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Cook Up Some Questions! 10 Things To Ask Your Agent During a Video Tour of the Kitchen

August 12, 2020

virtual tour of kitchen

Feverpitched/Getty Images

Video tours have become an indispensable tool for house hunters in the COVID-19 era, although they do have their drawbacks—you won’t notice a bad odor through a video screen, after all.

And if there’s one room for which you really need a sense of how you’ll be able to use it, it’s the kitchen. After all, it needs to work for your needs, whether you’re enjoying a peaceful cup of coffee in the morning, putting together school lunches, baking some of that quarantine sourdough, or (someday) entertaining friends and family.

That’s why you’ll need to pay attention to the details that matter in the kitchen when you do a virtual video tour with your agent—sometimes, the smallest ones can make a big difference. Here are the things agents say you should be sure to check out over video.

1. Can you show me the room from all angles?

Even with the room dimensions in your hand, it is difficult to get a true sense of space.

Veronica Sniscak, a Realtor® and owner of VSells & Associates, in Ellicott City, MD, shows the kitchen from several different angles during a virtual tour. They include the perspective from other rooms and doorways that lead to the kitchen.

“You’ll want to know if the door to the garage is in the kitchen or if there is a bathroom off the kitchen,” Sniscak says. “Without knowing those things, [there] could be an unpleasant surprise when you see the home in person.”

2. Can you zoom in on the appliances?

If the appliances are in bad shape, the replacement cost could eat into your budget.

“I suggest doing quick tests on all the appliances, and really look hard to see how much wear and tear the appliances have endured,” says John Gluch, founder of The Gluch Group in Scottsdale, AZ.

Open the doors and check inside for things like damaged racks, shelving, seals, and hardware.

One place buyers always overlook is the refrigerator’s surface, Gluch says. Look under all those magnets and paper stuck to it. Be sure to have your agent zoom in and check for scratches and other unsightly blemishes that will stand out once the magnets are removed.

3. How much space is really available when I cook?

It’s essential for you to get a feel for what it’s like to actually prepare a meal in the space.

“This may not seem important, but it will help you visualize how you will use the appliances in the kitchen and envision how much space you are working with,” says Sniscak.

She and her associates open cabinets, drawers, appliances, and the pantry closet, and  measure countertops for their clients.

4. Can you show me a close-up of the cabinets?

The gorgeous cabinets you drooled over in the online listing might not look as good in person. Imperfections that don’t pop up on video might be noticeably prominent in person. The cabinets may be in poor condition, or upon closer inspection, they’ve actually been painted—badly.

“Ask your agent to open up the cabinets and inspect their condition, along with how much storage they have,” says Gluch.

Take note of the hardware, hinges, and style. Do they extend to the ceiling? Is there an open space above them to display pretty plates? Is there a soffit that hides wiring or pipes?

5. Can you measure the dining space?

“Have your agent measure the table or dining space to know for certain if your current dining set is a good fit—or if the dining set you have our eye on will fit,” Sniscak recommends.

She also suggests measuring bar stools at the island. It’s good to know whether you can keep your existing stools or will have to purchase new ones.

6. What kind of sink is that?

“Showing the size and style of the kitchen sink is another ‘must view’ on a video tour,” Sniscak says. “It’s important to know depth and orientation, so you will know if your current process for dishes will remain the same. Having two sections is important to some, while one large opening is better for others.”

Request a closer look at the counter surface to check the condition around the sink. Ask your agent to measure the area on both sides of the sink to determine if there’s ample room to store dish drainers and small appliances.

7. Can you shine a light on the plumbing?

Any areas that might be susceptible to water damage—such as under the sink and near the dishwasher and refrigerator waterlines—warrant extra attention.

“It’s important to run the water while making these checks to spot any leaks,” Gluch says. “This is also a good time to assess how dated or current the plumbing is and if anything was installed oddly or in a problematic fashion.”

8. What condition are the ceiling and floor in?

Ask your agent to scan the ceiling. Faded paint probably isn’t a deal breaker, but chipped paint and water stains could be indicators of a roof or plumbing leak. While your agent is showing you the ceiling, ask to get a peek at the light fixtures.

Next, examine the floors.

“Look for how much wear and tear the high-traffic sections of the floor have endured,” Gluch advises.

Is there continuity in flooring from the kitchen to the neighboring rooms, or is there a stark difference in color, stain, or wear and tear?

9. Can you show us the view outside of each window?

A light and bright kitchen is near the top of many a wish list, yet kitchen windows can be easily overlooked in a video tour. Be sure to have your agent point the camera out each window, so you can see what’s outside—especially if there’s a coveted window over the kitchen sink.

“The kitchen window might be the one that folks look out the most,” says Sniscak. “It’s important to know what you will see when doing the dishes.” Will you be staring at your neighbor’s siding or a more pleasant view?

10. Can you show us around one more time?

A close inspection of every room is important, but the kitchen ranks fairly high.

“Buyers doing a virtual video tour with their Realtor should plan on taking more time during the walk-through. It’s going to require more coordination to show you everything you would naturally scan while being in person,” says Gluch.

The post Cook Up Some Questions! 10 Things To Ask Your Agent During a Video Tour of the Kitchen appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

Make Buyers Swoon With These 4 Summer Vignette Staging Ideas

July 3, 2019


Picture walking into your dream house and being greeted by inviting scenes of summer relaxation throughout. Maybe there’s a short stack of beach reads next to the pool, or a pitcher laid out with chilled glasses, all ready for you.

This is what vignette staging is all about: drawing in buyers with curated scenes that showcase your home’s top features. It’s even better if they evoke the mood of the season.

So if you’re looking to sell your house quickly this summer, keep reading to master these four fresh vignettes that are guaranteed to make buyers swoon.

1. A dreamy front porch

Photo by Houzz  
“Nothing says ‘welcome home’ like a well-designed front porch,” says Seattle-based interior designer Sherri Monte. “Whether it’s a hanging swing with accent pillows and throw blankets, or a pair of rocking chairs with a side table in between, a good first impression starts at the front door.”

Go the extra mile by adding several magazines or books with a decorative coffee mug or wineglass. Monte even suggests adding a small rug or accent greenery to complete the look.

“Vignettes work because they create a story in the buyer’s mind,” says Justin Riordan, interior designer and founder of Spade and Archer Design Agency.

Just by looking at your front porch vignette, potential buyers might imagine a summer afternoon relaxing in a rocking chair, or watching their children or grandchildren play in the yard.

“The story may or may not be true,” Riordan says, “but if we, as the seller, can make them feel desire for the type of lifestyle they crave, then we’ve done our job.”

2. An enticing entryway

Photo by JayJeffers
As the second space your buyer sees, the entryway is arguably just as important to focus on when selling your home. To ease buyers into the summer vibes, try pairing a large vase with freshly cut flowers on an entryway table.

“A tall vase, one that adds whimsical personality and maintains a transitional style with greenery, will create a light and airy vibe,” Monte explains.

Add a few soft-scented candles and a linen tea towel. Remember to limit the number of objects in your vignettes to avoid the scenes becoming overcrowded.

“Layer in tones and elements found outside during the summer, but don’t be afraid to leave a little breathing room,” Monte says. “Repeating colors and elements that we see outside is a great way to subconsciously create continuity.”

3. A fresh, breezy kitchen

Photo by Lowe’s Home Improvement 
Everyone loves a clean, fresh-feeling kitchen. So go ahead and throw open a few windows before the buyers arrive.

But don’t stop there. Summer is easily the best time of year to use colorful produce to your advantage—and not just while cooking. The next time you visit your local farmers market, make a plan to pick up a few extra-bright veggies or fruits for display in your favorite bowl.

Forgo the freshly cut flowers in favor of a small potted plant, something fragrant—like rosemary or basil. Place these items on a wooden cutting board or textured mat with folded cloth napkins to complete your countertop vignette.

Another great kitchen vignette is what Riordan likes to call “the drink setup,” which consists of an empty pitcher and six empty glasses on a tray with cloth napkins.

“This can be placed on a kitchen counter, and it speaks to having guests over on the front porch and preparing to have drinks brought out to them,” Riordan says.

A word of caution: “Do not—and I repeat, do not—fill the pitcher with liquid or fake liquid,” he says. “It takes the gentle whisper of the vignette and turns it into a desperate scream of fakery.” When it comes to vignettes, subtle is best.

4. The perfect backyard

Photo by Smith & Vansant Architects PC
If you have any outdoor space to speak of, you’d do well to consider throwing in an outdoor vignette or two.

“If your outdoor space has room for a dining table, why not set that table with a gingham tablecloth, picnic basket, and a set of outdoor dishes?” Riordan says.

For vignettes like these, stick to a single color scheme.

“If every outdoor vignette has multiple colors, it will appear chaotic in listing photos,” he says.

Another simple summertime vignette can be built around a hammock. String one up between two trees and add a pillow and a light blanket.

“Suddenly your buyer has a great place to read and relax,” Riordan says.

The final word

No matter which spaces you decide to stage, it’s good to have a central object and build your vignettes from there. A fire pit, for example, might call for some stacked wood, a lantern, and a cozy flannel blanket. The pool might do well with a lounge chair and a folded beach towel paired with a large brimmed hat.

Having a focal point keeps things from getting too chaotic.

“Vignettes are designed to be a bite-sized section of the overall home, so you want them to create cohesion and harmony,” Monte says.

Keep these guidelines in mind as you create the dreamy summer home your buyers can’t wait to get their hands on.

The post Make Buyers Swoon With These 4 Summer Vignette Staging Ideas appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

Lessons From Listing Photos: Cost-Effective Kitchen Revamp Pulls in $300K Profit

May 14, 2019

It doesn’t matter how perfect your home is—if your listing photos don’t stand out, potential buyers won’t come by to take a look. In our series “Lessons From Listing Photos,” we dissect the smart updates sellers have made to their homes, and how their listing pics highlight the home’s best assets.

They say the kitchen is the heart of a home—so it stands to reason that a kitchen renovation is an excellent way to pump new life into your entire house. And great new photos of your kitchen will attract buyers and increase the value of your property.

Need some proof? The renovated kitchen in this Massachusetts home helped the sellers snag a price nearly $300,000 more than what they paid for it just four years ago. Here’s what our experts say they did exactly right.

Before: Kitchen

kitchen before_angle 1
The old kitchen looked dark and dreary.

After: Kitchen

kitchen after_angle 1
The renovated kitchen is bright and welcoming.

While the before and after photos of this kitchen might look drastically different, the sellers actually made minimal changes to save time and money.

“Leaving the existing footprint of the kitchen and not moving the appliances or plumbing made the transformation cost savings huge,” says property stylist Karen Gray-Plaisted of Design Solutions KGP.

“Cabinetry is typically the most expensive line item in a kitchen renovation, but luckily this home already had classic white kitchen cabinetry and high-end appliances,” adds interior designer Anelle Gandelman of A-List Interiors in New York City.

Before: Cabinetry and appliances

kitchen before_angle 2
The original cabinets and appliances were already top-notch.

After: Cabinetry and appliances

kitchen after_angle 2
Keeping the island base but changing the countertop had a huge impact on the kitchen.

One small change that makes a huge impact on this kitchen is the island. These savvy homeowners made the cost-effective change of keeping the original base of the island and swapping out the countertop.

“The island was updated by switching the black countertop to a white marble,” says Gandelman. “That lightens up the space and complements the original backsplash.”

She also notes the sleek pendant lights over the island complement the other silver finishes in the kitchen (e.g., the faucet and appliances) and enhance the tall ceilings.

Before: Breakfast area

kitchen before_angle 3
The tiny breakfast table didn’t leave much room for guests.

After: Breakfast nook

kitchen after_angle 3
The new breakfast nook has room for everyone.

And just like that, the eating area in this kitchen nearly doubled in size with the addition of a breakfast nook. Removing walls isn’t for the faint of heart, but our experts say this major project was more than worth the work.

“Adding a breakfast nook was a great idea in this renovation. An eat-in kitchen is always good for resale, but in this case, the breakfast nook expands the kitchen space even further,” Gandelman says.

Gray-Plaisted agrees: “Removing the wall to open the kitchen created better flow and use of the area.” She also notes that the coffered element above the table mirrors the dining room ceiling and pulls the two areas together.

Before: Dining area with wall

kitchen before_angle 4
The original dining area was dark and cramped.

After: Sitting area without wall

kitchen after_angle 4
The new seating area makes everyone feel welcome.

Speaking of opening up the space, what was once a dining room separated from the kitchen by a wall is now a bright and comfy sitting area.

“This setup is the perfect spot for large family gatherings and entertaining,” says Gandelman. “The original kitchen felt cut off and small, but the space was transformed into a more functional and inviting great room.”

Gray-Plaisted also notes the appealing white, Shaker-style cabinets under the window seat.

“Using similar cabinetry as the kitchen tied the new living space into the kitchen, producing a great usable space,” she says.

But did the homeowners do away with a dining area altogether? Of course not! They just moved it closer to the kitchen in an area that has plenty of space for a full table and chairs.

As for the cost of the renovations, Gandelman says it’s nothing compared with the return.

“Depending on labor costs and location, this type of kitchen update would likely cost between $40,000 and $50,000,” she says. That’s small potatoes compared with the $300,000 profit.


Watch: The 4 Things You Must Do to Sell Your Home Fast


The post Lessons From Listing Photos: Cost-Effective Kitchen Revamp Pulls in $300K Profit appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.