How-To Tuesday: Staging Ideas

You love your home. You adore the colorful walls, the plush furniture, and the gorgeous family photos that grace the walls. Your house is neat, tidy, and has plenty of room for movement. Why wouldn’t any prospective buyers fall in love with it, too?

Well, here’s the thing. Buyers couldn’t care less about your design tastes or your family photos. Ouch, right? Don’t take offense. A potential buyer’s reaction has everything to do with their personality and individual taste. So let’s talk about home staging. Have you seen those TV shows where design and construction crews come in, demolish and rebuild the kitchen, repaint the entire home, and refinish the hardwood floors? In reality, it doesn’t take that much effort to stage your home for showings. Instead of going all out, try these simple, inexpensive staging ideas that are sure to appeal to any buyer’s taste. 

Toss the clutter. Getting rid of clutter is the number one thing you can do to help buyers envision themselves in your home. Ask yourself what you can live without, and box it up or donate it.

Finish unfinished projects. Come on. Admit it. You know you have at least one. That uncovered light fixture you never got around to replacing? The half-painted guest room? Take care of those now.

Change your paint. Seeing a very bright or dark color as soon as they walk in can be off-putting to buyers. Switch to a neutral color. That doesn’t mean you have to paint everything a boring white or beige. Neutral colors can be anything from a simple taupe or dove gray to a beautiful light blue or a touch of sage.

Create the illusion of space. There are a number of ways to do this. Paint adjacent rooms the same color to open up the area. Do the same with flooring. It joins the two rooms together, effectively opening up the space. Arrange furniture in conversation groups to show the function and flow of the room.

Appease both genders. If you’re dealing with both genders, keep the master bedroom neutral. You might think your frilly curtains and abundance of throw pillows are inviting, but that tough-guy buyer might not.

Lighten up. Let in as much natural light as possible. In areas that don’t see much sunlight, the key to remember is 100 watts of light for each 50 square feet. Combine ambient light (general overhead lighting) with task lighting (pendant, under-cabinet lights) and accent lighting (table/floor lamps). Table lamps give a warmer, more intimate feel for nighttime.

Replace outdated flooring. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on this. If your kitchen laminate is worn out or your tiles are cracked, you can replace it with vinyl tiles or planks, which have become very popular and are way less expensive than the real thing. Another option is to stain the concrete underneath. Stained concrete can give a modern, custom feel to a room.

Show off storage space. Clean and organize all storage areas, such as closets, kitchen cabinets, under-sink storage, and pantries. You don’t want potential buyers to see your cluttered mess. You want them to see how much storage space you have!

Do a quick update. Replace old hardware on any cabinets, drawers, or other fixtures with pull knobs and switches. Don’t forget light switch plates. These can get pretty grimy and yellowed over the years.

Repaint doors and frames. A new coat of white paint here will create a clean, modern feel.

Give nooks purpose. You know that odd 4’x4’ nook at the top of the stairs? Stick a comfy chair and a floor lamp there and transform it into a reading area. And that odd little niche space in the living room could be a great place for a built-in bookshelf or a little table.

Give bathrooms ambience. Roll up some fresh towels. Put out pretty soaps and accessories. Frame a boring mirror with painted molding. Hide any personal items. Doing this can give a bathroom a spa-like feel.

Display art creatively. A bunch of framed pictures hanging at eye level can honestly be kind of boring. Make sure you don’t have an abundance of family photos on the walls. Stagger your paintings and prints. Hang a bunch of small frames in a large grouping. Just don’t line them up around the walls in a straight line.

Don’t forget to stage the exterior! Make sure sidewalks and driveways are clean. Mow the lawn regularly. Plant colorful flowers or place them in pots on the front porch. Scrub the patio down, pressure wash the siding, and clean the windows. Hang an attractive yet neutral wreath on the front door, and voila! Pretty and inviting.

Bring the outdoors indoors. Seasonal flowers or greenery gives a finishing touch and brings a little sunshine to any room.

Choose just a few of these little projects, or use our tips as a checklist to help you get your home ready all of those showing appointments that are sure to come your way. Happy selling!


Friday Five // March 28, 2014

It's time again for our Friday Five, in which we bring you five links to posts, videos, and articles we think you'll find interesting and informative. Included in this week's lineup are a video on home design, information on the kickoff to Charleston Eat Local Month, and an inspiring article about a few special entrepreneurs.

Home Advisor presents a video in which top kitchen and bath industry brands talk about Spring design trends.

Want to be motivated to start your own business? Read this article from American Express about three teenagers who all founded successful companies before they turned 18!

Find out how to participate in the Eat Local Month challenge beginning on April 1st.

Check out this article from Inman News about Fannie Mae's extension of a 3.5 percent closing-cost assistance incentive for newly listed HomePath properties in its REO inventory.

Pick up a copy of the Charleston City Paper to see the results of their Best of Charleston 2014 Awards, or see them on their website.

All the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company wish you a safe and happy weekend!




What Exactly is a Short Sale?

In recent years, it has become common for homebuyers and investors to look toward distressed properties for great deals on homes. Often, buyers can get homes via short sale or foreclosure for much less than the home's original purchase price. You're probably already familiar with the definition of foreclosure, but what about short sales?  

As a general definition, a short sale involves the sale of a house that is no longer worth the amount of the mortgage loan. Short sales keep owners from going into foreclosure, which is detrimental to their credit scores. While the situation is not ideal for either the owner or the bank, it just might be the only economical option they have.

As an example, let's consider the hypothetical Smith family. The Smiths bought their home for $200,000. Five years later, they have paid $40,000 in principle, which means they have $160,000 left on their mortgage. Mr. Smith has lost his job and has not been able to find more work. The Smiths cannot afford to make their mortgage payments anymore, but they know that going into foreclosure will hurt their credit and make it more difficult to buy another home in the future. They decide that selling is their only option. The real estate market been in a major slump in their area, leading to a drop in property values. As a result, their home now appraises for $130,000. The Smiths do not have $30,000 to make up the difference in what they owe, so they approach the bank about a short sale. What happens next?

 First, the bank must approve the home for a short sale. To demonstrate their circumstances, the Smiths send the bank a hardship letter, explaining that Mr.    Smith has lost his job. With the letter, they send paystubs, bank statements, and proof of other assets. Now, it's up to the bank to decide whether a short sale or a foreclosure will present  less of a loss. Luckily, the  bank approves the short sale.

But as those in the real estate business like to say, there's nothing short about a short sale. Because the owner and buyer must wait for the bank to approve an offer, a short  sale takes much longer than a private sale would. The buyer must have patience and time to wait for the third party's approval process. Though the bank takes a loss, and the owners  lose any future equity they might have been able to accrue in the house, the buyer gets a great deal on a home that's usually in good condition.

Oh, and after the sale of their home, the hypothetical Smiths move to a new state, where Mr. Smith lands a great job, and they all live happily ever after. 

What is your opinion of short sales? Have you ever participated in one? Was the process smooth, or were there a lot of roadblocks along the way? Let us know in the comments below!

Spring Time: Planting Vegetables in the Shade

Spring time is here! If you are like me, you can't wait to start planting and harvesting fruits and veggies. However, it can be tough to find areas to garden that give full sun. If you happen to live in a neighborhood with HOA rules that don't allow gardens in the front yard, or perhaps you live in a densely wooded area; don't fret, here are some examples of vegetables that grow in the shade. 

  1. Asparagus
  2. Beans
  3. Beets
  4. Broccoli
  5. Brussels Sprouts
  6. Cabbage
  7. Carrots
  8. Cauliflower
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Peas
  11. Potatoes
  12. Radishes
  13. Rhubarb
  14. Sweet Potatoes
  15. Spinach
  16. Kale
  17. Mustard Greens

There are benefits to planting in the shade after all. Since it won't be getting overwhelmed with sun, you won't have to water your crops as frequent and leafy greens such as spinach and kale's life span will increase. So happy gardening and enjoy your shady veggies. 




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How-To Tuesday: Easy Concrete Countertops

Concrete is invading kitchens everywhere! Instead of installing or replacing tile and laminate flooring in kitchens, many people have taken to staining the existing concrete. Concrete has even become a less costly replacement for granite, soapstone, or marble countertops. For this week's How-To Tuesday post, we thought we would discuss one easy, inexpensive option homeowners have for using concrete in a kitchen.

Believe it or not, you don't have to completely demolish your existing countertops to replace them with concrete. In fact, you can skip the "replacement" part completely by applying a concrete finishing product right on top of Formica. No stripping or removal needed!

Here's what you need to complete this project:

Ardex Feather Finish, or any comparable product. You can get this for under $20!

drywall tape knife

plastic putty knife

small container for mixing

sanding block

concrete sealer

wax (optional)

1. Start by giving your existing countertop a light sanding. The product is made to adhere well to most surfaces, so you shouldn't need to sand heavily. Clean counters thoroughly after sanding.

2. Mix your product. You'll want to do this in small batches since it dries pretty quickly. Start with a small amount in your mixing container, adding water until you reach a spreadable consistency.

3. Scoop some of the product onto the countertop and spread it over the surface with your drywall tape knife. This first coat should be very thin and will not cover the surface completely. Don't forget to cover the front edge of the counter and the backsplash. The smaller putty knife will work well for these smaller areas. And don't be afraid to get your hands dirty! Use your fingers to blend the product into creases or build up over edges.

4. Allow to dry. Opening a few windows or using a fan should help speed up drying time. DO NOT MOVE ON UNTIL FIRST COAT IS COMPLETELY DRY.

5. Once the first layer is dry, sand any rough parts, then clean up the dust. Proceed with the second coat in the same manner as the first. Allow to dry, and then sand any rough parts. You'll want to do about three or four coats total. 

6. When you're happy with the number of coats and everything looks reasonably smooth and finished, you'll need to seal it. Apply concrete sealant to the countertop. Let each coat dry completely before moving on to the next. You'll want about three coats of sealant.

7. When the sealer is dry, you can apply a coat of wax if you'd like, but make sure it has natural ingredients and is food safe! 

A few more tips:

Never cut directly on the counter tops. It will ruin the finish.

If you use wax, don't put food directly on the surface.

This finish will stain if certain spills are not cleaned up quickly (oils, spaghetti sauce, etc.). 

Don't worry you find that the surface becomes stained or marked over time. The fix is easy: just give the counters a quick sanding and add another layer of concrete finish and sealant. 

Have you tried using concrete in your kitchen? Was it easy or too much of a hassle? How has it held up over time? Let us know in the comments below!



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