Monday, April 4, 2016

Why Your Empty House Won't Sell

While it is possible to sell an empty house, it is rare. If you have ever tried to sell a vacated house absent of its furnishings, you have likely experienced this first hand - numerous buyers passing on the home, and feedback that makes no sense to you. What do you mean the bedrooms look small? The living room isn't an awkward layout! Since you have lived in the house, you know how great it looks when it’s fully furnished and decorated, and you understand how each room should be set up. The trick is in helping your buyers to understand this.

Unfortunately, the ability to visualize a space is a skill that not everyone has. In fact, only about 10% of your prospective buyers have this ability to properly visualize a space beyond what they see in front of them. This means when you are selling a vacant home, you’re missing out on 90% of potential market! Vacant homes will often take much longer to sell than a properly staged home (72% longer in fact, according to RESA®’s 2014 survey). Not only does furnishing a home properly help buyers to understand the optimal placement for their furniture, but it will allow them to connect on an emotional level as well. It’s not just about having furniture in a house in order to help buyers to visualize it, but it’s about merchandising the home, and selling the experience of living there.



To do this, each room needs to first be clearly defined. This means showing buyers what the intended purpose and use of each room in the home is, whether it’s a bedroom, an office, a dining room, or a gathering room. Defining this intent, and showcasing this one use for the space, will allow buyers to flow more easily from room to room when viewing the home, without having to stop and think in each room about how they would use it.

What is home staging? Home staging is a complete process for preparing a home for sale. The goal of home staging is to clearly define the space, show proper scale, and create an emotional connection for buyers. This is achieved through updates and repairs, eliminating distractions from the home, proper furnishing, arranging, accessorizing, and essentially, merchandising of the space.

Have you ever ordered an item online, and when you received it you realized that it wasn’t quite the size that you thought that it was? The online site probably gave you the dimensions for the item, but you didn’t fully understand its size from the photo that they provided you with. Now, you’ve probably seen something like this, and perhaps have even done this yourself when taking a photo:


You take a commonly known object, and place it next to the item that you’re trying to show the size of. Now lets take this back to your empty house. Vacant rooms will often tend to look smaller than they actually are to your prospective buyers, especially since 92% of these buyers are first viewing your property online (National Association of REALTORS® 2014 REPORT), and these photographs can be deceptive in vacant rooms. By showing that a queen size bed with nightstands fits in a bedroom for example, or a full size sofa in the sitting room, you’re helping buyers to understand how they could furnish the rooms, and you are giving them an incentive to come and visit the home to see for themselves.









When viewing an empty home online, it is especially difficult for your buyers to connect to the home and feel invited in, and they are less likely to even visit it. Why do you think that homebuilders prepare a model home for their buyers? They understand that their buyers want the experience of being able to walk around the home, instead of just viewing a black and white floor plan. In fact, most homebuilders will tell you that most of their buyers purchase the finishes that they have shown in their model property.

As home stagers, it is not uncommon for the buyers of homes that we have staged to contact us to purchase the items that we used in staging it, or to help them to purchase items similar to those that we used. They loved it so much when they walked through, that they wanted to buy it all!

A house that is not properly furnished will distract buyers, thus disrupting this natural flow. Buyers want to easily flow from room to room in a house. In an empty house, each room requires additional time (and energy) to discuss the proper use, the size of the room, what will fit, what won’t fit, and where to position it. They’ll then need to attempt to visualize what all of that will look like, which is challenging to 90% of the population. Making your buyers do this much work usually leads to a longer time on market, price reductions, and a whole lot of avoidable stress on your part.

Help your buyers connect with the home by having it professionally staged. This will help to answer all of your buyer questions, so that the only question remaining is how soon can we write up an offer? At Beyond The Stage Homes, we specialize in staging your vacant home. We offer the largest independent inventory selection in the Region, with great rental terms (ask us how to get your second month of staging rentals for FREE)!

Did you know? The investment in home staging is always less than the first price reduction. In addition, an investment in home staging means less time on the market, and therefore lowers your carrying costs for the house.

Contact Beyond The Stage Homes today to find out how to get your property sold!

Ph: 226.240.0766
Email: info@btshomes.com
www.beyondthestagehomes.com 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Light It Up!

By Jen MacEwen

Light it up, make the switch!

How many times have you noticed those (ahem…) beautiful builders choice old-school ceiling lights in hallways, equally questionable pendants above a kitchen island, and/or an underwhelming dining room chandelier?

I’ve been there, I’ve lived with these lighting selections for a time, but once I settled into my space and got a feel for how I lived and worked in it, I formulated a design plan, and finally upgraded!

Lighting has come a long way in affordability and design in the last few years. The wide assortment of styles and equally attractive price points has made switching out to upgraded lighting an easy choice.

In the past, lighting was viewed as more utilitarian than an integral part of a design plan. For me, lighting is the icing on the cake, the cherry on the sundae… well, you get it! I love great lighting and take joy in selecting the perfect pieces to add that little bit of interest, bling, whimsy, whatever that space is calling for!

While there has always been a wide variety of beautiful selections at your local lighting stores, price points were usually pretty intimidating. If you were looking to add a light as a focal point, it was more likely for a formal dining room where you needed a bit more drama. These days, however, look no further than your local home improvement store for current, and affordably priced selections for all areas of your home, as shown below:





Consider looking for a fixture that adds and serves double duty by adding pattern to your ceiling and walls when lit. The pattern projected from this kind of light (whether intentionally or otherwise) can serve as a beautiful focal point as shown on the ceiling below. A few years ago, I purchased a large pendant light from a popular furniture store that I lovingly referred to as my “dandelion light.” To my surprise, when turned on, the light reflected through the large flower-shaped ends, making the walls display a wallpaper-like pattern. This was simply a happy accident, but any quality lighting store will be able to assist you in finding such a showstopper!


While I’ve been known to break a few rules, these are some great guidelines for proper lighting placement (unless you prefer to not see the person across the table!) Generally, chandeliers should be 30 – 40 inches above your dining table, approx. 12 inches narrower than the table and always centered in the middle of the table… oh, my OCD! Lastly, if your ceiling is over 8 ft tall, add 3 inches to the hanging height per additional foot of ceiling height.



If we need to get into the nitty gritty of the way lighting affects the feel of a room, another design tip is to add three layers of lighting; ambient, accent, and task. Let’s clarify these three types specifically…

Ambient refers to general lighting, mainly ceiling type lighting, that work to serve as the main lighting for a room and more of a utilitarian application. Secondly, accent lighting refers to fixtures that provide that extra bit of warmth to a space by adding an extra layer of light (specifically, floor and table lamps), it also can serve other purposes such as highlighting art, accessories, or other room features. This is my favorite type of lighting, as this layer makes things feel that much more cozy and inviting while also bringing the design to another level (and/or allows the clients own design personality to come through). Lastly, task lighting is the final layer that serves the specific duty of offering additional light needed for completing tasks such as kitchen prep or homework. This type of focused lighting can be provided as under cabinet lighting and desk lamps. All three of these layers serve specific purposes and are equally important in good design.


Dimmer switches are another great way to add interest to a room. They can help to control the intensity of a light, allowing you to adjust it as needed, whether dimmed for a romantic dinner, or full wattage for the best visibility during cleaning. This simple adjustment can make a big difference in the ambiance of your home and can work wonders by adding a touch of warmth when needed.

I couldn’t complete this blog without mentioning a specific part of lighting that has recently been a point of contention between the masses (well, maybe only us designers). The energy saving, eye fatiguing, cold feel of energy efficient bulbs compared to the less environmentally friendly, warm glow of the incandescent lightbulb. There's nothing worse than a beautiful lighting plan complete with the blue light of an energy efficient bulb! Luckily, advancements are being made with these bulbs and the way they light, and I'm happy to say I have stopped stockpiling the old incandescent kind (my closet is full!).

So take a look at your homes fixtures. Perhaps it’s time to for an upgrade?

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Your BTSH Team: Jennifer Roth

Meet Jennifer Roth, BTSH’s Professional Home Stager! Jennifer and Shauna Lynn met through the local RESA chapter and found a connection right away. They often met outside of chapter meetings and quickly discovered they worked well together. So well, in fact, that Jennifer often helped out with BTSH vacant staging jobs. They ultimately decided that it made sense to combine their efforts, and Jennifer officially joined the BTSH team in May 2014.

Jennifer is a Certified Canadian Staging Professional with a diploma in Interior Design from Sheridan College and has been preparing homes for sale since 2011. She was named one of RESA’s Top 10 Rising Star Home Stagers in North America in 2013 and is also skilled in interior design and decorating, new home construction, real estate, and advertising and marketing. “I just love being able to take a room and transform it into something beautiful,” said Jennifer.

Prior to working at BTSH, Jennifer worked as a deal secretary with RE/MAX, where she processed offers on real estate transactions. She also worked at Peak Realty, where she acted as a personal assistant to a group of six realtors. “Everyone said I should be a realtor. I thought about it, and loved the industry, but wanted to use my creative side more,” said Jennifer. She credits a realtor with bringing home staging to her attention, and as a result, Jennifer started Home Selling Edge in 2011. She worked there until she merged with BTSH in 2014.


QUICK FACTS ABOUT JENNIFER
Favourite part of her job:
    Finding solutions to help sellers live in staged homes, and seeing the reactions of homeowners who see the transformation after a vacant stage.
Favourite TV show:
    House Hunters
    Love It or List It
Favourite stager:
    Karen Otto
    Red Barrinuevo
Favourite upcoming trend:
    Gold is coming back! Especially in fixtures. Furs are also becoming more popular again!

Jennifer loves contemporary designs like light fabrics, soft textures, clean lines, and metallics. She also appreciates all other design styles, and prides herself on being able to visualize different styles in all kinds of homes, whether it’s traditional, rustic, vintage, contemporary, or more!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Why savvy homeowners choose home staging

While home staging is not a new concept (in fact, the industry is actually about 40 years old), it has gained popularity in recent years, thanks to additional exposure through magazines and television shows. There are a number of reasons why home staging works the way that it does, and more and more homeowners are reaping the benefits. 

In this week's Vlog, we explain a number of popular reasons why home staging works, and why savvy homeowners are choosing to stage before they list.



Remember: The cost of home staging is always less than the first price reduction!

Have you staged your home before? Tell about your experience with home staging!


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Your BTSH Team: Jennifer MacEwen

Meet Jennifer MacEwen, BTSH’s new Decorating & Design Consultant. During her career with a CD distribution company, she often felt drawn towards interior design. When the feeling became too strong to ignore any longer, she began working at a local high-end furniture company. She then registered for Conestoga College’s Interior Decorating program, and obtained her certificate in 2010.

“Being in the high-end furniture business helped me a lot. It helped me understand the construction and underlying elements of furniture and design,” she said. She also credits working in her mother and grandmother’s home d├ęcor store, where she helped out, purchased merchandise for the shelves, and began dabbling in design.

Before coming to BTSH, Jennifer worked in a boutique creating displays and assisting clients to select and purchase items for their homes. Next she graduated on to designing by herself, and made the move to BTSH in September 2015, where she works with design client, assisting with all of their home design needs, from decorating to renovation projects, and everything in between.

Though Jennifer describes her personal style as “contemporary,” she prides herself in her ability to design for anyone and any style. Her personal favourite design elements are clean lines, mixing modern with vintage, using natural elements with shabby chic pieces, as well as the contrast between light and dark while mixing in pops of colour. She’s also all about art! She loves beautiful and interesting pieces, and says that having “wow” pieces are great for every home.


QUICK FACTS ABOUT JENNIFER
Favourite part of her job:
    Finding pieces that her clients would never have thought to put together.
Favourite TV show:
    Home by Novogratz
Favourite designer:
    Johnathan Adler
Favourite upcoming trend:
    Gold and pastels – Throwback to the 90s (in a good way)!

Jennifer believes that everyone should have the opportunity to come home to a space that they can enjoy, a space they can call their own, and a comfortable place to call home. A proven perfectionist, Jennifer doesn’t stop until you are 100% happy and is a welcomed addition to the BTSH team!  

Monday, January 11, 2016

How To Hang Artwork Like the Pros!














We were recently hired to hang artwork for a previous client’s new place – they had all of the pieces that they needed, but they still had a lot of questions:
  • How high should they be hung? 
  • Should we stagger groups of artwork, or align?
  • Should the art go behind the bed, or behind the lamps, or both?
  • Is this piece big enough/does it work well in this space?
  • What type of screws, nails, and tools do we need?











Hiring a professional designer to take on the task of hanging the artwork answers all of these questions, and more. We have the tools, the training, and all of the equipment (including a ladder that works great on stairs)!

That said, if you are interested in tackling this task on your own, these tips will help you to (almost) hang artwork as well as the pros do.

Nails, hooks and more

Picture hanging hooks come in a variety of sizes, based on weight handling capabilities, so be sure to select the one that best suits your needs. Standard single nail hooks will hold up to 30 lbs. There are 2 and 3 nail hooks that will hold more weight, so be sure to review what your needs are before purchasing.

An alternative to the standard picture hooks is the fairly new Monkey Hook®. These do not require a hammer, and are simply thread through the drywall, holding up to 50lbs on their standard hooks! We recommend using ONLY on drywall.

Once you have found the perfect wall art for your space, and you’re ready to hang, you need to purchase my ultimate favourite picture-hanging tool – I can’t leave home without this, and clients are mesmerized when I use it. I know, it’s starting to sound a bit like an infomercial, but trust me when I tell you that this little tool will change your life, regardless of the type of artwork that you are hanging.

Ready?

It’s called the Hang & Level™, and I’m pretty sure it’s magic. I have included a link to buying this online, just in case you want to see what the fuss is about. If you choose to purchase one, there are some handy instructions on the back of the packaging, but I’ll sum it up for you in 5 quick and easy steps:

1. Hang your artwork from the hook of the Hang & Level™ tool.
2. Position on the wall where you wish to hang the artwork.
3. Once in position, remove the artwork from the hook, and press the “button” on this hook into the wall (you’ll notice a small indentation mark on the wall).
4. Place your nail, or the bottom of your picture hanging hook if using a hook, on this marked spot, and hammer in your nail/hook.
5. Hang your artwork on your nail or hook, and use the Hang & Level™ built-in level to ensure it’s straight.

That’s it! Seriously! No need to measure how far down your wire or sawtooth sits on the back of your frame. It’s that easy!
Now, unfortunately, this handy tool won’t work for all pieces, but it does work well for most, and will significantly reduce the amount of time needed for your art hanging project.

Moving on, here are a few basic guidelines for positioning your artwork:

Gallery Walls:
  • These do not need to create a nice, neat square or rectangle – consider an offset shape that creates a visual balance.
   


Hanging pieces side by side or stacked
  • Be sure to leave 1” – 3” between pieces, depending on the size of the piece (larger items can have more space between them).

How high should you hang it?

Standard:
  • Most pieces should be hung at a standard eye level (60 in from ground to centre of artwork).

Above a sofa or bed:
  • Minimum 6” above the back of the sofa or headboard, and no more than 10”.

Above a console table or sideboard:
  • Generally 4” – 6” – there may be exceptions, especially if there are other artwork pieces in the room, in which case you’ll want to align the centers of the pieces of artwork with each other.

Above a mantel:
  • For most mantels, we recommend 3” – 6” above.

Additional tips:
  • For hanging artwork on plaster walls, place a piece of painters or masking tape where the nail will go BEFORE hammering – this will keep the wall from splitting.
  • Carry a magnet in your tool pouch or pocket – this will give you quick and easy access to nails, without the risk of choking on them!
  • Remember scale when selecting which pieces will be hung where – ensure that large walls have a large piece or grouping of small pieces, and smaller walls are host to smaller display pieces.
Written by:
Shauna Lynn, Founder and Lead Creative Solutions Provider, Beyond The Stage Homes


Monday, December 21, 2015

BTSH's 2015 Reflections and 2016 Plans

Each year, as it comes to an end, I can’t help but get a little nostalgic. In May of 2008, I made the bold decision to embark on an exciting new adventure, and offer a new kind of service to Waterloo Region. While home staging wasn’t a new industry, I knew that it was a valuable service, that was under-utilized in my local community. I wanted to create a solution, and create a method for helping homeowners to make the process of selling their homes easier. 



At the time that I opened the doors to Beyond The Stage Homes, I couldn’t imagine that we would not only become the largest home staging company in Waterloo Region, but that we would build a thriving design business, mentor and inspire up and coming home stagers, and impact the local community all the while.




















Beyond The Stage Homes is now a full-service team, and I have this incredible team to thank for making BTSH what we are today. 2015 was our best year yet for awards and accolades, and we are humbly honoured to receive each one. Check out our year in review:

January - received 3 awards from the Real Estate Staging Association:

RESA Top 10 Home Staging Team of the Year 2015
RESA Top 10 Vacant Home Stager of the Year Canada 2015
RESA Top 10 Redesigner of the Year 2014 & 2015


January - launched our first successful Home Seller’s Workshop, and have hosted several more throughout the year.


February - hosted a Cupcake Day in association with the local KW RESA Chapter

April - We were thrilled to take on a co-op student from Conestoga College. We enjoyed working with her so much, she later joined our team as a home staging assistant!

May - BTSH sponsored the KW MS Walk once again, and helped to raise much-needed funds for the Grand River MS Society chapter.

September - Style Corporation was launched as the parent company to Beyond The Stage Homes. 

September - Styled, Listed, and Sold Academy, the latest in home stager training, was launched as a division of Style Corporation right here in Waterloo Region.

October - Jennifer MacEwen, Design and Decorating Consultant, and Beth Thomas, Professional Home Stager, joined the ever-growing BTSH team.

October - Received 3 additional awards, both local and international:







Some other exciting achievements

Other awards:
- continued to educate, mentor, and inspire students of all ages (spoke at Conestoga (twice) and Sheridan colleges)

- signed up with Waterloo Region Small Business Centre as a mentor
- featured in Our Homes and Splurge magazines; noted in Snap'd
- incorporated Style Corporation, and now operate 2 divisions of this corporation, including Beyond The Stage Homes, and are looking forward to launching 3 new divisions over the next 2 years.

Some great causes that we supported throughout 2015 are:
- K-W MS Walk
- K-W Humane Society
- local children's soccer team
- Caring for Little Kidneys, McMaster Children’s Hospital
- Sleep Tight PJ Party
- Food Bank of Waterloo Region

What does 2016 have in store?

We plan to continue to build on our experiences. We will continue to host our ever-popular Home Seller’s Workshops, find new ways to mentor and inspire, and help even more homeowners to get the most out of their homes, whether they’re living or selling.

In January, Jennifer Roth and myself will attend the 2016 RESA Convention at Treasure Island in Las Vegas. I am honoured to be teaching an educational class in one of our break-out sessions. Each year, home stagers from across North America, come together to share their experiences, expertise, and support. 


As well, SLS Academy will be hosting their next Home Staging Career Workshop on January 16th, and will be offering their Home Stager Training program to Waterloo Region students in February/March.

The rest of the year promises to hold new adventures, and of course, exciting home staging and design projects. We can’t wait to get started!

All the best in 2016! 

From,

Shauna Lynn and the entire BTSH team!