Ask the Expert: How Can Staging Pave the Way for a Better Sell?

Today’s Ask the Expert column features Patty McNease, director of Marketing for Homes.com.

Q: How can staging pave the way for a better sell?

A: Staging allows your clients to show off the unique features of their home that buyers can come to love. During the holiday season, staging can make a home stand out even more. The following staging tips will help buyers fall in love with their future home just in time for the holidays.

Is staging really necessary?
Many homeowners are concerned about the overall cost to sell their homes. One place they may look to cut expenses is staging. While some think it’s unnecessary, proper staging is crucial to selling a home since it allows buyers to imagine what living there could look like. In fact, according to a recent National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) survey, 77 percent of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as their future home, which decreased the amount of time it was on the market.

Which rooms are the most important to stage?
According to the same NAR survey, the living room, master bedroom and kitchen are most critical. This is likely because these are the spaces where future owners will be spending most of their time. When planning these rooms, space and functionality are important. Rooms that are cluttered or difficult to navigate will not appeal to potential buyers.

How should I stage a home around the holidays?
Keep in mind that buying a home is an emotional experience for both the buyer and the seller. Often, the buyer’s emotional connection to the home is what really solidifies the sale. The holidays are a sentimental time for many, as they bring back warm memories and allow younger buyers to imagine future celebrations. Enhance these emotional connections to draw buyers to make an emotional investment in the home.

That being said, it’s important not to go overboard. Since different types of potential buyers will be coming to visit, avoid including overly religious décor. Instead, opt for simple and classic. Also, consider burning a pine- or cranberry-scented candle for those buyers who come over for a tour.

My client is hesitant. How can I convince them to stage their home?
If your client is against staging, remind them that 86 percent of buyers believe viewing a property online is the most useful part of their home search. With so many different options, it’s important to capture their attention in this initial stage of viewing so that they want to see the home in person. If you’re still struggling, show your client a before and after photo from another property you’ve staged, and ask them which home they would rather see.

For more information, please visit www.homes.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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The following information is provided by the Center for REALTOR® Development (CRD).

A few weeks ago, we provided you some general launch information about the new podcast that Center for REALTOR® Development launched in May. Now, we want to share with you some more specifics about its three initial episodes so you can get a taste of the kinds of topics the podcast will cover and the types of interviewees our host, Monica Neubauer, will be interviewing.

We’re hoping you’ll give at least one of these episodes a listen now, and possibly subscribe so that you get notified when all the future episodes release, too. For all the details about the podcast and how to subscribe, check out its website at CRDpodcast.com.

The first episode, Pricing Strategies in the Market, focuses on pricing strategies, and its guests provide some different perspectives on pricing strategies in today’s real estate market for buyers and sellers. Melanie McLane (second-generation REALTOR® and renowned instructor and consultant) and Rob Mehta (principal of Rob Mehta+Partners and 19-year industry veteran) both share their expertise about basic and advanced areas to consider when pricing homes. In addition, they talk about how to best work with appraisers and AVMs, and how to use RPR tools.

In episode two, Military Real Estate Tips, the first guest, Bryan Bergjans, joins us to talk about VA loans. He began his career in mortgage banking in 2002, and currently serves as the national director of Military and VA Lending with Caliber Home Loans. In addition to his work with Caliber, he serves in the Navy, and is also an instructor with NAR for the Military Relocation Professional certification. In the second part of the show, Juanita Charles joins the show to talk about how she serves active duty and military veterans. She served in the military, and now currently works as a REALTOR® in Clarksville, Tenn.

In the third episode, Real Estate Investing, Ron Phipps, former NAR president and owner of Phipps Realty, joins Monica to talk about how to get involved in real estate investing, and to discuss the benefits and the best ways to get started. Real estate investing is a great way to build wealth and to prepare for long-term cash flow for the future. This is a great opportunity for real estate agents, investors, and the general public. In addition to the benefits, Monica and Ron talk about some of the downsides to real estate investing, and the risk involved with different kinds of units.

In addition to this new podcast, feel free to also check out our featured product this month at the Center for REALTOR® Development, the NEW e-PRO® Day 1 and 2 online bundle, which is the educational requirement for NAR’s e-PRO® certification and is on sale this entire month of June at 25% off. This certification aims to help real estate professionals broaden their technology skills to connect effectively with today’s digitally-savvy consumer.

For more information, please visit onlinelearning.realtor.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Who knew that creamy, verdant avocados could make or break one’s future in real estate?

According to Australian developer Tim Gurner, (who is 35 and worth half a billion dollars, nbd) millennials are poor and unable to buy homes because of their infatuation with the single-seeded berry (yes, it’s technically a fruit—The More You Know!)

On a recent episode of Australia’s “60 Minutes,” he said: “When I was buying my first home, I wasn’t buying smashed avocado for 19 bucks and four coffees at $4 each.”

I would propose that maybe only millionaires would pay $19 for guac, but I digress.

Also noteworthy, Gurner was handed $34,000 from his grandfather at the age of 19, which led to his early success in real estate, and he wants to chastise me for my love of guacamole!? Get outta here. What does he think? That if I was given free money, I would’ve bought 22,667 avocados instead of investing it? (Actually, that sounds like a pretty OK investment, if you ask me.)

Snarks aside, Australian real estate company Ray White is latching on to the avocado craze and offering buyers a delicious deal: free avocado toast for 12 months is up for grabs for anyone willing to shell out for a new two- or three-bedroom townhouse in Queensland.

Now, millennials can save their pennies for a townhouse and guacamole in one fell swoop! If you’re an avocado aficionado, you’d better get that passport renewed ASAP: the deal expires June 30.

What a time to be alive.

Nick Caruso is RISMedia’s senior editor. Email him your real estate news ideas at nick@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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More homebuyers and sellers are in the market for greener, sustainable homes—and REALTORS® are answering the call.

Over half of REALTORS® recently surveyed in the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) REALTORS® and Sustainability report say consumers have an interest in sustainability as it pertains to real estate—homes that have features intended to conserve natural resources, such as solar panels or walkability. Twenty-seven percent of those surveyed have been involved with at least one “green,” or sustainable, property in the past year.

One of the more valued features, according to the survey, is efficient lighting, cited by 50 percent of the REALTORS® surveyed as important to consumers. A “smart” home is also in demand, according to 40 percent of those surveyed, and, to a lesser extent, geothermal technology and “green community features” (e.g., bike paths). Sixty percent of those surveyed say consumers are looking for outdoor recreation and/or parks in proximity to home, while 37 percent say consumers are looking for “local food.”

Eighty percent of the REALTORS® surveyed, in addition, say solar panels exist in their market, but just 42 percent say their presence gives a boost to perceived home value. Twenty-four percent say tiny houses exist in their market.

The real estate industry has recognized the mounting significance of sustainability—in fact, 70 percent of those surveyed “feel strongly” about the benefits of marketing sustainable home features to consumers, and 43 percent say their MLS has green data fields to input information related to those features.

REALTORS® and Sustainability is part of NAR’s Sustainability Program, a “platform for dialogue on sustainability for REALTORS®, brokers, allied trade associations and consumers,” with a “focus on coordination and articulation of NAR’s existing sustainability resources, while also supporting a growing area of interesting for consumers, helping members to assist homebuyers and sellers,” according to a release on the report.

“As consumers’ interest in sustainability grows, REALTORS® understand the necessity of promoting sustainability in their real estate practice, such as marketing energy efficiency in property listings to homebuyers,” says NAR President Bill Brown. “The goal of the NAR Sustainability Program is to provide leadership and strategies on topics of sustainability to benefit members, consumers and communities.”

For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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With the many different projects reported annually in Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report, not much has changed from last year…and that’s not a bad thing. The 29 projects found on this year’s report paid back an average of 64.3 cents on the dollar in resale value. Looking at the 24 most tracked projects (projects consistently tracked for the last six years), their payback for 2017 was also 64.3 cents—only three-quarters of a penny higher than 2016 projections.

Why the little change? Simply put: the differences in underlying numbers were minimal year-to-year. The average cost for those 24 projects rose a meager 3 percent, while the value that real estate professionals put on said projects only rose 4.2 percent. Minor gains, yes, but we’ll take what we can get.

Recent and long-time trends continued, reports Remodeling. Curb appeal projects like changes to doors, windows and siding garnered a higher ROI than work done inside the home. Replacement projects, like doors or windows, scored higher among real estate pros than did remodels.

On a national scale, the top five projects with the greatest ROI in the report’s “midrange” cost category are:

  1. Attic Insulation (Fiberglass)(107.7% ROI)
    Average Cost: $1,343
    Average Resale Value: $1,446
  1. Entry Door Replacement (Steel)(90.7% ROI)
    Average Cost: $1,413
    Average Resale Value: $1,282
  1. Manufactured Stone Veneer(89.4% ROI)
    Average Cost: $7,851
    Average Resale Value: $7,019
  1. Minor Kitchen Remodel(80.2% ROI)
    Average Cost: $20,830
    Average Resale Value: $16,699
  1. Garage Door Replacement(76.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $1,749
    Average Resale Value: $1,345

The top five projects with the greatest ROI in the report’s “upscale” cost category are:

  1. Garage Door Replacement(85.0% ROI)
    Average Cost: $3,304
    Average Resale Value: $2,810
  1. Entry Door Replacement (Fiberglass)(77.8% ROI)
    Average Cost: $3,276
    Average Resale Value: $2,550
  1. Window Replacement (Vinyl)(73.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $15,282
    Average Resale Value: $11,286
  1. Window Replacement (Wood)(73.0% ROI)
    Average Cost: $18,759
    Average Resale Value: $13,691
  1. Grand Entrance (Fiberglass)(70.1% ROI)
    Average Cost: $8,358
    Average Resale Value: $5,855

Regionally, the Pacific division (California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii) saw an average payback of 78.2 percent for all projects, with 10 projects posting cost-recouped levels of at least 90 percent. The East North Central states of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin, however, saw an average of just 54.9 percent, with no single project offering a payback of as much as 80 cents on the dollar.

At the other end of the spectrum are projects with the lowest returns on investment—improvements generally not in demand by the market. Again on a national scale, the five projects with the lowest ROI in the “midrange” cost category are:

  1. Bathroom Remodel(64.8% ROI)
    Average Cost: $18,546
    Average Resale Value: $12,024
  1. Master Suite Addition(64.8% ROI)
    Average Cost: $119,533
    Average Resale Value: $77,506
  1. Backyard Patio(54.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $51,985
    Average Resale Value: $28,546
  1. Backup Power Generator(54.0% ROI)
    Average Cost: $12,860
    Average Resale Value: $6,940
  1. Bathroom Addition(53.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $43,232
    Average Resale Value: $23,283

The five projects with the lowest ROI in the “upscale” cost category are:

  1. Major Kitchen Remodel(61.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $122,991
    Average Resale Value: $76,149
  1. Master Suite Addition(59.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $250,687
    Average Resale Value: $150,140
  1. Bathroom Remodel(59.1% ROI)
    Average Cost: $59,979
    Average Resale Value: $35,456
  1. Bathroom Addition(57.1% ROI)
    Average Cost: $81,515
    Average Resale Value: $46,507
  1. Deck Addition (Composite)(56.4% ROI)
    Average Cost: $39,339
    Average Resale Value: $22,171

The 2017 Cost vs. Value Report compares, across 99 markets, the average cost of 29 popular remodeling projects with their average value at resale one year later. Average resale value is calculated based on estimates provided by real estate professionals. View the full report, including project descriptions and city-level data, here.

Nick Caruso is RISMedia’s senior editor. Email him your real estate news ideas at nick@rismedia.com.

This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Visit the blog daily for housing and real estate tips and trends. Like Housecall on Facebook and follow @HousecallBlog on Twitter.

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Are you working with clients purchasing a short sale or foreclosure? David R. Leopold, Owner of Pillar to Post Home Inspection in Fairfield County, Conn., gives us insight into handling these situations.

Q: What advice should I give clients when purchasing a short sale or foreclosure?

A: Start by telling your clients two things: 1) a professional home inspection is recommended, and 2) don’t rush the process. If the transaction timing doesn’t allow it, move on to the next house.

Buyers get so overwhelmed by the emotional aspect of the purchase that they sometimes check their good sense at the front door, which is why a professional home inspector should be consulted.

Many bank-owned properties force homeowners to view the property without utilities in service, which is a waste of time and money. It’s also incredibly risky for the potential buyer. There are many reasons why showing a dormant house is a bad idea. If the pipes are frozen behind the walls, the buyer will never know it. If the angry former owner drilled pinholes in the supply pipes or put concrete in the drains, the buyer will never know it. With no water, home inspectors can’t tell if the boiler or water heater leak.

With no power, home inspectors can’t see or test anything. It seems obvious, but it’s a point often lost on over-eager buyers who want to rush forward with the inspection before they lose a great deal on a distressed property.

Additionally, a professional home inspector will find costly defects some would consider relatively routine. Take, for example, evidence of a buried underground oil storage tank.

Most potential homeowners also don’t have access to a moisture meter or an infrared camera. Home inspectors know how to find the saturated sheetrock walls in a basement that a desperate short-seller painted over. Beyond simple property damage and unexpected expense to waterproof a leaky basement, there may be threats to the buyer’s health, such as mold.

Home inspectors have the equipment to detect the problem and test the indoor air quality to make sure clients are safe. For example, clients may notice stains on the carpet and walls, but they haven’t been trained to recognize the remains of a drug factory.

Consider the sequence of events that takes place before a property goes into foreclosure or short sale. A buyer pays too much for a house. Like most people, they then want to make some improvements. Many are young and have relatively little home improvement experience or skills. Some are not particularly savvy when it comes to looking at a home as an investment. After over-paying for the property, they compound their mistake by over-paying for improvements. As the reality of their financial situation begins to sink in, they start taking shortcuts. Don’t subject clients to these types of properties. Be sure to recommend a home inspector so they feel safe and confident while making that emotional decision. Make sure the client knows what they are buying.

For more information, visit www.pillartopost.com.

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