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Lessons From Listings Photos: See the Power of Staging in This Pennsylvania Carriage House

September 16, 2020

lessons from listing photos

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 pictures highlight the home’s best assets.

These days, staging a home—redecorating it with furnishings and decor selected to appeal to buyers—is an important step that nearly every homeowner should think about when it’s time to sell their house.

When potential buyers view a home—whether online or in person—you want them to be able to picture themselves in your space. But it’s hard to do that when your personal stuff is everywhere. That’s where staging comes in. It’s a tool to highlight the strengths of each room and eliminate anything that could give potential buyers pause—be that clutter, personal belongings, or design decisions that just aren’t for everyone.

If you’ve ever doubted the power of staging a home before listing it, this Pennsylvania home will make you see the light.

Built in 1925, it has many great features and tons of character, but it still didn’t sell when it was listed for $810,000 in August 2019. In June 2020, it was relisted with brand-new photos of fully staged interiors. We’re talking streamlined furniture and rugs in clean, neutral colors. No more mismatched wooden furniture! And just two months later it was sold for $820,000, a little more than the initial asking price.

Since home staging costs around $2,000 to $2,400 a month (the furnishings are rented), that seems like money well-spent, especially when you consider the money lost on extra mortgage payments while the home sits on the market.

We went right to our experts to find out why the staging of this house attracted a buyer—and how you can have the same success in your home. Here’s what they had to say.

Living room

The living room in this house had a lot of great features, but the original setup didn’t allow them to stand out.

“When you have a feature wall, such as the stone wall shown here, it’s best to showcase that instead of covering it up with bulky furniture,” says Dawn Gerali, a real estate agent with West USA. “The modern, lighter-colored furniture and minimalist artwork works well to make this a comfortable, inviting space.”

“By simplifying the color of all the furnishings, it is less distracting to the eye,” explains Lisa Vail, designer with Vesta Home. “A potential buyer can easily find themselves stepping into the space and making it their own.

Vail adds that swapping out the furniture is a quick and easy move that gives the perception that the entire house has been updated.


There was nothing really wrong with the original kitchen in this house, but it had a mismatched vibe that made it hard to present a functional, uncluttered space. Yet the magic of staging changed all of that with just a few simple swaps.

“The kitchen island has been staged with bigger stools and place settings, and the shelves have been cleared as well,” says Will Rodgers, a real estate consultant with KW Realty McLean. “This gives the buyer the idea that the kitchen can be a good area for meals, and makes it appear less cluttered.”

Jill Valeri, a home stager and owner of Welcome Home: Interior Design Solutions, says the staged version of the room just feels better to potential buyers.

“The matching stools, place settings, and small vases by the stove create a visually appealing rhythm in the space, while emptying the built-in shelves makes them less distracting,” she says. “The overall effect is that the buyer can now focus on the beautiful marble and vast counter spaces.”

Dining room

Obviously the selling point in this dining room is the gorgeous ceiling beams, but unless the room is staged right, they may look more like a hindrance than anything.

“The ornate furniture in the before photo competes with the wood-beamed ceilings and windows. It detracts from the room’s architectural features,” explains Gerali. “The sleek, modern furniture in the after photo draws attention to the beautiful ceiling and the natural light coming in through the windows.”

Marla Perez, account executive with Vespa Home, agrees.

“Staging this dining room made it feel larger and more grand,” she says. “Changing the orientation of the dining room table elongated the dining room, and adding a neutral rug brightened the space. The updated furniture and upholstered dining chairs created a more formal dining [area] for entertaining.”


Very little has changed in the bedroom of this home, save for the new furniture and decor, but it feels like a totally different space.

“They have elevated this room simply by adding the appropriate-scale bed and neutralizing the color palette,” says Vail. “The original bed was way too high for the room and drew attention to the odd nook it was set in. But now it looks like the nook was built intentionally for the bed.”

Rodgers emphasizes the impact of the cosmetic changes.

“This bedroom feels more airy and natural after the old chests and dressers were replaced with plants, neutral-colored linens, and a serene piece of art over the bed,” he says. “This gives buyers a relaxing feel upon entering the room, which is perfect for a bedroom.”

The post Lessons From Listings Photos: See the Power of Staging in This Pennsylvania Carriage House appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

7 Winter Photo Shoot Secrets to Make Your Home Shine in the Gloomiest Season

February 13, 2020

Bob Steiner/iStock

Just because the weather right now makes us want to hibernate doesn’t mean the real estate market is sleeping. In fact, the waning months of the coldest season have become one of the most popular times for buyers to begin their home search.

That’s great news if you’re looking to sell your home this winter! But those buyers won’t give your place a second look if it appears sad and drab in listing photos. So how can you possibly pull off perfect pictures when Mother Nature is working against you?

We’ve got you covered! You can beat the winter blues and snap some seriously good photos of your home—you just have to know a few tricks of the trade. Read on for the secrets to showing your home in the best light this winter.

1. Wait as long as you have to for a sunny day

Let the sun shine!

We know, there aren’t a lot of these in winter. But trust us when we say it’s worth waiting for the one day when the sun comes out. If you’re working with a photographer, then the pro probably has this whole blue sky thing on lockdown. But if you’re not, the best way to make people actually want to tour—and potentially buy—your house is to take photos on a day when the sun is shining.

“And preferably around noon,” says Benjamin Ross, a Realtor® with Mission Real Estate Group. “You don’t want dark spots overshadowing your beautiful home.”

Ross also recommends using a polarizing filter on your camera lens, since this will minimize any unwanted reflection or glare from the sun.

Planning on using your phone? Check out this polarizing filter for iPhone from Sandmarc.

2. Clean your windows

Unless you’re shooting for a Windex ad, you’ll want to be sure your windows don’t appear streaked with condensation or dirt.

Pro tip: We recommend cranking the heat up to its max, to keep the little condensation drips at bay.

As for the dirt, you know what to do. “Many people forget, but be sure to clean your windows prior to shooting,” Ross says.

3. Use all the indoor light

Counteract the gloom outside by turning on all the lights inside.

Winter is a dark season in most climates, which is why you’ll want to combat that gloomy mood by using your home’s interior lighting to make outdoor pictures warm and inviting.

“Turn on all lights in the home when shooting,” says Ross. “Even in the daytime, turn on all the lights for more clarity in your images.”

Another tip for snagging buyer interest in winter? Putting those fireplaces to work.

“I like to highlight working fireplaces when at all possible,” says Daniele Kurzweil, real estate agent with the Compass Friedman Team. “Be it gas or wood-burning, a photo of a warm, inviting fire is sure to draw in a crowd during those cold and dark winter months. Highlight your strengths, and show buyers a warm, comfy nook where they can curl under a blanket by the fireplace.”

4. Shovel the snow, for goodness’ sake

Clearing a path to the house increases the likelihood of selling it.

No one expects your house to look picture-perfect in the middle of winter, but there are a few basics you can do to make it look its cold-weather best.

For starters, clear any excess snow that’s piling up. No one wants to be reminded of chores (like shoveling snow) when they view your house, so be sure walkways, driveways, porches, and outdoor seating areas are all cleaned off.

5. Stash any and all holiday decor

The holidays are over! Deal with it. Once the snow piles are under control, be sure to cut any lingering holiday decor out of the picture as well.

“If you take a photo with seasonal items, come spring or summer if your place hasn’t yet sold, people will immediately assume your listing has been on the market since the holidays, and move right past it,” Kurzweil says.

6. Hire a gardener

It’s amazing what a few hearty winter plants can do for your curb appeal. But rather than attempting a botanical experiment, consider hiring a professional to spruce up your winter garden just in time for the big day.

“If your garden looks lush in the spring, speak with a plant specialist who can help pick out beautiful hearty plants that will make your garden pop in the winter months,” says Kurzweil.

She also suggests using winter-themed outdoor decor (like a fire pit) as a focal point.

“Instead of shying away from the outdoors in the winter, showcase how your outside space is indeed usable throughout all four seasons,” she advises.

7. Include photos from other seasons

Photos from other seasons remind buyers that someday winter will end.

No matter how great your winter photos turn out, it’s important to allow buyers to visualize themselves in your home—and that means including pictures from other seasons. Be sure to focus on shots of your home’s best features, like that outdoor patio and the bench swing on the front porch.

“Show potential buyers how inviting your home is during the coldest of months,” says Kurzweil, “and they’ll be even more impressed come springtime.”

The post 7 Winter Photo Shoot Secrets to Make Your Home Shine in the Gloomiest Season appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

Lessons From Listing Photos: A 1900s Bungalow Gets a Gut Reno, and We Can’t Stop Staring

December 5, 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 pictures highlight the home’s best assets.

When the sellers purchased this Sacramento, CA, bungalow in late 2018, it was dated and dreary. But they made quick work of renovating it. Less than a year later, the bungalow was back on the market with the addition of modern touches that make it a California home buyer’s dream.

Despite the massive makeover, this house still had a major factor working against it that couldn’t be changed: its location just down the street from a busy freeway. But the gut renovation was effective enough to attract buyers who were willing to make the trade-off in order to live in a pristine, stylish home. After just 27 days on the market, it was sold for $200,000 over the original purchase price.

So what did the sellers do to make this house so desirable to buyers, and how can you have the same results in your own home? We went straight to our experts to find out.

Before: Front exterior

front exterior_before
The original exterior blended in with the surroundings.

After: Front exterior

Front exterior_after
This new exterior was designed to stand out.

New paint and landscaping took this house from dilapidated to delightful.

“I love this all-gray palette, it really allows the mustard front door to sing,” says Nisha MacNeil, design manager at Kerr Construction & Design.

Curb appeal goes a long way in the eyes of buyers, and Paul Trudel-Payne, founder and creative designer of Casa Consult+Design, says the sellers’ changes like removing the old screen door and adding a bold pop of color make an impactful first impression.

Before: Living room

living room_before
All this wood weighs down the room.

After: Living room

living room_after
The white and gray decor lightens things up.

Everything about this space says fresh and clean after the renovation, but the bones—and the character they bring to this bungalow—are still all there.

It’s “by far my favorite room transformation,” says Trudel-Payne. “They honored and brought new life to the home by keeping all the intricate architectural details that make every space drip with charm.”

MacNeil agrees that the juxtaposition of the traditional millwork details with the new midcentury modern furniture and fixtures works in this room. Even if the new owners decide to swap the Eames chairs for something a bit more rustic, this neutral space can accommodate many different design schemes.

Before: Kitchen

There are too many mismatched surfaces in this kitchen.

After: Kitchen

A clean, streamlined look brings order and freshness to the kitchen.

We’d call this house a bona fide fixer-upper, but this kitchen needed the most help out of any room. Pre-renovation, the mismatched materials, colors, and prints would make anyone’s head spin, but now the coordinated interiors and soft color palette bring a calmness to the home.

“Removing the linoleum flooring and replacing it with hardwood was the first step in the right direction,” says Tiffany Fasone, owner and CEO of Voila Design Home. “Changing out the old, two-toned wooden cabinets to new gray cabinets with brass hardware gives the space a clean, streamlined look.”

Our experts agree that gray is a nice alternative to white if you’re looking for a neutral hue to paint your cabinets. Trudel-Payne also says that gray cabinets work exceptionally well with a subway tile backsplash, which is another trendy material that buyers tend to favor.

Before: Bedroom

The old bedroom was a little scary.

After: Bedroom

After renovations, the bedroom is a place to relax.

No, that’s not a screenshot from a recent horror film—that’s really what this bedroom looked like before the renovation. Clearly it was in need of some love in the form of new flooring and fixtures that added personality to the room.

“It was a great idea to add barn doors to cover the built-in shelves,” says Katie Stix, partner and design director at Anderson Design Studio. “They allow the storage space to remain but hide the mess. Plus, they slide so they don’t take up any room.”

MacNeil also appreciates the industrial vibe the barn door hardware adds to the space.

Before: Bathroom

The old bathroom was cute but dated.

After: Bathroom

A fresh white bathroom wins every time.

Some of our favorite bathroom renovations are the ones that don’t require a big budget. Most of the changes that occurred in this bathroom are purely cosmetic.

“The previous mismatched paint colors made the bathroom feel old and dingy,” says Fasone. “Minor updates—including the fresh coat of paint, the new medicine cabinet, and the vanity—give the bathroom a total face-lift.”

“What a quaint space,” says MacNeil. “I love the traditional vertical shiplap walls. This is a look that many designers covet, so they are lucky to have this original detail.”

Trudel-Payne reiterates that being smart (read: frugal) about aesthetic choices can help your bottom line in a big way, especially if you’re renovating the home to sell it.

“More than half of a renovation budget usually goes to things no one sees like electrical and plumbing,” he says. “But using the existing architectural details is the key to a budget-friendly transformation.”

The post Lessons From Listing Photos: A 1900s Bungalow Gets a Gut Reno, and We Can’t Stop Staring appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

Lessons From Listing Photos: A Portland Home Goes Modern, Nearly Triples in Value

October 9, 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 pictures highlight the home’s best assets.

This midcentury modern–style home in Portland, OR, does exactly what a home in the Pacific Northwest should do—it embraces the natural beauty of the city with ample views and a great outdoor space. The home itself is tucked among the trees, but all of that gorgeous foliage didn’t get to be appreciated when the inside of the house is cramped and stuck in the 1960s.

The most recent sellers knew exactly what major renovations were needed to make the property shine. They purchased it in 2011 for $351,000 and brought it up to date with modern finishes and a reworked floor plan.

Eight years later, they listed the home, and their hard work paid off big-time. They sold it for $975,00, nearly tripling its value.

So how did they do it? Our experts analyzed the before and after photos to determine which changes made the biggest impact, and how you can make it happen in your home, too.

Before: Entryway

This dark entry gave the house zero curb appeal.

Now it’s bright, open, and welcoming.

After: Entryway

Before the renovations, this home had a large front porch that was hidden by a faux wall. Removing that wall allowed the homeowners to showcase the larger entryway.

“This is the epitome of a curb appeal transformation,” says Paul Trudel-Payne, founder and creative designer of Casa Consult+Design.

“The white exterior walls with the natural wood ceilings delivers that special ‘wow’ moment.”

The most obvious update is the Chartreuse color on the front door. It’s a bold shade, but it suits the modern architecture.

“Even in the rain, the pop of yellow is so bright and happy,” says designer Katie Stix, partner and design director at Anderson Design Studio. “Who wouldn’t want to come home to this? I love how it contrasts with the black trim, wood ceiling, and white house.”

Tiffany Fasone, owner and CEO of Voila Design Home, notes how the tall windows and wood porch make the entry feel cozier than the original concrete pavement.

Before: Foyer

The old front door opened right into the 1960s.

The new bright and cheery foyer sets the tone for the whole house.

After: Foyer

The foyer is the first chance to make an impression on buyers when they step inside your home, and this one was—how do we put it?— dreary. Thankfully, the renovation gave this space the attention it deserved.

“The foyer before was ho-hum, and now it’s vibrant with the continuation of the yellow door color inside,” says Nisha MacNeil, design manager at Kerr Construction & Design.

“This is a great trick homeowners can use to liven up their foyer versus just having a plain white door inside.”

“Getting rid of the carpet and adding hardwood makes the biggest difference,” says Stix. “Carpet in the foyer is never a good idea.” That makes sense, considering the area by the door is where all the dirt and grime from outside comes to rest—and it’s way easier to clean up hardwood.

Of course, the most noticeable change from the original design is the staircase. Not only was the old spiral design dated, but a staircase this narrow was likely difficult to get up and down. The updated staircase is safer and way more stylish.

“Changing the curved glass railing to metal and wood takes about 20 years off of the house,” says Fasone. “I’m a huge fan of the living wall, too, because it carries the outdoors into the home.”

Before: Living room

living room_before
This living room was lined with windows, but somehow still dark.

After: Living room

living room_after
White paint and fewer walls make the space brand-new.

The wall of windows was the star of this room, even before the renovations, but the sellers made some strategic design decisions to brighten up the room and open up the floor plan.

“I like that they didn’t add any window treatments to the windows. It feels modern and focuses on the view, which is so pretty and private,” says Stix.

White walls and hardwood flooring also contribute to the clean, airy feeling of the living area.

“Removing the worn-out carpeting and adding the hardwood floors reflect the light,” says Fasone. If you’re looking to make the square footage look as expansive as possible in your home, consider hardwood, vinyl plank flooring, or another sleek option for your living room.

Before: Kitchen

The galley kitchen is all kinds of awkward.

After: Kitchen

Hello, spacious kitchen!

The old galley kitchen, awkwardly situated next to the foyer, wouldn’t inspire any culinary creativity. But knocking out a wall and borrowing a bit of space from the oversize living room made all the difference.

“The previous layout felt very closed-in and dark, but opening up the wall between the entryway and kitchen makes it feel like you’re looking at a completely different home,” says Fasone.

While opening up the floor plan made the most obvious impact, it’s not the only big change that happened in the kitchen.

“I love how they kept the skylight but made the ceilings taller and added recessed can lighting,” Stix says.

Before: Patio

The old patio was dated and depressing.

After: Patio

The new patio adds even more enjoyable living space to the home.

One of the biggest selling points of this home is the surrounding foliage, and while the outdoor space was functional, it was in need of an update. By removing the sunroom, the sellers added more patio space and made it match with the rest of the exterior changes.

“Adding the wood decking is the best way to tie in the wooded surroundings that make this home special,” says Stix. “I love that it connects to the front porch and works well with the white glass railing.”

Stix also didn’t miss the detail added to the underside of the roof.

“Adding the shiplap wood to the ceiling adds texture, repetition, and clean lines, which are pleasing to the eye.”

The post Lessons From Listing Photos: A Portland Home Goes Modern, Nearly Triples in Value appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

Lessons From Listing Photos: This Eichler Got Its Groove Back Thanks to a Modern Flip

July 24, 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.

Homes built in the 1960s have a certain charm that just doesn’t exist in houses built today. But a ’60s home built by Joseph Eichler is an even rarer gem because of its clean lines and iconic midcentury modern architecture. Even if it’s in a state of disrepair, finding a deal on a bona fide Eichler is like finding buried gold.

However, renovating an antiquated Eichler, like this one in Castro Valley, CA, can be a massive undertaking. When flippers purchased the five-bed, two-bath home in early 2019 for $860,000, it was in desperate need of a complete overhaul. So they quickly restored it to its sleek former glory. And a few months later, the home went under contract for $1.3 million.That’s a fast-paced flip with a whole lot of payoff!

So how did they do it—and how can you make it happen with your own home? We asked our experts what the sellers did right.

Before: Entry

This entry screamed 1960, and not in a good way.

After: Entry

Now, this transition space brings the best of both worlds.

The entryway before and after the renovation is so drastically different, it’s almost as if you’re walking into a whole new house. Not only have the wall color and materials changed, but the outdoors has quite literally made its way inside with a planter cut right out of the floor—something you don’t see everyday, even in California.

“Removing the aggressively turquoise paint and outdated hot tub to create this picturesque atrium is the stuff true #housegoals are made of,” says Paul Trudel-Payne, founder and creative director of Casa Creative Consulting and Design. “Nothing is more welcoming than a beautiful entry that brings the outdoors inside.”

Interior designer Levi Austin of Levi Austin Design says this transitional space is a high point of the overall property.

“The modern concrete flooring and warm wood ceilings give this elegance and sophistication,” he says.

Before: Living room

living room_before
This living room has good bones, but not much else going for it.

After: Living room

living room_after
Now, it’s the perfect place to sit in comfort.

The living room was a mess of textures and styles that didn’t quite fit together, but all those problems were solved during the renovation—without any major changes to the footprint of the house.

According to Austin, you have to look up to see the biggest changes.

“This renovation highlights the architecture of the house,” he says. “The warm wood ceilings contrast with the white beams, creating a stunning sense of grandeur in this modern open-living concept.”

Before: Kitchen

kitchen_before (1)
The glass block in the kitchen was an eyesore.

After: Kitchen

kitchen_after (1)
Modern updates created a stunning kitchen with the same footprint.

Most buyers see the kitchen as the heart of the home, so having one that’s both functional and gorgeous is important. And very few things do a better job at making a home look dated than glass blocks; unfortunately these were a highlight of the former kitchen. The sellers tackled the eyesore by removing them, and gave the rest of the kitchen a top-to-bottom makeover that our experts approve of.

“A bright, white kitchen is always a showstopper,” says Trudel-Payne. “Adding the wood paneling on the ceiling with recessed lighting and removing those dated glass panels really updated this space.”

According to Austin, the sellers completed this major kitchen renovation in a wallet-friendly way by not changing the layout.

“Keeping the same footprint keeps the plumbing and electrical costs to a minimum.” he explains. “The kitchen was brought into the present decade with clean cabinetry, upgraded appliances, and sparking countertops.”

Before: Wet bar

wet bar area_before
The wet bar area was dated and boring.

After: Wet bar

wet bar area_after
This new space is functional and nice to look at.

Wet bars may seem like a dated concept, but when done right they do an excellent job of providing an extension of the kitchen, an extra workspace—and even a place to mix the perfect cocktail.

This renovation tied the wet bar area to the kitchen by using the same cabinets and countertops. The same wood plank ceiling also runs throughout the house. The wall that’s visible in the before photo was also knocked down to open up the room.

According to Trudel-Payne, the smartest choice was the simple color palette.

“It brightens the space and was easily the most cost-effective detail that instantly updated the entire home,” he says.

Before: Bathroom

bathroom_before (1)
The original bathroom was antiquated and grim.

After: Bathroom

bathroom_after (1)
Just a few updates to the bathroom let its key feature—the sauna—shine.

Nothing about the original bathroom was pleasing to the eye, but amid the broken cabinetry, dated tiles, and faux gold fixtures was a diamond in the rough just waiting for its chance to shine: the sauna.

“When your bathroom comes with a sauna, simple, timeless updates are all you need,” says Austin. “Again, keeping the same footprint keeps hard costs to a minimum.”

The renovations to this room included a new vanity, mirrors, faucets, and hardware.

“The wood sauna finally gets its time in the spotlight with this strategically white bathroom color palette,” says Trudel-Payne. “It’s luxe, rich, and superclean.”

The post Lessons From Listing Photos: This Eichler Got Its Groove Back Thanks to a Modern Flip appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

Lessons From Listing Photos: An Urban Victorian Gets a Modern Makeover

June 25, 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.

Before undergoing a massive renovation, a 4-bed, 4.5-bath Victorian home in San Francisco was full of that Old World charm some buyers crave—but it was also outdated and full of tiny, enclosed spaces. So when it was purchased in 2017, the new owners made logical changes to the floor plan and brought this 3,000-square-foot stunner up to date.

All that hard work paid off, because just two years later, they sold, for a $1.6 million profit. Pretty impressive, right?

So how did they pull it off—and how can you bring those same lessons to your property? We went straight to the experts to find out what they did right, and why. Here’s what they had to say.

Before: Kitchen

The old kitchen was small and outdated.

After: Kitchen

After renovations, it’s open, bright, and functional.

No matter how much you love old houses, you have to admit that this kitchen needed a lot of love.

“Opening up the kitchen and installing wide plank floors immediately upgrades this space from an outdated, dysfunctional area to one where anyone would love to entertain guests,” says interior designer Lauren Visco. “Now there’s a workable kitchen triangle with all of the appliances and prep area concentrated together.” Visco was also impressed by the dual-tone cabinetry and says it subtly shows the owners’ playful side while keeping a sophisticated, neutral palette.

“The countertops have also been modernized to look more contemporary,” adds designer Kobi Karp, principal at Kobi Karp Architecture & Interior Design. “Decorative elements such as plants and vases were also added, bringing a little bit of vibrancy into the kitchen area as well.”

Designer Paul Andrés Trudel-Payne, founder and director of Casa Consult and Design, calls this kitchen “Fresh, clean, light, and bold without being abrasive. This makes cooking and eating in the space a true experience.”

Before: Living and dining rooms

living and dining_before
The fireplace is charming, but disturbs the flow between the living and dining rooms.

After: Living and dining rooms

living room & dining_after
These rooms are now a cohesive, functional space.

It’s a natural reaction to mourn the loss of the fireplace and built-in shelves, but you have to admit that the result—a seamless cohesion between the living room and dining room—was worth the loss.

“The overuse of trims and the dark wooden floor in the ‘before’ photo created a claustrophobic environment. I’m glad they got rid of that,” Karp says. “By replacing this with a lighter, softer-colored wood, and adding a decorated carpet to the living room, the area is instantly more contemporary.”

Visco says the two rooms now flow much better. “With the demolition of the white overhead beam and molding separating the two spaces, the living and dining blend together now,” she says.

“Taking out the archway really has helped the room breathe a sigh of relief,” says Trudel-Payne. “Opening it up like this provides a higher sight line, making the room look so much bigger.”

Before: Bathroom

The pre-renovation bathroom was a mess.

After: Bathroom

This modern bathroom is completely transformed.

Vintage tiles may be in, but this bathroom was a fixer-upper if we’ve ever seen one.

“The bathroom was littered with out-of-date tiles, covering the bottom half of the walls,” says Karp. “The homeowners were smart to take out the tiles and add a coat of a white paint to make the bathroom appear more spacious.”

“This newly renovated bathroom is timeless and truly maximizes the space, with a built-in shower and a clean floating vanity, offering plenty of counter space and storage,” says Levi Austin, chief designer of Levi Austin Design. “The oversized mirror beautifully reflects the stone tiles and natural lighting in the space.”

Before: Staircase

The old staircase was small and compact.

After: Staircase

After renovations, this space is sleek and airy.

As you’ll see in the “before” photo, the previous owners tried to lighten up the old staircase with a coat of white paint, but it still looks clunky and compact. Check out its amazing transformation into a modernist staircase with glass panels. “You will never go wrong updating a staircase with glass, metal, and wood plank flooring. It’s the perfect balance of rustic and modern and works great with so many different types of decor styles,” says Trudel-Payne.

And it’s not just the architectural updates that make an impression in this area. “Decorative elements, such as a vase of flowers and modern art hanging from the walls, give the space a sense of lifestyle,” explains Karp. It’s now a section of the house worth gawking at.

Before: Backyard

The old backyard was not inviting.

After: Backyard

After renovations, this backyard is a perfect entertaining space.

Lava rocks are an odd choice for ground cover in the backyard—they’re not exactly pleasant to walk on! The old yard did not immediately suggest a place where family and friends would love to gather. But the sellers fixed that problem by adding a wooden deck, an outdoor rug, and plenty of cozy furniture.

“I love the way they increased the overall living and dining space with the addition of folding glass walls,” says Visco. “This allows a free flow between the interior and exterior landscape. Smoothed, plastered walls, sleek glass railings, and inky wicker furnishings lend a cool, modern aesthetic that appears balanced against the warm wood floors and rustic siding.”

Notice the extension of the house, which added a bonus room with a wet bar and additional seating. “This expertly designed backyard was done perfectly—to every last detail,” says Austin.

The post Lessons From Listing Photos: An Urban Victorian Gets a Modern Makeover appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

Lessons From Listing Photos: This Palm Springs Pad Far Exceeds #BackyardGoals

June 12, 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.

This Palm Springs, CA, palace was built in 1998, and it’s spent a fair share of time going on and off the market since then.

The problem: While it has gorgeous bones, it was lacking a design personality to make it really shine. The most recent owner, who purchased the home for $2 million in November 2018, made quick work of upping the midcentury modern aesthetic while cultivating a bohemian vibe. You’ll see this in the eclectic mix of colorful accessories and natural textures.

After the renovation, the home was listed in May 2019 for nearly $1 million more than what the seller paid. And we have a feeling finding a buyer won’t be a problem (you’ll understand why when you see the improvements to the backyard).

To find out how the seller pulled it off—and how you can make that kind of profit on your remodel—we went to the experts. Here are the rooms—and home improvements—where the work paid off the most.

Before: Living room

living room before (1)
The living room appears cold and sterile.

After: Living room

living room after (1)
Opening up the ceiling and adding conversation areas made the living room warmer and more inviting.

At first glance, it looks like the changes in the living room were mostly furniture, but the homeowners went way beyond that.

“The removal of the drywall on the farthest section of the ceiling reveals the beautiful original wooden structure and allows for a more organic transition to the outside space,” says Jared Cohen of Trig Builders, in Los Angeles.

In addition, “adding an entrance tucked just off of the living room optimizes the layout and creates a perfect flow between the indoors and out for a great entertaining pad,” explains Levi Austin of Levi Austin Design, in New York City.

Of course, new furniture played a big role: “This is the perfect example of using decor to highlight the amazing features of this great space,” says designer Paul Trudel-Payne. “Multiple conversational seating areas, vibrant pops of color, and the cacti along the entire length of the windows all help to highlight how large and open this space truly is.”

Before: Kitchen

kitchen before (1)
The old kitchen was classy but dated.

After: Kitchen

kitchen after (1)
With a reconfigured space and larger island, the kitchen is brighter and more spacious.

It’s hard to tell this renovated kitchen is the same room shown in the before picture!

“This renovation virtually doubled the size of this kitchen. It’s the perfect nod to the history of the home, with up-to-date finishes this luxurious space deserves,” says Austin. “This kitchen remodel reconfigured the space to add ample counter space, a larger island to allow room for prep and informal dining, and high-end finishes and fixtures.”

Altering the cabinetry also makes the kitchen appear more spacious. “Colorblocking the cabinetry with white panels adds interest and allows them to take up less space visually,” says interior designer Christina Toole of Design Tribe.

Before: Bedroom

bedroom 2_sitting area before
The blandness of this bedroom could put you to sleep.

After: Bedroom

bedroom 2_sitting area after
Fresh decor and a sitting area breathe life into the bedroom.

You know that extra space in your home you have no idea how to decorate? That was the case with this bedroom before the sellers got hold of it. This bedroom can clearly accommodate more than a bed and dresser, but the round table and chairs weren’t cutting it. So they repurposed it into a junior suite with a sitting area.

“Adding a partition screen breaks up the long, narrow room into more pleasing proportions without blocking light,” says interior designer Janet Lorusso.

Before: Master bedroom

bedroom 1 before
Before renovation, this was just a great place to sleep.

After: Master bedroom

bedroom 1 after
But after the changes, the space is more fun and functional.

Before the renovations, we wouldn’t have hesitated to grab a good night’s sleep in this modern master bedroom; but after the renovations, it’s a place where you might want to spend your whole day.

Austin is a big fan of the changes, especially the elements you may not notice immediately.

“All new finishes, poured concrete flooring, and updated ventilation systems modernize this home behind the scenes,” he observes. “Clean, open, and natural woods brighten the room, setting the stage for charming, colorful elements.”

Those colorful elements also caught Trudel-Payne’s eye. “You had me at floral wallpaper and hanging rattan chair,” he says. “From the woven pendant lights above the nightstands, to the breakfast/work bar, to the perfectly placed sitting area at the foot of the bed, this room was done so right!”

Before: Backyard

Backyard before
The original backyard had a desert vibe.

After: Backyard

_Backyard after
The new backyard has lush and green landscaping.

Finally, we arrive at the pièce de résistance of this renovated home: the backyard. It was a good space to begin with, but the renovations here are most likely to boost the home’s value.

“This backyard was done perfectly, to every last detail,” says Austin. “The minimalist desert landscaping and thoughtful touches of color are perfect surrounding the poured concrete patio, allowing for maximized space around the pool. From the clean lines and modernized landscaping to the infinity hot tub, it’s a perfect backdrop for parties.”

Before: Another view of the backyard

Backyard 2 before
The rounded corners dated the pool.

After: Another view of the backyard

Backyard 2 after
The new pool looks modern and luxurious.

Chicago-based interior designer Lauren Visco noted a change to the pool’s shape that made a world of difference.

“Squaring off the rounded pool corners gives this outdoor space a clean look and allows for a gradual transition between the landscape and water,” she says.



Watch: Point, Shoot, Sell? To Show Off Your Home, Avoid These Listing Photo Mistakes


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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 |®.

Lessons From Listing Photos: How a Chicago Modern Farmhouse Doubled in Value

May 3, 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.

This custom Chicago home hardly looked like a fixer-upper when the owners purchased it for $790,000 in 2017. Still, the functional but outdated features like the cramped galley kitchen and the spiral staircase straight out of 1991 left much to be desired.

The three-bedroom, 3.5-bath pad is located in Bucktown, one of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods. So to match the local flavor (and meet the demands of discerning buyers), the house went through a series of major renovations. Now, just two years later, it has nearly doubled in value and recently sold for $1,330,500.

Curious about which updates made all the difference? According to our experts, here’s what the homeowners got 100% right.

Before: Exterior

exterior before
The old exterior is sterile and cold.

After: Exterior

exterior after
The new exterior is much more inviting.

It’s hard to tell these two photos are even of the same house, but take our word for it—they are.

“Often we see traditional homes get a modern makeover,” says designer Maryline Damour of Damour Drake. “This is a great example of how to use the bones of a modern house and give it traditional character through some key architectural details.”

Property stylist Karen Gray-Plaisted is impressed by the major updates to the exterior—and the impact they make.

“Moving the windows around is no small undertaking, but doing so enhanced the exterior and adds more light to the interior of the house,” she says. The windows and new roofline make the house look a lot more like what we think of as “home,” which is exactly what buyers are looking for.

Before: Living room

living room before
The old living room was gorgeous, but lacked warmth.

After: Living room

living room after
The new living room tempts you to sit and stay a while.

The original living room was modern and lacked soul before the renovations, but our experts are loving the changes, which include a brand-new staircase.

“While the staircase in the before photo was an architectural statement, the new staircase makes the space feel bigger as the eye travels unobstructed from one space to the next,” says Damour.

Other rustic touches like wooden beams on the ceiling and the brickwork around the fireplace alter the aesthetic of the home, making it feel more comfortable. Now, especially when staged with fiddle-leaf fig trees, contemporary artwork, and a crisp black and white color scheme, the design of the home channels the popular modern farmhouse style.

“This renovation took a modern interior and added traditional design elements and details that completely changed the look and feel of the home,” says designer Laura Hodges of Laura Hodges Studio. “The floor plan feels open and welcoming but also functional and practical.”

Before: Kitchen

kitchen before
The old kitchen was practical but small.

After: Kitchen

kitchen after
The new kitchen is a chef’s dream.

A galley kitchen is an acquired taste—some people are perfectly fine with them while others crave an open concept kitchen. The galley kitchen in this home wasn’t terrible, but it also wasn’t a very good use of space, so opening it up was a very wise choice.

“Kitchen updates are probably the best way to help a home feel more modern and fresh,” says Hodges. “The new wood floors, bright cabinetry, and upgraded appliances were all smart choices that add value and visual interest.”

Replacing dark elements like the cabinets and backsplash with white cabinets and natural stone contributed to the overall airy feel of the room.

“Carrying the wood flooring into the kitchen also helps the space feel more spacious by flowing with the rest of the home,” says Sally Williams, an interior designer with Colorful Concepts.

Before: Bathroom

bathroom before
The old bathroom was bland and nothing special.

After: Bathroom

bathroom after
Now, the bathroom is a sanctuary for relaxation.

The updated bathroom feels more like a spa than a room in your house—something our experts say will definitely attract buyers.

“A mix of tile, applied from floor to ceiling, makes the space feel luxurious, while the wood vanity is a nice contrast, adding warmth and character,” says Damour. “Removing the bathtub for a shower with glass doors and hanging mirrors across the length of the wall also help make the space feel bigger and brighter.”

Before: Roof deck

roof deck before
Before, the roof deck was impressive but sterile.

After: Roof deck

roof deck after
The addition of turf makes the roof deck feel more like a backyard.

The roof deck, which stands in for a backyard, was always attractive, but our experts say that adding bright green turf makes this space feel even more like an outdoor escape.

“Replacing the cold, unwelcoming gray with bright finishes brings this space to life,” says Williams. “The addition of the siding-covered overhang has added much-needed dimension to the facade and creates a welcoming spot perfect for a pair of rocking chairs. The turf is genius and allows you to imagine so many possible uses for this deck area.”

The post Lessons From Listing Photos: How a Chicago Modern Farmhouse Doubled in Value appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

How to Get Your Home’s Real Estate Listing Removed From the Internet

April 30, 2019

How to get a real estate listing removed


Wondering how to get a real estate listing removed from the internet? Whether you’re a seller who’s withdrawn your house from the market, or a buyer who’s just closed on a new place, fielding inquiries from buyers who still see your house listed online is a drag when it’s no longer for sale.

So what can you do to unlist a house? And how long does it truly take? Allow us to shed light on how real estate listings go up and come down.

Who can remove a real estate listing?

For starters, how do real estate listings get up online for all to see, anyway? When a seller decides to list her home through a real estate agent, that agent gathers the necessary info and photos and loads them onto a vast, interconnected database called the multiple listing service, or MLS. From there, the listing is used to populate online platforms like

Only licensed agents and brokers who pay for membership to the MLS have access to the full feed. As such, they’re the only people who can post real estate there—or remove those listings.

What this means for home buyers and sellers is you can’t just call up the MLS and ask the service to take a house off the site.

In addition, “home sellers are not allowed to make changes, because technically the info and photos become the property of the MLS in which it’s originally listed,” says Lynne Freda, a real estate agent with Freda Realty, in Callicoon, NY.

How to withdraw a real estate listing temporarily

Sellers withdraw their homes from the market all the time, says Beth Bernitt, an agent with Century 21 Real Estate in Bethel, NY.

Sometimes it’s because they’ve changed their mind and no longer want to sell their home. But just as often, something personal comes up that makes a seller decide to delay selling for a few weeks. For instance, you might decide to make some repairs or upgrades to fetch a higher price.

This is what agents call a “temporary off market,” Bernitt says. If you’re thinking you want to pull your listing for a little while, just let your listing agent know.

“Unlisting it is just a click of a button,” Bernitt says. And if you want to relist, it’s just another button click.

However, once your house is unlisted on the MLS, it doesn’t mean it will be instantly reflected far and wide. Various websites may have lag times before this change takes effect. For some sites, it may take as little as 15 minutes (which is what happens at, whereas other sites may take days or even weeks.

Withdrawn listing vs. expired listing: What’s the difference?

While a listing agent can deliberately withdraw a listing from the MLS, another way real estate listings disappear from websites is when they expire. That’s when your commitment to work with a certain agent ends and you go your separate ways (that is, unless you renew your real estate contract).

When you sign a contract with an agent to sell your home, there’s an expiration date—typically in three to six months. Listing agents often enter the expiration date of their contract right in the database listing. After all, they pay MLS dues for that listing to go up online, so they won’t want it to stay unless they’re still working with you! So when that date passes, your listing should automatically disappear from the internet.

If you decide you no longer want to work with an agent before your contract is up, you can inform the agent, who will withdraw your listing before it expires.

House just sold? How to remove it from the MLS

Once you close on a home and you’ve walked off with a new set of keys in your palm, your home is off the market. But that doesn’t mean it’s off the internet! Listings (and all those gorgeous photos of your home) don’t get pulled offline until the listing is closed out by the listing agent, says Freda.

“Most MLS systems require seller’s agent to close out sold homes within 24 hours of sale, or the agent will be fined,” she says.

But even then, lag times can still happen, Bernitt says, and it’s frustrating for buyers, sellers, and the agents themselves.

“It’s a lot of wasted time and energy for everyone,” she says. It can be particularly problematic if you’re a seller who’s temporarily withdrawn the home. Prospective buyers who spot the listing and call, only to learn the house is off the market, are likely to be turned off.

“When you put it back on the market, they won’t look at it because you’ve upset them,” she says.

Typically, an agent will realize the listing is still active pretty soon—especially if they’re getting calls or emails from interested buyers. But if they don’t, give them a call. They should be able to make some phone calls to get the photos pulled offline.

If you’re not getting any help from your listing agent, try the agent’s broker. That’s the person who owns the agency where the agent works, aka an agent’s boss. With word of mouth being so important in the real estate biz, chances are the broker’s going to jump at the chance to make things right.

The post How to Get Your Home’s Real Estate Listing Removed From the Internet appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.