All articles have been provided by The National Association of Realtors.
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine
The shower in the master bathroom is getting a lot more attention. In fact, it’s one of the main splurges among renovating homeowners, according to the 2017 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study. These “statement showers,” as Houzz dubs them in its report, include high-tech features, like rainfall showerheads, dual showers, curbless showers, and body sprays.
Upgrading the master shower was the most popular renovation project, according to the survey of more than 1,200 U.S. homeowners who were in the midst or just completed a bathroom reno project. For more than half of renovators, their main aim was to increase their shower’s size. Also, survey respondents showed a rise in demand for high-tech features, such as mood lighting or digital controls, in master bathrooms.
Over a quarter of homeowners – 27 percent – have opted to remove the bathtub in their master bathroom renovations, according to the survey. The removal of the bathtub has allowed more room for a larger shower.
“This year’s Bathroom Trends Study sheds light on two key trends in master bathrooms, showers as a focal point and the growing role of high-tech features in bathroom products,” says Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz. “Additionally, it is clear that today’s master bathroom renovations are marked by timeless and durable elements, from natural stone finishes to curbless shower entries, a benefit of having older generations in the driver’s seat. Still, the early wave of millennial homeowners reveals their preferences for homes of the future, from larger master bathrooms to clean lines and white and gray color pallets.”
The Houzz study found that the national average for a major remodel of a large master bathroom (considered over 100 square feet) is $21,000.
By Brian Balduf, VHT Studios
Appealing to home buyers is all about making that emotional connection. Smart marketers know emotions trump other factors, especially when you hear buyers say the listing “just feels right.” They may be searching for a new house, but they’re envisioning their next home.
Buyers’ emotional experience while home shopping is heightened even more by stunning real estate photography that is the attention-grabber in the age of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Houzz.
Breathtaking photographs and video stir buyers’ emotions and imaginations and prompt dreams about how they’ll live in that home.
New virtual staging tools go even one step further. Virtual staging makes a listing stand out and allows buyers to visualize their dreams – not only in their minds – but on their monitors or mobile devices.
When marketing to those buyers, virtual staging allows real estate professionals to present the rooms of a listing in many styles and functions, enabling agents to reach the widest audience possible by appealing to myriad tastes and lifestyle needs.
Virtual Staging blows up the current one-size-fits-all listing model and gives real estate pros far greater flexibility in customizing a listing to the desires and expectations of their perceived audiences.
It starts with high quality photographs, the standard for showing how a home is currently furnished and decorated today for its current owner. Virtual staging tools inserted into or enhancing those photographs amp up the features of a listing and showcase why each room is a great space and how it can be used, whether the prospective owner is a workout enthusiast, a craft hobbyist, or a new parent.
Also, virtual staging eliminates the expense of renting furnishings or hiring traditional stagers, while allowing buyers to mentally prepare how they can live in their prospective home.
Virtual staging helps buyers look beyond the stark, off-putting appearance of a vacant room. It also presents decorating options that enhance, for instance, a living room containing worn carpeting and outdated furniture that could leave a bad impression.
Virtual staging presents a property’s potential and can attract and interest different audiences with a variety of lifestyles.
See for yourself how virtual staging was used successfully by Robert Pribyl and Bernadette Ray, with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices KoenigRubloff Realty Group in Chicago. Robert says they took advantage of virtual staging’s flexibility for a vacant and fully remodeled 130-year old house in the trendy Logan Square neighborhood.
“This neighborhood is very hot. It’s become a magnet for millennials and high-net worth investors, so we needed to showcase how single professionals or families with different needs might live in the home,” Pribyl says. “I like the modern furniture that buyers see in the living room – it fits the style of the buyers I’m trying to attract. The home looks more appealing to buyers when they can see select rooms that are furnished.
They used virtual staging to showcase how a bedroom might appeal, for instance, to a young couple with a newborn. They also transformed that same vacant bedroom into an office and an exercise room for a young entrepreneur or a workout enthusiast.
In the finished basement, virtual staging allowed the duo to show the space’s potential as a child’s playroom and man-cave for TV sports fans and game lovers.
In just four weeks after installing virtual photographs, they received multiple offers on the listing, and as of this writing, they were in negotiations with potential buyers.
Virtual staging opens many real estate marketing options which up until now have been impossible to deploy. There are now unlimited ways to present a room’s functions or decor through virtual tools.
Real estate professionals are also applying flexibility to how they use virtually staged photographs. In addition to websites, advertising and brochures, agents are using enlarged virtually staged photographs that depict multiple room functions and placing them on easels in each room of their listings. This allows buyers to instantly recall the virtually staged home they viewed online, as well as to envision the many possibilities.
Also, consider these other virtual tools that can solve common headaches that real estate professionals have had to work through over the years:
- Virtual paint is helpful when walls need a fresh coat of paint or when dated wallpaper needs a makeover.
- Virtual declutter removes mementos and personal effects that may be cherished by the owner but are distractions to buyers.
- And virtual twilight wows buyers and with warm, romantic, and welcoming exterior views that appeared to be photographed at dusk.
Here’s another example of a virtually staged living space at a listing in Rosemont, Ill. See how the space has been configured to appeal to different style preferences.
Don’t Try This at Home!
Some digital photography pros may be tempted to hire a Photoshop hobbyist to digitally alter photos with virtual enhancements. Having great Photoshop skills doesn’t guarantee beautiful virtual staging.
Installing a virtual couch into a photograph and hitting “Sharpen My Image” may do more harm than good to a vacant room. Often the end result looks like the old Colorforms stickers we played with as kids.
Experienced virtual stagers are studio and image specialists who have composition skills in real estate photography and know how to blend multiple exposures in which lighting, window views, and details are merged to create the final composite photography.
They also understand perspective, shadows, and size in relation to room dimensions.
We advocate trusting your visual marketing to a pro, just as real estate brokers advocate to their clients.
The newest visual marketing tools are proof that real estate marketing is no longer a one-size-fits-all proposition. Smart professionals are adopting these tools to reach a much wider audience, to make a greater first impression on potential buyers, and sell homes faster and at the best price.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brian Balduf, CEO, chairman and co-founder of VHT Studios, has built the Rosemont, Ill.-based firm into the nation’s largest real estate photography and image management services company. Since he co-founded the company in 1998, VHT Studios has helped more than 200,000 real estate professionals sell more than $200 billion in properties through its nationwide network of hundreds of photographers and image specialists. Delivering to real estate professionals their most powerful selling tools – high quality photography and video – Balduf has worked to ensure their properties get seen more, sell faster and at the highest price. For more information, visit VHT.com, The VHT Studios Blog or find us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR(R) Magazine
You can clean the air with plants. And in an age when “healthy home” is what so many buyers are saying they crave, you may find this a cheaper alternative to improving the air quality in a home by just being smarter about the plants you choose to stage with.
The Center for REALTOR(R) Technology has been studying how plants can improve indoor air quality, and has written a book on the topic, “A Pocket Guide to Cleaner Air.” The book focuses on which plants can improve air quality in commercial settings. Their findings can also apply to residential spaces too.
At the 2017 REALTOR(R) Conference & Expo this past weekend, CRT showcased an orb of clean-air plants on the show floor. We thought it looked like a chic space for an outdoor oasis of fresh air. But as the healthier-home trend catches on more, maybe we’ll even see this idea move indoors—like an indoor tropical paradise home office orb. After all, the cleaner air is supposed to make you more productive.
The average American spends about 90 percent of their time indoors. Yet, indoor air quality is about five to 10 times worse than outdoor air quality.
Certain plants, however, can actually improve the air quality of a space and even make people more productive and healthier, research shows. For example, dracaena warneckii is known for cleaning benzene and formaldehyde from the air—chemicals that are often linked to some furnishings. The “Money Plant,” or also known as Devil’s Ivy, is known as one of the hardiest house plants to kill and also will rid these potentially harmful chemicals from the air. The Chinese evergreen is another plant that is known to clean indoor air, and as a bonus for when selling a home, it’s known to bring good luck to those who grow it.
Infuse more clean-air plants into your next listing. Maybe buyers will notice there’s something different in the air.
Thank you to our loyal readers and top-industry contributors for helping to make Styled, Staged & Sold the top ranked “home staging blog on the planet!” Feedspot, a news RSS reader, ranked Styled, Staged & Sold number-one out of 100 staging blogs.
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By Jessica Santina, guest contributor from MoneyGeek.com
As little ghosts and ghouls appear on every corner, how about settling in for a few scary stories of home staging horrors?
The following tales of botched staging jobs, homeowners from hell, and nightmarish décor will likely give you some real-life shivers.
The Scary Screamer
Lori Matzke, owner of CenterStageHome.com, is a home staging expert in the Minneapolis area. As a new stager in 1999, she encountered a horrifying homeowner.
“Unfortunately, at that time, staging had a really bad rap,” Matzke says. “People were so offended if a [an agent] wanted a stager to come into their home — the perception was that you must really live in a pit if you needed staging.”
That was the case with this job. Matzke received a call from a real estate agent asking her to do a staging consultation on a home that was going on the market. Matzke agreed to meet the agent at the home that Sunday morning.
She arrived on time and knocked on the door, only to be greeted by a furious homeowner.
“What do you want?” he barked at her. When she explained who she was and why she was there, he replied, “Oh, yeah, you’re the one who’s coming to criticize our house.”
Matzke politely explained that she only wanted to help them to sell it. The man’s wife came to the door, apologized for her husband, and invited Matzke in. Once she was inside, the man slammed the door so hard that three items fell off the wall.
The agent was running late, so Matzke proceeded to do a walk-through of the home. But every suggestion she made, including the need for a neutral paint color to replace the dark gray, was met with intense hostility.
“He went crazy and started cursing me out,” she says.
Over the course of the next 90 minutes, Matzke feared for her safety as the man repeatedly hurled personal insults at her, screaming, and slamming doors until — at long last — she was able to make her getaway.
Since then Matzke has made it a policy to warn clients not to take offense of her staging suggestions.
“It’s not personal; it has nothing to do with the homeowners’ taste. It’s just about the buyer experience,” she says.
The Body in the Closet
Another time, Matzke was asked to meet an agent at a home for a staging consultation. The two of them walked through the empty home, which Matzke thought was quite nice and needed only a little editing — things like moving furniture around a bit.
The consultation with the agent went on for some time, and she thought it was going well until suddenly, to their extreme shock, the hall closet door swung open and the homeowner jumped out.
“He’d been waiting there a long time in that closet, wanting to hear what people said about his house when no one was there!” Matzke says.
As if this weren’t bad enough, Matzke heard later the house had remained on the market for a long time, mostly because the homeowner had a nasty habit of jumping out of closets and startling visitors.
“The moral of the story is, you can’t be hanging around,” Matzke says. “Some sellers take it very personally when people come to view their homes, but it makes buyers very uncomfortable” for you to be there (especially if you’re hiding in a closet).
Hall of Severed Heads
Nothing kills a sale like a room full of dead heads. That’s what Matzke suggested to one client whose small house was packed with at least 20 taxidermied animals, including a giant moose head.
“You literally couldn’t walk into the kitchen or you’d be gored by an antler,” she recalls.
Of course, as an experienced stager, Matzke recommended removing the heads to make the home more appealing to potential buyers, and reminded the homeowners their new home would have plenty of space for these treasures. They reluctantly agreed, and when Matzke returned the next week to paint and finish the job, the heads were gone.
“It looked beautiful, like a totally different space,” she says.
Matzke arranged to have a friend go take pictures of the home a few days later so she would have photos for her portfolio. But when the photos arrived in her email, Matzke made a horrific discovery: “The first photo I opened, there was that giant moose head again!”
In this age of DIY reality shows, many people fancy themselves as amateur home stagers, says Shell Brodnax, CEO of the Real Estate Staging Association.
“We love HGTV, and they’ve definitely shined a light on staging,” she says. “But it also leads homeowners to believe they can do stuff on their own. But, like anything else, you need a professional to make it look professional.”
Brodnax has seen some truly frightening faux pas as a stager — forlorn tableaus like card tables set up in the middle of empty rooms, or armchairs and throw blankets stuffed into awkward spaces.
Or this head scratcher: “I saw one where people just put a pile of throw pillows on the floor. We’re not sure why, but it was bad,” she says.
Don’t leave staging to hobbyists, she cautions. Instead, collect bids from at least three stagers, check out their professional portfolios, and call references. Even in the staging world, you get what you pay for.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jessica Santina is a freelance writer, editor and contributor to the mortgage and home buying channel at MoneyGeek.com. She is an award-winning arts and culture, travel, food, and lifestyle writer and blogger whose work has been published in numerous local and regional publications.
By Glenn Griffin, guest contributor
One of the most commonly asked questions people have when restoring their hardwood floors is: “Should I stain my floor?” That question is closely followed by: “What color stain should I choose?”
Staining your floors is a major decision for three reasons: 1) Your choice will have a substantial impact on the overall look of your home, 2) You will be living with your color choice for a very long time and 3) Once the stain is applied, it’s expensive and time consuming to redo it.
On top of that, there is literally hundreds of colors, shades, and combinations to choose between. Choices, choices, choices!
That’s a lot of pressure.
Thankfully, choosing the perfect color for your wood floors isn’t too difficult. You just need to know the right questions to ask. Below we’ll go through some questions that will get you on the right track of deciding whether you should even stain in the first place, and if so, how to choose the perfect stain color for your home.
STEP 1: Can I and Should I Stain My Floors?
You have a choice of staining your floors or keeping them in their natural state. Some floors are perfect for staining, others not so much. Which way you decide will depend on your answers to the following 2 questions…
What type of wood floors do I have?
If you are fortunate enough to have an exotic or unique wood floor such as mahogany, cherry, walnut, or maple then most likely they shouldn’t be stained.
First, these types of wood already look beautiful in their natural state. Often, when homeowners stain their floors, they are trying to imitate these types of wood floors. Second, many of these exotic floors also don’t take being stained well due to the oils or tight grain in the wood. There’s a high chance you won’t be happy with the result. It’s much better to keep them unstained and enjoy their natural beauty.
On the other hand, you may have a more common type of hardwood floor like red or white oak.
Over time, some finishes — especially oil based finishes — turn oak a yellowish-orange look that often gets associated with your grandparent’s floors from the 1960s. Other newer water based finishes can have a washed-out look if applied to a natural unstained oak floor. If this is not the look you’re going for, or you want to completely transform how they look, then staining is a great option.
Luckily, oak floors are perfect candidates for being stained and take stain application extremely well when the proper techniques are used.
Is there any water or pet damage?
If you have previous damage on your floors due to an overzealous pot plant waterer or the last owner’s bladder-challenged pets, then you have a couple of options: 1) Replace the damaged areas, or 2) Stain the floors a darker color than the damage so it’s not as obvious.
If the water damage covers a large portion of the floor but it’s only surface damage and can be muted with a darker color, then staining is well worth considering. It will save you a lot of money compared to the alternative of replacing the floors.
STEP 2: What Color Should I Choose?
Because there are so many color choices, this step can get a bit overwhelming. There are many different suppliers and they all have different shades and colors. Some manufacturers, especially with hardwax oils, have pre-treatment colors that can be layered on top of stain, or under it, to provide an unlimited color palette. You will want to get some color samples from your flooring professional to see the range you can choose from.
Our suggestion in choosing a color would be to first ask yourself…
What decorating style do you have or want?
Having a specific taste in furniture or an interior design style in mind will be a huge help in deciding on a stain color. Will you be buying new furniture? If so, you will have some more leeway. If you are keeping your existing furniture, then you will need to find a color that works with what you have.
If you love rustic farmhouse style interiors, you wouldn’t stain your floors dark ebony or grey. It would completely clash with your rustic furniture. Mid-toned brown shades would be a better fit.
For a modern, bold sleek contemporary design style, rich red hues would be very out of place. Ebony, white, or one of the various grey shades would be much better suited.
The key is to find a color that highlights and sets the groundwork for the interior decorating style you’re aiming for. Remember, your floors make up a large area of your home and will have a significant impact on the overall design. You want something that not only grounds your room, but also blends your decorating style cohesively together.
Because many of us find it difficult to visualize these images in our heads, a great idea is to grab some home decorating, architecture, and interior design magazines for inspiration. There are lots of online resources for photos too, like Pinterest and Houzz.
Flip through them and find all the photos with your ideal interior design style. What have others, especially professional designers, done in similar situations to what you envision? What catches your eye? What can you see yourself living with long-term? Do you like the light, airy look and feel more drawn to a lighter colored shade? Or do you prefer the deep, bold look of a darker floor? Maybe something in-between?
When you find a color you love, save the photo and show it to your wood floor professional. They’ll be able to help you find out how to replicate it.
What if I can’t decide between 2 or 3 colors?
If you’ve narrowed your choices down to 2 or 3 colors then you’re well on your way to getting the perfect stain for your hardwood floors.
The next step is to have your floor professional provide some larger samples. He’ll be able to offer two choices: either put the stain samples directly on your floor (after sanding a section), or make you some large portable sample panels.
The benefit of putting stain samples directly on your floor is that you can see exactly how the final color will look.
The beauty of sample panels also is you can move them around the house and see what the color looks like in various areas of your home, around your furniture, against the kitchen cabinets, etc. Try to get your floor professional to coat them with the same finish system you will use so that the color isn’t distorted.
With either type of sample, you will be able to observe what they look like during various times of the day and in different lighting conditions.
Once you live with your samples for a few days, you’ll know exactly what color will be perfect for your home.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Glenn Griffin helps service based businesses attract and convert high quality leads with content and marketing. As an expert in hardwood flooring, he writes content for various flooring websites including Tadas Wood Flooring, Advantage Hardwood Refinishing and Delaware Valley Hardwoods You can see their work in the photos above.
By Katie Laird, guest contributor
When staging a home for an open house, you can transform a space from an unimpressive, run-of-the-mill property to one with a “wow” factor. But without a little extra attention to detail, even the most professionally staged homes can leave something to be desired. Don’t let staging efforts go to waste—advise your clients to put the finishing touches on their staged homes, and boost their chances of selling. Here is a list of seven often overlooked finishing touches that can make a home shine.
1. Switch the lights.
It may seem like a big project, but switching out ceiling light fixtures is actually quite simple. Replacing old or broken fixtures can add a polished look and make a home feel updated. Remember that during showings and open houses, all lights will be on, so buyers’ eyes will be drawn to them. Choose something timeless that will go with any décor. And don’t forget the switch plates – dingy or yellowed light switches can make a staged room feel incomplete.
2. Consider window treatments.
Your clients may hesitate to replace blinds or shades before they move, because they can’t take them when they go. But remind them that custom window treatments can add significant value to the sale price. The right treatments can add privacy, style, and even energy efficiency to the home. They’re also the perfect way to frame a professionally-staged room. During your showing, treatments should allow as much natural light into the home as possible. Natural light balances any overly yellow lightbulbs and provides a blank canvas for the buyers to see clearly.
3. Touch-up the paint.
A professionally staged home will have impeccable furnishings and accessories. But chipped baseboards or scuffed walls can undo that polished look in an instant. Advise your clients to go through the home with touch-up paint and get rid of the most obvious offenses. It’s a simple way to hide the home’s age, and keep potential buyers focused on the its best attributes.
4. Give the floors some attention.
Stagers may add area rugs, but do not use rugs to hide scratched hardwoods or stained carpeting. Recommend that your clients make the investment into buffing and deep cleaning the flooring, so the rest of the staging looks at home in the pristine environment.
5. Add a little life.
Staging companies may add artificial plants as décor, but the living variety are even more appealing. Fresh flowers and houseplants brighten dining rooms, entryways, and bedside tables. Go neutral white or use this as an opportunity to add a pop of color. Also, try bowls of fruit, hanging ferns, or a small window herb garden to avoid having to put fresh flowers out every week. Don’t forget to look outside and freshen up the flower bed with new blooms and/or add a few potted plants around the front door.
6. Remove personal items.
Another final touch to making sure the staging looks natural is to remove any overly personal distractions. Remove family photos and memorabilia. If your sellers want to leave the frames on the wall to hide nail holes, have them consider putting a nice landscape print or piece of scrapbook paper in that spot instead. This goes for art, too. Your potential buyers might not share your enthusiasm for turn of the century pop-art, so the best choice is to swap it out for something classic, or remove completely.
7. Don’t forget storage areas.
Stagers will give special attention to the main living areas, but storage spaces like garages, closets, and basements are also vital selling points that need attention. Potential buyers look for roomy areas where they’ll be able to fit all their stuff. If basements and garages are overcrowded, it might send the signal that the home isn’t big enough for the buyers’ needs. Sellers may benefit from renting a storage space to help declutter and make every inch of the home irresistible.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Katie Laird is a frequent public speaker on social media marketing, social customer care, and profitable company culture. An active blogger and early social technology adopter, you can find her online as “happykatie” sharing home décor, yoga, parenting and vegetarian cooking tips. Laird is also the director of social marketing for Blinds.com.
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine
A rich blue with jewel-toned greens is forecasted to be 2018’s hottest color of the year, according to Sherwin Williams, which unveiled its 2018 Color of the Year choice this week. Other paint companies will be announcing their paint choices over the next few weeks.
Oceanside SW 6496 is a statement color. It can add a bold, attention-getting pop to wall colors, furnishings, accessories, and even a home’s front door.
“Green-blues in deep values, such as Oceanside, respond to changes in light, which is a quality that creates intense dimension,” says Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams. “It is a tremendously versatile color, and harmonizes with other diverse color groups.”
Oceanside is reminiscent of a marine-inspired look. But Sherwin Williams says the color can be woven into practically any design style, from mid-century modern to Mediterranean, traditional, or contemporary. Sherwin Williams says the color is versatile enough to be paired with any number of other colors, from hot pinks, yellows to navy or sky blues.
For 2017, Sherwin Williams had selected Poised Taupe (SW 6039) as the hot color. The company has been pushing the brownish-gray hue into more color schemes this year. Sherwin Williams had predicted taupe to become the next “it” color base for many homes today, edging out the popularity of gray.
But for 2018, Sherwin Williams is returning to a bolder shade for its hot-pick.
“People today have a growing sense of adventure, and it is making its way into even the coziest corners of our homes,” Wadden says. “We are craving things that remind us of bright folklore, like mermaids and expeditions across continents. Oceanside is the color of wanderlust right in our own homes.”
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine
It’s pumpkin season and that means pumpkin everything — lattes, muffins, cookies, cakes, and, yes, even home décor. Home stagers are adding a little “pumpkin spice” to their decor, from the welcoming fall scent to pumpkin accents that inspire a cozy, autumn feel. Plus, orange can serve as a great staging color. The bold hue pops against a neutral backdrop.
Now, before you go all Trader Joe’s-pumpkin-explosion style, restrain yourself. Do not over-pumpkin your listing!
Try adding a few pumpkins to your listing’s front stoop and maybe a few orange accessories here and there. Consider even some pumpkin lattes and muffins to complete your autumn open house.
Houzz recently featured several ideas of how you can add pumpkin-orange inspiration to your décor, from orange velvet furnishings, towels, throws, and pillows to even an orange accent wall for those who want to commit on a bigger scale.
Here are some of our favorites autumn staging ideas to get you inspired to add some pumpkin flair to your listing.
1. Add some pumpkins to your front stoop.
4. Add some pumpkins to your flower pots.
5. Tuck mini pumpkins into your candle holders, and complement with orange accessories throughout the front porch.
7. Weave orange throughout a room in small doses to offset darker color schemes.
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine
Fire features, like outdoor fire pits and fire tables, are in demand. The National Association of Landscape Professionals calls it one of the hottest landscape trends for the fall, based on a recent survey of 5,000 of its member landscapers.
These hot-spots can be a great way to show off the entertaining potential of your outdoor space. Set up a fire pit with a few outdoor chairs around it. You can even drape a blanket over one chair and add ingredients to s’mores on a table to finish off this perfect cozy fall scene.
Consider, taking a picture of your fire pit with the flames at dusk to even add to your listing photos to highlight as a selling point too. (A professional photographer may be best to get this picture so that the lighting is perfect.)
Check out these chic fire pit areas featured by designers at Houzz.