Foot Traffic and the Real Estate Market

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Good news: the National Association of Realtors recently released a “Foot Traffic Report” that showed that the number of prospective buyers out looking at homes in June was higher than any other time in the last two years. According to NAR, “Foot traffic has a strong correlation with future contracts and home sales, so it can be viewed as a peek ahead at sales trends two to three months into the future.” Since the market generally declines slightly in June after the spring buying season, this suggests that the housing market will remain strong throughout the summer and into the fall.

Don’t miss out on what could be one of the best years in real estate over the last decade. Contact Stage to Move to help you sell your home at maximum value today!

Homes Are Still Selling At Discounted Rates. Don’t Let Yours Be One of Them.

We know, we know—we just published a blog post about buyer demand exceeding homeowner supply, and how that’s great news for you, the seller. However, that doesn’t mean that everything is peachy for home sellers just yet. Read on to find out why, as the market continues to improve for sellers, it’s even more important to invest in home staging.

Though selling prices are undoubtedly improving, 63 percent of homes still sell at a discount compared to the listing price, according to the May 2015 REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey. Generally, the discount ranges from 1 percent to 11 percent.

Moreover, the longer a home stays on the market, the more likely it is to be sold at a discount. According to monthly surveys of realtors from 2012 to May 2015, 84 percent of properties that sold after 12 months were sold at a discount, while less than half of properties that were sold within a month were sold at a discount. Similarly, 24 percent of those homes that sold within a month were sold at a premium, while only six percent of properties sold after 12 months did so.

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According to a recent study by the Real Estate Staging Association, sellers that stage their home before putting it on the market sell 87% faster than those who put their home on the market and then staged. Contact us today for more information.

The Market Speaks: Time To Sell Your Home!

Good news, home sellers: buyer demand is exceeding housing supply! What does this mean for you?

In short, it means more sales. As one realtor puts it, “With 3 million jobs created and close to 1.5 million new households formed in the past 12 months, many more people want a new home of their own, and they want it bad. Their patience will be tested with tight supply—indeed, the No. 1 impediment of active shoppers in April was not being able to find a home that meets their needs.”

The Northeast is in particular is faring well in the recent upturn. For example, existing-home sales in the Northeast during the month of May jumped 11.3 percent to an annual rate of 690,000. The median price in the Northeast was $269,000, a 4.8 percent increase from exactly one year earlier.

In other words, it’s a great time to be a seller. Check out this graphic from Keeping Current Matters, a great source of real estate news:

blog post the market speaks

Happy selling!

It’s the Little Things: How to Stage Your Bathrooms to Sell Your Home

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Is your master bathroom a little on the small side compared to the rest of your home? Are you worried that the size of one or more of your bathrooms might turn off potential buyers from purchasing an otherwise beautiful and luxurious home? If you answered yes to either of these questions, don’t worry—we have some tried-and-true solutions for you that will have potential buyers swooning in no time.

First, maximize your bathroom’s potential by making it look larger than it is. Use bright light fixtures to visually increase the size of the room. Lighting is particularly important—nothing is worse than a dark, cramped bathroom! If needed, switch to a high-wattage bulb to provide additional light.

Second, keep it simple. Don’t over-decorate and clutter a crowded area, and keep bathroom furniture small. Consider moving larger bathroom furniture such as storage shelves to corners to utilize all potential space.

Third, consider painting ideas or wall tiles to visually raise the ceiling and widen the walls. Vertical lines and decoration patterns (think stripes and zigzags) can do the trick for adding height, as can horizontal tile patterns for width.

Fourth, clean, clean, clean! Make sure every surface is gleaming. Cleanliness is always attractive, and remember, it’s the little things that can make or break a sale!

 

Home Staging 101: Decorating vs. Home Staging

When you think of your home, you probably think of the memories it reflects. Your favorite comfy chair, your kids’ graduation photos, the quaint teapot you picked up from your local flea market—all of these items make a house a home. Accordingly, you’ve likely decorated your home according to your personal style. While personalized decorating is essential to falling in love with your home, it’s exactly what needs to go when you try to sell it.

Home staging is, at its core, depersonalization. It’s allowing the buyer to mentally “move in” to your home. This is why home staging tends towards neutral colors and universal appeal. Here at Stage to Move, we position furniture and redecorate homes to maximize a home’s architectural attributes and showcase its best features in an organized, stylish, and polished way.

Another way of understanding this difference is to consider who is the intended audience of the change in appearance. Decorating a home is, obviously, done for the sole purpose of pleasing the home’s owners. Home staging, on the other hand, is intended to please an audience of potential buyers.

Also note that the audience is different. Home staging clients trust their home stagers to decorate their home to sell, not to live in. This gives stagers more creativity and freedom to do what they think is best. Decorating is intended to suit the needs and preferences of the owner for his or her own personal use. Thus, it is inherently more practical and more dependent on the specific tastes of the owner than on the creativity of the designer.

We understand that this can be difficult for many homeowners to grasp. However, it’s important to keep in mind that you are selling a product that happens to be your home. You want to make that product be the most appealing to the buyer, and sometimes that means depersonalization. And don’t forget that when you move into your new home, you can personalize as your heart desires—using all of that extra cash home staging will generate!

 The end result

 

Home Staging: Tax Deductible?

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You have already heard about the many benefits of staging a home to sell: it ensures an excellent first impression, shows buyers their potential home, makes a home stand out in a crowded luxury market, and much, much more. But did you know that the money you spend on home staging is tax deductible?

The IRS considers home staging a part of advertising the home, and any fee that Stage to Move invoices (including rental furniture—anything you do not buy yourself with the intent to keep after selling) can be subtracted from the proceeds from selling your home for tax purposes. According to certified public accountant Rob Unger, “Since a home stager prepares your house for potential homebuyers, the IRS considers the service as an advertising expense, as long as the home stager has been hired for the sole purpose of selling your home. [S]taging costs are a legitimate selling expense for both primary and secondary homes and are therefore tax deductible.”

The costs of staging are subtracted from the proceeds of the sale of the home and decrease the total realized profit. If the home you are selling counts as your main home, the first $250,000 of gain ($500,000 if you are married and filing jointly) is not taxable. However, if you sell your home at a significant profit over the non-taxable amount, the deduction for home staging—which can add thousands of dollars to your selling price—becomes even more valuable.

Lastly, basic repairs, maintenance and upkeep on your main home also do not qualify as advertising expenses and cannot be deducted, even if Stage to Move recommends them. But the critical aspect of Stage to Move home staging—having a RESA Top Ten Real Estate Stager create that magical feeling that makes buyers swarm—is tax deductible, which makes the benefits of home staging unmatched when it comes to selling your home.

 

To Accessorize, or Not to Accessorize? How to De-clutter AND Make Use of Accessories When Staging Your Home

You’ve heard the refrain: staging is all about minimalism. Any decent home stager will tell you to get rid of the clutter, neutralize wall colors, etc., etc. But here at Stage to Move, we are not satisfied with the ordinary; we are interested in the extraordinary. And strategic accessorizing is a part of our plan to transform your home into a highly sought-after commodity. Below are some of our favorite accessories.

First, add some light. Tasteful light fixtures—lamps, chandeliers, candles, etc.—not only accessorize, they also add warmth and brightness to your home.

Second, add some nature. Nothing beats an artful potted plant or a decorative bouquet. Caution: make sure your plants are well kept. Dead (or dying) flora is a major turnoff, and you don’t want a buyer to assume that other parts of your home are not well maintained.

Third, add some art. Keep it simple; choose one or two large pieces per room. And go for style, not for quirk. Remember, this is for the buyer, not for you. You don’t want to turn off a potential buyer because he or she doesn’t share your obsession with cat paintings.

Fourth, add some bins. Space is one of the most sought-after amenities in a home. Placing excess items in decorative bins rather than shoving them in closets (because you know buyers are going to look in your closets) is a great way to let buyers see the full potential of your closet and storage space while also giving you some space to store last-minute items like children’s toys or bathroom toiletries.

Finally, add some books. Hardback books and travel magazines add interest and character and may score you some bonus points with well-read and well-traveled buyers.

If you find that you don’t follow all of these tips, don’t worry. As long as you remember to keep it simple and to add small pops of color here and there, we will take care of the rest. Remember, you don’t want your home to look sterile. Follow these tips and you will reach the perfect balance of warmth and inviting that every homebuyer wants.

 

Last-Minute Home Staging Tips

You know the feeling: you’ve hired Stage to Move, you’ve made all Kara’s recommended adjustments, you’ve fixed all your appliances, you’ve brought in rented furniture and strategically placed decorative items—in other words, you’ve done everything you can to ensure that your home will sell at its optimum price. But now potential buyers are on their way, and you’re entering full-on panic mode. Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered! Follow these seven tips and you will be stress-free (and your home show-ready) in no time.

1. Double-check the appliances: sink, dishwasher, etc.—make sure all items are cleaned and put away.

2. Add some fresh flowers (or make sure your current flowers are not drooping!).

3. Open all your shades (if you are showing during the day) and turn on all your lights. Remember, abundant light brightens up every room.

4. Go through all your rooms one last time and ensure that everything is in its proper place. Eliminate any remaining clutter. And make your beds!

5. Make sure all your closets are neat—be wary of shoving random items into closets, as it may give an impression that your home does not have enough storage space.

6. Wipe down all kitchen counters and sinks one last time. They should be gleaming.

6. Walk outside. Is your patio neat? Is your walkway clear? Are your flowers dead? Don’t forget that the outside of your home will be the first thing a buyer sees.

7. Now walk back inside and check the odors in your home. Baking cookies to give to buyers may be a tacky touch from a bygone era, but the idea remains—you don’t want your home smelling like what you ate for lunch. Empty your garbage cans, as they are common culprits. If necessary, set out some scented candles, but make sure that the scent is not overwhelming.

Once you’ve checked off all the items on the list, relax—you’re done! Sit back and watch the offers flow in.

 

Home Staging 101: Highlighting Your Kitchen for Buyers

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The verdict is in—your kitchen can make or break a sale. So what can you do to spruce up your kitchen and make it more appealing to buyers?

First and foremost, eliminate the clutter. Get rid of all non-essential small appliances and kitchenware—toasters, plastic containers, magnets, papers, etc.—and clear out excess utensils and spices. This small tip will make your kitchen feel larger and cleaner right away.

Second, clean your major appliances. Buyers know that they will be using those same appliances should they decide to buy, and you don’t want them to be turned off by a leaking fridge or a dirty, grease-stained oven. Make sure to keep things clean as your house is on the market—in other words, no dishes in the sink. Consider having your kitchen professionally cleaned.

Third, highlight your kitchen’s best features. Do you have a brand-new fridge? Make it sparkle—the gleaming appliance will attract potential buyers right away. Do you love your ornate kitchen floor tile? Make sure you are not covering it up with too much clutter or distractions—keep it simple. Are you blessed with plentiful cabinet and shelf space? Keep it organized and neat so that buyers can visualize its full potential.

Fourth, consider making some smaller adjustments to your kitchen’s not-so-great features. Paint your cabinets a neutral color, like varying shades of white. As one realtor notes, alternating among shades such as creamy beige and pale blue-gray add depth and visual appeal. Replace out-of-date countertops and appliances.

And lastly, add decorative items to finish the upscale look you want. Add a teapot to decorate the oven, set out fresh fruit or flowers, hang up bright new tea towels—anything that will make your kitchen look warm, fresh, and inviting.

Most importantly, don’t hesitate to spend money on your kitchen. It’s an investment, not an expense, and statistics prove it can pay off to the tune of thousands of dollars in the end.

Make Your Home Stand Out in a Luxury Market

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Supply is about to increase significantly. The supply of existing homes is already increasing and the number of newly constructed homes is scheduled to expand in the upcoming months.  So now is the time to sell, and to make your home stand out so that it sells more quickly.

First, know your audience.   Pick the target buyer by asking yourself: what type of person is drawn to your city/neighborhood?  Maybe you live in a quiet suburban home surrounded by retired couples.  Or maybe you live in a top-notch school district in a neighborhood filled with young children riding their bikes and playing basketball in their driveways.  Either way, you want to cater your staging for this demographic by working with a professional stager to create a lifestyle that potential buyers are looking for in your home.

Second, use the color red to emphasize your home’s positive features while deemphasizing its flaws.  Staging strategically with red will direct the buyer’s eye to focus on the home’s unique value.  REALTOR magazine writer Melissa Dittmann Tracey writes, “…a red accessory on the fireplace mantel or a vase of red flowers on those sparkling granite countertops can help you get buyers’ eyes right to where you want them.”

Lastly, and similarly, play up your home’s advantages, even if they are not universally liked.  For example, pools can be make-or-break features for homebuyers, depending on their preferences.   Accordingly, stage your pool area to attract even those who think pools are nothing but a money-sucking maintenance project by adding some new outdoor furniture, decorating with a bit of well-chosen greenery and ensuring that the entire pool area is in pristine condition. 

Standing out in a luxury market can be difficult, because you are competing with the cream of the crop in terms of home selling.  Without staging, buyers may miss out on your property’s best features, such as your beautiful hardwood floors, ample room size, or detailed architecture.  Moreover, buyers will not be able to see the potential of making your property their own.  

 

Stage your home professionally with Stage to Move to make your home irresistible to future buyers.