Simply Organized, Simply Staged, Simply Sold
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STAGING…people have an idea of what exactly this word means, some are correct and some aren’t.  The crux of the term is “preparation”, in other words… preparing your home for viewing by the public, to assist in the sale.  There are many parts to this preparation.  Pre-packing, removing your personalized items, and fixing problems are just a few of the things that go into Staging.  The end purpose is to showcase the home to look it’s very best, ready for the professional photographer to come in and take those magazine worthy shots.  The reason we stage a home is to help increase the perceived value of the home by making it seem bigger and more updated than perhaps it actually is.   Don’t underestimate the value of current furniture and décor to make those buyers feel like they are getting a DEAL.  Finally staging is more than decorating and updating, it is MARKETING and is an essential part of the home selling process!
 
 
Once you make the decision to sell your home, your next step is to start the preparation process.  Do not put your home on the market without preparation; you will lose valuable time and money.  Ask yourself, would you invite your boss and his wife over to your house for dinner without cleaning and picking up, setting a beautiful table and carefully thinking about your menu?  Then why would you consider putting your house up for the entire world to see without giving the same amount of preparation?  The first step is to have a professional consultation with a Certified Home Staging Expert…beware of the self-taught stager or the Realtor/Stager, they are usually ill prepared, part timers, and untrained.  Watching HGTV does not make you a Professional Stager.  The consultation will provide you with a list of items that you will need to do to get your home ready for it’s “close up”…every home has a different game plan there is no one size fits all, just as there are no two homes alike.  Your list may include things like, a super duper cleaning (like grandma would do), what to pack away for your move, moving furniture so that it is in the best place in the room, what updates, if any, would put money in your pocket, and what color and where to place a new coat of paint.  The consultation report will be several pages long, but don’t worry most of the items you will find on this report are more sweat equity than anything.  The items in this consultation report can save you thousands of dollars in price reductions and days on the market.  Staging is an investment with a great return.
 
What you have in your home does matter…if you have dated worn out furniture and décor your home will feel dated and worn out to prospective buyers, and they will question if the home is well maintained.  Your Stager might be able to help you update your look by adding great accessories and slip covers, or you might need to remove some pieces and rent a couple of current ones.  By working with a Staging Professional you will know you are getting the correct advice.
 
Do you know how it feels when you walk into a 5 star hotel lobby, everything is clean, neat, the ceilings seem 50 feet tall, everything is in the perfect place and you immediately feel like the $400 price tag is worth every penny?  Well, when home buyers walk into a staged home they immediately feel that the house has more value, have anxiety that someone else might make an offer, are comfortable and excited, and can see their family living in that home.  An empty home is cold, bland, boring and every single unfavorable feature is like a neon sign that the buyers focus on.  They tend to rush in and out and as a result never see their family living there and they also have a hard time determining how there furniture will look and where it will go, there is no sense of scale.  As a result, the vacant home tends to sit on the market much longer and eventually nets the seller less money.   Remember only 10% of the population is visual, meaning able to see how things can be.  This means that 90% of people need to be shown how it should be.
 
Remember what you put in your home matters, never “Stage” with odds and ends, thrift store finds, antiques or the stuff in your grandmother’s basement that hasn’t been used for 20 years.  Make sure you always use a Certified Home Staging Expert…find a professional stager at www.RealEstateStagingAssociation.com.
 
Your home must be in its best condition the day you hit the market!  You only get one chance at a first impression and you have the best chance to sell your home for top dollar within the first 2-3 weeks…you need to be ready!   Time on the market means dollars NOT in your pocket.  This means, prepared for market by a Certified Home Stager, Professional Photos (no iPhone photos please!), and an active full-time Realtor who has a comprehensive marketing plan, are your best chances to sell quickly for top dollar!  
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Staging Protects the equity in your home.

The largest investment most of us have, is our home. When it comes time to sell we need to get the most we can out of it. It could be the difference between being able to make the move to a bigger home or being able to move at all. Regardless, no one wants to just give their home away; we want and need to make a profit! So how do we protect the equity in our home? By staging and updating a home prior to putting it on the market. The answer may have surprised you as many people don’t understand what Staging involves or that it increases the value of a home, both perceived (what a buyer thinks it is worth) and actual.

When a buyer makes an offer to purchase a home, they have the home inspected to make sure the home is in good shape and that they are making a good financial decision, the home inspection protects their investment. Like a home inspection for buyers, staging protects the seller’s investment by making sure the home will sell quickly and for its proper value. When getting ready to list a home the first step should be to get a Professional Staging Consultation. This will let a seller know what they need to do to get their home sold in the shortest amount of time at the best price. They may need to do updates, like remove wallpaper and paint or they may need to pre pack and deep clean to make the home feel great and show buyers how great this home will work for them, even if they have outgrown it. Sometimes it is a matter of renting furniture, art and décor to Stage and make a vacant home (or home with dated furniture) look great on line and feel great in person. And sometimes it is all of the above.

Here is one example; we had a home a while back that needed some basic updates and staging as it was basically empty (a few left behind items that did not help the home show well) with worn floors and wallpaper. The total investment in this case would have been $12,000 to update and stage this home. Now, I know what you are thinking, wow that is a lot of money, right? Well, here is the rest of the story… the house was in a great desirable neighborhood and went on the market for $480,000. Now this home sat on the market as the homeowners, like many of you reading this, did not want to put money into a home they were selling. After spending 15 months on the market and taking numerous price reductions (not to mention the carrying cost of owning 2 homes) the house sold for $360,000. The difference was $120,000 that this family lost due to NOT staging their home. Had they invested the $12,000 upfront they would have sold in a matter of a month or so and for close to the $480,000. This means that if they had invested $12,000 they would have likely made an additional $108,000 on the sale of their home. So does that $12,000 seem like a lot of money now?

We have many examples of cases where the list price would have been very low but with the updates and staging ends up listing well above the invested price, making money for our client! There is a whole industry that makes its profits from buying homes cheap that need to be fixed, fixing them and then selling them for a profit…Staging lets you be the one making the profit.

We completed a home this summer that would have listed for $120,000 in as is condition, but after we did updates and staged the home it listed for $185,000 and sold the day it hit the market! The homeowner’s investment was $20,000 and the homeowner made an additional $45,000 ($65,000 difference minus the investment of $20,000) on the sale of their home! Staging protects your equity and makes you money!

Now all Staging projects do not have that high of an investment attached. Many homes need minor tweaks to make them standout in the market. Many times a home only needs a Staging Consultation to find out what needs to be done and the homeowners take care of the list and their investment can be as little as a couple hundred dollars or they may only need to rent furniture to stage their home and be looking at a low investment of about $1500 to $2000 range.

Regardless of what your home needs, Staging will protect the equity in your home. You will spend fewer days on market, see fewer, if any price reductions and have a stress free experience selling your home. They say one of the most stressful things you can do is move, why not take as much stress as possible out of the equation and let a Professional Stager help you get it done right.

Tracy Molendi, owner of Simply Organized & Staged and The Home Staging Warehouse has been in business for 12 years servicing the greater Peoria, IL area. We have a proven track record of helping our clients prepare, update and Stage their homes and get them sold quickly for a large profit. Check us out at www.stagingpeoria.com .

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Here are some statistics to help quantify the value of staging a home before putting it on the market...

According to the National Association of Realtors, the average U.S. home price is $173,100.

According to Real Estate Staging Association national statistics, staged homes sell on average 7 months faster than un-staged homes (or 78% fewer days on market).

Zillow.com reports that the typical home for sale averages a 1% monthly price reduction.

Trulia.com reports that homes under $2M experience an average 9% price reduction from list to close.

The typical investment in staging a home is less than the first price reduction.

A typical mortgage payment is around 0.75% of list price.

Carrying Costs = Utilities + Maintenance + HOA fees + other monthly expenses

Using these numbers, some basic calculations show us that staging the “average” home results in serious savings:

Monthly Mortgage Payment ($173,100 x 0.75%)                          = $ 1,300

Carrying Costs (estimated)                                                           + $    200

Total Expenses Saved ([$1300 + $200] x 7 mos)                         = $10,500

Average Price Reduction Avoided ($173,100 x 1% x 7 mos)         + $12,117

Total Savings of Staging Average Home                                    = $22,617

As professional home stagers, we still regularly come across sellers and realtors who don’t fully understand what staging is or how and why it works.  They often think staging is “too expensive” or don’t see the value in making the investment to have a home staged.  They don’t realize how much it is costing them NOT to stage and how much they would save by staging the home before listing it.  I call these the “Wait and See-ers” and the “Hurry Up and List-ers”.  In both cases, they are leaving big money on the table.

“Wait and See-ers”:  These folks aren’t convinced staging really works, and/or don’t want to make the investment of time, energy or money to make the necessary changes to get buyers interested.  They are content to take their chances and just see what happens.  Well, what usually happens is not very much.  They don’t get many showings, the house lingers on the market, and they are forced to keep dropping the price.

“Hurry Up and List-ers”:  These folks underestimate the importance of making that first impression a great one.  They believe it’s more important to hurry up and get the house on the market than to wait until it’s in showcase condition.  They tend to see the same results as the Wait and See-ers…no offers, accumulating days on market and price reductions.

Here is another way to think about it…Would you go to a job interview without taking a shower, dressed in your most comfortable sweat pants, with your resume only partially finished?  Would you tell the interviewer you didn’t have a chance to pick up your suit from the dry cleaners or finish your resume, but thought you’d take a chance and see what happened?  Certainly not.  If you did, would you honestly expect him to understand, overlook your less-than-pulled-together appearance and offer you a job?  Doubtful.  Take it one step further.  What would you expect to happen if even a short time later you showered, put on your best suit, polished up your resume and tried to get another interview with that same job prospect?  Do you think they would give you another chance to make an impression?  Not likely.  That ship has sailed.  And so it is with homes for sale.  You don’t get a second opportunity to make a positive impression on potential buyers.  If the house is not well prepared, well presented, and more enticing than the competition, the offers will not come until the price drops low enough to match the perceived value (or lack thereof).

So if you are thinking about selling, be sure to contact a professional home stager first.  The investment you make to properly prepare your home for sale will almost certainly be less than your first price reduction.  If your house is already listed but you are not seeing results, remember it’s never too late to stage.

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Functional Home Decor

December 15, 2011

If you've ever discussed decorating or redesigning a home with me, you've probably heard me talk about "function first, then pretty".  I am a true believer that if a space does not serve its function well then it doesn't matter how pretty it is...you won't be happy with it if it doesn't work for you.  The same concept can be applied to accessorizing a room.  I love using "functional" accessories, items that serve a purpose while helping make a space pretty.  Baskets are my absolute personal favorite.  I especially love wicker baskets, which add both texture and warmth, while also serving to contain or hide other objects.  I could spend hours in the "basket" section of Hobby Lobby admiring all the different styles and colors, dreaming up ways I could use them in my home.  (Ok, I know that seems excessive but I don't actually spend that much time there.  I could though.  Kind of makes me smile just to think about it.)  Anyway, the same can be said for decorative boxes, glass jars and canisters.  You can use these in any room in your home.  For example, you can use clear glass jars in the bathroom to hold items that overnight guests might need  but don't want to poke around your cabinets to find (like Q-tips or cotton balls).  Canisters or jars on the kitchen counter can hold snacks or hot chocolate packets.  Use decorative boxes in your home office to keep printer paper or other supplies out of sight.  I use a small basket on my coffee table to hold things I like to keep close at hand but hate to see scattered around, like a lighter for candles, remote controls, lip balm and a pen or pencil for doing Sudoku puzzles.  So the next time you want to add some pretty to your space without just creating more clutter, try working in some functional accessories. 

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Organizing Kids

December 15, 2011

While kids add excitement and life into our households, they also create clutter issues and additional storage and organizational dilemmas.  And although every house has their own unique concerns, this month we will address school papers and sports equipment specifically.

The first step to raising organized children is to realize that you, as their parents, are their first teacher and role model.  What they see you do, and how you live, is what they will mimic.  With a few tips at hand and a goal in sight, the process can begin.

1.  Start by assessing the trouble area.  Is it paper overload from school or sports equipment that cannot be found before the big game?

2.  Assign one home for anything related to school.  This would be the backpack.  After the day's paperwork has been removed and reviewed and homework is complete, place everything needed for tomorrow's day back into the backpack.  Place it next to whatever door your child will be walking out of the next morning.

3.  Assign one home for anything related to the particular sport.  For our family, this is soccer.  In the "soccer bag" cleats, shin guards, socks, ball and water bottle are all housed here permanently.  The bag, although slightly heavy, has everything needed for practice and games; thus avoiding any last minute, frantic searches for necessary items.

4.  When time and patience are in short supply, having this process in place helps eliminate meltdowns and screaming matches.  By involving your child in implementing a process, you are not only teaching a valuable life lesson, but giving the gift of organization.

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