Denver Realtor Victim of Senseless Homicide – Here’s How You Can Help

Pamela Cabriales was a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a real estate agent in the Denver Metro whose life was cut tragically short by an absolutely senseless act of violence.  I did not know her personally.  She truly was just another name and face pictured below the sensational headlines, one of many I see pop up on my newsfeed all too often these days.  (You can read about her story here, which I do not plan to dwell on in this post.)

But this one was different for me.  Beyond the horrific details of the crime that abruptly ended her life, Pamela was part of the industry I have been immersed in for more than two decades.  Our industry.  She undoubtedly had many of the same hopes, and dreams, and aspirations as the rest of us, and chose a career in real estate to fulfill them, just like the rest of us.  Perhaps it is that common thread that helped make the connection for me.  After all, Pamela’s story and her random, fateful ending really could have been the story for any one of us.

We work in a very competitive industry.  Whether you’re a Realtor, Home Staging Expert®, or both…there is definitely a lot of competition.  But I’d like to think there is also a sense of camaraderie.  One where we can all come together and support our own when in need.  Which brings me to Pamela’s son, 6 year old Leo.

Whenever I read a tragic story like this, I am always left wondering, “What can I do to help?”  And then I was made aware of something very personal and particular I could do to show my support that will benefit Pamela’s son directly.  A GoFundMe campaign has been set up for Leo’s college fund, and I can’t think of a better way to honor his mother’s memory than to give her child a better and brighter future…the future she no doubt dreamed of for him herself.

I have never posted anything like this before, and hopefully will never have to post anything like this again, but if I can get just one person to donate, it was well worth posting.  So I implore you all…in fellowship and generousity…to make a donation for Leo and to share, share, share this post within your circle!  Whether you donate $5 or $500 matters not!  It all adds up and it will make a difference in the life of this young man.

If I know anything about Realtors and Home Staging Experts®, it’s that we are an absolutely thoughtful and giving crowd, and I can’t think of a better cause to rally behind than Leo’s future and a donation to that future in his mother’s memory…she was one of our own.

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Before and After: Michigan Realtor® Chere Wiseman Finds Success Offering Complimentary Staging

When Michigan Realtor® Chere Wiseman of Five Star Real Estate Leaders took on this listing, it had already been on the market for months as a For Sale By Owner, was over-priced, had unflattering photos, and the furnishings and decor were really not all that buyer-friendly.

“I knew right away for me to win this listing I would need to offer more than the average agent,” said Chere.  So she took a chance and offered to stage the home complimentary.  “This was my first time going all-in on a vacant listing!”

To stage the living room, Chere went to the local furniture rental store and chose a gray sofa set with green undertones to give it a bit of pop against the neutral background without overwhelming.  She created a more inviting layout that welcomed buyers in and played up the size of the room.  The decorative ladder and blankets were borrowed from her own home and helped add an element of height to draw more attention to the beautiful cathedral ceilings.

In the owner’s suite, Chere opted for a full-size bed instead of king-size, which had previously proven to take up too much space.  The smaller sized bed helped the room feel much larger and the softer shades used in the bedding made the bed feel less bulky by tying it in with the background.

Because of all the extra room she created, she was able to include a nightstand and lamp which made the layout feel more functional.  As a finishing touch, she used an over-sized basket under the window to expand the visual square footage of the space.

Her gamble to stage the listing as a complimentary service paid off when the house sold less than a week later for the exact price she told the homeowners it would sell for!  With her Home Staging Expert® Certification in hand and a major win under her belt, Chere plans to offer more staging as a value-added service for her clients in the future.  Sellers looking for an agent who goes above and beyond in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area should most definitely give Chere Wiseman a call!

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What the Flip? This Las Vegas Home’s Doubled Value is More than Just Luck

It was a pleasure to once again participate in Whitney Coy’s ‘What the Flip?’ series featured in the San Francisco Gate.  This time, a gorgeous renovation in Las Vegas.  To read more about this transformation, including a ‘secret room’, CLICK HERE.

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Home Staging Expert® Upcoming Continuing Ed Workshops for Realtors®

In our latest 1-Day Home Staging Workshop in Mississippi, our students, lead by Home Staging Expert® Certified Trainer Krista Golightly, received hands-on instruction and staged this listing to sell!  As you can see, the before and after photos tell the story.

Showing off the hardwood floors, expanding the visual square footage of the space, and drawing the buyer’s eye beyond are just a few of the many skills you will learn.  Interested in taking a course with Krista and earning 7 CE Credits in Mississippi?  CLICK HERE

As a Realtor®, you already know that wearing many hats seems to be part of the job, these days.  When it comes to home staging, you’re probably trying to do the best you can already.  Let us take you to that next level and make it easier for you.

Our course will teach you a better way to ensure you understand the thought process behind the end results and help you achieve those end results much sooner and without confusion.  We’ll build your confidence so you know the advice you’re giving your client is effective, precise, and will help your listings appeal to the most potential buyers in record time!

Home Staging Expert® offers CE Courses for agents in select areas.  While you don’t have to be a licensed Realtor® to take the course, if you are, enjoy the added benefit of CE Credit.

For upcoming 2-Day Workshops (14 CE Credits) taught by Home Staging Expert® Certified Trainer Joanna Gyrath in Colorado, CLICK HERE

For upcoming 1-Day Workshops (7 CE Credits) taught by Home Staging Expert® Certified Trainer Rachel  in Georgia, CLICK HERE


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In October of  2020, we published Home Staging Expert® Answers Your Most Frequently Asked Questions – Part 1.  In that post, we answered questions pertaining to the business of staging homes.  But with the spring market so close behind, and with so many homeowners getting ready to sell, we thought this was the perfect time to post Part 2 and discuss our most frequently asked questions about actually staging your home for market.

What do you think is the single most important piece of advice you would give to a homeowner preparing to sell?

The  one thing I always try to make sure my clients understand is they have to stop looking at their house as a home and start looking at it as a product.  I think once they start seeing it from that perspective, they are typically much more objective about the entire process.

What do you think are the main problems homeowners need to tackle to successfully stage and sell their home?

  1. Repair/Replace!   No one wants to buy a house that needs work unless they’re looking for a bargain, so make sure your home is in good repair.  Most buyers today look for move-in ready.  So if your roof is leaking, or your sidewalks are crumbling, address those issues first and foremost.  Now is the time to repair and/or replace if you want top dollar for your home.
  2. Declutter!  Not just that pile of shoes next to the front door or that stack of newspapers and magazines on the coffee table.  But the closets, the cabinets, all those family photos on the wall, that big collection of knick-knacks…they should all be boxed up and removed.  Not only do they look messy and create a distraction, but space is a big consideration for most buyers.  And the more space you can show them, the more impressed they’ll be.  For more info, check out our previous post The Expert Guide to Decluttering Your Home Before You List It To Sell.
  3. Update!  Fresh paint and new flooring are two positive selling points for potential buyers.  But don’t stop there!  Change out those dated lighting fixtures, enamel dated cabinetry and woodwork, and replace worn or just plain ugly countertops.  These are all fairly inexpensive updates that will make your home look more in style.
  4. Continuity!  Too much going on is distracting.  Completely different flooring from room-to-room, different paint colors, different themes.  The goal should always be to try and streamline the elements and make the entire space feels seamless…one room should easily flow right into the next.  It makes a home feel bigger, brighter, more open and spacious.
  5. Clean!  Inside and out.  Like your favorite celebrity is coming to visit.  Or your mother-in-law.  Whichever would be more apt to get you motivated.  And then ensure your house is spotless!  The corners, the ceilings, the walls, the windows, the floors, the bathrooms, the kitchen, the grout, the doors.  Make sure everything sparkles!  And if cleaning isn’t your thing, hire a professional and give them a list.  Professional cleaners who specialize in ‘move-outs’ are the best.

Do you think there’s an advantage to having professional photos taken for the MLS?

I absolutely do!  And if you don’t believe me, just cruise the MLS sometime.  That’s your competition!  Most potential buyers get a sneak-peak into your home long before ever setting foot in the door.  And if they don’t like what they see on-line, there’s a very good chance they’re never going to come knocking.  Investing in professional photos is a small investment that will garner a very big payback in the grand scheme of things.

How far do you think a homeowner needs to go with updates? 

Enough to be competitive.  If you have two neighbors in the identical house plan, both listed at $399,000.00…I guarantee the neighbor with the freshly painted walls, updated kitchen, and new carpeting will always beat out the neighbor who hasn’t touched their house since moving in.  It’s important to stay competitive or at the very least, be realistic and price your house accordingly.

Do you think all vacant homes need to be staged?

I absolutely do.  Vacant rooms tend to feel much smaller, a little cold, and buyers typically have no frame of reference as to how their furnishings might fit.  Staging can definitely help with that and make the space more inviting.  But if a vacant house is dated and needs repairs, that’s where I’d spend my money if it’s a choice between one or the other.  Staging can’t mask a dated home in need of repair, and that’s never the point of staging, anyway.  You stage to enhance the positives, not to hide the negatives.

Is hiring a professional stager really that important?

I think hiring THE RIGHT stager is really important.  Whether you just want a consultation so you can do it yourself, or someone to come in and take care of the whole thing, from start to finish!  It’s not every day a person sells their home.  So it’s likely not something most people specialize in.  An experienced stager with an excellent reputation is totally worth the price!  I can’t tell you how many homes I’ve staged that had been sitting on the market forever.  Some had already paid for a stager to come in and assist, some had been staged by a homeowner who watches a lot of HGTV.  All ended up selling quickly for list price or more after I got done with them.  That’s not me trying to brag.  That’s me trying to show you what a difference it makes when you hire the right stager.

So how does one go about finding ‘the right stager’?

Finding a stager who knows what they’re doing is like finding any professional tradesman.  Ask around.  Get references.  In this case, you can even see the before and after photos of their work, which should make the decision much easier.  And may I recommend checking out our list of professionals trained by Home Staging Expert®?  It’s a great place to start!


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We are kicking off the new year in a very big way!  Home Staging Expert® Certified Stager and Certified Virtual Professional Organizer and Director of Organizing Options®, Kathleen Murphy has provided an incredibly thorough and very useful guide to get your home decluttered and organized before you list it to sell. Share it, print it, and make sure to save it for future reference.  We are so honored to share Kathleen’s experience and wisdom with you! 

I think decluttering is always a good idea, but it is essential when you are planning to list your home on the market. While this is shared knowledge between home stagers and Realtors, it is not so easy for homeowners to accept. Many people suffer from “Clutter Blindness” which is one’s inability to see clutter and recognize it for what it is. Usually because the clutter has been around for so long that they have grown used to it.

Try to look at your home through the eyes of potential buyers, as they will want to see themselves living there.  To help in that, the home needs to be decluttered and depersonalized.  If you’ve ever been to an IKEA showroom, you may have noticed how spacious the makeshift rooms feel, even when they are rather small. This is due to an absence of clutter and the depersonalization of the showrooms. There are no clutter-obstacles or personal memorabilia to be found in those rooms.

As a guide, I’ve outlined some common clutter areas for the review of your home, with recommended actions:

Remove Personal Items

The key is to depersonalize your home so that potential buyers can see themselves in the home with their own belongings, and not with the belongings of the current owner.

Family photos: Removing family photos will give potential buyers room to picture themselves living there, and displaying their own memories and vacations on the walls and table tops.

Personal care products: You will need to remove shampoo bottles, used bars of soap, and other personal care products from sinks, bath tubs and shower stalls. You should also remove brushes, combs, hairdryers, and other such items from dressers and bedroom furniture. Anything that is hygiene and grooming related counts as personal, and it is better that they are not on display.

Religious symbols: You will want potential buyers of all backgrounds to feel comfortable imagining themselves living in your home, and some people may feel uncomfortable with religious symbols or find it hard to relate to the space. Better to err on the side of caution and remove them.

Alcohol bottles and containers: Seeing bottles of alcohol can be triggering for some people, so it is best to put them out of sight.

Pets and related items: Remove all traces of fur when cleaning.  Remove all pet toys, dog beds, food dishes, bags of pet food, carrying cases, and of course your furry friends before potential buyers come to view your home. Not everyone likes pets, and can be afraid of them or have allergies as well. Better not to take a chance.

Refrigerator: Clear all fridge magnets, notes, photos, and drawings off the refrigerator. The refrigerator is a clutter trap and any items on the fridge will distract potential buyers from seeing the full expanse of the kitchen.

Paperwork from the kitchen table or other area: Be sure that all confidential papers are out of sight before having a tour of your home. If you leave piles of paper on tabletops, potential buyers will think there is not enough space in your home for a makeshift or proper office. It is best to gather your papers and place them in a labelled box that is out of sight, yet available for easy retrieval.

Children’s toys: They need to be contained whether in a toy box, or in a storage box. Remember we want potential buyers to be able to picture themselves living in the home, and seeing your children’s toys will make it more difficult to do so.

Remove Excess Items

Do not worry about having too much empty space in your rooms, as potential buyers want to be sure their furniture will fit into those rooms.

Furniture not being kept: Remove the furniture you will not bring with you when you move. This would be the best time to get unwanted furniture out of the house for a donation or otherwise.

From the garage: Remove garbage, recycling, toxic materials, sports gear, unusable tires, broken BBQs, garden supplies, and garden furniture not going on the move. This is the time to remove everything possible that you no longer want or need.

From the closets – clothes, hall, linen, storage: If everything is squished tightly together on the rods of the clothes closet and on the floor, potential buyers will think there is not enough space for their stuff. I recommend that you declutter all your closets so that they are no more than three quarters full when the home is being shown.

The closet floors should be as clutter free as possible, ideally with only a few pairs of shoes and boots.

The same applies to the hall closet for coats and jackets. When decluttering, remove non-seasonal items such as summer caps in the winter, and scarves, hats and gloves in the summer.

Linen closets usually have an overflow of toweling and bed sheets. I recommend that you take an inventory of what you have, shelf by shelf, and only keep the number of items you want or need.

Storage closets typically hold items that are no longer in use, so this is a good time to let those things go. Like with the garage, this is the time to remove everything possible that you no longer want or need.

You now know more about the value of decluttering. Feel free to use this Blog post as a type of checklist, and give a call to your Realtor for their 2 cents. Now let’s go tackle us some clutter!

Submitted by Kathleen Murphy, a Certified Home Stager from Home Staging Expert® and Certified Virtual Professional Organizer and Director of Organizing Options®. Kathleen leads workshops and provides home staging, and decluttering and organizing consultations to private clients via Zoom, phone, and Facebook messenger. Organizing Options® is a fully insured company. Learn more at


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