Dear Lori –
My aunt is planning to sell the home she’s lived in going on 50 years. She is unable to care for such a big place on her own since my uncle passed away a few months ago. I don’t think she likes being there alone and other than my sisters and I, she really has no one else. The house is solid, just very dated. The original plan was to give her home a mini-facelift with fresh paint, new appliances, and tile in the kitchen and bathrooms. It’s already going to be a time-consuming project and we’ll have to do a lot of thinning out before we even start, but I think she’s using this as her chance to finally remodel the house the way she’s always wanted! We recently found out she’s been getting estimates to put in a whole new kitchen, knock down some walls, and enclose the entryway. I talked to a Realtor and no way will she re-coup that kind of investment. It’d be one thing if she were planning to stay, but she’s thinking of moving to a retirement community. The proceeds from her current home would pay for that, but she will probably come up short if she dumps a lot of money on this remodeling job. How can we talk our beloved aunt out of making a big mistake?
Concerned Nieces in Ohio
Dear Concerned Nieces,
First of all, I want to offer my sincere condolences on the loss of your uncle and commend you and your sister’s for looking after your aunt. I’m sure she appreciates you all so very, very much.
I would be concerned too, but probably not for all the same reasons that you’re concerned. If your uncle just recently passed, this is likely way too soon for your aunt to be making such a big decision. I’m no psychiatrist, but I’ve read many times that it’s not wise for people who just lost a loved one to be making any life-altering decisions when it comes to marriage, money, or moving.
It sounds to me like concentrating on a major renovation right now might just be a distraction your aunt is using as a way to cope. Shortly after my dad died, my mom and I flew off to France for a three weeks! It was much easier to throw ourselves into planning a trip and getting away from it all than it was to sit at home alone with our thoughts and think about how much we missed him.
Personally, I think you need to slow this pony down! Your aunt is still grieving and I assume she’s in a very fragile state and that includes an emotional attachment to her home. I’ve seen people getting ready to sell who’ve only lived there a year and have already developed that bond! Imagine how difficult it would be to leave after 50 years on top of losing her husband. She’s got five decades of memories wrapped up within those walls!
Part of staging a home to sell is not only helping the buyer envision themselves living there, but often includes helping the seller envision themselves NOT living there! In most cases, I typically try to get the seller excited about life in their new place. I encourage them to go furniture shopping! Pick out new paint colors for their new space! Explore their new neighborhood! Whatever it takes to get them thinking about moving on. Once they’ve made that emotional connection with their new house, they’re going to be much less invested in the old one.
In your aunt’s case however, there is obviously more to it than that. Perhaps she really doesn’t want to leave…for now, anyway. And since it doesn’t seem like she absolutely needs to sell, I think I would give her some time. You mentioned her home needed some ‘thinning out’, and maybe this would be a good opportunity for you and your sister’s to help her do just that. Ask her to hold off on the remodeling until you can tackle cleaning out the excess and go from there.
You also mentioned that you talked to a Realtor. Did the agent get the chance to talk to your aunt, too? Sellers with good intentions frequently make changes that are simply more than the house is worth or what potential buyers would pay for. Bringing a Realtor on board and allowing them to present her with a market comparison directly would give her something to think about before jumping in.
You could also ask your aunt to give you and your sisters a room to transform…preferably the kitchen or one of the bathrooms…so you can show her what a difference a few less intrusive updates would make vs. a major renovation. If she could actually see the changes for herself before spending a lot of money on a remodeling project, it might influence her to change her mind.
And lastly, if you are worried that the house is simply too much for her to handle, hiring a lawn service and/or cleaning service to come by once a week to help would take the burden off while relieving her of making any life-changing decisions so quickly.
Hope this helps and thank you again for looking out for your aunt.
If you have a question for “ASK THE HOME STAGING EXPERT®”, please contact email@example.com.
Hardwood floors and their laminate counterparts…and even their porcelain counterparts…are a hot selling point! Surveys have shown that hardwood flooring is a must-have for many and that replacing carpeting for hardwood adds value to a listing. Especially if you can run the same flooring throughout!
If you have to replace that dated carpeting anyway or just want to appeal to more potential buyers, consider hardwood. It can be a little more expensive than carpeting, but will likely be a better option in the long-run.
To see how it will look, Lumber Liquidators, one of my favorite discount flooring stores, offers Picture It!, a floor visualizer that gives you a sneak peak to show you how it will look and could not be easier to use! Just drop in a picture of your room and select your desired flooring for immediate results. And it doesn’t hurt that they are currently running a New Year’s Sale on their most popular flooring. (YAY!)
As for buyers who think they’ve found that perfect house if only it had hardwood floors, this is an awesome little tool that would work for you, as well! Just save the listing photo to your computer, drop it into the floor visualizer, and it very well might prompt you into making that offer!
If you’ve ever looked into home staging training, you’ve probably found a number of delivery methods. Some offer on-line training, whether DIY or via teleconference, others offer classroom settings, and then there are the Hands-On Home Staging classes offered by Home Staging Expert®!
A Hands-On training class takes place on-site, right at a listing preparing for market or one that has been sitting on the market and is in need of assistance. While we offer both 1-Day & 2-Day Hands-On training, both assure you will receive hands-on instruction and get to experience and participate in the professional staging of a property for yourself!
Our HSE® Hands-On Workshops are popular for this very reason. And because of the location and personal interaction, to ensure you receive the best possible instruction, we limit our classes to 12 students or less. Students receive their training manuals via PDF 10-14 days prior to class time, so they have the opportunity to review what we will be covering, and since they always have access to our training manual, it also makes for a great refresher to review in the future.
During the 1-Day Workshop, we cover business and marketing in the morning right at the property. (We don’t like to waste a lot of time driving between a meeting location and the listing we stage.) Around noon, students receive a boxed lunch and get to take a little break. After lunch, we divide up into smaller groups, assign each group a space, then tackle staging the property for market!
Our instructors walk our students through all of the guidelines, then allows each group to think through the staging process and implement the changes to the space they’ve been assigned so everyone has a chance to experience some hands-on staging. Our Certified HSE® Trainers float between the groups to assist and provide further instruction, as needed. At the end of the day, what we end up with is a truly unique and real-life experience to help build each student’s confidence and better understand the process.
You will learn how to present your staging skills to sign more clients! How to get your clients on board with staging! How to offer a professional consultation! How to see a listing from a buyer’s perspective! How to recognize and highlight the features of the space! How to accessorize with a purpose! How to bring in more light! What to do with the excess! How to take better property photos! AND SO MUCH MORE!
In our 2-Day Workshop, our students get to experience the same process as our 1-Day Workshop provides, but will actually meet in a conference room to cover the more intricate details of staging as a business, including how to set themselves up to offer staging for vacant homes, promoting home staging as a value-added service, staging and social media, and marketing your services to stand out from the rest!
Both of these workshops are unique to the staging industry, and we’ve been successfully training Realtors® and professional stagers for two decades now! Our Hands-On Home Staging Workshops are fun, informative, and an experience you will not forget!
Once you complete the workshop and submit your final project, you will receive your HSE® Certificate, access to our Member’s Area so you will be able to download the HSE® logo for your marketing and website, home assessment sheet and templates, as well as instructions to list on our website as a Certified Home Staging Expert®! As with any of our courses, once complete, there are never any annual renewal fees to maintain.
Whether you are a Real Estate Professional looking to add staging as a value-added service, or if you plan to open a home staging company, please check out our calendar to sign up for a 1-Day or 2-Day Hands-On Home Staging Workshop in your area. We guarantee, it will be the most valuable training course you take this year!
I remember the conversation well, even though the conversation took place nearly two decades ago, very early on in my home staging career.
It was a tiny little house. You walked right into the tiny little living room, could see the tiny little kitchen from the front door, then walked down a tiny little hallway to three tiny little bedrooms. Very typical for this tiny little neighborhood. But what they had going for them that similar homes in the area didn’t have, was a finished family room on the lower-level…tiny, but finished…and a large, semi-finished, three-season sunroom out back.
When we first met, I was given carte-blanche and clear instructions. “Do whatever you think best,” is what they told me. They had already made a contingent offer on their dream home and were totally on-board. Or so they claimed. And even though I explained what I envisioned and told them exactly what I planned to do, the reality of what that truly meant turned out to be more than they had anticipated.
After spending less than a day on site, the place looked twice the size and a few decades younger! Admittedly, I was quite proud of myself. It was stunning! All that was left were the finishing touches to take it to that next level. Their Realtor asked me to return later in the week for advice on fresh paint colors…the pink kitchen walls really had to go…and any additional updates I felt were necessary, and I wholeheartedly agreed! But the following day, I was confronted with a completely different story.
The same agent who had been so ecstatic by the transformations the afternoon before was now in panic mode! His clients were very upset, he informed me. They threatened to cancel their contract. They threated to report him to the Minnesota Board of Realtors. They even threatened to sue! And according to him, they had given me a very unflattering nickname which I won’t repeat here, but still stings when I think about it to this very day. I was devastated, but ready to face the music and talk to the angry owners. The same owners who had originally given me carte-blanche, remember?
The morning I arrived, I was greeted by a very nervous looking Realtor and two very angry homeowners with their arms crossed, giving me the stink eye. I stayed upbeat, walked in and explained, once again, why I did what I did and how important it was to stage the home from the buyer’s point of view, not their own. And I didn’t waiver.
“You do realize we still need to live here, right?”, was their response. I replied with the same mantra I still live by. “Yes, I do realize that. But the goal is to get your home sold quickly for the best possible price. It’s not about you, it’s about the potential buyers, how they see your house, and whether or not what they see makes them want to invest.”
I continued on the tour, talked them out of spending $5K to re-finish their hardwood floors, which were in great condition and really just needed a good cleaning. I advised them instead to take that money they were planning to spend on the floors and invest in fresh, neutral paint throughout and encouraged them to finish the sunroom with new flooring, a ceiling fan, and a few plants. To their credit, they obliged and ended up going above and beyond!
At their first open house the following weekend, they ended up in a bidding war and the house sold for slightly more than $10K over asking price! They were thrilled, the Realtor was thrilled, and they sent me a lovely bouquet of flowers to thank me. (Along with my staging fee, of course.)
While this story took place years ago, long before home staging was the industry it’s turned into today, the end goal remains the same. It’s not about you and how you see your home. You live there! You’re biased! Just remember, it’s all about how potential buyers see your home. That’s what’s going to sell it. And what was true back then is still true today in 2020;
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BUYER. IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE BUYER!
When preparing your home to sell, you need 20/20 vision to ensure you’re showing potential buyers exactly what they want to see. Stage your home from the buyer’s point of view, and you’ll go far. That’s how you sell a house!
As they say, all good things must come to an end, and 2019 is no exception. But before we close out the year, we wanted to review a few highlights, just in case you missed it.
In 2019, Home Staging Expert® officially celebrated our 20th Anniversary and expanded our Certified HSE® Trainers to eight!
We were approved for Realtor® Continuing Education Credits in Colorado and Michigan, and will be adding more states in 2020!
COLORADO: 1-Day = 8 CE Credits and 2-Day = 14 CE Credits
MICHIGAN: 1-Day = 8 CE Credits and On-Line HSE® Course = 8 CE Credits
We interviewed Home Staging Expert® Phyllis Pafumi and featured the work of HSE® Certified stagers, Marla Alt, Mark Dollard, and Charlene Francis. (Let this serve as a reminder…we LOVE featuring our HSE®’s, so if you’ve got something to share in 2020, please get in touch!)
We tackled a few dilemmas for our readers including resolving an issue with two front doors, dealing with ugly countertops, and how to sell a home with renters.
And of course, we’ve done our best to educate the masses on the importance of staging before selling, our favorite cleaning products, why Realtors should learn home staging, and what sellers can do right now to get their homes ready for the spring market.
It’s been a year blessed with new friends, new ideas, and new adventures! And as we prepare to ring in the start of a new decade, we wish for you and yours all the best in the coming new year.
And that’s a wrap!
Moroccan Tiles have been trending for several years now. But when it comes time to sell your home, are they a yea or a nay?
I will not deny I am a big fan and even installed them in my own house. And while ‘trendy’ is typically something to avoid when it comes time to sell, I am going to argue that Moroccan Tiles have been a staple in homes around the world for centuries.
In today’s home, they are perfect for a master bathroom or small guest bath, in the sunroom, as a backsplash in the kitchen, or perhaps even as a border around the edges of more neutral kitchen floor tiles.
If you plan to install them to give your home a boost, as with any trendy update, the key is to use them sparingly. In other words, don’t go crazy with too much color, try to mix and match too many patterns, or tile an entire kitchen from top to bottom! The effect in those cases might go terribly, dreadfully wrong.
Instead, use Moroccan Tiles in moderation to bring an added sense of luxe to an otherwise basic space, and I don’t think you’ll have any regrets installing this popular upgrade. In fact…they might just turn out to be that little extra something to help get your house SOLD!