March 23, 2010

Is Home Staging an Investment . . . or Just an Expense?

This is a question on many home sellers minds! Here in Calgary, I think the home selling market is just awakening to the concept of Home Staging.

Perhaps HGTV has does its part in spreading the word about Home Staging, but I think many home owners are still skeptical when it comes to laying down some of their hard earned cash. Especially when it’s a home they want to sell — not invest in further.

I don’t blame these home owners and sellers – I don’t like parting with money that needn’t be spent, either!

The reality, though, is that home buying has changed. Buyer’s expectations have been elevated by all those TV shows, and home decor magazines and show homes . . . and even your home selling competition.

Everybody has to work a little harder to sell a house than before, and when the house down the street does a mini facelift, you need to compete with that, too. A buyer is looking at both properties — not just yours.

The general rule of thumb is that a seller should invest up to 1% of their home’s value getting it ready for sale. This includes any deferred home maintenance, some painting, pre-packing and decluttering . . . and then styling or staging to create an inviting presentation.

So, for an average home of $400,000, that’s $4,000 to get it ready to sell.  That sounds like a lot!

But consider the alternative . . . you choose not to spend anything in preparing your home.

Scenario A

A buyer comes along, they are somewhat interested. The house meets most of their needs, but they hum and haw a little. They just don’t love it. They finally decide to put in an offer, but they start at $353,000. They’re not in love, so they don’t want to pay top dollar.

Offers and counter-offers go back and forth. It’s at $369,000 and they say that’s it. They aren’t going to pay another dime. Since they don’t love it, they are willing to risk losing the deal.

Scenario B

Your home goes on the market. You have a fair number of showings, but after the first couple of weeks, the numbers start to dwindle. Weeks turn into months, and now you’re just sick and tired of the whole process. Your Agent recommends reducing the price to attract more attention.

The typical first price reduction is close to 10%. So now you’re asking price is $364,000. Traffic to your property does increase, but after being on the market for a few months, buyers still think there’s a deal to be had. An offer comes in for $349,000.

That $4,000 doesn’t sound like so much anymore!

The Calgary Real Estate Board says that, “Studies show the longer a property stays on the market, the less the seller will net.”

Your best bet to hooking a buyer, especially in a slightly tougher market, is to engage them with the property. Make them fall in love! This is what Home Staging and Property Styling can do for you.

And for a typical $400,000 vacant home, the cost is a lot closer to 0.5%. For an occupied home that just needs that Wow Factor, it’s likely even less.

The 2009 Home Gain survey shows that Home Staging has a 586% return on investment when selling your home!

What I’ve learned myself as a home seller, is that the difference between that $400,000 home selling for $375,000 and $390,000 is how much the buyer wants it . . . and how urgently they feel they need to act.

The astute home seller takes advantage of this buying psychology. Making a short-term investment before going on the market is the surest way to be off of it more quickly.

March 21, 2010

Wide spread Condo Fire in SW Calgary leaves 400 Residents Homeless — Let’s Help!

I was devastated to learn of the huge fire in a Millrise condominium complex in SW Calgary on Thursday afternoon (March 18th). This is just a few neighborhoods away from where I live. The building has been deemed uninhabitable, and approximately 400 residents are now homeless (some reports say 300).

If there is any silver lining in such devastation, it is that most residents were not home at the time and there was no loss of life (including pets!). Small mercies . . .

But I still cannot imagine returning home at the end of my day to see my home billowing in clouds of black smoke. Home  . . . your safe haven from the world . . . now gone.

Homelessness is close to our hearts at GreenApple. I have fortunately never experienced it myself, but realize I have often taken having a home for granted.

I spend my days in other people’s homes. I talk about what says “home” to a buyer — who are people like you and me. And I help home owners transform their house into their vision of home. I live and breathe all the things that home means to people. I cannot imagine what it is like to not have a home.

GreenApple has committed a cash donation, as well as some household goods to the residents who have been affected by this terrible fire. Please join us in doing what we can — bit by bit together — to help these people in our Calgary community in a very tangible way.

Refer to this City of Calgary website for information on which organizations are handling the coordination of the Millrise donation efforts.

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Did you know that when you use GreenApple’s Home Staging or Photography services, you are helping to support the homeless right here in Calgary? We give a portion of every project to local organizations that serve these deserving people in a dignified way.

Filed under: In the News — Tags: , — admin @ 7:47 pm

The Difference great Real Estate Photography makes in a Home Sale!

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of photographing a beautiful home in SW Calgary. The Realtor had asked me to provide a pre-market staging consultation, so I got a preview of the listing.

I gave a few styling tips and furniture arrangment ideas as the home owner and I travelled from room to room, but what was mostly on my mind was that I couldn’t wait to come back with my photography equipment! Everything about the home – from the decor and artwork to the cleanliness, organization and maintenance – just had “Your search is over” written all over it!

As I had expected, the home has already sold . . . but I was doubly pleased to learn that GreenApple’s real estate photography and slideshow played an integral part in the sale — as was reported to me by the Realtors, it helped clinch the deal!

Like most people, I take great pride and pleasure in a job well done. And knowing that what I do has made a real difference helping these home owners to move on to their next chapter more quickly . . . it’s the icing on the cake!

To see the difference our photography makes, view our portfolio!

March 15, 2010

Are we setting the Stage for disaster by the way we live in our Homes?

Hubby and I went for a walk last evening around 7:30 pm – as we try to do most days — in our SW Calgary neighbourhood. As we ventured down a walk way that leads to the pathway system, I heard a noise I haven’t heard in many, many months.

I stopped dead in my tracks, as I could hardly believe me ears! I looked at the house on my right to verify with my eyes what my ears have heard. What could this sound be?

Would you believe it was an air conditioning unit . . . running full tilt?

No, sorry, I stand corrected . . . it was two air conditioning units, running full tilt!

This is March, people. March! And what was yesterday’s high? According to Environment Canada, Calgary experienced a daytime high of 8.5 °C at 4:00 pm.

Granted this home has many large windows facing West . . . and it is larger than the average Calgary home, so they must be entitled, right? They can afford it. And when you can afford it, you have license to do whatever you want . . . right??

I’m not the greenest person I know. I wasn’t even an early adopter to having a recycling program in my household (much to my current regret). I have never hugged a tree, and don’t even own a pair of Birkenstocks.

But you don’t have to be a member of the Al Gore fan club to see that our planet is hurting. That brown layer of “air” over

Smog hovers over Calgary

Smog hovers over Calgary

 downtown isn’t something as scientific or innocuous as “an inversion”. It is smog. Smog generated from our vehicles, furnaces, and overall heavy use of electricity in our daily lives (can you say, “coal fired generation plant”?)

Well, here I sit on my computer sucking up some of that very electricity that has some poor soul shovelling a little more coal into the fire (figuratively speaking), so I am hardly one to say.

But certainly that doesn’t mean we should use it willy-nilly . . . does it? I mean, couldn’t you just open the windows for an hour?? It must have been all of 5° at that time of day.

I live in a home that has its summertime challenges to keep cool during those rare few weeks of 30° weather in Calgary. And much to my children’s chagrin on those nights when they have trouble falling asleep, I refuse to get an air conditioner. Just because I have not yet figured out how to live my same life “off the grid”, doesn’t mean a girl has no morals.

Instead, I run around my house early in the morning, opening all the doors and windows to let in all that free, cool air. When the outside temperature is just a few degrees below the inside temperature, I run around again closing all those windows and blinds. To make my life even more complicated, I do the whole routine over again in the evening. Phew!

Yes, it’s cumbersome. And it does take time. I know few modern lives can afford the . . . oh, 5 minute investment each run-around cycle takes.

(Okay, my sarcasm has probably leaked out a little . . . why don’t I just say what I really think?!)

While we may not be able to solve all the world’s problems . . . ever . . . we certainly can do something. Maybe it’s a matter of re-defining “affordabilty”. What can we afford to not keep doing to give our children . . . heck, ourselves . . . a taste of the world we knew as children?

What if it really were as simple as all of us learning to open a window, put on a sweater, turn off that light, decrease the wattage, put up with a smaller TV screen, walk to the mailbox, bus stop or store . . . and use that household item a little longer instead of pitching it to buy a new one . . . just because we can afford it?

Please join me in making those small sacrifices that really do add up! And who knows . . . maybe we’ll be on track to simultaneously solving another increasing North American problem that annoyingly sits just above our belts!

Filed under: Living green — Tags: , , — admin @ 11:06 am
March 14, 2010

Looking for More Information on Home Staging and Home Selling in Calgary?

Did you know that I write for the Calgary Home Staging Blog, as well as maintaining a blog here on GreenApple Staging & Images?  Because homes and real estate have always been a passion of mine, I keep informed on many related topics . . . and then share what I learn with all of you!

If it has been awhile since you’ve been active in Calgary’s real estate market, things have definitely changed . . . and I’m not just talking about price fluctuations.

Technology has dramatically affected the buying end of the home selling equation — the internet has given buyers more control in searching for properties independently, which in turn means they are far more educated about what is on the market. They don’t need to rely on an agent to shortlist homes for them, and they can easily view hundreds of properties in one sitting at their own computer.

Wondering how your home stacks up against all the others out there? Interested in learning how to get the most out of your single largest asset?

Read about these questions and more on the Calgary Home Staging Blog. Find out how great photography and professional home staging can help you sell your home more quickly . . . and for more money.

March 9, 2010

Home Staging Helps SW Calgary Home Sell in 2 Days!

GreenApple Staging & Images recently had the privilege of staging this 92 year old home near downtown Calgary. The task had its challenges . . . odd paint colours, an unusual kitchen, and a rear addition. My plan of attack? Neutralize the living room with black and white, and go with the rest of it!

Both us and the Realtors were pleased with the results, but the real test would be how a potential home buyer votes via an offer!

We were all thrilled that they loved it and the house sold in the first two days on the market.

If you are thinking of selling your home, give us a call. Our professional real estate photography and home staging services have a proven track record in helping Calgary homes sell.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 6:47 pm

What’s in GreenApple’s Camera Bag?

I often get asked what kind of equipment I use for Real Estate Photography, and what to recommend to others. Here’s what I have in my portable studio kit:

  • Pelican Case 1520
  • Canon 50D with the Canon 10-22mm lens
  • Canon 30-85mm lens
  • Canon 580exII external flash for onboard use
  • Several diffuser heads
  • Nikon 80DX speedlight (flash) for remote lighting
  • Nikon 28DX speedlight
  • Nikon 24 DX speedlight x2
  • 2 radio transmitters & optical trigger
  • 6 radio receivers
  • Lens cleaning supplies
  • Spare battery & charger
  • Spare rechargeable batteries
  • Spare compact flash & SD cards
  • 3 lightweight tripods
  • 1 camera tripod
  • 1 Nikon light stand and umbrella
  • Canon G11 for exteriors
  • Customized Telescopic pole

Believe it or not, I haul this to every home that I photograph, and often make use of all of it! That’s over $7000 worth of equipment—but of course, we think the expertise to use it is invaluable ;-) .

When I’m done with all that, it’s time to upload about 1.5 GB worth of photos onto my computer. Here is what is in my post-processing kit:

  • Photoshop Lightroom
  • Photoshop
  • PT Lens
  • Photomatix
  • Slideshow Pro
  • Several third party add-ins for Lightroom
  • Yousendit Pro Account
  • 2x 1TB external hard drives

As you’ve probably guessed, I love to talk photography, cameras, equipment and process with anyone who is interested. If you have any questions, feel free to ask away.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — admin @ 2:59 pm