Top two ways to sell your home in today’s real estate market

ZipRealty offers sound advice and tips to sell your home in today’s real estate market.
  1. List your home at a price that is both reasonable and fair
  2. Make sure your home stands out from the rest (hint: home staging!)

Since we know that making your home stand out, making sure it is as visually pleasing as possible, is an important part of selling your home, can you DIY this step, or should you hire a professional home stager?

Professional home stagers will assess the areas of the home to determine:

  • how to best arrange the furniture to make the rooms look larger
  • determine what, if any, areas need some fresh paint & what colors will look best to help you sell
  • determine if any additional artwork or accessories will help enhance your space to buyers
  • catch all the small things that you miss because you are living in the home and may have been looking at so long you don’t even notice they are there

If you decide to do the home staging yourself, here are some tips:

  • clean the home inside and out
  • get rid of all clutter, including on counter tops and in closets & cupboards
  • make sure everything is in working order
  • all light bulbs function and are the same wattage
  • remove dated and worn furniture
  • use accessories to enhance key features of the home

If you aren’t sure of what to do, contact a local home stager and have them create a written consultation report of what should be done. This will allow you to assess what items should be completed by a professional, and what items may be done DIY style. This may also help you save money by focusing on the things that are most important and will bring the biggest return on investment.

Speaking of return on investment, here are HomeGain’s top 10 home improvement projects when selling your home.


The ART of COLOR coordination

Combining colors can often be a bit like an art form. While it’s true that the easiest and best color combinations are found in nature, (really, look at the scales on a fish, the colors of flowers, or the feathers on a bird and you’ll get a good idea of how to combine colors) sometimes we mere mortals need a little help.

This is where our grade school color education comes in handy. Break out the color wheel!

color in home staging


Creating a beautiful design in your home staging business, in your marketing materials, or your wardrobe, begins with understanding how colors work together in harmony (or sometimes contrast).

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Color In Staging: A Model Home From Michele Kurelich

Michele Kurelich of Raleigh, NC stages a lot of model units. With such a blank canvas, one might want to know where she begins. Obviously the target buyer is determined by price and location, but which colors to use to tell the story? I caught up with Michele this week, which takes some doing, let me just say, and had a chance to ask her.

“People have heard many of the staging messages out there, and the one they misunderstand most is “beige”. Yes, we want to neutralize each space, but not everything has to be beige. It’s neutral, for sure, but it has no life. We incorporate color in our staging, strategically, to warm up a room and unite each room into a unified, connected, whole home.”

Color in Home Staging
Michele and her team use pops of color to bring a room alive.

In model units, they tend to pick a palette from the hardscaping the builder has already selected. [Hardscaping? Tile, floors, cabinet color - the stuff that's pretty permanent without huge expense.] Then they head towards something within the color family for more inspiration. This can be a piece of art or fabric. In this spectacular “Arrowhead” unit, it was clearly a piece of fabric. And how current were they? Anyone get their Pier 1 spring catalog in the mail yesterday?Color in Home Staging

With the color palette in hand, the team sets about giving each room its own look, but staying closely within the selected color palette. Not only does this give the home a unified look, but makes the home feel larger.

Michele Kurelich is one of the SAR trainers; you can study with her one-on-one in our workshops. Click stager training for more intel on our programs.

It would be funny if it weren’t so serious. What were they thinking?

It would be funny if it weren’t so serious. One of the most important jobs that a real estate agent has is to protect the interests of their sellers. Still, time after time, whether through laziness, lack of education, fear of upsetting their client or simply not knowing what to say, we see photos that are more than a little comical in MLS.

If a listing looks like this, the agent should be fired. If an agent agreed to take this listing, in this condition, they shouldn’t be an agent.  Do I sound harsh? Here’s why I say this.

The homeowners don’t usually know better. Oh sure, “They should.”, you think. I mean if you are going to put your home up for sale then it should look at least as good as if your in-laws were coming for the holidays, right?

It is a real estate professional’s job to educate their sellers on what they need to do to sell in today’s market. For most people, this is their biggest investment. I should be handled with maximum respect, regardless of it’s list price.

Speaking of list price, however, how are real estate agents listing this price? Have they lowered the price? Is it listed the same as the other comparable properties? If it’s the same, it’s not going to sell. If it’s lower, how much lower? Would it have been more cost effective to higher a home stager to come in and get this house in order?

Finally, whjy oh why would a real estate professional take this listing? They know what feedback will be. They know that the only potential buyers that will even think about this home are buyers who are looking for a steal. Is that the buyer they’ve prepared their sellers for?

A real estate agent will have to pay to market this property – each and every month. They will have to have rough conversations with the home owners recommending price reduction after price reduction. After all of that, it probably still won’t sell. Why waste the time or the money?

Too often I find the truth falls into the fact that agents don’t want to have the conversations with the home sellers. They don’t want to tell them that their lifestyle will kill any possibilities that their home will sell. The beautiful thing is that home stagers can do that. We’ve been trained to do that. We know they often won’t like us and that we may end up offending them, no matter how we try, but we help make sure that homes don’t look like the above photos.

Home Stagers get to be the bad guy. We get to help clients understand that this will probably mean not selling the home, or taking huge price reductions just to get anyone looking.

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Lifestyle Home Staging: First Time Home Buyers

Lifestyle home staging. Have you heard the term? If not, then it’s about time you do. It’s the new wave of our industry. It’s not enough to just make a home look pretty, to show off size and scale, now we need to know who our home buyer will likely be and specifically create rooms that appeal to them.

In this infographic by Coldwell Banker, we examine the habits of first time home buyers.

Now, what information can you glean from this that will help you in your home staging business?

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Where is everyone spending their time {on social media}?

Think you spend a lot of time on social media? Well, if you are a business owner, then I’m sure you know that social media is the big ticket in low cost advertising budget. But, how do you compare to the average person?

comScore Inc released this great infographic to demonstrate exactly how much time we are on, and where we are spending it.

How do you stack up? Do you understand why social media is so important?

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Can Instagram help your home staging business?

Are you using Instagram to help market your home staging business yet?  If you aren’t, maybe you should be.

Don’t know what Instagram is yet? According to iTunes, it’s a free, fun, and simple way to make and share gorgeous photos on your iPhone. Yep… and let’s face it, gorgeous photos is what your job is all about, right? Well, at least that’s usually how you are judged.

Let’s face it, your primary jobs in this business are:

  • Marketing your business so people can find you
  • Create a gorgeous portfolio so when they do find you they want to hire you
  • Create a stunning stage so the house will sell

I know that you think your job is mostly the latter of the three, but unless you do a really top notch job of the first two, chances are your business will struggle.

So, let’s look at this Instagram infographic and see how we can use it to help you with building a successful home staging business.

Here’s a rundown of how you might translate this to your home staging business:

Tip 1: Remember that “liking” helps build followers.  Find those who’s work or photos you admire and maybe they’ll find they like yours too. So often we are in the same field and have similar visions.

Tip 2: What? You can help enhance under exposed photos right there on your iphone? Yeah, use it, OK?

Tip 3: Have you noticed that some photos just look more professional with borders? Think about adding them because it will help set them off. I mean, why do we frame photos – so they will stand out, right?

Tip 4: Filter the fun and try out some new stuff. Sometimes setting your photos in black and white, sketch, or softened can really put the focus on an emotion you were trying to evoke.

Tip 5: Tilt-shift focus will give the illusion of a macro style lens, allowing you to blur parts of the background. You should be taking close up and artistic photos of your work, not just wide angle shots. This feature can help make parts of your photo more important than others, increasing the visual value of what you are showing.

Tip 6: Controlling the composition means consistency in your portfolio. This helps you better market your brand.

Tip 7: Help others find you by using the right hashtags. People who are interested in #staging may follow you and view or share your work.

Tip 8: Sharing? Do I really need to explain how this can help your home staging business? Hello….. ever heard of social marketing?

Tip 9: Speaking of SOCIAL marketing, don’t forget that whole social part. If someone takes the time to comment, be sure to take the time to respond.

Tip 10. Make sure that your photos don’t fall prey to spam, or others may not want to comment. Delete any comments that are inappropriate. Remember, others may judge you by what’s posted there.

Tip 11: Ooops! Did I say that? Ooohhh…. maybe I didn’t say that the right way? Delete any comments that you’ve made that aren’t professional or appropriate. If you have really poor spelling or grammar, consider deleting and re-posting it correctly.

Tip 12: You can even use Instagram for photos that you don’t want published. Just be in airplane mode and they won’t show up.

Tip 13: Give my photos a unique look? I’m all over it. Let’s face it, you don’t want them to look like everyone else’s. Remember, in order for you to set yourself apart, you’ve got to be different.

Tip 14: I think this was pretty self explanatory. Remember, followers = better social marketing because it means more opportunity for your work to be shared.

Jessica Pirone: Traditional Southern Aesthetic

Staged by the team of Just Perfect! and more…

Karen Otto: Personal Aesthetic Staged Beautifully

It’s easy to see that SAR Instructor Karen Otto has an eye for space, vignettes and rustic charm.  Showing off her new ability to photograph the art in her craft, Karen uses her personal treasures to evoke emotion in her personal stage – a trick taught by HGTV’s Matthew Finlason in his groundbreaking Advanced Staging Course.

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Is Social Media an effective tool for your Home Staging Business?

We hear a lot about social media these days. The question is, what’s the return on investment for your home staging business? Is it effective?

To answer this, I’ve pulled this really cool infographic from Digital Buzz to look at the data.

The numbers that stand out to me, that may apply to the home staging industry:

  • 72% of marketers say that social media helped close business deals
  • 76% of businesses are using social networking
  • 45% of those using social media reported new business partnerships from its use
  • The use of social media prompts dramatic reduction in marketing costs
  • Facebook has the highest ROI but YouTube is where they would like to increase the most
  • Your company brand/blog has the lowest ROI while, after facebook, ratings & reviews has the highest

How will you use this information to build your social media presence and create content marketing for success?


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24% of Home Stagers say they want to get out of the business

In January, at the 2012 RESA Home Staging Convention, I polled nearly 300 home stagers and asked, “Where do you want your business to be in ten years.” It was a live poll, where attendees were given the opportunity to text or tweet their anonymous answer, much like the voting on American Idol.

Seeing as my talk was on Team Building, Your Key to Profitability and Success, I thought I had some idea of what to expect. I was in a room with some of the top professionals in the industry. The stagers represented in the room were both new and seasoned, but they were all there network, educate and create ideas and systems to grow their business.

Imagine my surprise when my survey revealed that 24% of the home stagers in the room – at the Real Estate Staging Association Convention – didn’t even want to own their business in 10 years!

See live polling results below:

So, what does that mean? It means that home stagers need to create systems and exit strategies as part of their business plans. It means that team building is a crucial part of building a successful business.

Team building helps create the bridge between the present and the future of your business. You should build a team for:

  • Time Management & Profitability
  • Branding & Image
  • Security
  • Company Valuation

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be exploring each of the reasons above. If you are ready to build a team, but need guidance, Linda Barnett, of Home Matters, LLC in Indianapolis, IN has created a Team Building for Growth & Success online course.  This course is also available for RESA Pro credit.

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Writing a Home Staging Newsletter? What time should it go out?

Do you already write a home staging newsletter, or are you thinking about starting a newsletter campaign? Wouldn’t it be great to know when exactly is the best time to send it to maximize your marketing efforts? In this great infographic by Kissmetrics, we can get an idea of exactly when you may see the best results.

Data courtesy of Dan Zarrella (@danzarrella), Pure360 (@pure360) and HubSpot. Content available as a webinar by Dan Zarrella here.

So, what are some takeaways that may apply to your home staging business?

  • Don’t send more than one email a week.
  • Emails sent between 10pm and 6am are dead on arrival.
  • 6am – 10am is the second highest open rate timing.
  • 10am – noon, emails are not being opened, rather customers are trying to get work done.
  • 3pm – 5pm people spend time looking at emails relating to property and financial services. If you are targeting home owners, this may be a great time to get your emails out to them.
  • Bounce rates are highest during the weekends. Consider sending your emails out during the work week.

Has this helped you figure out when your home staging email marketing campaign may be the most effective?

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Blog Contest: Content Writing Challenge: $100 prize for best blog

I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but I’ve become addicted to infographics. One of my favorite ones is, 22 ways to create compelling content.  I think this was well done.  As someone who occasionally experiences writers block, I will be sure to keep this around. Reading through the ideas, I’m particular fond of #12-17. So, I’ve decided to have a little fun with them.

I’m issuing a blog challenge.”

Anyone can join in, regardless of industry. Here are the rules:

  1. You must write a blog based on the suggestions in #12-17, which is posted above.
  2. You must link your blog to this original post on SAR.
  3. You must comment on the original post, leaving the link to your blog post.
  4. You may write more than one blog, but only one in each of the categories (#12-17)
  5. The deadline for submission is midnight (EST) March 17th

My staff will read every blog submitted and award a $100 Amazon gift card to our favorite blog writer.

So, what do you have to write about?  Anything related to your business, or what you do.  Remember, this is content marketing.  Part of the judging will be based on how well you convey that message. You do need to incorporate ideas #12 – #17 (see featured graphic above.)

Want to see the full graphic? Go to

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Show off your Home Staging Statistics!

I just read David Peterson’s home staging blog, Using 2011 To Attract More Clients in 2012. In it, he showed stunning homes that SynergyStaging had staged in 2011. This is clearly a feast-for-the-eyes marketing video for 2012. This is a fantastic idea, especially because our jobs is so visual.  I wanted to suggest other possible way to show off your 2011 statistics to help your 2012 business.

Providing a list of home, complete with address and price point, allows potential clients to verify your numbers. Additionally, if you’ve got a really long list, as First Impressions Home Staging & Interior ReDesign does, then it looks pretty impressive.  It looks like we know what we are doing and we might just be experts in getting your home sold.

Jessica Pirone with Just Perfect! Home Staging & more offers another clever way.

This one is strikingly visual.  She provides this for nearly every property that they stage. Sometimes the numbers are more dramatic, sometimes less.  In either case, it’s pretty clear in branding, marketing and putting the value of home staging out there for the client to digest.

So, what are you doing to show off your home staging statistics?