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Home Staging Tips – Sell your Home Faster for More Money

Home Staging photoA Real Estate Investment – possible 5% return in 23 days!

If you’re wondering what Home Staging is all about, please read our blog post on why you should stage your Calgary home before Listing it on the MLS® System.  In summary, research has shown that staging will make your home more desirable to potential buyers.  You will sell your home faster and may avoid a series of painful price reductions.

Tips for Staging Your Home

There are as many ways to stage a home as there are homes.  Some of the examples given below are for illustration purposes; your imagination can take it from there.

1.  Start Outside:  You know about the “drive-by” – you’ve probably done it yourself.  You drive by a home for sale to decide whether you want to see the inside or not.  Draw potential buyers in with real curb appeal.

  • Keep the lawn mowed and garden areas weeded.
  • Make sure the exterior of the home looks in good condition.  Fix any rotting boards or fading paint.
  • Power-wash the outside of the home, sidewalks, and patios.
  • If the weather allows, add potted plants or flowers in the garden beds and accent your front doorway on both sides with large potted plants.

2.  Keep It Clean:  It may seem like a small thing, but buyers are extremely discouraged when they see a dirty house.  Pretend your boss or your in-laws are coming to stay for a few days.  The house needs to be that clean on a consistent basis. Buyers will also look in your kitchen and bathroom cabinets so clean and declutter them.

3.  Depersonalize and Declutter:  It’s true that you love the family photos that line both sides of the stairway and the awards in your home office, but buyers won’t. Take yourself out of the picture.  It’s easier for buyers to imagine themselves in your home. If you love to cook, you find the numerous small appliances on the kitchen counters very handy, but buyers will see your kitchen as smaller and closed-in.

How can you possibly get rid of all the personalized clutter?  You don’t have to.  You are planning to move anyway, so take this opportunity to start packing!  Until the house is sold, you may need to use a whisk rather than your blender, but you’ll be in your new kitchen a lot sooner!

4.  Bring Out the Best in Each Room:  This may require removing furniture, rearranging furniture, or replacing furniture that is worn out.  If you can’t afford to replace that worn-out couch, you can rent furniture for the time period when your home is listed.

  • If the fireplace is the focal point of the living room, make sure the furniture doesn’t obstruct the view and provide attractive accents on either side.
  • If your king-size bed and large furniture make the bedroom look small, put some of the furniture in another room, in storage, or in your garage.
  • If the hardwood or the carpet in the dining room has seen better days, rejuvenate by refinishing or replacing. Flooring and Painting bring the biggest returns for your investment.
  • If a room is dark, make it more attractive and appealing with a lighter more neutral paint color.  Dark rooms make a home appear smaller.
  • Replace the chandelier in the dining room if it’s dated. Your eating areas are some of the most important features to highlight in a home when selling.
  • Make sure there is sufficient light in rooms by opening blinds and drapes.
  • Breath new life into a room by investing in some Artwork.
  • If possible, replace dated lighting fixtures, door hardware, light switches and outlets.

5.  Freshen with a New Paint Job:  Nothing brightens up the rooms of a home faster than fresh paint.  Take this opportunity to depersonalize your color choices.  Stick to neutral colors to help buyers envision their own decorating taste in the house.

  • Your kids love their bright blue and red rooms, but buyers will spend their time worrying about how much trouble it will be to repaint while they’re moving in.
  • You’re sure your dining room doesn’t need paint?  The walls are a nice eggshell color and that one red wall just makes the room look more cozy.  Or does it? It may look that way to you, but don’t assume that potential buyers for your home will share your color tastes.

6.  Make Repairs as Needed:  Oil squeaky doors.  Replace that light switch cover in the kitchen that you’ve had on your to do list for months.  Reattach the molding or baseboards you were going to replace but never did.

When you stage your home yourself, the time investment will pay large dividends in a very short time-frame. Is there another investment that could potentially net you 5% more in as little as 23 days on the market? Look through the list again and add up the items that relate to your home.  What is the most it could cost? The money you spend on staging your Calgary home and/or doing minor repairs and painting will not be more than the price reductions you might end up making if you don’t!

7. Ask your REALTOR® for Assistance:  Experienced Real Estate Professionals know what buyers are looking for and can advise you on what the highest return for your investment dollar is. Give us a call or send us an E-mail!

 Selling Calgary Group     Elke Babiuk
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Home Staging: Is It Your Best Choice?

Calgary Home Staging Photo

Selling your home fast for the highest price possible.  Would home staging let you accomplish those goals?

Why Stage Your Home?

There are many reasons to stage your home.  One of the most important things staging accomplishes is that it shifts the focus away from the personal belongings that are in the house to the most positive features of the home itself.

Imagine a Calgary home for sale that has a pool table in the living room.  The family currently living in the home use the table a lot.  Overlooked is the fact that there is limited seating in the living room because playing pool is an activity the family uses to bring them all together.

When that home goes on the market, and a potential buyer walks into the living room, what would you imagine would be their first reaction?  Could it be something like “How would our furniture fit in this living room?”

Even without a pool table, it’s often very difficult for many people to look beyond the personal contents of a home to see the potential for moving their family into it.  When you stage your home, one of the goals is to “de-personalize” your living spaces to give a potential buyer the opportunity to think about how they will use the home.

Home Staging:  The Numbers Prove It Is Your Best Choice

According to the International Association of Home Staging Professionals and Stagedhomes.com, on average, 95% of staged homes sell in 23 days or less. Statistics also show that home staging can increase a property’s value by 5-11% (RESA – Real Estate Staging Association), and that a home’s price is typically reduced by 1% for every month the home remains on the market (Zillow).  Using round numbers, let’s say a home was listed at $500,000 and took 4 months to sell.  The typical price reduction might be $20,000 or more for an unstaged home and a longer selling period versus a possible 5% increase in property value for a staged home which sells much faster. Moreover, the cost of maintaining an unstaged home on the market for longer may also be considerable if one factors in property taxes, mortgage payments, condo fees, etc.

Then you need to account for the fact that the longer the house is on the market, the harder it is to negotiate a selling price closer to listed price as buyers and their Agents will want to negotiate a much lower price so will often start lower than they normally would have for a home that was just newly listed. All this boils down to one fact: when a home doesn’t appear welcoming to buyers, it often sits on the market and goes through multiple price reductions.

As a seller, you have many choices available to maximize selling price, minimize selling time, and experience a more positive selling experience before you list your home so it’s important to consult with an experienced REALTOR® to explore the options available to you.  If you want to stage your home before it goes on the market to maximize selling price, your REALTOR® can recommend a home-stager for a complimentary consult. Some home-staging companies also have contractors available if your home needs some repairs or a quick paint job so that’s a huge benefit if you are too busy to coordinate all of this yourself.

Once you understand how beneficial staging is when you’re selling a home, you’ll find that home staging doesn’t have to be time-consuming or costly.

Look for the second blog next week about home staging – learn how to do your own home staging to maximize selling price. Our Feng Shui articles will also give you helpful tips in preparing your home for sale.

 Selling Calgary Group     Elke Babiuk
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Feng Shui Tips for Kitchens

Feng Shui tips for KitchensFeng Shui Tips for Kitchens by Erica Sofrina

Kitchens are considered one of most important rooms in the house. They represent the hearth and home and should be clean, well-lit, happy places for friends and family to gather and connect.

They are also a key place for you and your family’s health, which is closely connected to wealth. Having good health is paramount if we are to be able to successfully go out into the world and make a living.

This is one of the more active or yang areas of the home (see Erica Sofrina’s Yin-Yang article), so bring in brighter colors, active, happy and inspiring artwork and brighter lighting.

Get Organized

Kitchens are magnets for everything to land, so you want to head it off at the pass and create places for everything to land. Vowing we are going to turn over a new leaf and keep counters clutter-free is often self-defeating.

Give the Small Stuff a Place to Land

Install a key rack/holder on the wall near the main entry door and train yourself to always hang them there when you come in. A small table next to the door with a basket on top is another option for organizing keys and spare change. Give them a place to land and discipline yourself to always put them in their designated place when you come in. After one week it will become a habit.

Mail and papers can be dealt with in many ways depending upon how you receive them. I get mine from the post office, which is great because I de-clutter all junk mail and shred all unnecessary envelopes into their recycle bins before leaving the premises. If you have to walk to get your mail, try passing by your recycle containers on the way back and do the same. Always try to deal with junk mail the instant you get it and bring into your home just what is necessary.

Have an attractive basket on the kitchen counter where everything seems to be deposited. It should have a lid and be large enough to handle a week’s worth of mail and papers. Commit to emptying it and sorting everything out at least weekly. If the papers haven’t been read – recycle them. For unread magazines, give yourself a place to store them and limit it to five issues. As you bring in new ones, either recycle them or deliver them to places that would welcome them such as senior centers, beauty salons or non-profits that can use them. Remember the three R’s – Recycle, Reduce, Reuse.

Feng Shui Tips for Kitchens - Furniture OrganizerOrganizers for Larger Objects

Pottery Barn and IKEA have an inexpensive piece of furniture that is great for organizing some of the larger things that land in the kitchen. It has hooks to hold book bags and coats with drawers, cabinets or cubbies below to hold multiple articles. Shoes for a shoeless home can be stored there, as well as books and homework that needs to be addressed later. If you enter the kitchen from the garage, train family members to unload these objects here.

Refrigerator Clutter

Refrigerator doors are great places to celebrate achievements and display pictures of friends and loved ones. Use this prime real estate for affirmations, vision boards and celebrations. The problem is that the few pictures displayed tend to have offspring and now you have a cluttered hodgepodge. If this has happened, take them all down, store in a shoebox and rotate five or six pictures each week giving everything and everyone a place of honor.

Clutter Clear Drawers and Cupboards

Kitchens are great places to do some quick purging of clutter and the junk drawer is a great place to start. If you haven’t used it in six months, deep six it. You will become inspired and will want to continue. Next tackle the pan cupboard and utensils drawers. You may be surprised at how many of those objects that were supposed to save you time just takes up space. Pack them up and donate to a charity that can use it for the benefit of others.

Clear Counter Tops

Discipline yourself to keep objects off the counters that you do not use on a daily basis such as toasters, blenders, mixers and Cuisinarts. Store them in your newly cleared cupboards and replace with a few lovely vases and/or objects that inspire you. Juxtaposing functional cooking objects with whimsical or uplifting ones will greatly enhance the cooking experience and bring a higher vibrational energy into the food you are preparing.

Safety is Paramount

Safety is always of utmost importance in Feng Shui. We not only look at the things that are obviously dangerous, but the subtle things. Anything that looks like a weapon will keep us on ‘alert’ in the space. Kitchen knives should be put out of sight in knife blocks or drawers designed for them. Remove all heavy pans, hooks or objects hanging off walls, ceilings and up high on cabinets. Store up high only lighter things such as baskets that will not injure if they fall. Remove all flammable objects from close proximity to the stove. You will be amazed how much more you enjoy being in the space when the pans hanging on unfriendly hooks are removed.

The Importance of the Stove

The stove is considered extremely important and is connected to our health and wealth. Stoves and burners should always be clean and in working order and ideally be in the empowered position, where the cook can see the action. If they have their back to the door while cooking, put a mirror or a reflective metal piece behind the stove so they can see what is going on behind. If you are remodeling your kitchen anyway, the happiest place for the stove is on a cooking island where the important chef will always feel like a vital part of the family while preparing meals.

Have an Attractive place to Share Meals without TelevisionsFeng Shui tips for Kitchens - Bring the Earth Element in Kitchens

Sharing a meal with family and loved ones should be an intimate and nurturing experience. It is an important time to share our day, calm down and replenish our bodies. You need a good place to eat everyday, a place for people to connect and communicate. It is important to have comfortable chairs and an inspiring piece of artwork on the wall. Television shows are fine to watch as a family but are not conducive to good conversation or good digestion during a meal. Discipline yourself to always keep them off during meals.

If you live alone, make a ritual of eating. Turn off the television, light a candle, put on inspiring music and treat yourself as if you are the important person coming to dinner.

Bring in the Earth Element

Balancing the Five Elements in each room is an important part of Feng Shui for the home. Kitchens should have a good amount of the earth element represented by earth tones, squares and rectangles and things made from earth such as tiles, adobe and stucco. The earth element encourages us to be in our bodies which is important in kitchens where we are working with potentially dangerous things like fire and knives.

If you were planning on remodeling your kitchen, a good choice for the counter tops would be earthy granites or tiles in earth tones. There are beautiful tiles made of recycled glass that look spectacular on counter tops and will support our commitment to  green building. Avoid darker tone in counter-top materials such as black, dark green or dark blues.  These represent the water element and encourage us to be out of our bodies, which is counterproductive to the activities we need to perform in kitchens.  If you already have a lot of black and metal you can add still add the earth element by bringing these colors onto the walls, adding terracotta or earth- tone pottery, table mats and table cloths.

Feng Shui - Inspire with NatureBring in Nature

We are all deeply connected to the natural world and biologically programmed to feel a sense of belonging and connection when we encounter it. Bringing in vibrant plants along with  pictures and objects made from natural elements will energize your kitchen and make every one feel truly ‘at home’ here.

Creating a nurturing, happy, organized and inspiring kitchen will support the needs of the family while uplifting their souls, making your hearth truly the heart of your home!

Feng Shui Tips for Kitchens by Erica Sofrina, an internationally acclaimed speaker, teacher, consultant and author. She is known for her ability to translate Feng Shui into terms that are easy to understand and apply for western audiences. For more information about Erica Sofrina, see her Yin Yang article
 Selling Calgary Group     Elke Babiuk
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Yin and Yang: The Key to a Balanced Home

Yin and YangCreating Balance with Yin and Yang

Have you ever been in a room that didn’t feel good to be in but you couldn’t figure out what was wrong? Chances are the Yin/Yang components were out of balance.

Yin and Yang is at the foundation of the Ancient Practice of Feng Shui. It has to do with the recognition that the universe is made up of opposite forces of energy, which cannot exist without each other. They are finely balanced and, like polar sides of a magnet, are innately attracted to each other.

The Yin/Yang symbol depicts two fish gliding together in perfect balance. Each carrying components of the other; the black fish with the white eye and the white fish with the black eye. The two swim together in perfect harmony creating a circle, the most ancient symbol depicting wholeness.

Feng Shui acknowledges that we are ancient creatures who naturally seek balance. If our living spaces are not balanced, our lives feel out of balance as well. By learning to work with the Yin and Yang components in our homes, we create supportive spaces that bring our lives back into harmony as well.

The concept of Yin refers to the feminine principle, which is passive, dark and yielding. Yang refers to the male principle, which is bright, active and extroverted.

Examples of yin and yang decor

Example of a Yin bedroom designed for rest and relaxation

In physical environments Yin objects would be reflected by circular shapes, darker more muted colors, lower darker rooms, upholstered furniture of soft chenille, velvet and corduroy fabrics, carpeting and area rugs,  and smaller detailed prints. In building materials adobe, brick and stucco would be considered more Yin materials. In design history, the eras that incorporated Yin qualities would be the Victorian era, Louis IV and VI and the Baroque period.

In architecture the Bauhaus period in Germany from around 1919 – 1933 was the beginning of modernist design utilizing more Yang components. Slick glass and mirrors, metal and plastics, high, vast ceilings, bright angular spaces, bold stripes and geometric patterns, square, hard angular furniture without detail, flooring of hard woods, cement and tile, all reflect Yang design materials and features.

In balancing a home we want to first determine the use of the space and then incorporate the Yin and Yang qualities appropriate for it. Passive spaces should incorporate more Yin features and active spaces more Yang features. The key, however, is to make sure we always have some of both qualities and not an over abundance of either.

Yin rooms are the places you want the energy to calm down to support rest, relaxation and rejuvenation. Yin rooms would be bedrooms, dining rooms, living rooms, possibly family rooms and bathrooms.

In these rooms we would want to bring in more Yin features such as comfy furniture, more muted colors and lighting, plush fabrics and more detailed patterns and accessories. Having a bright, light ultra-modern bedroom with high ceilings and slick fabrics would not serve the occupants and will often translate to sleep disorders. (See my article on Feng Shui for Children’s Rooms and for Teen’s Bedrooms).

Examples of yang spaces

Yang spaces are the more active spaces such as children’s playrooms, kitchens, gyms, home offices, laundry rooms, family rooms (depending upon the use), hallways and garages. These spaces should incorporate more Yang components with brighter lighting,  whites and/or bolder colors, more angular shaped furniture and accessories with less detail.

An example of an active Yang space.

In using modern Yang qualities make sure to choose furniture with more rounded edges. Sharp-edged furniture is considered weapon-like in Feng Shui. It may be subtle, but you will never fully relax in a space that has objects that can injure you. Our homes always need to be ‘people friendly’ no matter the style of decor you are drawn to.

We also want to bring in all of the Five Elements, which include plants and things that are either from the natural world or represent nature.  (See my article on bringing nature into the home)* Ultra modern homes devoid of nature will never allow us to feel truly ‘at home’ because of our deep innate connection to the natural world. (See my article on the Five Elements).

The key is to have a balance of both Yin and Yang qualities in every room, emphasizing more Yin or Yang features depending upon the use of the room. Yang features will make the space more active and Yin features generate a more restful atmosphere. Make sure your design choices and styles are serving the people who need to occupy the space, and not the other way around!

Once we have achieved an appropriate Yin/Yang balance in each room, we will be well on our way to creating a balanced and harmonious home that supports, uplifts and nurtures our lives!

*Another powerful component of Feng Shui is working with balancing the Five Elements in our home. For those of you who would like to learn more, I am offering a free color Five Elements map to all of my readers. Click here to receive your free copy (pdf).


About the Author, Erica Sofrina:

Erica Sofrina

Erica is an internationally acclaimed speaker, teacher, consultant and author, and the founder of the West Coast Academy of Feng Shui. Her goal is “to create beauty, harmony and consciousness wherever she goes.” She is known for her ability to translate Feng Shui into terms that are easy to understand and apply for western audiences.

Erica is the author of the book Small Changes, Dynamic Results! Feng Shui for the Western World and she offers Earth Spirit Adventure Travel Retreats – tours to sacred sites in Bali and Hawaii. Her Comapany West Coast Academy of Feng Shui also offers Practitioner Certification Training Programs throughout the United States, along with home study programs and seminars. Please visit Erica’s website – www.ericasofrina.com – for more information.

 Selling Calgary Group     Elke Babiuk
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