Low-Cost Staging Tips and Why They Work

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First impressions are everything–especially in real estate. When buyers tour a home it better look its best, or buyers will quickly move on to the next.

Furnishing the space helps potential buyers visualize their life within the walls. And, bonus points, staged properties sell on average 73% faster than non staged homes.To help you out, we rounded up a list of successfully staged homes that have used price-conscious or zero-cost strategies to make your listing look great without breaking the bank.

1. Clutter-Free

The last thing you want when you’re showing a home is for personal items (ahem, toothbrushes) to distract your clients. You want potential buyers to envision their own belongings in the space, not fixate on the current owner’s hair filled hairbrush.

In occupied homes it is crucial that sellers are on board with hiding clutter and personal belongings when it’s time for photography and showings.

 2. Furniture That Fits the Space

It’s probably common sense that a 600 sq ft condo shouldn’t be furnished with the same living room furniture as a 2,500 sq ft family home. When working with a smaller space, consider the appropriate size of furniture for the space. Oversized furniture makes rooms feel crowded and  well sized furniture creates the illusion of a larger space.

If your client already has a living room set, think about splitting up the sofa and loveseat into two seperate rooms to maximize resources and space. Also discuss rearranging furniture in order to create the best flow of the space.

3. Minimalistic Decor

Less really is more when it comes to staging. You want to keep the focus on the bones of the house, not the superficial  decorations. You want the space to appeal to a larger group of potential buyers.

4. Real House Plants

There are many benefits to real plants versus fake ones. For starters, fake plants are actually more expensive than their living counterparts. You can buy real house plants at your local stores for under $20. Also, live house plants won’t become dusty over time (not cute!).

Plants are perfect for vacant and non vacant houses, they add life to any space. You can even give them to the buyer as a congratulatory gift once the deal is closed.

5. Neutral Rooms

It’s difficult to envision how you are going to style the guest bedroom when it’s painted bubblegum pink with ‘Princess’ hanging over the bed. Moral of the story: Buyers want to be able to walk into a room and not have to worry about all of the things they will have to change later on.

Your clients might resist painting before listing, but it is best practice to prepare a neutral space.  White walls might seem dull, but they act as a metaphorical blank canvas for buyers to paint their life onto.

6. A Lived-In Feel

There is a fine line between a house that feels over-staged (cue the giant bowl of 20 lemons in the dining room), and a well curated home. Adding thoughtful accessories makes the house feel lived in and more attractive to buyers.

The key is to be authentic. Think of what you would actually use in the space, like beautiful utensils or local magazines (pictured above). It is a good idea to keep a stash of staging items handy for final touches–A stack of books or a lit candle goes a long way.

7. Natural Light

Do not underestimate the power of ambient lighting. Place furniture around windows so sunlight can shine through and brighten up the room. Sunlight in a home can physiologically influence our happiness without us even knowing. If you have a killer view, be sure to show it off by positioning furniture so it is the focal point of the room.

If your client has dark window treatments, switch to a sheer white option or remove them altogether. Letting in daylight will immediately elevate the space.

8. Mirror, Mirror

Mirrors create the illusion of a larger space, making even the smallest rooms feel open and inviting. Mirrors reflect the light in the room and intensifies its design power. Plus, they are useful!

Oversized mirrors can be expensive but overstock stores like Homegoods have great options at serious discounts. Plus, they can be reused for future staging.

9. Al Fresco Approved

Residential architects have ranked outdoor living spaces as the no. 1 “special function” room amongst consumers. Potential buyers see outdoor areas as an extension of living space and should be staged accordingly.

Investing in a small patio set for staging purposes if your client doesn’t own one might get the listing sold even faster. Extra points if you add a nice bouquet of fresh flowers.

Staging a home can be hard work, and it can take some creativity to get results without breaking the bank. Investing time upfront will get you a better results in the end.

 

6 Expenses to Include in Your Homebuying Budget

First-time homebuyers are sometimes caught off guard by overlooked expenses, which can create an uncomfortable financial pinch. Be sure you consider these one-time and ongoing expenses.
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1. Home Inspection
For a few hundred dollars, an inspection can uncover potential trouble such as structural problems or asbestos.

2. Home Maintenance
Experts recommend setting aside 1 to 3%* of the home’s purchase price for annual maintenance. For example, you may need to buy lawn care equipment or replace the roof, furnace, or water heater.

3. Taxes And Insurance
Property taxes and homeowners insurance aren’t always included in mortgage payment calculators.

4. Extra Cash At Closing
Your lender should give you a detailed estimate of closing costs. But beyond those, you may have to pay additional expenses, such as a prorated portion of property taxes or homeowners association fees that the seller has already paid.

5. The Move
Whether you hire professional movers for a few thousand dollars or rent a truck, buy boxes and recruit friends to help, moving costs money.

6. Settling In
You may have to pay utility connection fees when you move in, plus utility costs may be higher than you were used to as a renter. Other costs include lock replacements and decorating expenses.

5 NEGOTIATING TACTICS THAT KILL A SALE

Negotiation is a subtle art in real estate, but skilled negotiators can usually find some common ground that satisfies all parties. On the other hand, using the wrong negotiation tactics can sink a deal pretty quickly. Here are some negotiation tactics buyers (and real estate professionals) should avoid:

  1. Lowball offers: Going far below market value when you make an offer damages your credibility as a buyer and can be insulting to the seller. The seller has a range in mind that they’ll accept, and if you’re not even approaching the low end of that range, they won’t even consider the offer.
  2. Incremental negotiations: Don’t continue to go back to the seller with small increases in your offer ($1,000 or less). The constant back-and-forth can grow tiresome and lead the seller to consider other opportunities.
  3. “Take it or leave it”: Try not to draw a line in the sand with your initial offer. The seller can get defensive and consider other offers if you immediately show that you’re unwilling to budge. Even if it’s true, don’t make a show of it.
  4. Nitpicking after inspection: Obviously if inspection reveals a major issue, it should be factored into the final sale price. But insisting on a lower price for every minor repair can put negotiations in a stalemate.
  5. Asking for more, more, more: Some buyers will request that the sellers throw in add-ons like furniture or appliances that weren’t included in the listing. Try to avoid giving the seller a reason to build up resentment and think that you’re being greedy.

Home Buying & The Down Payment

Massachusetts Home Buying – Is the Purchase and Sale Deposit the Same as the Down Payment?
Being a Massachusetts home buyer is a bit different than buying in some other parts of the country. Here in Massachusetts we have a two part contract system. It consists of the “Offer to Purchase” and the “Purchase and Sale Agreement.”

Initially, at the offer stage it is customary to put a deposit of $500 to $1,000 along with the offerdownpaymentonhouse in order to bind the agreement.

Ten days to two weeks after the offer comes the Purchase and Sale Agreement. This is the actual complete document that will have all the terms and conditions of the sale. At Purchase and Sale signing, the buyer will put down a more substantial deposit in order for the seller to feel secure about taking the property off of the market.

The question then arises – is the Purchase and Sales deposit the same as the “down payment?”

The customary amount for the P&S deposit is equal to 5% of the purchase price you will be paying for the property. And, I would not advise putting down any more than this. There is really no reason to do so.

Unless you are in the situation with an FHA or VA loan in which you will be able to put a low down payment, 5% will not be a significant enough amount to qualify as your complete down payment. This is still merely a deposit that holds the property off of the market.

When the P&S is signed and executed, the deposit check is cashed and the funds are put into an escrow account. There they will stay there until your closing at which time this money is brought forward and applied to your purchase.

At the time of your closing you will be bringing “good funds,” usually a bank check, for the remaining amount of your down payment as well as any closing costs.

As a Massachusetts home buyer you should know – there is a definite distinction between the Purchase and Sale deposit and your down payment.