May 20, 2010

Home Staging — More than just a Quick Sale

Of course we know moving is stressful, but it is also bittersweet — even at the best of times.

I recently staged a home for a family that had outgrown their two bedroom character home.  Although they had a beautiful newly renovated home to move into, saying goodbye to their previous property — and all the memories they had made there — was still tough.

When the homeowner returned to the property after our staging, she was pleasantly surprised for more than one reason.  Not only did she love the way we arranged the furniture and added accessories, she was amazed at how much easier it was to move on.  Here is what she said to us:

The photos and slideshow look really great. I love that the second bedroom could be a kid’s room/could be a guest room/could be a den or office. The master bedroom looks HUGE, the main floor is warm and inviting. Your simple, comfortable furniture placement in all the rooms really allows a person to imagine their own interpretation of each space. I guess that’s the whole point of hiring a professional. 🙂 

 I never thought I’d be able to say I am excited to sell our little house but your transformation actually has me looking forward to moving on rather than just feeling sad to go. Turning it into a ‘house for sale’ instead of ‘MY house’ has really helped me say goodbye.  Who would have thought that staging the place could help with the emotional part of moving and selling!

At GreenApple, we thrive on being able to make a difference in people’s lives during these emotional transitions.  And we’re even happier with when we receive the good news that an offer has been accepted within the first few days on the market, as was the case for these homeowners.

If you’re approaching in upcoming move with mixed emotions, give us a call!  Let us share some of the burden and help write your own home selling success story.

April 15, 2010

What’s new at GreenApple?

As they say, time flies when you’re having fun! I can’t believe how long it’s been since my last post. Something I will try not to let happen again!

However, it’s not because we’ve been slacking off . . . quite the opposite. Our Calgary Home Staging and Photography business is really growing here at GreenApple with an expanding client list, expanding services, and expanding office help (and thank goodness for that!).Calgary Home Staging and Interior Photography, spa bathroom

So what have we been up to? One thing I really like about running my own business is that it is never a dull moment, or overly repetitive. We’ve helped many home owners and Real Estate Agents with Staging, Pre-Market Consultations, Pre-Photo Stylings — and, of course, Interior Photography!

One interesting project in the last few weeks was the styling and photography I did for Vicon Homes, a local craftsman Home Builder. Check out their latest home building project and our photos here!

Another fun job was providing a Pre-Market Consultation to some Calgary home owners at the request of their Agent. I gave them the advice they were looking for to effectively prepare their home for sale. The best part of it was going back a few weeks later and discovering they actually implemented nearly everything I suggested — and it looked great!

They even purchased some items for styling (which they happily get to take to their new home). I then used those items, and other things I found around their home, to add the “finishing touches” before our photo shoot. Take a look at our awesome home transformation and mini-staging results.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back soon again.

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 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
February 17, 2010

Tips for Choosing a Calgary Realtor for Listing your Home

Spring has sprung in Calgary, and I don’t just mean the milder weather we’ve been enjoying. The Calgary real estate market seems to be off to a healthy start for 2010.

At GreenApple Staging & Images, we’ve been busy giving pre-market consultations to home sellers looking to maximize their home’s potential. We’ve also been doing tons of MLS photography shoots as our regular clients seem to be listing up a storm. And, we’ve also done a lot of home staging and furnishing of properties for sale that would otherwise have sat vacant.

The reward of all our effort? Homes are selling! We’re so excited to be part of our busy Calgary Realtor teams that are making a difference to many home owners in selling their properties.

Are you thinking of listing your home sale, but don’t know who to call? How do you go about choosing a Real Estate Agent to list your home with? With some 5000 Realtors in Calgary, this is not an easy task! Here are a few of our best tips:

  1. Insight – Pricing a home is part art and part science. All Agents have access to current statistics, but applying it appropriately to any given property is a little trickier. You want an Agent who will help price your home accurately. Go too high, and buyers lose interest. Price too low . . . well, no one wants to leave money on the table, but you could end up with multiple offers to help correct that.
  2. Investment – The real estate game has changed dramatically in Calgary. Houses no longer sell themselves, just because you put the sign on the lawn. With over 90% of home buyers now starting their home search online, you need an Agent that understands the importance of great photography and properly preparing a home for sale. It has to be visually appealing for today’s home buyers! Ask about an Agent’s value-added services. Better yet . . . check out the properties they currently have listed to see for yourself. Can you see the rooms in the photos? Do you like what you see?
  3. Impact – When an offer comes in, you need a skilled negotiator! What might look like a straight forward sale can get complicated very quickly. It’s not just about the dollar value — terms, conditions, home inspections, closing issues — as a Home Seller you need someone on your side to navigate these treacherous waters and help save you costly mistakes!

Of course, we whole-heartedly recommend the Agents that we work with! Looking for someone who is a good fit for you? Just ask us and we’ll pass on a qualified referral.

February 1, 2010

What is Your Clutter Costing You??

In Pre-Market Consultations, I often recommend to Home Owners that they start the process of moving and packing before they list their home. And nearly as often, I get a surprised and somewhat reluctant reaction! It gets even worse when I suggest that they look into some additional off-site storage to clear out excess boxes and furnishings from their home.

While I totally understand how unappealing all that work is, the reality of selling your house means that you will have to deal with your stuff . . .  and moving it . . . sooner or later.

But would you be more willing to start moving out of your home a little early if someone was going to pay you to do it?

Did you know that is exactly what a buyer will do? They will pay you to pack up your stuff.

In HomeGain’s latest survey (2009), they published the top 12 low-cost Do-It-Yourself home improvements that pay off when selling your home. And guess what the number one Return on Investment is?

Cleaning and De-cluttering!

They estimated the effort at a cost of $200, with a $1500-$2000 price increase!

In fact, most of this job is absolutely free, aside from the effort — which you have to do eventually, anyway.

Even if you need additional storage space, you can rent a 10’x10′ mini-storage unit for about $238/month . . . or look into renting a private garage with more space for even less money. Clearly, the couple of extra grand you’ll get, makes it worthwhile. 

And the more clutter you have, the more it will cost you to not deal with it. One of the top selling features of a home in today’s real estate market is organized storage. Our lives are so hectic and crazy busy, that we really need our homes to “work” for us. Buyers value a home that holds some promise of a more organized life. Even if your home does have a lot of storage, if it is over-stuffed and the picture of chaos, it leaves a buyer with the impression that whatever it is, it’s not enough.

Order is serenity.

Keep saying that to yourself as you sort through closets, fold and stack your linens like a store display, and turn the labels in your pantry to the front.

Order is serenity . . . order is serenity . . . order is serenity.

And better yet . . . let a wide grin spread across your face as you further remind yourself . . . serenity means money in your pocket! Ahhhh, there’s a thought you can fall asleep to.

Filed under: Home Selling — Tags: , , — admin @ 7:39 pm
January 25, 2010

GreenApple Staging & Images makes a Great Debut at the Calgary Real Estate Tradeshow

Wednesday, January 20th was the 6th annual Calgary Real Estate Board Conference and Tradeshow. GreenApple Staging & Images was proud to be one of 102 exhibitors contributing to the theme, “A Brave New World”.

The GreenApple team had a great time mingling with both the attendees and other exhibitors. We had tons of traffic at our booth and got a chance to meet many hardworking and forward thinking Realtors.

There is definitely an increased interest in Home Staging, professional Real estate Photography, and pre-market Consultations as part of an individual Realtor’s marketing plan — all part of the new economy. I believe these strategies are not just trends. They are definitely here to stay as our consumer oriented society continues to respond to visual appeal.

We staged our booth with our brand colors — black, white and apple green, of course — and we were happily surprised that GreenApple was declared one of the top 3 Staging Exhibitors! We were all tied with an Honorable Mention for booth design and service.

We also held a draw and gave away a Pre-Market Consultation package and an MLS Photography Package. When I called the winners, they were thrilled and are eager to apply these services to their next listing. 

It’ll be all work and no play for awhile, as the “Spring” real estate season seems well underway in Calgary already. But that is exactly what we bargained for!

Thanks to everyone who visited us at the event, and all others who supported us behind the scenes!

January 3, 2010

GreenApple is going to CREB Forecast 2010. Are you?

January 20, 2010 marks the 6th annual Conference and Tradeshow for the Calgary Real Estate Board. This year’s focus is on the “brand new economy, brand new consumer, brand new technology” for today’s real estate market.

GreenApple is proud and excited to part of the changing face of real estate! Our business focus of home staging and professional photography is all about helping home owners more effectively market their property to today’s consumer. And not only do we follow Calgary’s real estate market and trends, we are also part of national and international networks that allow us to see how larger influences will affect us locally.

If you are a Real Estate Professional, drop by and visit us at the show! Enter our draws for complimentary services, including free pre-market consultations and full real estate/MLS photography packages. Multiple winners will be announced following the show, just in time for the busy Spring market.

We look forward to seeing you at the Telus Convention Centre on January 20th!

Filed under: Home Selling,What's New — Tags: , , , — admin @ 1:34 pm
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