neither of those.

Perhaps I’m overthinking it but I’m afraid that leaving those things in there will signal that, if you actually need three bedrooms, this house won’t work for you. What do people usually store in the guest room closets? Should it just be empty? Should I move my desk in there and call it my office?

Thanks for any help you can offer!

Nervous in New Jersey

Dear Nervous -

That’s a dilemma many homeowners have to contend with when listing a three-bedroom home without additional storage.  But I think you are offering potential buyers a lot of flexibility by showing that third bedroom as a home office/guest room.  That’s exactly what I would do.  That way, anyone can envision either/or and the potential of that space will not be in question.

I would only be concerned with showing the closet space like you would any other closet.  It doesn’t really matter what the contents are, as long as they are presented in a neat and orderly fashion and not absolutely bursting at the seams!  I typically tell my clients to edit and remove one-third to one-half of whatever they’re storing…depending on how much stuff they have in there…so buyers can still see some nice, usable space.

As far as using the closet as an office, I would not be inclined to do that as I think anyone looking for three-bedrooms is going to want to use that closet for the occupant of the bedroom.  And anyone looking for a home office is likely not going to want to feel like they’ll be stuck in a closet, no matter how roomy!

I think that utilizing a large closet as an office is actually a very clever use of space.  But you don’t really want to be showing that to buyers as it’s going to make them feel like the house has run out of room and the only way they can actually have a designated office is to tuck it away in a closet. 

If a buyer is in need of both…three-bedrooms plus a well-sized home office space, they are likely going to keep looking for a house to better accommodate their needs.

The truth is, no matter how far we try to cast our nets when appealing to potential buyers, a house is never going to catch every single one of them.   Your home will definitely be too small for some, but it will be absolutely perfect for many and likely many more by simply showing that flexibility!  I truly believe that by showing different options to utilize that third-bedroom space, you are going to have a much easier time nabbing those who could go either way and that is the goal.

FYI – When it comes to staging a home for market, I don’t believe there is such a thing as ‘over-thinking’ the details.  Those details count, and it’s a good idea to look at all your options to come up with the best solution, which you have definitely done.

Thank you so much for asking, hope this helps, and best of luck in the sale of your home!

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

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DOES YOUR LISTING STINK? 7 Ways to Combat Odors in a Hurry!

Businessman making smelling bad gesture

 

Your open house is scheduled for noon.  You walk in at 11:45 a.m. and “OH, MY GOSH!  What is that horrible smell?!!”

Maybe the owner’s left something in the garbage before leaving for the weekend.  Maybe they fried up a nice big pan of garlic and onions the night before.  Or maybe the house has just been sitting all alone for a while, closed up for the season.

Whatever the reason, when you’re in a hurry and need the place smelling better fast, trying to mask odors with air freshener is usually not the best option.  Now you’ll just have a house that smells overly perfumed and frequently mixes negatively with whatever it is that’s already offending.  

Here’s what you should do instead to help clear out the stink!

1)    Remove the source, if possible.  (Smelly garbage cans, overflowing cat boxes, etc.)

2)    Open all the windows to allow as much air to flow through the house as you can.  You can speed up this process further by placing a fan in the window blowing out to suck the smell out with it.

3)    Baking soda is a great odor absorber.  Sprinkle it on carpeting, let it sit, then vacuum it up.  Sprinkle it in the garbage cans.  Sprinkle it over the litter box. 

4)    Vinegar is another way to combat offensive smells.  Not only does cleaning up the source with a combo of vinegar and water help eliminate the smell, but boiling vinegar on the stove also cuts down on the offender as the humidity from the vinegar fights the odors in the air. 

5)    If you have access to lemons and/or oranges, squeeze a little fresh juice and cut up the peel, then add it to water and let it boil.  It has the same effect as vinegar alone, only it will leave behind a nice, light, citrusy scent.

6)    Wipe down walls with vinegar and water.  You don’t have to do a total house cleaning, but wiping some of the walls down where the odor is most offensive can truly help as the odors seem to cling to drywall and paneling.

7)    For musty/moldy smells, plug in the de-humidifier!  This will help suck some of that damp moisture right out of the air and take the smell with it.  

 

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“Ask the Home Staging Expert®” – Should We Paint Our Brick Home Before Selling?

painted brick gray

 

Good morning, Lori,

We are getting ready to sell our 3-bedroom ranch-style brick house this spring.  I think the brick makes the exterior look really, really dated and want to paint it.  My husband says he hates painted brick and thinks it will be tougher to sell.  What do you think?

Brick House in Houston

Hello, Brick House!

Personally, I love painted brick homes, but I agree with your husband’s point of view, as well.  Some people just truly do not care for painted brick exteriors and will avoid them at all costs, assuming it means more upkeep in the future.

The beauty of a brick exterior, theoretically anyway, is that there will be less maintenance and upkeep, which is why many hesitate to paint.  However, depending on the style of brick, the condition, and whether or not it’s been teamed with some off-color siding or not, all this would factor into whether I can confidently tell you to paint or not to paint.

On the upside, I do agree that paint can give a brick home an entirely updated and more modern and distinctive appeal.  For instance, if the home also has siding and you paint the brick the same color as the siding, it really can give your curb appeal a boost.  Another reason to paint might be due to previous repairs where the brick had to be replaced with something that didn’t quite match.  Paint can make the repair far less noticeable.

On the downside, some potential homeowners might be turned off fearing they will have to repaint every few years to keep it looking attractive, and this might factor into their decision making process.  But just like some buyers prefer a two-story to a single story and vice versa, I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to this.

You might want to compromise and consider leaving the brick as-is and simply updating the shutters if the house has shutters, or perhaps adding shutters if it doesn’t, then repainting the doors, or painting the siding to coincide with the brick a little better, which would also freshen things up, provided there is also siding on the house.

In my neighborhood here in Minnesota, there have been three painted brick homes that have been on the market over the past few months.  One of them, a two-story Victorian, has been painted forever and I’ve never noticed any peeling, though it did get a fresh coat of paint in a new, updated color before it went on the market.  The other two were both ranch-style homes that were just painted recently.  All three homes were sold literally within weeks…if not days…of going on the market and for full price.  So it did not seem to be a deterrent to buyers.

That said, I would ask your Realtor how painted brick homes fair in your area.  As mentioned, I am in Minnesota.  Temperatures here fluctuate from extreme hot to extreme cold.  But paint might have a different effect on bricks in Houston where it’s consistently warm and sunny and humid.

While I’m not able to advise you on this with 100% clarity based on your area of the country, I can tell you that without a doubt, if I felt the brick made a house look tired and dated myself, I would not hesitate to paint.

Let me know what you decide!  Would be fun to see how it turned out.

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

 

 

 

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Exterior Updates Under $100 to Enhance Your Curb Appeal

free curb appeal

Does your house lack curb appeal?  These few easy updates will ensure your home grabs a lot of positive attention without breaking the bank!

1) Rent a pressure washer for the day.  Not only can you clean up your siding, but your deck, driveway, and sidewalk, too. 

2)  Rent a lawn edger for the day and give your sidewalks and driveway an even neater and well-maintained appearance.

3)  Invest in a quart of Rust-Oleum rust-proof paint and re-paint your mailbox, light post, and exterior lighting for a new look.

4)  Or replace your mailbox and exterior lighting altogether for something more up-to-date.

5)  Paint your boring front door a trendy new color or re-stain it a darker, bolder color and add a new brass or brushed chrome kick plate.

6)  Stain your concrete steps and walkway and buy a nice new door mat.

7)  Paint your shutters to freshen them up, or give them an entirely new color, or you might want to consider removing them for an entirely modern look.

8)  Update your old house numbers for new numbers that will really stand out and make a statement.

9)  Trim overgrown trees and shrubs, or remove them and replace for something with more color.

10)  Invest in a couple of window boxes and fill them with overflowing arrangements for an added pop of bright, lively color.

11)  Adding fresh mulch can make your landscape plantings look neater, brighter, and more professional.

12)  Fill large planters with lush florals and greenery to finish off the look and draw positive attention.

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“Ask the Home Staging Expert®” – Should a Realtor Risk Insulting Their Client?

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Hello, Lori,

I have a client with an apartment that is just not selling.  It feels small and cramped, it’s got some unappealing paint colors and an odd layout, and the owner doesn’t keep it very tidy for showings.  I don’t want to insult her by telling her she needs to declutter, paint, and keep the place cleaner than she has been.  She seems to get upset very easily, which has been getting worse the longer the listing sits on the market.  We’ve had a lot of showings, but the feedback has been mostly negative.  Looking forward to your suggestions.

Frustrated Realtor in DC

Dear Frustrated Realtor,

Homeowners don’t sell their house every day, so really, it is up to you as an agent to tell your client the truth.  She probably doesn’t even realize there are any issues!  But by keeping this information to yourself, you are not doing your client or yourself and your long-term reputation any favors.

There is a big difference between insulting your client and providing constructive feedback and assistance.  “You have too much stuff and no one can even see your hardwood floors!” vs. “You have beautiful hardwood floors!  Let’s show them off by removing as much of the excess as possible!”, is a great example.

It really is up to you to share this information with your client, come up with a game plan, and get that listing show-ready so she can sell it and you can both move on.  You already know what the issues are, and it seems you know how to fix them.  If you’re reluctant to talk to her about this yourself, however, my best advice is to hire a professional stager with a good reputation to come in and provide a consultation.

Professional stagers have experience in approaching homeowners and getting them to make the necessary changes to sell their home.  Ask around your office for quality recommendations, or search for a few stagers in your area online with before and after photos of their work and find out what they charge for a consult.  We also have a list of professional stagers at www.homestagingexpert.com under ‘Find a Local HSE’ listed by state which might be of service.

Whatever approach you take, you really do need to share this information with your client.  It is up to you to let her know what the issues are and how to fix them, whether you tell her yourself or bring in a third party to offer their advice.

Thanks so much for writing in, and please let me know how things turn out!  I am confident you can easily turn this situation around.

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

 

 

 

 

 

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Quick Tips to Keep Your House Show-Ready

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Everyone loves to browse through the home catalogs which display a beautiful room with perfectly arranged details. Real life doesn’t work that way. Our homes have a pile of shoes by the front door, school books on the kitchen table and dog hair on the sofa. If you have your home listed for sale, buyers can show up at any time and it can seem overwhelming to try and maintain the perfect home that is show-ready. Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do to make the morning clean-up quick and easy so your buyers only see your lovely home when they walk through the door. 

•Plan in Advance – Before you even list your home, consider how you will adjust your lifestyle to accommodate buyers and their visits. Decide which items are essential to your living needs and remove everything else. Winter coats or summer sandals can be stored out of sight. 

•Container Living – A simple way to remove the daily toys, shoes, books and other items is to use portable storage containers. Baskets, plastic bins and shopping bags are great ways to quickly gather up the remains of the day. 

•Establish a Routine – Remember that your lifestyle does need to adjust when your home is on the market. Create a nightly/morning routine which includes making the beds, neatening living spaces and wiping countertops. 

•Hire a Professional – If there was ever a time to splurge on a housekeeping service, this is it. A once-a-week clean by a housekeeping team will make sure grime and dust does not accumulate and free up some of your time for other things. 

Unfortunately your life doesn’t stop simply because you’ve listed your home for sale. The key to a stress-free showing experience is taking the time to plan in advance. By following a few tips, you won’t be racing through the home trying to accommodate that 15 minute deadline.

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