All articles have been provided by The National Association of Realtors.
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine
The mega consumer electronic showcase, CES, lands in Las Vegas this week. It may not be the place you typically go to for décor trends, but technology is having an undeniable influence in home design, like see-through refrigerators and smart lighting.
Consumers look to you for expertise too. Forty-two percent of Americans say they would look to their sales agent to provide suggestions about how staging their home with smart home products could impact the sale of their home, according to a newly released Coldwell Banker Real Estate survey of more than 3,000 Americans.
So what do we see that has potential this year to spice up some designs? Here are a few picks from CES 2018.
Accent Wall Light Show
Nanoleaf’s color-changing Aurora light panels would make for an attention-getting accent wall in small or big doses. Connect them in any configuration you like. They just stick to the walls. The panels change colors, and you can sync the lights to music and also with one of your AI’s, Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant. The panels are touch-sensitive so with a tap you can turn them on and off, dim them, or change the color.
Refrigerators just keep getting smarter. LG’s new InstaView ThinQ smart refrigerator features a 29-inch touchscreen that becomes transparent if you knock on it twice. You can also use the touchscreen to manage your food and get automatic reminders when items are running low.
Samsung has a similar model in appearance with its 2018 version of its Family Hub smart refrigerator. This year’s model offers support for Samsung’s Bixby voice assistant to handle voice commands. It can connect to other third-party devices for the smart home too. So you can actually view what’s happening outside your front door from your refrigerator door.
Notice both the Samsung and LG models are both featured in black stainless, which we still believe will be a growing competitor to traditional stainless steel.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall …
Check out this smart mirror. Kohler is introducing a new Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror, which is a bathroom mirror that has Amazon’s Alexa built-in. It features a dual-microphone solution for accuracy in voice-control and speakers are housed in the casings. There is also a motion-activated wayfinding nightlight for safety, and LED lights for makeup application or other grooming needs. It can also communicate with other connected products in your Wi-Fi network.
Is that an AI in your ceiling?
Talk with your ceiling lights. You’ll be able to with GE’s Smart Ceiling Fixture. It is a large disk that boasts a speaker in the middle. You can give it voice-driven tasks on anything, like adding an item to your grocery list or telling it to play music. You can also tell it to adjust the warmness or coolness of the lights. It responds to your commands. Flush mount or recessed can lighting options will be available.
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine
Are homeowners growing tired of the all-white kitchen? Some design experts believe so. White kitchens have been popular over the past few years, but Houzz editor and writer Mitchell Parker predicts that the number of homeowners who will get “white-kitchen fatigue” will grow in the new year.
Some homeowners may experiment with adding more colors back in to the kitchen.
“While white kitchens aren’t going anywhere, expect to see a rise in color, especially other neutrals like gray and blue,” Parker notes in reporting on 2018 home trends. “Plus, warm wood tones are becoming a popular replacement for painted cabinets, leading to sophisticated, rich palettes.”
The two-tone look started catching on in 2017, in which cabinet colors were mixed and matched in the kitchen. For example, the bottom cabinets might be a darker color, such as gray, and the upper cabinets then all in white. Or, homeowners were making a bigger statement with their kitchen islands by painting it a bolder color that contrasted with the rest of its kitchen cabinets.
By Audra Slinkey, Home Staging Resource
Outdoor patio spaces have sure changed in the last few years with the onset of new outdoor materials, furnishings, fixtures, Cantina doors, and the home owner’s desire for more outdoor living and entertaining space. In fact, according to the 2017 National Association of REALTORS’ Profile of Home Staging report, the desire to see outdoor spaces staged when selling a home was at 63 percent. It was not even mentioned in the previous survey.
This outdoor space total transformation is a great example of the kinds of living trends you can expect to see for 2018 and beyond.
Trend #1 – Capitalizing on Available and Unusable Yard Space by Creating Multi-Functional Entertaining Areas
This side yard off the kitchen and dining area was an unusable space used only for barbecuing and the occasional outdoor eating. The patio was too small. Today’s yards are multi-functional and serve to entertain, lounge, and maximize lot square footage.
The side yard appears to be much bigger than before and now serves as an extension of the kitchen and living room area. The wasted and unused yard is now a highlight of the home adding nearly 1,000 square feet of living space.
Trend #2 – Bring the Outside In with La Cantina/Folding Doors
Removing the kitchen wall and adding La Cantina folding doors allows for seamless movement between the inside and out. Almost every new home being built in San Diego County has one of these doors inside, so expect to see a lot more of these in the coming years.
Trend #3– Home Bars and Wine Rooms for Entertaining
The casual setting of a home bar is on the rise with a large selection of finishing materials and resources available online to home owners. More people are entertaining larger crowds in a “help yourself” type of atmosphere. The Houzz category of “Home Bar” is one of the fastest growing and searched type of photos. So it’s no wonder people are adding them to their outdoor space.
Trend #4 – Textured Walls/Tongue and Groove Siding
Part of making an outside addition appear to be seamless to the inside is to not have the walls look like the outside of a house. An easy way to create the “indoor look” is to banish stucco entirely and use tongue and groove, as well as wood cabinets (treated and painted) to add character.
Trend #5 – Seamless Outdoor Heating that Works and is Energy Efficient
It wasn’t that long ago home owners were relegated to the indoors for most of the year due to cold and hot weather issues. Sophisticated and low energy heating units embedded into the ceiling make this a year round space for watching TV and entertaining!
Trend #6 – Matching Flooring as an “Extension” of the Indoor Space
Keeping in line with the home owner’s desire for a seamless movement between inside and outside, flooring options have widened allowing owner’s to use tile that looks like wood but is hardy and easy to wash in their outside space.
From a resale standpoint, these outdoor spaces cost much less than additions and add buyer lifestyle value. Light fixtures, finishes, and furnishings that can withstand the outdoor elements are easier to source than ever before, so it can be fun for the designer/stager to get creative with their clients.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Audra Slinkey is president of the Home Staging Resource, a RESA Accredited home staging training and certification company. Slinkey has personally trained over 3,000 stagers worldwide and is a bestselling author and international speaker. She also serves as president of the American Society of Home Stagers and Redesigners. Connect with her on Facebook!
By Mary Purcell, MoneyGeek.com
Home staging has gone mainstream and is now widely used to make a home more attractive to potential buyers. According to a 2017 survey by the National Association of REALTORS®, a majority of real estate professionals believe staging increases the sale price of the home anywhere from 1 to 15 percent.
But even if it doesn’t increase the value, most agents agree that staging reduces the amount of time the home sits on the market, which is music to any seller’s ears.
Not all homes need a dramatic makeover, but most homes will benefit from at least a thorough cleaning and culling.
“Staging and preparation can include as little as some fresh paint, but in most cases we also landscape, replace dated light fixtures and hardware, and in many cases refinish hardwood floors, replace countertops, bathroom fixtures, etc.,” says Nicole Kennedy, a home staging expert in Piedmont, Calif.
Read on to learn what industry and design trends we can expect in 2018.
More real estate agents get on board
Lori Matzke, founder of HomeStagingExpert.com, provides home staging workshops around the country in addition to running her own staging business in Minnesota. She’s noticed an increased interest and involvement of real estate agents in the staging process.
“Back when I started staging (in 1999), agents were not interested; they didn’t want to have one more thing on their plate,” Matzke says. “My classes are now 90 to 95 percent agents. I think you’re going to see a lot more agents learning about staging and how to advise their clients, because more and more homeowners are demanding that.”
That doesn’t mean agents will be doing the staging themselves, but they will have an eye for what is needed, and will facilitate the interaction between the seller and the stager. “It really helps the homeowner to have an educated real estate agent,” says Matzke. If the agent has prepped the seller about what needs to be removed and cleaned out, it makes the stager’s job faster and cheaper.
Complete vs. partial staging
Staging can range from small efforts like decluttering to a complete move out and refurnishing. Complete staging of vacant homes is a growing trend, according to Matzke. Whether it’s new or model homes, or the seller has moved out, many stagers today only work with vacant homes.
In the booming Bay Area housing market, Kennedy says buyers are accustomed to short sales cycles, so having the home primed and ready is expected.
“Fewer than 10 percent of homes I stage are partial–where we keep some of the furniture and belongings, edit out and add in where needed,” notes Kennedy. “This can be challenging because the staging has to fit in with existing styles and pieces, but it can make more sense to sellers who are staying in the house through the sale.”
Matzke says the complete staging trend isn’t limited to hot real estate markets.
“It’s been trickling down into smaller markets, not just in the larger metropolitan areas,” she notes. The ubiquity of staging on HGTV shows has probably made the idea more palatable to sellers and agents across the county.
Embracing a personal touch
One of the golden rules of staging has long been to keep things neutral to appeal to the widest range of potential buyers. But stagers are increasingly adding a little more design, style, and color to the home.
“Staging is becoming a bit more personal and less stale than it has been in the past,” Kennedy says. “It used to be standard to remove all family photos and personal items from the house, but today’s buyers prefer to see a house with a little personality. They want to see a ‘real’ house that they can imagine themselves in and small, personal details that create an aspirational image can help reach buyers on an emotional level.”
Matzke agrees. “It’s becoming trendy for stagers to do a little mixing with vintage pieces to give it a designer look. I think it gives the place more depth and I’m seeing more chatter about it on blogs.”
Following the design trends
While most of the staging do’s and don’ts will remain the same in 2018, our experts expect some new design trends to emerge in many staged homes next year:
- Color: After a few years in which just about every design magazine is covered in gray, Matzke has a bold prediction: Gray is dead. “People are embracing beige and creamy white again,” she says. “I think that’s good because not everybody’s furniture fits with gray.”
Stagers are also increasingly adding a pop of color or an upscale design element to appeal to design-conscious buyers.
“Adding a pop of color in a room through accessories or artwork is common,” says Matzke. “The two big colors I think you’ll see a lot of in 2018 are dark teal and millennial pink … especially if you’re marketing to first-time homebuyers or a younger crowd, you might want to add those colors.”
- Floors: It used to be that preparing a home for sale meant replacing old, stained carpet with new carpet, but Matzke says that, too, is changing. “A lot of people are replacing carpeting with wood and faux wood flooring–at least on the main floor,” she adds.
- Countertops: While quartz is the latest countertop trend among high-end homes for 2018, Matzke thinks most of America will stick with granite next year because of cost. “Design magazines are pushing quartz, saying it’s going to be the hot trend for 2018,” Matzke says. “And for the really high-end homes they’re probably right, but for a majority of America, I think it’s still going to be granite.”
- Glam: Although it sounds counter to the rule of keeping things neutral, HGTV and design magazines have popularized a bit of glam. “For a long time you’ve seen people adding a little bit of rustic, heavy metal designs, but now you’re seeing a lot more shiny metallics,” Matzke says. “Even gold–it adds a bit of bling to the house.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Purcell is a freelance writer and health and finance researcher. She covers homebuying, savings and other personal finance-related topics for MoneyGeek.com.
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine
White has become a classy go-to color this holiday season, and it’s perfect when staging a home during the holidays. Whether it’s white table linens, holiday stockings, ornaments, or even an all-white tree, the neutral color can be a way to decorate a home for-sale during the holidays without distracting from the home’s overall decor. More traditional holiday hues—like red and green—can take on more prominence in a home. But white blends right in to any color scheme, and can still offer warmth and yuletide cheer for the holidays.
The white artificial Christmas tree is among one of the hottest holiday decorating trends this year. These trees can look elegant and be a perfect staging solution for the holidays, in which your owners still want a tree but you don’t want it to overpower or distract a space.
There is a decorating trick to these trees in staging, however. Unlike more traditional Christmas trees, white trees tend to pull from a more muted color scheme.
Here are a few other tips to decorating an all-white or white-frosted tree:
White LED lights: The base of all-white lights will help create a soft, warm glow on your tree. Red, blue, or multicolored lights on an all-white tree will really stand out so it may be best to avoid when staging.
Use white ornaments: White on white? You bet! The key here is to mix in different textures of ornaments to avoid too monochromatic of a look.
Avoid contrasting colors: Besides white, use more softer shades like creams and soft grays for the ornaments and garland. Contrasting colors, like red or blue, may be too harsh against the all-white base.
Add some shine: Mix in some sparkle with silver or gold ornaments or accent picks.
Channel a farmhouse look: The white tree can be perfect to complete a farmhouse look. Decorate the tree with a burlap ribbon in a zig-zag pattern all the way down the tree, and repeat all around. Add in a few white spray-painted pinecones and even some cotton accents.
By Merri Cvetan, guest contributor
If you’re staging your home during this time of the year, adding a bit of holiday cheer to your decor can make a big impression on potential buyers. Use these tips to create a simple, polished look that puts your home in its best light this holiday season.
Choose the Right Christmas Tree
When showing your home, include holiday decor that allows potential buyers to picture themselves in the space. For example, choose a tree that allows other aspects of your home to shine. Your living room or entryway will look bigger if you opt for a small artificial tree over a 6-foot live pine. An artificial tree is also less messy than a real one, meaning your home will always be neat and tidy and ready for the next showing.
Light It Up
The Christmas light possibilities are endless, but when you’re staging a home for sale, think simple and low-key and stick to one style. An over-the-top display might not reflect the tastes of your potential buyers, and too many decorations can take away from the room itself.
Take advantage of the many styles of Christmas tree lights available to give your home an understated yet inviting holiday look. Opt for something different, like an artificial white tree decorated with white LED lights. Finally, choose ornaments and trim that coordinate with the lights. Add a few silver and red ornaments for extra sparkle and color. It’s just enough Christmas for your family to enjoy without overpowering the room.
Decorate Your Mantel
The fireplace is an important focal point. Keep it simple and elegant to help potential buyers imagine opening their own Christmas gifts around a roaring fire.
Don’t completely cover the mantel. Pack away any personal family photos or the kids’ school crafts. Drape a garland across the mantel, allowing the branches to hang over the edge. A string of simple white LED lights adds just enough illumination to highlight the fireplace.
Add a few candles and a simple vase to reflect the light. A rustic wreath on the wall above the mantel completes the scene without distracting from the main event. This style is classic enough to appeal to a variety of buyers while still capturing the holiday spirit.
Don’t Forget the Exterior
Increase your curb appeal and make a good impression from the get-go by decorating the outside of your home. Consider your neighborhood, too–if all of your neighbors have lights and outdoor decorations, you don’t want to be the only home without them.
Keep things simple and easy with a festive wreath on the door to greet potential buyers. Wrap a garland or string of lights around your front porch (or hang them around your entryway), then finish the look with lanterns or a potted evergreen. Finally, make sure your walkway is clear of snow or ice.
Welcome Buyers With the Spirit of the Holidays
During an open house, create the feel of a festive holiday party by offering seasonal snacks like gingerbread cookies, candy canes, hot chocolate, and apple cider. Keeping mulled hot apple cider simmering on the stove will also make the whole house smell good. Light a fire in your fireplace to make the home feel cozy and warm, helping visitors envision living there. When it comes to impressing potential buyers, these small touches can make all the difference.
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine
Bamboo is making its way into more home interiors. From flooring, window treatments to wall accents, furnishings and more, this sustainable material is popping up everywhere.
Some designers are making bamboo their go-to material, which RISMedia recently highlighted in the article “4 Reasons Why Bamboo Is Taking Home Décor by Storm.”
Bamboo is widely available and more affordable than many other wood products. Bamboo is traditionally considered a type of wood flooring, but it’s actually not a wood at all, but a grass. And at growth rates of three to five feet per year, bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants on Earth, which means it’s widely available for spicing up interiors.
Here are a few trending ways we’re seeing bamboo enter more household decor.
Gold bamboo is particularly hot for home accents (Check out the coffee table in the picture below).
Bamboo-textured walls can add a focal point to a space.
Bamboo is popular in landscapes and for adding privacy.
Bamboo flooring is an alternative to wood flooring and comes in many different color variations.
Bamboo can be used for an artistic privacy screen.
By Christy Matte, guest contributor
Smart homes with security and automation features are becoming a hot trend, and they can be an exciting way to dazzle prospective home buyers (and up your staging efforts to a high-tech level at the same time). But if buyers have never experienced an automated home environment, rattling off a list of features could be meaningless at best, and confusing at worst. Here are some fun ways to show a home with smart features, so the buyers will be wowed and you can clinch the sale.
Know What It Is and How It Works
It should go without saying, but make sure you can control the features like a security system, smart locks, or smart lighting, before trying to introduce them to buyers. Ask the homeowner for tips, test them out, and be ready for the big show.
Get the Apps
Ask the seller for access to the associated apps for the various systems. Even better, convince the sellers to tie all smart home technology into one convenient smart hub. It’s an easy task with the help of their Internet service provider. Install one app on one device so prospective buyers can try them out.
Educate Buyers on the Benefits
Make a one-page list of the features, specifically showing how they can save time and money, while also providing increased security.
Go Beyond the Basics
Most people have a basic understanding of a traditional home security system. Show them how this particular system can go even further. Can it send them a text message for smoke detection or a water leak? Can you open the smart lock with your own designated code? Show buyers how much flexibility is available. Security systems aren’t just for protecting against theft anymore.
Use motion detectors to trigger mood lighting and automated music as buyers move through the home. Let them set off the sprinkler system (after touring the yard, of course) with a swipe of the app. Teach them voice commands to trigger the home’s other functions.
With the right planning, you can turn your everyday showing into something truly special and extremely smart.
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.