Are You Attracting Flippers?

Flippers are real estate investors that search the market for low priced properties that need small inexpensive repairs. They make the repairs at a low cost, put the property back on the market and sell it, often for a good profit.

If your house needs repairs, it may be putting buyers off and attracting flippers. Buyers approach a property and see needed small repairs and they automatically start thinking, “Hmmm, I wonder what else is wrong with this house” and that is not the seed that you want to plant in a buyers mind. Small repairs says “differed maintenance” to a buyer.

Are you attracting flippers by not making the necessary repairs BEFORE listing your property? If your house needs work, selling to flippers can be a viable option to get your house sold, but you are not going to get the price you want. They want to purchase at a price below market value.

Studies show that we have more 1st time home buyers under the age of thirty than ever before and they are willing to pay MORE for a MOVE-IN READY house. If there is a similar house to yours down the street that doesn’t have a “honey do” list that comes with the selling price, that is most likely the house that the buyer will choose.

Go ahead and make these repairs before you put your house on the market. If you can find a buyer that is willing to buy, the offer that they are going to make will be much less than what it would have cost you to make the changes in the first place.

There is always a “New Listing” buzz whenever a new property goes on the market and that usually is the best time for your house to be shown and go under contract. Why risk losing a buyer by having them see your property before it’s ready to be sold? Go ahead and make the house appeal, not to flippers that will make low ball offers, but make it appeal to the first time home buyer.

Take it from Whoa to Wow! Make it 1st time friendly.

For more information about making your house 1st time friendly, contact Nan Johnston at Southern Staging & Redesign.

Income Property Transformation

A few months back, we had a rental house that became vacant after having had a tenant for 6 years.  We had been into the property several times through out the years and always thought that it was in pretty good shape and that the tenant took good care of the house.  Boy were we wrong!
When we finally received the key from the tenant after they moved, this is what we saw when we first entered the house.  I wanted to CRY!  We’ve owned this property for approximately 25 years and never had it been in this condition.  It’s always been dark and dated, but this was  dark, dated and FILTHY!
Call it what it is….an ugly duckling!
After many weeks of hardwork, elbow grease and countless cans of paint, we now have a beautiful swan!
(Thank You Danny!)

Lowes and Sherwin Williams loved to see us coming!  Take another look at this kitchen before…
…and now after.
We are so pleased with the results of the project and now with the staging furniture and accessoires in place, we are searching for the perfect tenant. 
Who do you know that may be interested in renting this charming cottage?
Stay tuned for more before and after photos of this cute 3 bedroom house.
For more information about turning your ugly duckling into a beautiful swan, contact
Nan Johnston
770-251-0608 home/office

Selling In Established Neighborhoods

There are many good points to having a house to sell in an established neighborhood.  The landscaping is mature, providing great shade and curb appeal.  The lots are usually large with great backyards for kids to play.  Usually they have original features, like hardwood floors, real masonry fireplaces, and spacious & sturdy patios for outdoor entertaining.  The bathrooms have the original tile and the kitchen has been updated (about 20 years ago).   “Why wouldn’t a buyer want to buy in this neighborhood? It’s the most sought after area in town?”

Well, let’s take all of the above points and go over them: are they positive or negative?
1.    * Mature Landscaping – Could be a positive or could be a negative….yes, the trees are large and the shrubs are already established, but that could mean that they are at the end of their life.  According to the National Association of Home Builders, Most landscaping elements have a life expectancy of 15 to 25 years.  That large oak tree that has been there for the last 60 or so years could be a hazard in the next storm.  The original foundation plantings most likely are covering the front of the house.  Might be a negative. $$
2.    *Large lots with big back yards – I have to admit, I can’t see anything but a positive on this unless the shade from the large oak tree has prevented any grass to grow and you have a backyard of  “Georgia red clay” for the kids and pets to track inside.  Ok…I guess that’s a negative!
3.     * Original Hardwood Floors – Most of the established homes in our area that have the original wood flooring, have been covered with carpet.  Reason? Because the owner that has been living there for the past 50 or so years, grew up with “cold hardwood floors”  and wanted the warmth that carpet would provide.  Could be a positive or a negative. Let’s see…today’s buyer wants the hardwood floors exposed and usually that means the carpet has to come up, and underneath, it’s beautiful wood flooring or are dark stains where little Fido has had a few  “accidents”.  The floors usually creak and most likely will need refinishing.  Positive or Negative! $$$$
4.    *Original tile in bathrooms – I’ll bet my lunch money that the tile is either, pink, green, blue or yellow and it’s trimmed out in black tile edges! It’s usually on the floor, in the shower and halfway up the walls.  It screams “retro”!  This may be a great look when decorating to live, but the target market that will be looking at this property, probably won’t appreciate the retro pink & black tile and may see the need to reduce the price in order to cover the cost of renovating the baths!  Negative $$$$$
5.    *Updated kitchen – As a seller, understand that although the kitchen was updated 15 or more years ago, it’s already outdated again. Buyers want granite counter tops, stainless appliances, and new cabinetry.  They may even want to see a larger open concept kitchen than the original footprint of this house provides, which means extending the kitchen and opening it up into the living areas.  Most of these established houses have small formal living rooms, dining rooms and dens that are separated from the kitchen. Kitchen renovations are usually one of the most expensive renovations a home owner can make. So, I have to give this a negative. $$$$$$$
Studies show that buyers are willing to pay more money for a move-in ready property. If they are willing to purchase a property in “as is ” condition, they will subtract an inflated amount off the price of an offer in order to cover the expenses they will incur while making the house “livable” for them.  I’m not saying that as a seller you need to make these renovations for a buyer, however there are less expensive alternatives that can make the house “livable” in order to attract a buyer and get the best price possible for your property.

Talk to your Realtor and find out more about what a buyer expects to see.  Let the experts at Southern Staging & Redesign help guide you  on how to update your property without breaking into the bank.

Selling Your Home – It’s A Process

Once a decision is made to sell your home, there’s a process involved. You make the decision, you start a list of task to complete, actual work begins to take place, emotions may arise and the roller coaster ride begins.

Decisions are made about where to move, what agent to use, how to price the property, etc. The decision to move may be due to a much anticipated opportunity such as job transfer, expecting a baby and needing more room or a promotion at work allowing you to purchase a dream home. Or it could be for a more unhappy event such as job loss, divorce, or death in the family. Empty nesters could qualify for happy or unhappy emotions. Either way, emotions are going to run amuck!

If you are a “list maker” you’ll want to organize your thoughts, put your tasks to complete on paper and develop a time line about what’s involved with the move. Whether you use pen and paper or digital sources such as computer or smart phone, this is a large part of the process. The is when “disassociation” from your home where you’ve built memories begins to happen. If you see it in black & white, you may start to believe that this is really going to happen. It’s part of the process!

Get ready, this next stage is where the tasks start. This is the stage where everyone in the household needs to roll up their sleeves and get to work. Pre-packing, un-cluttering spaces, making repairs and cleaning like you’ve never cleaned before, must take place. Once all of this is complete, you then have the arduous task of maintaining this state until the house sells. Ugh! It’s not easy, but if you want to sell the house, it’s a necessary part of the…..process!

Emotions – this is the part of the process that will show up through-out all of the above stages. Emotions run high while deciding on a price to list, jump back on edge when you get a call to “show” the house. “Everyone pick – up! Their showing the house today! ” Then you worry all day about what the buyer thought about your house. You call your Realtor only to find out that they haven’t heard from the showing agent for feed- back. One of two things can happen at this point, either you will become excited due to an offer or disappointed from a low offer.

If you manage to work out a signed sales contract, you start the real packing and make moving arrangements, all the while keeping your fingers crossed about the appraisal, the buyers home inspection or that the buyers loan will go through without any complications. At the closing, a feeling of relief may be experienced or disappointment due the final sales price and proceeds to the seller.

Final part – taking that last look around the property once the last box is loaded into the moving truck to be sure you’ve left nothing behind and seeing the “ghosts” of past events that took place during your time spent in this home. I’ve done this a time or two in my life and I promise it can be a bitter/sweet moment. But…look ahead and anticipate your future

Life is an adventure! Enjoy the process!

Whew- I’m exhausted!

Pottery Barn Inspiration

They say that Imitation is the best form of flattery and I hope that is true.  I “Luv, Luv, Luv” the Pottery Barn Catalog.  I tend to save them and refer to them for design and creative inspiration. 

This Christmas season,  I wanted to use a more “natural” decor theme in our holiday decorations.  We live on wooded acreage and I have an abundance of natural resources in the way of pines, cedars and magnolias to “shop” and create one of a kind wreaths and floral arrangements. 

{via Pottery Barn site}

 Pottery Barn had this photo of a front entrance with Christmas decor and I found myself drawn to it. I “Luv” the natural elements but the pewter pitchers on that red front door really speak to me. 

Years ago, my mother gave me some tarnished pewter wine goblets (we “luv” tarnished things) and I’ve never been able to find a use for them, so they’ve been packed away for about 10 years.  Light Bulb moment! 

Saturday, I shopped for greenery in the woods, and Sunday I made 2 front door hangings as our Christmas “Wreaths”. 

On the front of their Holiday Catalog, they have a stack of Holiday pillows tied with some red jute webbing, normally used for upholstering chairs. I ordered some last week and used it to make bows and as garland for our Christmas tree.

Close up

Front Door Pic

 Now, I know that I need to replace the striped door mat or add another to create balance, but I’m EXTRA pleased with the results.  The only thing I purchased was the jute webbing…I already had the rest.  You know….Use What You Have Decorating….I practice what I preach. 

I’d love to see what you’re working on for Christmas!  Want to share?

Target Market….What Does That Mean In Real Estate?

As business owners, we are constantly hearing about target markets and how to direct our advertising towards attracting buyers for our goods or services. Information from survey results are compiled, reviewed and those results are then passed on to us. It’s about appealing to the buyer of our products.

Knowing who our “target market” is while trying to sell a house is just as important to the home seller as it is to all these businesses that have products or services to sell.
As a home seller, this means that you are going to have to think about who your buyer will be when marketing your house. What age group are they? Are they empty nesters, new parents or families with teenagers? What will they expect to see when they come to view the property and will it be something that they desire?

Let’s say your house is 15 years old. The kitchen appliances, cabinets, countertops and lighting is dated compared to what a buyer will see in an newer house. Your bathroom is 15 years old. The flooring, vanity and fixtures are dated compared to the competition.

Could your furniture be showing some wear and tear and look dated? Probably, but your thinking “A buyer is going to be purchasing our house, not our furniture. Why should that matter?”

It matters because, the “Target Market” for your property is probably around 30 to 40 years old, has a family that needs room to roam and if they see a house and the furniture looks like their parents or grandparents furniture, they can’t get excited about making this their new home. They need to see that their young, hip style of life will work in a 15 year old house. I call this the “Pottery Barn” generation. This is a style of decorating that a 30ish age buyer likes and can relate too and they can’t relate to a house that looks like their parents house.
Studies show, 90% of buyers cannot visualize the potential of a space with the current home owners taste and belongings. It shouldn’t matter, but it does. However, if they visit a house that is 15 years old that has been updated through the years and has current style furnishings and accessories, they will get excited about it and most likely, this will be the house that they choose to purchase. This house was marketed with the “target market” (buyer) in mind.

House Hunting and Children’s Story…What do they have in common?

Remember the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears? One chair was too small, the next chair was too big and the last chair was JUST RIGHT! Buying a home is a lot like that.

For example, Mr. & Mrs. Buyer are relocating to another town with a job transfer. They have sold their previous property, have money for a down payment, closing cost, moving expenses and have the required amount of reserve money that the mortgage company has required for unexpected emergencies.

There are 3 houses on their list of houses to consider in the area where they want to live

House A: Fixer-Upper.  Needs repairs, updating and an over-all “facelift”, however, meets their needs as far as size, location and school district. It’s going to require time, expense and expertise that Mr. & Mrs. Buyer doesn’t have.

House B: Beautifully Decorated !  and located just down the street from House A, has been professionally decorated for the current home owner. The rooms have been painted and wallpapered in the home sellers favorite colors, the children’s rooms have beautiful murals painted on the walls with princesses and favorite super heroes . The flooring, all though beautiful, is light in color and the buyers have 3 teenagers and 2 dogs. To make the house work for Mr. & Mrs. Buyers family, everything will need to be changed to go with their current furnishings and families needs. The house will need to be repainted, new flooring installed and the children’s bedrooms will have to be changed to suit their teen age children. Again, another property that will require time and expense that The Buyers do not have.

House C: Properly Staged with a Buyer In Mind!  It’s in the same neighborhood as Houses A & B , it has been professionally prepared and showcased to appeal to a broader amount of buyers. The walls are freshly painted with neutral colors that will go with Mr. & Mrs. Buyers current furnishings, the flooring is family and pet friendly, everything from the countertops, to lighting and bathroom fixtures has been updated to current styles. The family can move right in and begin their life in a new town without having to do one thing to this house.

The message of this story is to understand that whether your house needs updating and repairing, or has been beautifully decorated and it should be in an issue of House Beautiful, they both require the same amount of work for a buyer to make it their own . Someone is going to have to spend time and money to make them ready for a buyer to move right in. If you CAN find a buyer that is willing to make the needed changes, the offer will be much lower than it would have cost you to make the changes yourself.

So, go ahead and save yourself the frustration of low ball offers or too much time on the market and make your property “JUST RIGHT” for a buyer.

Replacing And Updating

How many times have agents heard this before?….

“I know my carpet, countertops and fixtures are dated and need replacing, but I’ll just give the buyer credit for that. Anyway, how do I know that I will be making the right replacement choices for the next owner?”

Back in the good ole days, when real estate was selling like hot cakes, all that was required to attract a buyer was to have a clean and neat house. To say that real estate has changed over the last 4 years is an understatement. Now, we’re all talking about “staging” and updating our houses in order to get them sold. As a seller, it’s difficult to wrap your head around the fact that you may have to spend some money in order to sell your property. You’re seeing dollars signs being subtracted from your bottom line.

If you are thinking this…. what do you think a buyer is thinking? If they see that light fixtures, carpet, etc need to be replaced, all they see are dollar signs rolling around in their head.

By the time a buyer has paid the down payment, closing cost and moving expenses, there usually isn’t any money left to spend on updating a property. “However, the house down the street has a similar plan and it’s already been updated……let buy that one! We can move right in”!

The days of “I’ll just give them credit for the updates” are over. If you CAN find a buyer that is willing to make the changes, they are usually looking for a “good deal” and will make a low ball offer to compensate for the expenses of updating. The offer will be much lower than it would have cost you to make the changes yourself. You lose!

As for making the correct replacement choices… to your agent or have a staging consultation to get the advice needed to make the right choice. A home staging consultation is usually around $150 – $275.

Why risk having your house sit on the market while other updated houses around you are selling?

For more information on updating your property, contact

Nan Johnston

Southern Staging & Redesign


Vacant Staging – How it works

I get a great many inquiries about staging vacant houses and how it works. These inquiries can be either from real estate agents or home owners that have vacant property and are considering having the property staged so that it will show better.

Most people think that you just put a few pieces of furniture in a house and some hand towels in the bathrooms and that’s all it’s about. Well, it ‘s a good bit more than that.

It’s usually a 4 step process starting with an initial consultation with a home staging professional reviewing the home, taking photos, drawing diagrams and taking measurements on every detail needed to complete the job. This is when budget and goals are discussed with the home owner.

Once the home owner decides to proceed, the professional consultant meets with a furniture rental company with which they have a good and reliable working relationship and design a plan. Then the pieces that best suits the home and the sellers budget are chosen. Most furniture rental companies require a 2-3 month minimum rental contract and the monthly rental fee is paid directly to the rental company

This is where most people think that the job ends ……not so. The day that the furniture is to arrive at the property, the consultant and their assistants meet the rental movers and direct where all of the pieces are to be placed. The consultant then starts adding tons of additional accessories in the form of bed linens, wall art, plants, trees, table decor, pillows, throws, light furniture, knick knacks and materials. These touches create the emotions, the feelings of the house and what turns the house into a home. This is where the professional home staging consultant shines, creating the emotional connection points that draws a buyer into a room so that they will linger a little bit longer and begin to start imagining this as their home. A monthly rental fee of the accessories is paid to the staging company.

A few days before the house is to close in escrow, the home stager meets the furniture rental company again and spends the day de-staging the home.
What all this boils down to in dollars in cents is a staging service fee, a monthly furniture and accessory rental fee. The cost is usually anywhere from 1/2 to 2% of the asking price and based on the size of the house and number of rooms that are to be staged.
This is usually the place where the owner suffers from sticker shock, but be reminded, *statistics show that homes that were on the market without staging, on average took 9 months to sell (across the country). Those same owners had their homes professionally staged and they sold, on average within 2 months. WOW! That’s 9 months vs 2 months!

This is an investment in selling your house, not an expense. Making extra mortgage payments while the house sits on the market….that’s and expense.

You may want to go over the formula below, to  figure out if you can “afford” to stage or not;
Mortgage + expenses (utilities etc.) = Monthly expenses
Monthly expenses X 9 months (avg. time un-staged) = Cost to list house un-staged
Savings: Expenses X 7 months (average time on market reduced) – staging fee = Savings if you stage your house first!

Note: If you have a price reduction you can also add that into the loss you are taking by listing a property un-staged.

Let us help you sell your vacant property faster and for more money with professional home staging. 770-251-0608 home/office

*study conducted by Real Estate Staging Association (RESA)

No Lookers? Could it be technology?

You’ve had your house on the market for months and have had a few showings and now…..nothing. What has happened?

Let’s face it, technology has taken over the world. Facebook and Twitter are how the current generations are receiving their information. Most young buyers are being notified by phones, tablets and email, whenever there is a new listing available that meets their criteria. The first thing that they are going to do is look at the online photos.

To learn what others are seeing, go online and take a look at how the property is being viewed. Is there a virtual tour that takes too long to upload? It could be that there are photos, but is it possible that they need improvement, or there aren’t enough photos for them to get excited about? If buyers don’t see amazing images, they won’t even put it on their list of properties to view. With over 90% of home buyers researching online before ever making an appointment to go view properties, having GREAT photos is crucial to driving buyer traffic to a listing.

If you are disappointed in the lack of showings for your listed property, talk with your agent. It could be that you need to update photos. You may want to consider consulting a home stager, before, to take every advantage of having your property in photo ready condition.

Don’t let technology send your potential buyers down the street to the competition.

For more information of having a photo ready property, consult

Nan Johnston

Southern Staging & Redesign