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By Patti Stern, PJ & Co. Staging and Interior Decorating
Kitchens are more important than ever when it comes to influencing buyers’ perceptions of a home as well as the perceived value. Some home owners make it a priority to invest in remodeling key rooms to increase the value of their home for when they are ready to sell. However, sellers who are pressed for time and need to get their homes on the market fast can still achieve the look of a remodel by giving their outdated kitchen a modern face lift that will engage buyers without breaking the bank.
The kitchen featured below was designed for a couple that wanted their dream kitchen to enjoy but kept the look classic in the event they decide to sell down the road. The key to managing their budget was to follow the existing blue print and add some modern updates.
When selling, there are many ways home owners can update key kitchen features while staying within a budget. Painting, new appliances, lighting, and updating cabinet hardware are just some examples of inexpensive fixes worth every penny to attract buyers.
The following are some examples of PJ & Company’s staging projects that feature simple improvements such as painting cabinets, upgrading appliances, and installing new light fixtures that give these kitchens a remodeled appearance like our dream kitchen above.
The kitchen cabinet transformation
Our favorite fix for dated cabinets is paint. Using bright white paint to cover outdated, dark wood cabinets gives this kitchen (pictured below) a modern facelift. Other cosmetic fixes to enhance the look include replacing cabinet hardware with sleek, brushed nickel knobs and handles. Adding a few modern accessories like the small sisal rug provides a relaxed and inviting Pottery Barn-look.
Update fixtures and appliances
The right lighting is a critical part of any space but is most important in the kitchen for functionality. These industrial style pendant lights are a perfect example of a simple update that adds a twist of contemporary style with sophisticated appeal.
As more people are tuning in to watch cooking programs on television these days, they are seeing sleek kitchen appliances and fixtures, which are growing in popularity particularly among young buyers. If your appliances are outdated or in disrepair, consider replacing or servicing them. If you decide to replace, keep in mind that retailers will often give a discount when buying multiple new appliances.
The single lever faucet, the stainless steel stove, and floating hood are another example of an upgrade that completes the state of the art look of the room. There is a range of options available to choose from that will give a high-end look that will appeal to buyers.
Invest in countertops
Repair or replace counters that are cracked, stained, or dated. If replacing, consider one of our favorite materials: Quartz (used for the island in our kitchen remodel). Quartz has become a growing alternative to granite and marble. It comes in a variety of colors and styles that provide both a custom appeal along with durability.
Nothing says dated more than worn carpeting, scuffed hardwood floors, and cracked tile. If your kitchen floor is dull and has lost its luster, first try to clean, use wax linoleum, re-grout, replace missing tiles, and polish hardwoods. If there are too many imperfections, there are a variety of low cost tiles that are both affordable and durable. There are also many synthetic options to choose from that mimic the look of hardwood floors in our kitchen remodel, as well as stone or marble finishes.
For more examples of interior decorating and home staging, visit www.pjstagingdecorating.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patti Stern, principal, interior decorator and professional stager of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating, has been decorating and staging homes since 2005. She and her team provide turnkey, full service home-staging and interior decorating to clients across Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts. She also developed an award-winning staging program for luxury home builder, Toll Brothers. Stern has been featured in Connecticut Magazine, the Hartford Courant, Danbury News-Times and on NBC Connecticut and FOX TV. She is a regular contributor to REALTOR Magazine’s Styled, Staged & Sold blog. To contact, e-mail Patti Stern at email@example.com
By Lee Davenport
As a young real estate pro, you may be stumped on how you can standout in a sea of agents, particularly when some of those agents have more than 30 years of sales experience. Unfortunately, as a broker and trainer, I have witnessed younger agents, whether new to real estate or not, lambasted for their lack of experience in both life and sales. In those sad instances, lack of experience becomes “larger than life,” which myopically and erroneously become the only skill trait that matters. I marvel and cringe in those situations, but I am quick to interject with a vital characteristic that can trump experience any day of the week – a characteristic that can help a rookie agent land a listing and make a sale that the veteran missed out on.
Before I come right out and say what this imperative sales trait is, check out the following statistics and see if you can guess what it is:
- Real estate is the second most searched topic on social media but ranks lower than the government in response rates, according to Sprout Social’s Consumer Engagement Index. (As sluggish as the government can be, this is deplorable!)
- According to Real Trends 2013 Online Performance Study, 89 percent of consumers say response time was very important when choosing their agent.
- The Real Trends study also says 45 percent of consumers expect an initial response from an online inquiry within 15 minutes.
- And 56 percent of consumers expect a response from their agent within 30 minutes, according the the Real Trends study.
- Yet according to the 2014 National Association of REALTORS® report, The Intelligent Internet Lead, the average agent response time was about 15 hours. (Is anyone else gasping for air?)
I am sure you guessed it – the quintessential skill to possess that can actually make experience pale in comparison is responsiveness. When you are a well-trained agent (whether young, middle aged, or in your golden years) who exudes professionalism and makes responsive communication your point of differentiation, you win!
Here are four reasons why responsiveness should become your new normal, if it isn’t already:
1. You expect it.
The hallmarks of professionalism are doing what you say you will do and timely follow-up. You expect (and probably even demand) this when dealing both in and outside of the real estate arena, so let’s practice what we preach. Make the very crux of your professionalism be responsiveness. How many times have you chosen a product or service provider because he was “Johnny-on-the-Spot”? Perhaps your favorite lender does not have 30 years of experience but she follows up promptly. So for you, and probably many others, responsiveness trumps experience. Or, on the personal side, maybe your dog sitter never ignores your oddball requests, even if he cannot accommodate you each and every time. Responsiveness can go a long way in clinching new clients and making sure that past clients choose and refer you again and again.
2. It gives a boost to your reviews.
Time and time again, positive online reviews give an agent a powerful online footprint and virtual legacy that is hard to erase. Many of us buy products or choose services in our personal lives now because of the sentiments expressed in online reviews. The real estate industry is no different. But if you have ever had a hard time getting current and past clients to post a glowing review of you, maybe, just maybe, they were not impressed with your level of professionalism and they are taking the high road of not saying anything if they cannot say anything nice. This, of course, is not the only reason our clients elect to not be our online “raving fans” – sometimes they are too busy or maybe there were other glitches in their transaction that left them sour. But when all else goes well, check and see if your responsiveness was not up to par and work on it going forward.
3. Other agents are hungry.
It is no big deal if you connect with an inquiring real estate prospect in a few hours or the next business day, right? Well, if you are absolutely the only agent and online portal system servicing your entire area, then you may have that luxury. But more likely than not, you are not the only agent left on Earth or the only way for information about a real estate property to be obtained. Translation = you have competition.
Hopefully, you have been on the receiving end and not the losing side of being the first to connect with a prospective buyer or seller that delivered the critical three Cs (Client, Closing, and Commission). But whatever your historical stance has been, choose now to be on #TeamResponsive and respond to ALL inquiries within the desired 15-minute window to increase your chances of converting ominous leads to actual clients that close and generate commissions for you.
4. Automation is easier and less expensive than back in the day.
It is 2015, so there are no excuses to not respond to EVERY inquiry within minutes. Why? Because of automation! Automation is painless, fairly inexpensive, and, frankly, half the battle. You still have to build rapport but this makes it easier. IT not only puts you in the running to capture a new client, but may very well push you to the front of the pack.
And let’s address the elephant in the room: As much as agents do not want certain web portals taking their leads, those portals have automated their responses. We are in a responsive, drive-thru age so many folks want what they want, when they want it. Technology allows us to accommodate this without losing our sanity and neglecting our families so let’s use it.
Texting is no longer taboo in the home buying and selling process for many. If you have not taken the time to do it yet, I encourage you, as a bare minimum, to make sure you have canned text messages (for unknown numbers as well as those that may be current clients, vendors, friends, etc.) that can be sent to every caller.
Have you tried IFTTT yet? This handy app can help you automate responses from your phone.
With emails and your various online sites, go back to turning on your autoresponder or use services like ManyContacts or MailChimp to send fancier looking emails to specific contacts from specific places.
There really is no limit to the tools you can use for automation, so I encourage you to explore them online today and also share in the comment section below the ones that work miracles for you.
By the way, follow me on Google+ and Facebook for more tips and techniques. Also, if you are a real estate agent or manage agents, learn how to GROW or RE|VAMP your business with us today. Here’s to your success!
Lee Davenport is a real estate broker, coach, and trainer with Agents Around Atlanta Plus, which offers customized, relevant, and affordable one-on-one coaching, webinars, and in-office trainings for brokers and sales agents throughout the U.S. Connect with Lee at www.AgentsAroundAtlanta.com.
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine
Millennials may be willing to sacrifice extra square footage in a home and even features like an outdoor kitchens or two-story foyer. But there’s one thing they say they aren’t willing to sacrifice in a new home: A separate laundry room.
A separate laundry room clearly topped the list when the National Association of Home Builders recently surveyed millennials to discover what their “most-wanted” item on their home shopping list was. Fifty-five percent said they wouldn’t buy a new home that didn’t have a separate laundry room. They also ranked storage as important, such as linen closets, a walk-in pantry, and garage storage.
With the laundry room weighing so much on millennials’ buying decisions, you may want to take a closer look at the way you’re presenting the laundry room in your listings. Could it use a freshen up? And if it’s such a selling point, you may want to add a photo of your staged laundry room to your MLS photos.
Take a look at some of these photos from the remodeling site Houzz to get ideas on freshening up your listings’ laundry rooms.
- Try a soft paint color — accented with white painted cabinets and trim — to make the space look larger and even cleaner. Enhance with some under-the-cabinet lights that shine on the countertops. (The paint featured in the picture below: Benjamin Moore, Comet)
- Fresh flowers, bright colored curtains, and even wallpaper behind the cabinets may make the space more inviting.
- Wherever there are cubbies, add wicker baskets. Hang a few clothes on wooden hangers to show off the storage options. And if the storage options even include a place for the family’s pet, accent that in a lower cubby too with a stylish pillow cushion.
- If the laundry room is small, add a wooden block over the washer and dryer to squeeze in a folding station.
- Stack a washer and dryer to maximize space in a small area and to make room for some cubbies and shelves. Keep the shelves neat and staged, such as by folding light-colored towels. Keep the laundry accessories displayed to a minimum.