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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 |®.

Home Won’t Sell? Yawar Charlie on ‘Listing Impossible’ Explains Why

January 29, 2020

Amy Sussman/Getty Images;

If your home isn’t selling, what should you do? Real estate agent Yawar Charlie, star of a new reality show, “Listing Impossible,” can offer some hope and helpful advice.

CNBC’s “Listing Impossible”—which premiered Jan. 15 and airs on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EST—follows Charlie at the Los Angeles brokerage Aaron Kirman Partners as he and his colleagues devise fresh ways to revive stale listings and entice buyers to bite. There’s even a surprise appearance from David Hasselhoff!

“It really gives you the nuts and bolts on what it takes to sell challenging homes, and what it takes to sell a home in general,” Charlie told in an exclusive interview. “It’s not candy-coated, so the viewer really gets to see the process and the journey—not only of the home, but of the sellers.”

Curious why certain homes won’t sell and what can be done to make them move, we talked with Charlie to hear his advice—for home sellers and buyers—plus the surprising story behind how he bought his first home.

Listing Impossible
Yawar Charlie of “Listing Impossible”


How did you end up buying your first home?

I used to be an actor in L.A., and I had worked pretty steadily. But when you’re my type, and this is back 15 years ago, there weren’t a lot of opportunities. I kept getting the note “too pretty for a terrorist.”

I can laugh at it now, but at the time it was very annoying. Still, I was on a soap opera for a while and I took that money I earned and I saved it. I was thinking I should do something smart with it, and decided that I really wanted to buy a house.

I didn’t know where to start, so I sought out a casual acquaintance who was a real estate agent. However, this person was a horrible agent and didn’t take good care of me. It all ended up working out, though, because I ended up doing a lot of the research on my own, so I learned from that. In fact, I learned I had a real affinity for real estate.

How did you transition from home buyer to a real estate agent?

I casually set up a couple of real estate deals for friends and family. And my partner at the time said, “You know, Yawar, you’re really good at this, why don’t you consider this as sort of a supplemental career until acting really kicks in full gear?”

That was about 13 years ago, and within the first nine months of getting my real estate license and joining a team, I was the top new agent in my office. It was a real blessing because when you’re a creative person, you have to find an outlet for that creativity.

For me, when I work with someone selling a home, I find the creative side of things. I say, “Let’s tell a story of this house, let’s figure out a way to connect someone to it emotionally when they walk in the room.”

Yawar Charlie
Listing Impossible — Wexler House — Pictured: (l-r) — (Photo by: Nicole Weingart/CNBC)


Your new show is all about moving homes that seem impossible to sell. Why do you think certain homes sit on the market?

When something is sitting on the market, 9 times out of 10, it comes down to the price.

As simple as it sounds, if you price a property too high, it will sit unless it finds that one person who falls in love with it and has to have it. But that kind of Cinderella ending only happens in fairy tales. People want to make sure that they’re not overpaying on a house.

Home sellers should have an honest conversation with their real estate agent about what their house is worth. An agent who takes a house that’s overpriced does that seller a disservice, because an overpriced house is going to sit.

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of agents who will underprice a property to get a quick sale or multiple offers. And I really think that sometimes that’s the way to go. However, it requires the seller to have a leap of faith that you’ll be able to get multiple offers, that someone won’t lowball you.

What should home sellers do if their listing isn’t drumming up enough interest?

Our show is a good representation of what happens when properties have been sitting too long on the market. We come in, retool, rebrand, and relaunch each property. That includes staging, some light construction, decluttering, price adjustment, and the right marketing. These are all things that sellers need to think about.

We put together a list of items that I encourage the seller to repair or address before we go on the market.

I bring our stager in and have the quote for that. In today’s market, homes must be staged. If a house isn’t staged, it will be devalued. Because a lot of times, buyers don’t have imaginations. They’re like, “Oh wow, will my TV fit there? Will a couch look good here?”

We have to lay it out for them. Of course, there will be those visionaries that will walk through the door, but more often than not, people need to see it.

Yawar Charlie
Listing Impossible — Wexler House — Pictured: (l-r) — (Photo by: Nicole Weingart/CNBC)


In addition to selling hard-to-sell homes, you work with a lot of first-time home buyers. What’s your best advice for them?

Some first-time home buyers think that they’re going to walk into something in their price range and, automatically, it’s going to have everything they want. But that’s usually not the case.

Buying that first home is important because, if you’re renting, you are essentially setting money on fire. Even if it’s a smaller place, it’s important to get into something you own because there’s a tax deduction that people can take advantage of, and owning a home is like a forced savings account. That payment that you’re making every month to pay off the principal is paying into equity, so therefore when you go to sell that house, that equity will be there for you.

I like working with my first-time home buyer clients and setting expectations, which are: This won’t be your dream home, it’s not meant to be your dream home. It’s meant to be something that you like, that you are proud to live in, but that most importantly will build you wealth.

When they buy that first condo, they’ll be able to trade that in, in three to five years, for a larger condo or a single-family home. And then they’ll be able to flip that single-family home into a larger home that does really fit their dream. But it takes the second or third home to reach that dream home status for most people.

What advice would you offer both buyers and sellers on finding the right real estate agent?

Make sure you’re working with a real estate agent who is not a “yes” person, who will tell you the hard truth. Because at the end of the day, it does everyone a disservice if you’re working with someone who just tells you what you want to hear. There’s a reason we’re the professionals. We’re boots on the ground, we see the market trends, we’re showing homes every day. Work with someone you know and trust who’s going to do right by you.

The post Home Won’t Sell? Yawar Charlie on ‘Listing Impossible’ Explains Why appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

How Much Does Probate Cost? Real Estate Fees and Other Expenses

January 28, 2020

how much does probate cost?


Probate is the legal process of sorting and distributing someone’s personal property when they die. The last will and testament is taken into account and executed according to the deceased’s wishes. This often includes real estate, as well as other high-ticket items like cars or valuable jewelry.

But what happens when the deceased didn’t bequeath a home to an heir? Typically, this prompts a probate sale in which an estate attorney or family representative must sell the property to liquidate the asset and distribute the money from the sale to the family.

“A probate sale is the sale of a property after the owner’s death when the late owner did not specify an heir to inherit the property,” says David Reischer, a real estate attorney and CEO of “A property is relinquished to the court, which then appoints the closest living relative as the executor who will sell the house.”

How much does probate cost?

The overall cost of probate will vary depending on the estate’s value.

“Typically the cost will be from 3% to 7% of the estate plus various fees. I’ve seen estate costs from as little as $5,000 to as much as $50,000,” Reischer says.

If you’ve just been appointed executor of a home that’s going through a probate sale, here are the fees you should be aware of.

Attorneys fees

According to Chris McDermott, a broker at McDermott Realty in Jacksonville, FL, the biggest costs in a probate sale are usually the attorneys fees. However, these fees can vary greatly depending on the state in which you live and the cost of the asset going through probate.

According to Nolo, a legal website, the state of Florida, as one example, uses the following fees:

  • Value of estate up to $40,000: $1,500
  • $40,000 to $70,000: $2,250
  • $70,000 to $100,000: $3,000
  • $100,000 to $1 million: $3,000, plus 3% of the value over $100,000
  • $1 million to $3 million: $3,000, plus 2.5% of the value over $1 million
  • $3 million to $5 million: $3,000, plus 2% of the value above $3 million
  • $5 million to $10 million: $3,000, plus 1.5% on the value above $5 million
  • More than $10 million: $3,000, plus 1% of the value above $10 million

Court costs

Court fees are usually set by state law and will vary based on location.

“Typically, court fees range between a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars,” Reischer says. “A more complicated estate will require more paperwork to be filed and will thus be on the higher end of the range.”

Costs to secure the real estate/insurance premium

One of the first things the executor needs to do is keep all easily movable valuables—such as cash and jewelry—safe until they can be turned over to the people who inherit them.

To do this, they will need to secure the property with new locks or alarm codes, according to Matthew F. Erskine, managing partner of Worcester, MA–based Erskine & Erskine, which handles estate planning and trust administration.

“Also, call the insurance agent and add the estate as a named insured to the policy, both for the property and for any motor vehicles,” says Erskine, who estimates that this process will cost between $500 to $1,000.

Cost to make required repairs

If someone in the family wants to purchase the property, they’d typically buy it from the estate.

“This is less expensive than selling it to a third party,” Erskine says, “since they will be taking the property as is, and there will be no broker’s commission on the transaction.”

However, if no one wants the property, he says it will need to be prepared for sale. The cost to make repairs—both cosmetic or mandatory—could range from $1,000 to $50,000.

There are certain building and zoning code-based upgrades that are triggered by the sale.

“For example, an older house may have 40-amp or 60-amp electrical service, which is a fire hazard when you have a lot of electrical appliances, and will need to be upgraded to 100-amp service—and that may cost several thousand dollars,” adds Erskine.

Other considerations include removing hazardous materials like lead paint or asbestos insulation.

Cost of getting the property appraised

The executor will also be responsible for arranging an appraisal of the property which will determine the minimum price for listing the property. This can cost anywhere from $0 to $5,000.

“When there is a sale to family member, charities as beneficiaries, or the potential for a dispute on the value of the home, getting an appraisal is a must,” says Erskine.

Cost to have property cleaned out

If the house is going to go up for sale, the furniture and other tangible property will need to be removed.

“Often the family will assist with this, but there is always some stuff no one wants, so they’ll need to hire a service to remove the remainder and either buy it, donate it, or dump it,” Erskine says.

He estimates this cost to be between $750 to $1,500. Sometimes more.

“I once had an estate with a two-bedroom ranch where we had five full-size dumpsters worth of trash,” he says.

Carrying costs

It can take a significant amount of time to complete a probate sale.

“A probate sale can take up to six to 12 months to finalize, depending on the complexity of the situation and the size of the assets,” says Mike Hills, vice president of investment brokerage at Denver-based Atlas Real Estate. That’s why carrying costs like mortgage payments, real estate taxes, and utilities should be taken into account— they’ll all need to be paid during the probate sale.

Other fees

McDermott says you should also expect to pay 5% to 6% of the sale price in real estate broker fees. However, Erskine warns this amount could go as high as 10%. The executor may also receive a fee, which is usually set by the court.

“Also, title fees will cost 1% to 2% to conduct closing and issue title insurance,” McDermott says.

The post How Much Does Probate Cost? Real Estate Fees and Other Expenses appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

Lessons From Listing Photos: An Outdated Texas Jewel Shines After Major Makeover

January 23, 2020

Lessons From Listing Photos: An Outdated Texas Jewel Shines After Major Makeover

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.

They say everything is bigger in Texas, and this massive 5,000-square-foot home is no exception. Built in 1970, it was once a sparkling gem in the center of a still-prestigious west Houston neighborhood, but the interiors didn’t age well over the years. As you’ll see from the before pictures below, it’s the type of home anyone would walk into and say, “Bless your heart.” Clearly, it was high time to bring this beauty up to date.

Renovating this home would be a daunting task for anyone, but the most recent sellers were game—and this clearly wasn’t their first rodeo. They bought the property in September 2018, and sold it a year later for about $600,000 over the price they paid.

So what did they do to help modernize this Southern manse? And more important, how can you have the same success with your own home?

When asked to identify which renovations and decor choices made all the difference, our experts obliged. Here’s what they had to say.

Before: Sitting area

There’s way too much going on in this room.

After: Sitting area

Now you can really enjoy the space of this sitting area.

It won’t take you long to figure out what changed in the sitting room—and these renovations vaulted it forward three decades.

“The marble columns served to provide more of an obstacle than any sort of enhancement,” says interior designer S.A. “Sam” Jernigan of Renaissance Design Consultation. “The room now exudes lightness.”

The absence of those bulky columns may be the first thing that strikes you, but that’s not the only major change this room has experienced.

“Removing carpet and replacing it with hardwood is a must if your home is competing with pricey, new construction. Buyers don’t want carpet, especially on the first floor of the home,” says interior designer and home staging expert Jill Hosking-Cartland, of Hosking Interiors.

Home staging expert Lori Matzke also says changing the paint makes a huge difference.

“While the before photo certainly feels homey, too many colors distract from the features of the space,” she explains. “The crisp, white walls really help to play up the size of the room, and extend the space right through to the back garden.”

Before: Parlor

In a word? Yikes.

After: Parlor

Now this room is airy and chic.

This parlor is a huge room with a lot going on—and according to our experts, that’s exactly the problem.

Matzke says the old room had so much furniture, its intended use was confusing.

“The updates in the after photo not only brought in more light and created a much more open layout, but they also defined the space, leaving no doubt in potential buyers’ mind exactly how this area should be used,” she says.

“This layout utilizes the amount of square footage better and brings attention to the focal points: the fireplace and the view,” says Hosking-Cartland. “More seating makes the room feel cozier, while removing the mantel and doors makes the room look larger. Painting out stained woodwork contributes to the more modern feel of the room.”

Before: Master bedroom

This master bedroom was nothing special.

After: Master bedroom

Now the master bedroom is an oasis of calm.

Jernigan calls the original version of the master bedroom “very tired-looking,” and she’s not wrong.

“The master bedroom is one of the most important rooms in the home to a buyer. After all, the occupants of this room will be paying the mortgage,” says Hosking-Cartland. “With its taste-specific bedding, dated furnishings, and patterned wall-to-wall carpet, the before photo of this room in no way communicates serenity or retreat, the two things most buyers want in their next master bedroom.”

But the overhauled master bedroom showcases some great decor decisions: a neutral color scheme, comfortable furniture, modernized fireplace, and inviting seating area.

Before: Kitchen

Dark brown finishes date the kitchen.

After: Kitchen

The contrast in colors makes the kitchen look luxurious.

The kitchen before was spacious, but that’s not enough to make it what home buyers are looking for.

“The face-lift performed on this kitchen makes it look 30 years younger,” says Matzke. “The ‘before’ was fine, but very dark, gloomy, and dated. Brightening up the cabinets and replacing the countertops make it feel younger and brighter. But what really took this kitchen over the top were the updated light fixtures. They make this kitchen feel a lot more special and luxe.”

Hosking-Cartland says an updated kitchen is a must when you’re trying to compete with other homes on the market.

“Updating the finishes, flooring, and lighting in this important room goes a long way to communicate to a buyer that your home has been well cared for and maintained,” she says.

Before: Dining room

This dining room looks a tad too personalized.

After: Dining room

The refined decor brings the dining room into this decade.

“The decor in the ‘before’ photo did make this room feel a little tired, too personal, and dated,” says Matzke. Those are things that can make it difficult for a buyer to picture themselves living in your home.

“Buyers love light, bright rooms, and in this dining room it was smart to remove the curtains to let in more light,” says Hosking-Cartland. “It also brings attention to the architectural focal point, which is the large bank of windows. Changing the wall color to a light neutral and adding artificial light at eye level also contribute to the room appearing brighter, especially for night showings.”

The post Lessons From Listing Photos: An Outdated Texas Jewel Shines After Major Makeover appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

Lessons From Listing Photos: An 80-Year-Old Ranch Gets a Rustic-Modern Makeover

January 17, 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.

Within California’s capital city lies the posh neighborhood of East Sacramento, an area filled with historic and diverse homes, ranging from Tudors to bungalows. Some homes, like this 80-year-old, four-bedroom, four-bathroom ranch, are badly in need of an update.

When the property hit the market in 2018 for $900,000, it was clearly a very valuable place.

When they bought it in 2018 for $900,000, the new owners quickly zeroed in on its considerable strengths. The original architectural touches, like built-in cabinets and an arched soffit over one of the bathtubs, give it a unique charm. It’s also located in the tony enclave known as the “Fabulous Forties” (the streets are named after numbers in the 40s). But they also realized it would need considerable work to bring it to its full potential.

An eight-month renovation returned the home to a level of sophistication it hadn’t seen in decades. And when the refurbished house went on the market, it was eventually sold for $600,000 over what the sellers paid for it just a year earlier.

So what design choices worked to the sellers’ advantage the most? We went straight to our experts to find out what they did right, and how you can have that same success in your space.

Before: Front of the home

front yard_landscaping_before
The house was hidden by overgrown greenery.

After: Front of the home

front yard_landscaping_after
After renovations, you can’t miss this gorgeous entrance.

You’ll have to look pretty hard to find any similarities in these before and after images, but we promise that it is the same house. It’s simply come out of hiding from behind all that overgrown greenery.

According to our experts, it’s really just several small changes that made such a huge difference in the appearance of the front of the home.

Kobi Karp, principal at Kobi Karp Architecture & Interior Design, loves the way the dark roof, door, and shutters contrast with the white panels on the house.

“The color palette makes the home pop,” says Karp, who’s also a big fan of the new landscaping.

“The lighting creates warmth, and the addition of potted wildflowers usher in the farmhouse vibe without going overboard, and creates a welcoming entrance,” he says.

Of course, nothing sells a house better than an entrance that welcomes prospective buyers, right?

Before: Living room

living room_before
The old living room was closed off and outdated.

After: Living room

living room_after
Opening a wall—and losing the fireplace—makes it larger and improves flow.

The sellers may have added a ton of style to this living room, but they also took away something fairly major: the fireplace!

So how do our experts feel about losing a feature than many consider central to the room’s design?

They don’t miss it at all. In fact, Nisha MacNeil, design manager at Kerr Construction & Design, thinks the room greatly benefits from letting the fireplace go, as it helps gain more of what really matters: space.

“This is a beautiful and bright space made even larger by removing the fireplace and opening up the wall between the living and dining rooms with an arch, enhancing the architectural details,” she says. “I love the added stained-wood casing around the other door to warm up the space. The new stain color of the floor is perfect for the update. The previous oak floor was too yellow and orange.”

Karp admires the universally flattering and stylish decor choices.

“While the color scheme is still neutral, the space is brought to life with plants and wooden accents,” he says.

Before: Office

This old room held hints of its former charm.

After: Office

A few simple touches created an inspiring office.

This room didn’t see as many changes as the rest of the house. But our experts agree that the modifications made the room more stylish and functional.

“This is a perfect example of how designer staging completely transforms a space,” says MacNeil. “With the placement of some key furniture, art, and an area rug, the space now has purpose.”

“The floors were also darkened to match the rest of the house and add warmth to the room,” says Karp. “All these elements make this a space where you can create, reflect, and feel inspired.”

Another nice touch: keeping the original built-in cabinet. It’s a nod to the house’s historical roots and provides more storage space.

Before: Bathroom

The old bathroom had nothing going for it.

After: Bathroom

Mosaic tiles and a wooden vanity give this space life.

Perhaps the most genius move in the whole house was transforming the arch above the bathtub into a unique design element.

“I am in love with this bathroom,” says MacNeil. “The original arched soffit over the tub looks stunning clad in this small mosaic.

It “is an element that would typically be removed during a renovation, and I am so happy they kept it,” says MacNeil. “It brings an architectural design feature that speaks to old European design.

The rustic sink vanity also gives a nod to the modern farmhouse aesthetic that crops up in other rooms of the house.

Before: Backyard

The old backyard was overgrown.

After: Backyard

A new patio and grass make this a place you’d want to spend an afternoon.

The original backyard looked a bit like a wasteland with no place to sit and relax. But several additions make this area a comfortable place to enjoy that California sunshine.

“A covered patio is such a great selling feature,” says MacNeil. “They took this one to the next level by creating two massive, open gables in a gorgeous stained wood. I love the exposed steel fasteners that give an edge to the design.”

Karp sees this outdoor space as the perfect complement to the renovation.

“Ultimately, they created a space that thrives on rustic details and pure functionality,” he says.

The post Lessons From Listing Photos: An 80-Year-Old Ranch Gets a Rustic-Modern Makeover appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

Lessons From Listing Photos: This Rehabbed California Ranch Is Giving Off Major Modern Farmhouse Vibes

December 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 pictures highlight the home’s best assets.

Taking a look at nothing but the property description, this four-bedroom, 2.5-bath ranch home in Loomis, CA, sounded like a buyer’s dream when it was previously up for sale in January. It had plenty of space and privacy (thanks to the 3-acre lot) and a great neighborhood.

But a quick flip through the listing photos revealed one big problem with the house. It screamed 1970s both inside and out—an issue that surely would have sent many prospective buyers running. The truth is, many people are looking for a home that’s move-in ready and may be reluctant to buy a home that’s in disrepair, so a major remodel could be a deal breaker.

Thankfully the sellers knew what had to be done. They did a down-to-the-studs renovation before putting it back on the market in August—proving along the way that Chip and Joanna Gaines aren’t the only ones who can pull off the modern farmhouse look.

Below, our design experts discuss what parts of the renovation made the biggest impact, and how you can have the same success in your own space.

Before: Bathroom

This old bathroom was ’70s overkill.

After: Bathroom

Now the bathroom is fresh and clean.

Paging Marcia Brady! This bathroom looks like something out of a ’70s sitcom.

“Carpet in a bathroom is just disturbing,” says Tiffany Fasone, owner and CEO of Voila Design Home. “The layout was also awkward because of the two separate rooms.”

A much-needed redo brought this bathroom into the current decade.

“These new Moroccan-inspired mirrors make the room look really on-trend,” says Nisha MacNeil, design manager at Kerr Construction & Design. “While the palette of this bathroom is serene and calm with all whites and grays, the hit of black really pulls the space together.”

Our experts agree that knocking down the wall next to the sink made a huge difference to the layout and added major space.

“Removing the separate room for the toilet and shower was a smart move,” says Katie Stix, partner and design director at Anderson Design Studio. “It allows for a larger shower and more open feel.”

Stix also appreciates the pendant lights (that coordinate with the mirrors) and the classic polished-nickel finish on the faucets.

Before: Bedroom

The old bedroom was dingy and bland.

After: Bedroom

New floors and trim make this room classy and comfortable.

The bedroom went from college dorm to grown-up getaway, and our experts are loving the changes.

“New flooring is a fairly simple update that has really cleaned up the space,” says MacNeil.

Stix was also most impressed by the flooring change.

“The existing carpet looked nasty,” she says. “I’m glad they changed it out for hardwood, and a pretty hardwood with warmth and movement.”

But the floor wasn’t the only big change that caught her eye.

“Removing the popcorn ceiling was well worth it, too, and adding recessed can lighting and a ceiling fan bring light to the space,” she adds.

Before: Dining room

dining area_before
That old fireplace dated the entire space.

After: Dining room

dining area_after
Now the dining room is open and welcoming.

“This room had the most drastic and necessary changes,” says Fasone. “Removing the old fireplace and adding the hardwood floors and the new color palette make it feel like an entirely new home.”

Stix agrees that removing the fireplace was the right move.

“In a lot of renovations you see people keeping the fireplace. But in this case, I think it was smart to sacrifice the fireplace for the larger, open concept kitchen,” she says. “Plus the stone wasn’t very pretty.”

Staging the dining room also helps sell the space and gives potential buyers an opportunity to imagine themselves living there.

Before: Kitchen

This closed-off kitchen is like a step back in time.

After: Kitchen

Opening it up made all the difference.

Hello, bigger kitchen! The transformation to an open concept is surely something potential buyers loved.

“By removing the kitchen peninsula and old drywall, the whole space has opened up and become more functional,” says MacNeil. “The new kitchen holds all the key elements to a shabby-chic or farmhouse kitchen: subway tiles, white and gray color palette, dark finished hardware, and rustic wood elements.”

“I’m glad they removed all the cabinets and created a large center island,” adds Stix. “They kept it simple and appealing.”

Before: Front exterior

The original exterior kind of blends into the landscape.

After: Front exterior

Now the front yard looks homey and inviting.

The exterior color chosen for the renovated house does a great job of capturing the rustic-chic vibe that’s going on throughout the inside of the house.

“Architectural details like the window boxes play a key role here and really complete this look,” says MacNeil. The same can be said for the carriage-style garage doors in that gorgeous honey-brown shade.

Fasone agrees about the new color scheme, saying it feels very clean and neutral.

“Updating the garage is such a smart way to add value and functionality,” she says.

The post Lessons From Listing Photos: This Rehabbed California Ranch Is Giving Off Major Modern Farmhouse Vibes appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

Hark, the Buyers Sing! 4 Tips to Throw a Rockin’ Holiday-Themed Open House

December 14, 2019


If you’ve decided to keep your home on the market this holiday season (and you totally should), you probably have a few questions. Like, how much should you decorate the house? Or, is it OK to leave presents under the tree?

We checked with several real estate agents to answer your most pressing questions, and help you throw the ultimate holiday-themed open house that’ll have buyers adding your home to their list for Santa.

1. Make it cozy and bright

Photo by Robin LaMonte/Rooms Revamped 
The first step to getting buyers in the door (and persuading them to stay awhile) is to transform your house into a warm haven of holiday cheer. Chances are, guests coming in from the cold will be feeling just as stressed as you about trying to balance the holidays with a big move. But you can soften them up with a few simple tricks—like blasting the heat.

“Keep your house very warm,” suggest Lane Shuler, real estate broker for LeConte Realty. “Don’t try to save a buck by keeping your house below 70. Make your house the most welcoming house a buyer sees on their tour.”

You might even want to use a real fire to upgrade the coziness of your home.

“This is a great time to showcase the house, and a festive theme makes the house a ‘home’ that potential buyers can see themselves in,” says real estate agent Nadia Anac. “If you live in colder climates, turn on the fireplace.”

You should also consider using small lights, candles, and even scented decor to make every room feel like one your buyer doesn’t want to leave.

“Make sure the home smells great,” says Michelle Sloan, a Realtor®. “I love the cinnamon-scented pine cones that can be found in hobby stores. They make a great holiday decoration and make the room smell warm and cozy.”

2. Bring out the figgy pudding

All right, it doesn’t have to be figgy pudding, but your holiday-themed open house should definitely have a few snacks to keep buyers sticking around. Baked goods and festive drinks will help your event feel more like a holiday party, and less like a chore.

“Offer some bubbly,” Sloan suggests. “Small glasses of white, bubbly grape juice or some other festive drink that won’t be too messy to clean up if there are spills.”

“Play upbeat holiday music, and bake some cookies to engage all the senses,” Anac suggests. “Offer hot cocoa so potential buyers will linger longer.”

3. Don’t store presents under the tree

Photo by Marks & Spencer
The only strange guy with access to your presents this year should be Santa Claus—so do your part in eliminating temptation for theft during the open house by keeping presents and valuables out of sight.

Ditto for the genuine crystal tree topper or the heirloom china you inherited from your great-grandmother. We know it comes out only once a year, but this year it’s better off staying in the attic. After all, it isn’t just theft you should be worried about; other accidents can easily happen as well, especially with a house full of people.

“Always put away valuables and breakable items that cannot be replaced,” Sloan says.

4. Be sensitive with your decor

2010 Christmas Decor eclectic
Photo by Mustard Seed Interiors.

See more eclectic spaces designs

The holidays mean different things for everyone. Since you never know who’s going to walk through the door, it’s important to keep your decor festive and fun—not heavy or religious. Translation? Christmas trees are great, but skip the nativity set this year.

“I recommend a pine wreath on the front door, and a few large, red velvet bows tied strategically along the front of the home,” says real estate broker Flavia Berys. “Inside the home, make it nondenominational, using things like snowmen, snowflakes, holly, and candles.”

Be sure that the key focal points in your home look holiday-ready, otherwise your home might seem gloomy.

“If you have a mantel, be sure it’s decorated,” says Benjamin Ross, a Realtor with Mission Real Estate Group. “If the mantel is left plain, it’ll look out of place this time of year—not good for prospective buyers.”

But that doesn’t mean you should go all-out, like the Griswold family.

“Buyers who go to open houses during the holidays are serious about buying,” Anac says. “For a seller who’s going to have an open house during the holidays, it’s important to make the home inviting, but not too distracting with holiday decor—don’t overdo it with lights or lawn decorations.”

The post Hark, the Buyers Sing! 4 Tips to Throw a Rockin’ Holiday-Themed Open House appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

Lessons From Listing Photos: This South Carolina Mansion Went From Traditional to Trendy

December 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 pictures highlight the home’s best assets.

There was nothing wrong with this Sullivans Island, SC, home when the sellers purchased it. It was built in 2005, so it hadn’t acquired decades of wear quite yet, but the decor did display furniture trends and colors that were hot in the early 2000s.

Before they put it on the market once again, the sellers decided to update a few of the home’s interior details, embracing many of the hottest trends of the moment. It’s a great example of how small touches can make a big difference—and how you can stir up more interest in your home without a major renovation project.

Below, our design experts highlight the stylish changes that the sellers made, how they likely affected the sale of the home, and (most importantly) how you can make the same thing happen in your home.

Before: Bedroom

south carolina before and after
The old bedroom looked crowded with too much furniture.

After: Bedroom

south carolina before and after
Now, the bedroom has a strong design point of view.

south carolina before and after
A smaller dresser makes the room appear more spacious.

There’s no denying that this is a comfy bedroom, but the design in the after photo is a lot more on-trend than the other—and our experts were quick to point out why.

“The before image is very matchy-matchy, which is slowly going out, while the layered, textured, and eclectic design in the after photo is in,” says Katie Stix, partner and design director at Anderson Design Studio. “The antique-looking bed mixed with more modern bedside tables and area rug is very trendy. All-white walls is also something you see a lot these days.”

Nisha MacNeil, design manager at Kerr Construction & Design, says the white room allows a few colorful features to pop.

“This is a huge trend and really allows you versatility in the space,” she says.

Before: Kitchen

south carolina before and after
The kitchen was perfectly functional, but needed a design refresh.

After: Kitchen

south carolina before and after
Small touches make the kitchen look more polished.

You have to look pretty closely to see the changes in the kitchen, but once you do, you won’t be sure how you missed them.

“This kitchen had great bones; I would die for this space,” says MacNeil. “Shiplap walls, artisan subway tile, exposed beams, and great natural light. Who could ask for more?”

But despite the architectural quality of the kitchen, there was still room to update the decor, brighten up the space, and bring it into this decade.

“By opting for clear-glass pendants over the island and sink and removing that piece of art over the range, the whole space now breathes and feels so warm and inviting,” says MacNeil.

“The bar stools have a lot more personality, and are very trendy,” says Stix. “The woven vinyl look with curved wood frame play off the other wood tones and add more visual interest. They fill the space a lot better and are more comfortable than backless stools.”

Paul Trudel-Payne, founder and creative designer of Casa Consult+Design, says the simple changes in the light fixtures and bar stools really updated the space and infused true style into the kitchen.

“While this update is not major at all, I really feel like buyers will resonate with the attention to detail,” he says.

Before: Living room

south carolina before and after
Before, the living room decor was basic as can be.

After: Living room

south carolina before and after
New furniture and a fresh coat of paint give this space a new vibe.

This gorgeous living room is where the biggest decor changes were made.

“It almost looks like an actual renovation took place” says Tiffany Fasone, owner and CEO of Voila Design Home. “Previously, the living room felt very dated and heavy: the white slipcovers, all of the different wood tones in the floors and furniture, and the dark bricks on the fireplace. … The new style feels more current.”

Fresh white paint helps the room feel open, airy, and modern.

“They also did a clever trick by simply whitewashing the brick to tone down the red of the original brick. This really softens the space, but still leaves the history and texture intact,” MacNeil says.

The white walls also leave room for the new colorful furniture and artwork to take center stage.

“I love that they contrasted the blue sofas with the citron geometric rug,” says Stix.

“The luxe vibe created with the royal blue velvet sofas is everything,” adds Trudel-Payne.

Before: Porch

The old porch was a cozy place to hang out.

After: Porch

Now, it’s a chic lounge.

Who wouldn’t want to spend a Sunday morning sipping coffee on this redesigned back porch? The space itself is idyllic, but the previous design—which included turquoise sofas and pillows that looked more suited for a child’s room—left much to be desired. But brand-new furniture and a revamp of the fireplace make this space just as tasteful as the interiors.

“This porch is now a design lesson in how to do white on white properly. You need texture, and lots of it,” explains MacNeil. “The ceiling joists, which are exposed, and shiplap walls are part of this texture. In the furnishings they made selections that had texture, like the woven armchairs and the rug all in tone-on-tone white and off-white.”

Fasone agrees that going all white was a good move, and sees another benefit to the redesign: “The porch feels more like part of the exterior now that they used outdoor woven patio furniture instead of the oversized aqua matching love seats,” she says.

Before: Sitting room

sitting room_before
Not everyone is a fan of turquoise walls.

After: Sitting room

sitting room_after
White paint on the walls elevates the design of this room.

The sitting room was probably the most outdated space in the whole house, and our experts say the sellers embraced all the right trends to bring it into the present.

“This room felt so stuffy before with the furniture choices and wall sconces. Now it has a perfectly curated, eclectic feel,” says MacNeil. “The key here is the rug has an aged look, and matches so well with the floors so it blends together and creates the perfect base. The traditional turned-leg desk feels so sweet, but juxtaposed with the black and white artwork it gives it a real kick. Throw in the Eames chair, and it’s the perfect balance of traditional, modern, and rock and roll.”

“Getting rid of that robin’s-egg blue wall is long overdue. That, plus the removal of ornate gold art, bulky furniture, and dated sconces really brings the space into this decade,” says Trudel-Payne. “Although my favorite new detail is the refinished original hardwood floors that were sitting beneath the carpet.”

The post Lessons From Listing Photos: This South Carolina Mansion Went From Traditional to Trendy appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

How to Sell Your House Fast: 5 Must-Know Tips to Move Your Property

December 12, 2019


If you need to sell your house fast, you probably don’t have a whole lot of time to research the current real estate market and ponder how it’ll affect your home sale. You just want sales guidance from a real estate agent or other pro that will help you find a buyer as fast as possible.

Well, here’s the good news: It is possible for you, as a seller, to offload your home quickly. The experts say selling comes down to a few key to-do’s that you should take care of before your property hits the market.

If you’re ready to unload your abode, heed the selling advice of the experts below. Of course, we can’t guarantee all homeowners a quick sale, but putting these tips into practice definitely won’t hurt the chances of securing a buyer.

1. Tidy up to make your house stand out (and sell!)

If you’re looking to sell quickly, you’re going to want to start cleaning, especially before those listing photos are taken by your Realtor®.

“Pristine houses from sellers are more attractive to a buyer, which will keep the buyer excited,” says Debi Benoit, principal and broker at Benoit Mizner Simon & Co. Real Estate in Wellesley, MA. “And an excited buyer may pay top dollar to the seller and will usually write an offer quickly.”

Fast selling means getting rid of clutter both inside the house and in the yard and putting some elbow grease into making everything look like a brand-new home (yup, you might need a storage unit for maximum curb appeal).

And selling fast means cleaning from top to bottom in every room of the house. Wipe down cabinets, light fixtures, and drawers, remove any scuffs from the walls, give all kitchen appliances a once-over, clean air vents, shampoo your carpets, and then sweep, vacuum, or mop every inch of the house.

It will take you several days of work to declutter, but the payoff (making a sale!) will be worth it for a potential buyer. Trust us—this is a major part of selling a home quickly.

2. Have your house staged to sell fast

Be the best seller you can be, and go extra mile beyond cleaning. To do this, consider having your house staged, a real estate term that means decorating your place so that it is more attractive to buyers.

“It’s best to present the home in its best light when you’re selling,” explains Nile Lundgren, an agent with Trent & Company in New York City. He once had a real estate listing—unstaged—on the market for five months without ever getting an offer to sell.

“We took it off the market, staged it, reshot photos, and put it back on the market,” he says. “Within two weeks, we got into a bidding war and signed a contract for a sale shortly thereafter.”

Real estate staging typically takes anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the availability of rental furniture, the movers, and the installers.

If you’re facing a major time crunch to sell, Lundgren suggests focusing on staging the beds, sofas, tables, chairs, and art—items that make a house feel like a well-maintained home where people can live and get comfortable.

3. Hire a photographer to take listing photos for a quick sale

It may feel like hiring a professional will be a waste of money. After all, your cellphone has a great camera, right? But that can be a sale killer, says Rosamaria Acuña, a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties in La Jolla.

“First impressions are everything, and need to be done right,” she says. “A professional photographer has all the tools to capture the right lighting and make everything look brighter and inviting.” The pros also have wide-angle lenses to fit the entire room in the photo.

4. Selling quick means making your home available for showings

Once everything is set up, get ready to spend a lot of time away from your home so buyers and real estate agents can view the property comfortably—without you or your pets wandering around the halls. Selling fast is best done when homeowners aren’t there for an open house.

Remember: If you want to sell your home pronto, you need to be flexible and open with your time, to allow buyers and real estate agents to tour it as often as possible.

5. Attract a buyer with the right price

Staging and marketing your home are important components, but at the end of the day, the amount of money you’re asking buyers to pay could be what seals the deal.

“Nothing will help sell a poorly priced home—and a well-priced home can overcome many other issues,” says Aaron Hendon, a Realtor with Christine & Company in Seattle. “To sell your home fast, your house needs to be priced to compete with the others currently on the market.”

Your real estate agent will help you decide on the right listing price for your home by looking at a variety of factors: your house’s age, any updates, square footage, and the school district.

An agent will pull up comparable homes, or “comps,” that have sold in the area to evaluate the best sale price.

The post How to Sell Your House Fast: 5 Must-Know Tips to Move Your Property 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 |®.