Want to know the latest trend to get you a 12% ROI when selling your home!

The cat got let out of the bag on a recent Canadian television show where Fanny Kiefer interviewed a well known garden designer Carson Arthur.She asked him about his up-and-coming show Critical Listing and whoops, it hasn’t even started filming yet for HGTV. Carson specializes in eco-friendly landscape designs.

What was interesting from a home staging perspective is that Carson revealed some research done by TD Canada Trust & Century 21 and the results showed that LANDSCAPING your property will bring you a 12% ROI (return on investment) when selling. The study indicated this ROI was ahead of what bathrooms & kitchens renos can bring you. So that means paying attention to what your ideal buyer would like to see in terms of your outdoor space.

Decks and patios need to be ‘glammed up’ so they offer an oasis from the busyness of life. Create a sanctuary in your back yard or even if you only have a small balcony. Play it up – decorate with more than just a plant – think relaxing – add attractive, modern looking table & chairs, an umbrella if enough space, sculpture, tray with a pitcher of lemonade and glasses, calm Buddha statue and don’t forget to add lots of colourful healthy plants!

There are many new eco-friendly products for the surface of your patio or backyard. You can do an internet keyword search for: eco-friendly outdoor flooring. This site of Squidoo has lots to offer so you might want to check it out for ideas.

Where do you want to spend your money for your best ROI when selling?

At a recent Home & Garden Show in Western Canada the focus was on the 3 Rs – Renovate – Rejuvenate – Revitalize to get your property ready for selling, or to live better in your existing home before you sell.

And the 3 Best Renovation ROIs for selling:

1) If you install a fireplace you will get 94% of the money you spent back!

2) If you renovate your bathroom you will get 69% of the money you spent back!

3) If you renovate your kitchen you will get 79% of the money you spent back!

While most home staging studies (such as National Home Improvements Survey conducted Home Gain) will concur with this, if you are making a big investment it’s a good idea to make other big investments in your home as well. For example if you are renovating your bathroom, you most likely will have to do your kitchen, and if you do your kitchen take a look at your flooring and while you are at it do the walls need a new updated colour? Keep the level of renovations or home improvements equal so that the entire house looks like it works together…otherwise some good home improvements might be better than renovations!

Simple Bathroom TIPS for Selling

At all of my public talks on Preparing Your House for Selling home sellers want to know ‘Which are the most important rooms for selling?. My answer is always – the bathroom and the kitchen. Other rooms are important but since women make 85% of the buying decisions you need to pay attention to what we look at first! Many a restaurant has lost our business because of the condition of the bathroom – right ladies!

As a professional home stager I have worked with hundreds of clients getting their home ready for selling. Home Stagers are part of a growing service sector in the real estate industry. We know our business and we know how to give a home that ‘Open House Ready’ look.

One of the most important criteria that home stagers work with is determining who your target market is. We provide many services that allow us to assist the home seller to save them TIME, MONEY & ENERGY. Make no mistake – selling is a very, very big job.

My advice to you is not to spend too much money on major renovations in your bathroom or kitchen. These are very personal rooms and they are the ones that are most often updated once the new owner has moved in. Do what you need to do to make the rooms look good. There will be other places for you to spend your money.

I am going to share some simple tips that you can take to get your bathrooms looking great for selling no matter who your target market is. You can make these changes to your bathroom on a very small budget.

Simple Bathroom TIPS For Selling:

*Remove all the clutter and all of your personal items. Buyers don’t want to see your hair brush, tooth brush or your cat’s litter. (Honestly this is what I walked into one day…) Now is the time to sort through what you really need to keep, give away, sell or throw out. Recycle where you can. Counter tops should be clear with the exception of a few accessories.

*Clean until every single thing sparkles in this bathroom. If you have a shower curtain buyers will pull it back to see the condition of the tub so clean all the grout until it is white.

*One of the biggest changes and best investments is painting your walls. Choose a paint colour that will go with the colour scheme of your home which will be in a neutral colour. Think ‘spa’ and calm – a warm beige is always a safe colour. From the Feng Shui perspective blues should not be used in the bathroom as they represent water, an element there is already enough of!

*If your lighting fixtures are old then replace them. You can buy very current brushed nickel light fixtures for very reasonable prices at Home Depot, Ikea, Lowes, Canadian Tire or Costco. The old brass plates just don’t have the look home buyers want.

*Flooring does not have to be an expensive item for your bathroom update. There are many excellent products on the market. Peel and stick tiles work beautifully in small bathrooms and powder rooms. Linoleum works well in bathrooms. Choose a neutral tile not too dark and not too bright. Avoid using carpet in a bathroom.

*If you have an old sink and counter tops you can purchase some inexpensive replacements at ReStore Habitat for Humanity, Costco, Home Depot, Canadian Tire or Lowes. There are many excellent low cost laminates that you can use for new counter tops. Double sinks are the rage right now but not worth the investment for selling.

*Toilets that are dated in colour such as green, pink, burgundy or blue are to be replaced with new white toilets and toilet seats. Try and keep all of the furnishings in the bathroom white or off white.

*Tubs and shower stalls can be more of a challenge if they are old and full of mildew. At the least clean as much as possible. Sometimes you can create a cleaner look simply by cleaning with a strong environmentally friendly cleanser and a toothbrush; then add a new grout. If you need to buy a new tub or stall while they may seem inexpensive it is the labour that will cost the most. Buy a new shower curtain in a fabric cloth rather than plastic as this will add warmth to the room. White is always the best colour but other colours will work if they match your towels. Think ‘spa’ and hotel ensuites. You may need to call in the experts if your bathroom really needs fixing up!

*Cupboards and shelving should be white or off white. If you have wood such as oak now might be the time to consider painting it. You can buy a primer and then a latex paint to update the look. Keep the contrast of colour to a minimum in the bathrooms.

*If your mirror is cracked or slightly damaged then replace it. The current trend is to individual mirrors if you have double sinks, or one large mirror with a brushed nickel-like border around it. Find a mirror that suits the style of your home. Check out this Canadian eco-friendly product from Frame Your Mirror. It is amazing and very cost-effective glue-on-frame that totally transforms a ‘blah’ or slightly-damaged-around-the-edges mirror. !

*Depending on the size of your bathroom hang some art that is restful to the eye and in soft colours. Abstract art is not a good choice in the bathroom but ocean scenes & florals are good. Home Sense is a favourite store for accessorizing for staging.

Select contemporary accessories for the finishing touches in the bathroom:

*Towels – choose towels that are big and fluffy – white, beige or matching paint colour towels are a good choice. Make sure everyone in the family knows that these clean, new, fluffy towels are for show only at this time. Put them away when you are not having a showing.

*An orchid or small plant or vase can be a nice addition to any ensuite, bathroom or powder room.

*If you have space wrap some hand towels up in a basket and put them in a corner or center if you have double sinks.

*Avoid using bathmats when showing a bathroom. You can cozy up the room with your paint colours, towels and shower curtain. Keep the floor clear and clean.

*Avoid potpourri that smells too much or any heavy deodorizers. Try putting some fresh lemons in the bathroom in a glass bowel.

‘TOP TIPS’ Kitchen Improvements for Budget Conscious Sellers

Getting ready to prepare your house for selling and you are not sure where to best spend your TIME, MONEY & ENERGY? I have coached 1000s of home sellers on the best investments to make when selling their home. Kitchens and bathrooms are undoubtedly two of the most important rooms in the home. From some recent surveys it was reported that 52% of prospective buyers said that the state of the kitchen had the most significant impact on their buying decision AND 79% of buyers will pay more for an updated kitchen.

Major Renovations

So it makes sense to update the kitchen, right? As a home staging coach, my answer is ‘yes’. However there area a few things you need to consider:

*Renovating a kitchen is one of the biggest and most expensive ($30 – $60,000) undertakings you can do. Your family will be without the use of the kitchen for possibly months. Can you afford not only the cost of the renovations but the cost of eating out more, the cost of the emotional upheaval in the family home, the dust and chemical smells, etc, etc.?
*When you have completed the kitchen renovation will it match the quality of the other rooms in your home? If not, this may hinder the full value potential of this investment.
*Most kitchen renovations require professional advice and qualified contractors to do the job so that it adds value to your home, done poorly will be a deterrent. Remember you will need a building permit if you are doing major renovations.

Or, Minor Improvements

My advice to you is not to spend too much money on major renovations but make some minor improvements that will update the look of your home. These ‘TOP TIPS’ will help you get your kitchens looking great for selling no matter who your target market is.
You can make these changes yourself or hire a professional.

‘TOP TIPS’ Kitchen Improvements for Budget Conscious Sellers:

*Best Paint Colours in the kitchen are medium tones in yellows, greens and beiges; nothing too dark and nothing too light. Add some accessory colours such as reds, oranges and yellows in bowls of fruit, containers or floral arrangements.

*If your Lighting Fixtures are old then replace them. You can buy very current brushed nickel light fixtures for very reasonable prices at Home Depot, Ikea, Canadian Tire or Rona. The old brass plates just don’t have the look home buyers want. If you have a sunshine ceiling paint out the wood colour the same as the ceiling – it diminishes it from being a focal point. You can also replace the glass with an updated look.

*Flooring does not have to be an expensive item for your kitchen update. Linoleum is inexpensive and works well in kitchens. Tiles are another good product; bamboo and cork flooring is currently popular in kitchens. Avoid using carpet in a kitchen.

*Counter tops don’t need to cost a fortune to replace. You can purchase inexpensive laminates that will give you a great updated look. Countertops can also be resurfaced for far less than the cost of any new counter tops! And while granite is trendy it is costly and there are manmade materials like Corian? that are still less expensive and still luxurious.

*Cupboards can be painted; you need to prime them, sand and paint. You can even find melamine paints if you still have this surface cupboard! With the addition of new brushed nickel door handles you will have a great updated look. There are companies who will put in new cupboards while resurfacing the sides at 50% less than replacing cupboards and drawers. As your coach, I’d suggest you hire a professional if you want a professional look!

*Sinks can also be inexpensive to replace. Stainless steel are the most popular right now. If you only have a chip check out the home hardware stores that carry small bottles of chip filler (looks like white out). Faucet taps can be another good investment -just make sure you get a new one that works with your existing hardware.

*Appliances need to be updated. Check for sales or almost-new appliance stores. Costco has some great buys as do many of the local big box home hardware stores. Stainless steel, black or white are the most popular for selling. If you have some chips in your appliances go to your home hardware store and buy a small bottle of chip filler for stoves and fridges.

*Kitchen Islands are popular as they can add some extra work space if you have the room to put one in. Ready-made islands can be purchased from many stores such as Ikea, Home Depot, Rona, etc. Caution: if there is not enough room, trendy or not, better not to buy one if it makes your kitchen look small!

*Kitchen Eating Area needs to be tidy, clean and inviting. The goal is to make each room in your home look spacious. Whether you have kitchen stools or table and chairs ensure this area is not cluttered with too many chairs. In staging “Less is More”.

*Keep the cooking smells to a minimum in the kitchen during a showing. No smells are better than bad smells! The smell of baking bread or cookies can be pleasing if not overdone. Fresh air and lots of light make for a great feeling in the kitchen.

For you Open House Ready Look – remove all the clutter and all of your personal items. Buyers don’t want to see all the things that you need out on the counter for your everyday use. Now is the time to sort through what you really need to keep, give away, sell or throw out. Recycle where you can. Counter tops should be clear with the exception of a few accessories. Clean until every single thing sparkles in the kitchen. Sinks need to be spotless, no dishcloth hanging on the tap or on the sink counter; floors need to be ‘clean enough to eat off’¡­Remove area rugs in the kitchen.

What works in your home when you are living there, is not necessarily going to give the impression you want for a prospective buyer!

Before: Too much shelving can mean not enough storage space!

After: New storage cupboard and removal of extras make this kitchen work!

Find out what the latest Benjamin Moore colour trends are.

As a home staging trainer it’s important to stay current with decorating & design trends, especially colour. Personally I am a big fan of Benjamin Moore products and was delighted to see that Meme Brooks who works at the Yaletown BM store was doing a Colour Trends presentation at the March Fluff Rental breakfast meeting.

Meme Brooks at Fluff Breakfast Meeting

Meme introduced the latest ‘Colour Stories’ collection. The colours that I have seen in home decor stores are definitely lending themselves to the greys, neutrals and earthy tones. While I was at Home Sense I noticed how well their furniture, rugs, art & lamps would go with these BM colours: use darker for drama or a feature wall – like Gotham CSP 385 or Coachman’s Cape CSP 90 – then for a more neutral pallete try Upper West Side CSP 70, Evening Gown CSP 375 and lighter yet Sea Salt CSP 95 or Skipping Stone CSP 155. Many of the Designer Classic collections and the Affinity collection have very similar colours so be sure to check them out.

Gorgeous neutral rug - right on trend!

Gorgeous neutral art - right on trend!

Trendy natural woods & greys

After Meme’s presentation I went out to one of my favourite BM stores in Kerrisdale and learned more from Scott Howard the store manager. The BM people do love their products and are so knowledgeable! Fluff Rentals being leading edge in their decor rentals had the perfect compliments to the new trendy colour palette!

Trending in greys....

Neutral accessories work with the new BM Colour Stories collection

If you want to know how to conduct a Client Colour Consultation with confidence be sure to attend my May 20th workshop! Gain confidence & learn a proven step-by-step colour scheme process. Limited seating so sign up now.