The following are articles written by Janet Davison
have been published in the
10 Ways to Make Home Buyers Hate Your House!
Spring is a optimum time to sell a home! With plenty of choices available, make sure you are not doing any of the top ten things that can make a home buyer look past yours!
1. Unappealing "curb appeal"
- Statistics say it only takes 10 seconds for buyers to form a first impression. The view of your home from the curb must capture the buyer's interest so they want to come in to see more. Potential buyers will keep on driving when they pull up to a house with an unkempt yard, peeling paint, plants growing in the gutters or garbage cans that haven't been put out of sight.
- A "For Sale by Owner" Sign may be another curbside deterrent. Many buyers question why a home is not being listed by a Realtor--Was there something the Realtor wanted them to fix before taking the listing? Is the home owner trying to cut corners on cost? They may have fears that everything--including paperwork--might not be done correctly without a Realtor.
- Nowadays, the computer is likely to be the place where buyers get their first introductions to your home. Make sure your on line photos are taken after cleaning, de-cluttering and staging when the home is picture perfect! Photos of empty rooms do not evoke the emotional responses that lead to sales.
- Dogs that meet buyers at the door or in the driveway are a poor welcome to a home that is for sale. Don't give Rover the chance to frighten your prospects away!
2. Something smells fishy to me!
- House odors are a major turn-off for potential buyers. The smells left by smoking, pets, smoky fireplaces and even food make buyers question the care given to the home. The smell of mildew conjures up thoughts of more serious problems. Because people tend to acclimate to the scents around them, homeowners can become desensitized to the odors in their own home.
- If odors are evident, do not try to cover them up with perfumes, but rather, eliminate them with extra cleaning. If this is not effective and you want to sell your home, you will need to replace any carpet or other surfaces that retain an offensive odor.
3. Clutter it up!
- The first step in preparing your home for sale is to make it clutter free. When the flat surfaces of a home are, for the most part empty, it leaves a clean canvas to create a simple, coordinated, compelling look - that sells! Remove all items you do not REALLY NEED to use: personal toiletries, knick knacks, anything that gives the appearance of clutter. These items will have to be packed eventually, so unless they have an "everyday use" they night as well be packed sooner than later!
- Clutter refers to decorative items as well. Normally the amount of books in bookcases and items on shelves needs to be reduced by at least a third. Create a neutral environment by taking down personal collections and family photos. The goal is for the home buyers to "picture" their family in your home, not yours!
- Too much furniture makes a house seem small and should be viewed as "clutter." A steadfast rule of thumb is "less is best!"
4. True Grit
- Houses that sell quickly are squeaky clean--windows washed inside and out, base boards, walls, carpets, tile grout, closets, drawers...everything. This is so important that if cleaning is a chore to you, a professional cleaner might be the best solution.
- Bathrooms and kitchens need to sparkle. No one wants to picture living with someone else's grit.
5. Dated appearance
- Walk through your home with a critical eye to notice easy fixes to update your home. Oftentimes fresh paint is the solution. Multiple rooms with busy wallpaper are not appealing to most home buyers. Better to remove it and paint the wall in a warm but neutral color. Wood paneling, old cabinets and even fireplaces can be given new life with a coat of the surface-appropriate paint.
- While silk trees and greenery add an element of coziness and life to a room, silk flowers have gone the way of shag carpets. Floral swags above art and doorways are a part of the previous decade.
6. Dimly lit rooms
- No one wants to live in a dungeon. Dark rooms appear dreary. Sometimes it is as easy as brightening up dark corners with lamps! Other times it may be necessary to install additional light fixtures. Replace dim light bulbs with new ones.
- Trim trees and bushes that create too much shadow in the rooms.
- Repaint dark rooms with colors that reflect light. Bold, dark colors may be your preference, but they can be a game-stopper in a sale. Serious buyers try to imagine their furniture in the home. If the paint colors would be too conflicting, their second thought is of how much work, time and money it would take to repaint.
- During the Open House and Show Times light the lamps, pull up the blinds, open the curtains and let the sun shine in.
7. Unfinished Repairs
- Neglected repairs position your home as a "fixer upper." This significantly decreases both the number of interested buyers and the price they expect to pay. Go through your home with a notepad and a pen and write down every item that would appear on a "honey-do" list -- ant then, honey, do it! (Or hire someone!)
8. Show an empty house
- Only 10% of buyers can visualize living in an empty house. Martha Webb, author of Dress your House for Success, says, "Empty houses do not sell more quickly or profitably. Lifelessness is not only a difficult negative to overcome, it also attracts low offers because it sends the message that it MUST SELL; the owners have moved on and need to unload their house."
9. Stage it yourself
- Staging refers to the process of positioning the furniture, color, accents and accessories into "vignettes" that reflect comfortable living. The process is designed to create a memorable feeling that lasts beyond the tour so buyers will want to come back to the home...to live there! Because of the personal attachment to their homes, most often sellers lack the objectivity need to see their homes as a commodity being prepared top "appeal to the masses!"
- With staging, the bath can be presented as a spa-like experience waiting to happen! The set table and counter accessories in the kitchen create the thought of enjoying time spent together here with family and friends. Stagers have the necessary inventory to supplement your own belongings if the house is being occupied while it is on the market. If the house is vacant, stagers can place just the right amount of furnishings and accessories to make buyers feel at home.
10. Owners being present during showings
- While you would never leave your home unattended, you, the owner need to vacate the premises during showings! Buyers are much more comfortable inspecting a house if the owner is not there. In the presence of the homeowner, buyers feel like "guests" and are likely to feel awkward about opening closets and poking around to take a really good look.
- In an effort to be friendly, homeowners tend to engage potential buyers in conversation--about their home, their history the neighborhood or their families. These conversations divert the buyer's attention and make them feel as if they are imposing.
- During Open Houses and Show Times leave your home in the hands of a professional Realtor. Since most home buyers tour in pairs, they appreciate the liberty to talk about your home candidly with each other and the Realtor. S/he knows how to keep a professional distance while still pointing out the highlights that will sell your home.
Most of the items on this "Top 10 List" have easy remedies that will make buyers fall in love with your home. Make sure your home is totally ready before you list it. First impressions are lasting impressions. If your house gets tagged as the "house that smells" or "the one with the electric blue living room" it may be too late. Agents want to show houses that they know buyers will love -- and, as the homeowner, so do you!
There is nothing like
a new coat of paint to add freshness and vitality to a room. The first thing most people ask themselves
when deciding to paint is, “What color?”
What they really should be asking is, “How do I want this room to feel?”
We have all experienced stepping into a home that welcomed
us with warmth and character or into a refreshing room that felt cool and
relaxing even on a hot summer day. We
have also been places that felt void of personality, cold and uninviting. The difference is color. Furniture dictates style, art adds character but
the “mood” of the room is derived from the color, and it begins with the paint
on the walls.
Colors are so closely connected to emotion, that our
language is sprinkled with clichés coupling the two: “Having the blues”- “Cool as a cucumber”-
“Mellow Yellow”- “Sunny disposition”- “Yellow streak down his back”- “Painting
the town red”-“Seeing red” - “In the red”. Then there are the gray areas, the little
white lies, and getting the green light…just to name a few.
The first challenge
is that even within the same color family, individual colors can have different
effects on the psyche depending on the tint (the amount of white) or the shade
(amount of black) as well as on the combination of other pigments contained
within the color. Blues range from calm
to moody; Yellows from timid to happy. Red
can be tinted down to rose—for a romantic look, softened into powder pink for a
baby’s room or heavily shaded to create a color of deep passion.
The second challenge
is that people have an involuntary response to colors which is not dependent
upon their liking them? Colors have a
subconscious, emotional impact on the human psyche. Studies show, for instance, that the color orange
stimulates the saliva glands – making people, all people, hungry. It’s not by accident, but by marketing, that
many fast food restaurants -- McDonald’s, Burger King, Denny’s -- use
the citrus colors of orange and yellow in their signage and décor to stimulate
the appetite. The lighter tints of blues and greens find their way into dental
and doctor’s offices because of their calming effect. In some people, exposure to the large amount
of intense red increases their blood pressure.
So – where do you
begin? With the Color Wheel.
This is a circle of color which can be divided in half into
a warm and a cool side.
Warm colors: red, orange and yellow are vivid and energetic.
Cool colors: blue, purple, green are calming
Brown is made from a combination of colors.
White and black are considered neutral
Next, choose a Color
Schemes. Color schemes derived from
the wheel can be helpful in selecting colors that reflect the mood you want to
create. The three most predominant color schemes are Monochromatic, Analogous
Monochromatic Color Scheme
Just as the name implies, the
Monochromatic Color Scheme uses a variety of values (tints and shades) of one
single color. This creates a soothing
relaxing easy-to-live–with color scheme that is also easy to accessorize. An example would be a relaxing spa atmosphere
for the master bed and bath created with a blend of three values of blues and
accented with white.
Analogous Color scheme
Analogous colors are colors that
are adjacent to each other on the color wheel.
This color scheme makes use of one main color, and those colors on
either side of it on the color wheel.
One example would be red, red-violet and violet; another would be green,
yellow green, and yellow. Analogous color
schemes are bright, energetic and pleasing to the eye.
Complementary Color Scheme
Complementary colors are colors
that are opposite each other on the color wheel, such as blue and orange, red
and green, purple and yellow. The most
energetic of color schemes, these are often found in the uniforms of sports
teams and make an excellent palate for Game Rooms, Bonus Rooms and Man Caves!
Generally speaking, monochromatic or neutral colors are best
used in the public areas of the home – living room, dining room, family
room. It is here that the interests of
the family unit can be portrayed. The
bedroom is a good place to express individual personalities and color tastes. Themes
can be created through with a combination of color and accessories -- Red and Black
for bistro kitchens; Silver and Black for the Raiders; Blue, Red and Yellow for
interior colors, it’s important to remember a few key points:
If you like
to change your décor frequently, a neutral paint color – based in beige
—gives you the opportunity to incorporate your favorite colors through art
accessories. This makes it easy to create
changes seasonally or as your mood
Consistency in the color palette creates a
Lighter tints are good for small areas, as they
make the space look bigger
Darker shades create a cozy atmosphere
Consider your furniture and flooring when
selecting paint colors to ensure that they will harmonize.
Accent walls, painted in a darker color, are a
great way to add interest to a room and to emphasize focal walls and
Crown molding and baseboards are normally painted the same color as the
Paint comes in a variety of finishes: Flat, egg shell, satin, gloss, semi-gloss. Flat is the least expensive finish, but the
hardest one to clean. We recommend using
ceilings, gloss or semi-gloss on doors and trim, and egg-shell or satin
After narrowing down your choices to a few,
paint some sample swatches on your walls for comparison. Keep in mind that paint colors darken as they
room needs an explanation point in black and a little bit of white! Just as the eye
needs a pupil --every room
needs a touch to black for focus. White
– often found in the trim, doors, ceilings and base boards --unifies a scheme
Selecting paint colors
for your home can be fun, but making the right choice can be a horse of a
different color. If the process leaves
you singing the blues, before you go plum crazy, wave a red flag and call Cozy
Chic Design for a color consultation.
You’ll be tickled pink and your friends will be green with envy.
How to fall in love with your
all over again!
Many of us grew up with the notion that someday we would
live in a house with a white picket fence!
While the image of your “dream home” may have changed throughout the
years, you may still be waiting for the updated version to happen. If the timing is not right to purchase a new
home or remodel how about launching a project to seek maximum happiness in the
home you’re in.
Here are some simple, inexpensive ideas:
De-Clutter & Clean
This seems so basic but many people have
too many things in too small a space, shelves clustered with too many trinkets
and furniture too big to be able to maneuver comfortably about the room. In order to have a relaxing, peaceful
environment there needs to be some breathing room. A familiar phrase in the design business is
“Less is Best!”
Color Your World
Bold colors are in fashion right now. What a difference a fresh coat of color can make! Any
interesting architectural features of the home can be emphasized with
color. Create a rich impact by using two
or three hues within the same color pallet. You might try an accent wall in a bright
contrasting color. The colors become more vivid when the room is framed
with white on the ceilings, doors, windows and baseboards. New 3- 4” wide white baseboards make a bigger
difference in a room that most people imagine.
Create a “flow” – a continuity and rhythm
A base color that is carried from room to
room not only creates a pleasing sense of continuity, but makes the rooms
appear larger. Punctuate the room with
an accent color that is used a minimum of three times – perhaps in the pillows,
rugs, window treatments or accessories. Finally,
rhythm in created through repetition. Multiples of like objects hung at the
same height add continuity as well as rhythm.
Make it fit YOU
Comfort in the home begins with the
sofa, your bed, your pillow, your easy chair – all need to be the right fit for
YOU. Make sure you have a comfortable
place to do the things you like to do most.
If you are an avid reader, for instance, you’ll want to create a comfy
chair with a side table and a good lamp. If the space is tight, add a basket for your books with a snugly
throw on top. Furniture placement is also important. One common mistake is to line the furniture
up around the perimeter of the room. Great
looks can be achieved by placing the furniture at an angle.
Make it Cozy
Surround yourself with your favorite
things. Add the simple pleasures that titillate
the senses – the aroma of candles, the glow of the fire, fresh flowers, chocolate.
Whatever is YOUR PLEASURE! Place baskets of photos where you can enjoy
them and the memories they evoke. In
our Re-design business, the thing we add most offen to homes are
trees and plants. Even silk
plants “add life!”
Focus on the
too short to live anywhere but in the present.
Keep an eye on where you are going, but keep your focus on getting enjoyment
out of where you are now. An “Attitude
of Gratitude” makes happiness anywhere.
Feel the fear – and do it anyway!
Are you considering becoming a
Have the reduced real estate prices and the lower interest
rates, made you consider purchasing an investment property? Are you thinking about upgrading your
personal home and turning your current home into a rental? Is the possibility of an additional stream
of income enticing?
The ripple effect from the downturn in the economy and the
subsequent turbulence in the real estate market has created a “buyer’s market.”
Many Vacaville homeowners are becoming
first time landlords. One thing stops
some of them – fear. Will
the tenants pay the rent on time? Will
they take care of the property? What
would happen if you can’t find tenants?
A thorough screening process – reference reviews and credit checks--
will eliminate some of the anxiety.
For a new landlord, choosing the first tenant is an exciting
experience. The completion of the initial
Rental Agreement – and the beginning of income as a landlord -- is a
“high-five” experience! The more difficult
renting comes when you experience a turnover in tenants. At this junction, you will begin the process
of preparing for new tenants, only this go around, TIME IS MONEY!
I have been an Interior Decorator for many years, a landlord
in Vacaville for two decades, and a Home Stager for the last four years. Last year when a new apartment complex opened
locally, the innovative owners, who were familiar with my company, Cozy Chic Design & Home Staging,
hired us to “stage” one of their units.
They were delighted with the results, and told us, “Everyone who walks
through the staged apartment, rents one of them!” While that was probably an exaggeration,
they have kept the initial staging in place, showing it as a “sample apartment.”
Since then I have “staged” my own rental
units to ensure only a minimal amount of time is lost in the transition between
tenants. What a difference it has made in
the ease of renting! As a result, we
have added “Staging to Rent” as part of the menu of services offered by Cozy Chic Design.
Here are a few tips to give you confidence that you can keep
your rentals full!
Beginning THE DAY notice is given (or you give notice) that
the tenants will be moving:
1. Arrange a time for a preliminary walk-through
with the tenants. This will enable you
to access the state of the property. If it
is apparent that there are things that will be the current tenant’s
responsibility to fix – like holes in the wall J--
the landlord can point those things out and state his/her expectations. This preliminary walk-through might also
reveal items such as a leaking sink that are your responsibilities, as
the landlord. Most of these repairs can
be fixed prior to the tenants moving out – which, since “time is money” will
save you some bucks!
2. Create Curb appeal. As soon as possible, before the moving
date – get started on the curb appeal!
Sprucing up the yard – trimming, pruning, mulching and mowing can be
done ahead of time. Once you start to
advertise, people will want to “drive by” to take a look at the property. What they see on this excursion is their
first – and most lasting impression!
This visit should entice them to want to see the interior of the
home. Your rental contract may dictate
that the tenants are responsible for upkeep of the yard, but normally there is
some sprucing up to do that goes beyond tenant responsibility. My suggestion is
that you do it sooner, rather than later.
3. The contract with the tenant should
require that the home be left clean, but if the landlord has any doubt that
this will be done, s/he can go ahead and hire someone to clean the home the day
it becomes vacant. If the home is not
left clean, the cost for reasonable cleaning can come from the tenant’s
security deposit. If the tenants leave
the home clean, cancel the cleaners.
4. If the interior walls need to be
painted, line up the painter now. S/he
can be scheduled to begin painting the day after the property is cleaned.
5. Stage the property the day following
the cleaners (or painters)!
the property. Set up appointments to
view the property starting the day following “staging day”. Once the property is staged, you will have
beautiful photos to add to your online advertising.
8. Pre-screen any interested
applicants, and send a slideshow of your staged property to anyone who meets
your criteria of a tenant. We provide a
free slideshow for every property we stage.
This same slideshow can be used
EVERY time your property becomes available.
9. Bring an application with you when
you show the property – and be prepared to rent it to the first person who
It’s a new
concept! Customarily, homes are
staged in preparation for them to be sold. Statistics say that only 10% of purchasers
can visualize themselves living in a home that is presented “empty”. This is also true with renters. Through the use of color, accessories and a
few pieces of furniture, a well-staged home creates “emotional connection
points” with the prospective buyers – or tenants. Using a vignette style of light staging is
cost effective. It not only shows the
home to its best advantage, but makes it friendlier. Here are a few more things to consider:
1. Staged properties rent more quickly! A rental property without tenants is losing
money daily! If the property rents for $1000 per
month, $35 is lost every day that it stands vacant. $1500 monthly rent equals $50 per day lost;
$2000 monthly rent is $70 per day lost, etc. It’s true that “Time is Money” – but with a
vacant rental property, it is more like, “Time is Money LOST!”
2. Rental Staging is affordable. Priced by footage, the initial staging costs
are roughly about the same as 10 days rent.
If, by staging, you are able to rent the property quickly, the staging
is paid for by the rent that is not lost!
3. When a property is staged for the purpose of
selling it, after the initial cost of staging there is a monthly fee for use of
the furniture and accessories. It is
advisable that the home remain staged until close of escrow. Staging Rental Property differs, in that as
soon as the deposit is given by the new tenants, we can “de-stage” the property.
4. The price of staging a Rental Property is a
5. According to the National Association of
Realtors, 84% of people search for homes online first before deciding to
visit. Photos of beautifully staged rooms
stand out among the competition! Unless the property is staged, the only choice
for a photo opportunity is either to take photos of a tenant-occupied home or
an empty property.
6. The cost of staging can be FREE! Owners who choose to make staging a part of
their rental plan can pay for it, over time, with as little as a $5 increase in
The opportunities of the Real Estate market have never been
better! If your inclination is to
become a landlord – the market is ripe!
Yes, it’s a bit scary. When I became a first-time landlord, it
helped me to remember one of my favorite success mottos: “Feel the fear, and do it anyway!” I’m glad I did!