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!

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

Make Laundry Rooms Look Like A Fun Place To Be!

I tell my clients to make their laundry rooms look like they are a fun place to be.  These are some great inspiration photos for everyone….selling house or not.

Make Rooms Pop With Spring Colors

Check out HGTV’s Idea site for great photos on the Hot Spring Colors.

Not the best colors on walls for selling. Bold colors reflect the home seller’s taste and buyers know that “someone” is going to have to paint. 

Better use of latest color trends when selling. Add the color in your accessories and they can move with you when you sell!

Another ‘Use What You Have’ Idea!

A few years ago I need some shelving in one of the small bedrooms for kids toys, etc.  The room is too small for a bed, dresser, chair and a free standing set of shelves, so hanging shelves was the way to go. 

E (husband) had some old wooden water skies ( he  used as a youngster) that were laying around, obviously not being used, since he had promoted to a fiber glass one.  I decided to use these for my shelves and with the help of my nephews, Ham & Eggs (twins) we shopped for brackets and came home and installed them. 

I think that turned out GREAT and everyone comments about my clever idea. 

These storage jars are left over plastic mixed nut containers from BJ’s.  Aren’t they just perfect for holding little cars, crayons and wooden puzzle pieces? 

Now that “Ham & Eggs” are “too cool for Aunt Nan”, this room has become my grandson’s room. 
Look at that cute little wooden “blue” fire truck that he built with his Cousin Josh.  And my favorite items of all are ….

his cute ‘lil’ cowboy boots.  LOVE IT! (singing) 

This project reminds me of the skateboards that you see in the Pottery Barn Kids catalog.  Only I would use metal L brackets to hang those up. 

What kind of projects have you got spinning around in your head?

Put on your “Buying Eyes”

It sounds like a song, doesn’t it? However, every home seller needs to….put on their buying eyes. How do you do this?

Begin at the curb. If you were a buyer, what would you see? A nicely manicured lawn that looks as if it has been carefully tended or unruly flower beds, un-finished projects or children’s toys scattered all over the lawn?

Now, walk through your front door. Most home owners seldom do this. Are there cobwebs all around the light fixtures and front door? Check the door bell ringer. It’s often broken and most owners don’t know it, because they never use the front door.

Once in the entrance area, what do you see as a “buyer”? Is every room that you can see from the front entrance, a different color? What grabs your attention? What gives a feeling of home?

Stand in the doorway of each room and ask yourself, how do you think a buyer will feel about this room? Will they be distracted by your collections, personal photos and decor? Is the room dark or light and bright? Will a buyer see dated furniture, fixtures and accessories? Neat and organized sellers are viewed as taking care of a home. The opposite is also true. Old and dated furnishings in a new home still make the home appear dated.

As a seller, it’s easy to ask, why can’t a buyer see beyond my furniture and possessions? The truth is that only 10% of buyers can see past current home owners decor and visualize what the space could be like for them. That means that 90% CAN NOT see beyond the owners decor and condition of the house. They CAN NOT imagine living in the space, because they are distracted by the sellers personal taste and belongings.

It is difficult for a seller to be objective about their own property. A good home stager can help a seller disassociate them from their home and see it from the eyes of a potential buyer. So, put on your “buying eyes” and let’s get that house SOLD!

for more information about staging a home to sell, contact…

Nan Johnston

Southern Staging & Redesign

Holiday Decorating When Selling Home

The holidays are fast approaching. Often home sellers are unsure of how to decorate the house for the holidays while having their house on the market. Below are few tips on how to have the spirit of the season without undoing all the stagingthat has gone into preparing the house to sell.

“Less is more” is the motto that one needs to follow while preparing a house to sell and the same applies to holiday decor. It may feel like you’re being a scrooge by not displaying every item that you have or that the kids have made over the past 18 years, but are you willing to risk losing a potential buyer because they couldn’t see past the holiday decorations?

First impressions begin at the curb. Don’t cover the architectural details. Wrapping the house in lights and using plastic and inflated yard ornaments can distract from the architectural details that a buyer needs to see. A simple wreath on the door, in keeping with the personality of the house (not the owners) is all that is needed.

Tone down the size of the tree. In place of a large tree that can take up valuable real estate in a room, try a 4 foot table top version. You may decide that you like it better. Instead of using colored bulbs, opt for clear or white bulbs for your tree.

Keep gifts under the tree to a minimum and use coordinating wrapping paper to give a cohesive look. Or hide the gifts under the beds or in a closet.

The fireplace is a huge selling feature and does not need to be hidden with holiday decor. A simple wreath and poinsettias flanking the fireplace are all that is needed. If the kids want Santa to find their stockings, place one at the foot of each of their beds or wait until Christmas eve to place them on the mantle.

Greeting cards can easily become clutter. Instead of displaying the greeting cards on the mantle or sideboard , etc. place them in a bowl or basket in your family room to enjoy while relaxing in the evening.

• If you absolutely have to display all your decorative items, remove an equal amount of “off season” accessories to keep the clutter to a minimum.

• If it’s your turn to host the holiday party this year, see if it is possible to host holiday celebrations at a restaurant, banquet hall, or trade years with another family member this year to minimize the amount of punch bowls, serving platters, and other kitchen items that cannot be stored away. If your family gives you any trouble about this, then tell them you will need to move in with them while your house is on the market and I’ll guarantee that they will be open to any alternative idea that you come up with.

For more information about Staging and Marketing a home…

770-251-0608 home/office