There are 5 steps to selling a home:
- Does your décor need an update?
- Home Preparation
- Pricing and Marketing Strategy
- Show Time!
- Negotiate and Close
DECORATING 101- GRAY IS THE NEW BLACK
GETTING READY TO LIST – HOW TO PREPARE YOUR HOME FOR SALE WITH THE SHERRY & MARIA TEAM
Just when we get our houses all done and you think you can sit back and relax and enjoy your new color scheme, they change it on you! And who is this “they” anyways, making up the rules of design? I have to admit though I love design and am always up for something new. Just my nature I guess. Whereas my parents are perfectly happy with their brass and oak cabinets and tell me that if they wait long enough that will be back in style and we’ll all be jealous. Well, they are still waiting.
Now I realize that not everyone cares about design so if you don’t, you can just disregard this article. But if you do like decorating or plan to move soon, this is for you! We’ve put together some of the do’s and don’ts, what’s in and what’s out by room for your convenience.
Color schemes change like the leaves each year. Several years ago we saw a lot of yellowish hues, red dining rooms and accents. Burnt red was in for a while, then dark brown. Tans with some yellow are making way to cooler colors now like taupe and gray. Gray is the new black. We’ve seen the white trim, then dark trim, then off white trim and now we are moving back to white or just slightly off white. Dove white is a Sherwin Williams color our stager is using for trim. Some people think they need to paint the whole house light tan or builder beige to sell. Please don’t do that! It’s nice to have some color differentiation especially in key rooms like Dining Rooms or Living Rooms, sometimes the Kitchen as well depending on layout and if there is enough of a break to the walls. Some light blue hues are still in right now. We use Sea Salt by Sherwin Williams a lot as an accent color in homes we are getting ready for market. This looks great in a bedroom or bathroom, sometimes in other rooms in the house as well. There are variations of grays that can be used if you think gray is too drab, warmer versions.
The other interesting thing to me is that many people tend to be going more modern in décor and furnishings than in the past. There are still many that love the traditional furniture and paintings, heavy drapery and chandeliers, but there is a large segment of the population that has gotten much more modern, not California modern necessarily, with metal and very straight lines, but a take on it that mixes comfort with modern flair- yes even out here in the burbs. Midtown has always had more of the modern condo look. I love that people are blending a lot of natural materials like stone, burlap, and reclaimed wood into their design. Pictures are more abstract again and there are many different styles. Furniture can range from tweeds, to leather to microfiber. Big down filled pillows with fun patterns are in. Patterns can be mixed. Softer farmhouse style looks like Pottery Barn are in as well as the more metropolitan West Elm or Restoration Hardware. Modani has a store in Atlanta for the modern shopper. Nadeau touts reclaimed furniture which means they restore it but definitely not to what it once was. They’ll take an old buffet table and paint it blue and it actually looks pretty cool. They do stain some furniture too. IO Metro was one of my favorites at The Avenue Forsyth but is now only at The Avenue West Cobb. Rumor has it they are moving to Buckhead. There are so many great stores in Atlanta, some to fit any style. Speaking of style, let’s move on to updating the most important rooms.
The Kitchen is the heart of the home and always one that is most important with buyers. Buyers look for functional layouts, most love islands. Materials are changing again. Solid surface was big over a decade ago. Then everyone had granite and now we are seeing newer materials like Quartz, real marble and even stained concrete entering the market. I think Quartz is my favorite. It is the most durable, doesn’t need to be sealed ever and comes in many beautiful colors. It generally has a little less “glittery effect” than granite and so looks a bit more modern. Cabinets have changed too. I remember when you could hardly sell a white kitchen. Guess what’s back? White! There is a difference though. It isn’t laminate covered, it is wood that is painted white, but you can even make your older white cabinets look refreshed with new hardware and counters or you can reface the doors if they are laminate. Lights have changed a lot too. The builder brass, brushed nickel and even some bronze is making way for newer lighting with combinations of materials like metal, wood and fabric covers. Bubble glass is back in the form of “farmhouse style” lighting. You’ll see a lot of this look at pottery barn and other lighting stores. Check out one of my favorite apps for all the latest kitchen designs, HOUZZ. Love it! There are still stained cabinet designs and more traditional looks as well and even ways to take stained cabinets and make them look more modern. Lighting and hardware can really help that too! Backsplashes have come a long way from simple tile too. We have seen stone, quartz and glass tiles recently as backsplash materials. Limestone can be interesting and can be combined with other materials like glass block. Be creative but not too creative! I’ve seen some walls of glass block that give our photographers fits. It looks really busy in pictures especially when combined with a colorful granite. If you want to do something bold on the backsplash, keep the counter simple. Appliances have changed to a more modern look too. Have you noticed? Stainless is still the most popular in major appliances. You can have some fun with small appliances in red or black or buy a stand mixer in a fun color as an accent. Orange is a big accent color right now. Orange and gray work well together too.
Bathrooms are following suit with Kitchens. Some white is back in, some are stained, similar countertop and lighting options. HOUZZ and HGTV have some great ideas as well. Stone and Travertine tile floors are still in. Ceramic is ok too. Larger tiles, like 14 x 14 or 16 x 16 are in versus the standard 12 x 12. Have you seen the new tile that looks like wood? I think this looks great in bathrooms. They have light to dark colors depending on your décor. You want the tile and cabinets to have some contrast. Hardware can go from farmhouse style with faucets that look like a water well to very contemporary, more squared off styles. Lighting should match the theme of the décor. Frameless shower doors are in or what we call cave showers, which are walk in showers with no door! These can be very large and have multiple shower heads, rain showers, sprayers, etc.
Do you remember the term textured pile? It’s back. We’re seeing less of the Frieze style carpet which was a modified shag and more of the textured carpets that have a little design to them. They are durable and show less dirt and footprints. There are lots of fun colors out there but I would stay pretty neutral if you are going to sell anytime soon. Carpet isn’t cheap and buyers will be seeing dollar signs if they don’t like yours, and those dollar signs equate to dollars off your sales price. The style of carpet really depends on the style of your home too. Plush carpet is more traditional but can fit in some homes. Price point of the home makes a huge difference on the expected quality of the carpet as well.
HARDWOODS AND OTHER FLOORING
Hardwoods used to primarily be a yellowish hue of oak but then they went darker. Now they are going wider, especially in the case of this farmhouse look and some more modern looks. 5 inch distressed hardwoods are in or you can just refinish your hardwoods in a darker color. Provencial is a mid tone. There are several darker tones like walnut that are great as well and we are mixing some to get the right hue. This all needs to work with the décor of the home. Generally buyers prefer hardwoods to tile. We do of course use tile in bathrooms. The tile that looks like wood mentioned above is option. For instance, if you are going with a beach theme in your master bath you could use the porcelain tile that looks like distressed beechwood. Very cool.
I could write for days on new trends but hopefully this summary was helpful. Check out the HOUZZ app I mentioned and let us know if you need advice. If you are getting ready to sell, our stager can help you pick out colors. She is a Sherwin Williams certified colorist. Don’t hesitate to call on us. It could avoid a costly mistake. There are always upgrades that don’t add value too, so better safe than sorry! In the end, your home is your sanctuary and it should make you feel comfortable. That’s what really counts. Happy decorating!
~Sherry Ajluni, The Sherry & Maria Team
You never get a second chance to make a first impression
- Decluttering- stagers will tell you if it’s smaller than your head, get rid of it. For instance, it is generally better to have one large picture on a wall versus many small ones. Small items look like clutter in photos seen online. Remember many people are looking at your home on their smart phones, so the pictures are pretty small. You want them to see the room, not small items of décor that distract. Remove most family pictures, religious articles, most books out of book shelves, and pack away your collection of sports memorabilia. If your closet looks like one Imelda Marcos would envy, let’s hide some of that. Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, our stagers will walk the house with you and give you a to do list, room by room.
- Deep cleaning- part of your first impression to buyers will be how clean your home is. We want it to look and smell clean. Deep cleaning includes baseboards, fans and lights, and cleaning windows. Watch out for those cobwebs in the corners and around light fixtures too! Straighten up closets, clean out fridge and oven and clean inside of kitchen cupboards. Have carpets professionally cleaned. Once it is deep cleaned, it will be easier to keep clean while you are showing. It still takes work though, which is why we try to get you sold quickly! Trust me, you’ll thank me later!
- Staging- final staging takes place after you get all of the excess out of the way. Our stagers will come through and place décor to get you ready for professional photography and video. The placement of décor and furnishings so that rooms look large and walk ways are not hindered is really important. Rooms should be decorated according to their best use. This may mean converting a room used as an office back to a bedroom or adding a dining room table.
- Renovations and repairs- if you noted as we mentioned in section one that your home could use a little updating, get that done prior to photography. Paint and carpet are generally the most important upgrades and have the best return on investment. Updating counters can have a good return on investment as well. Replacing fixtures or lighting is relatively inexpensive and can update a room or add a little pizzazz to an otherwise dull room. We’ll be sure to advise you on where to spend your money so you don’t waste it. We know what’s most important to buyers. If you know your faucet keeps dripping, or a light doesn’t work, get that fixed prior to listing. We want buyers to see your home as very well maintained to help us get the most for it!
- Pre-listing inspection- we’ll advise you on whether we think this is necessary for you or not. Getting your home inspected prior to listing can put your buyers mind at ease. It can put your mind at ease too, that nothing major is wrong with the house. Minor repairs can be done prior to listing so that we don’t have any of the dreaded surprises when the buyer has an inspection done.
Pricing and Marketing Strategy
The truth is, your home is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. Home buyers are educated now. They can look online and see what your neighbors are selling for or have sold for in the past year. They can also see what you paid for and sometimes even what it looked like when you bought it. What you paid for it, what you need to get out of it to buy the next house, what you put into it and what your neighbor says you should ask is not what your home is worth. Your market value will depend on the following:
- Current competition
- Sales of like homes in the past six months
- Market conditions
- Upgrades to your home
- The advantages or disadvantages of your home
Remember, buyers will be looking at more than just your house and picking one of those in the same price range to call home. Where you price your home will determine how much interest you have. You want to get someone interested in the first 30 days you are on the market. This is when we have the most negotiating power. Market conditions are different for each price point too. Don’t worry, we’ll walk you through all of this when we meet and work with you to come up with the right list price. We stick pretty close to that asking price in our negotiations too. We fight hard for you!
Marketing is a lot more than putting a sign in the yard and listing you on the mls. We develop a specific strategy for each home. All homes have advantages and disadvantages. Our job is to accentuate the positives and target the buyer for your home. We don’t market like everyone else. We market your home like we learned how to market products, showing the best features first. Then we give your home the exposure it deserves. Click here to learn more about our Marketing plan.
You’ve listened to our advice and that of our stagers. We pre-launched your home and now buyers are requesting times to see it. Congrats! Now here’s our best advice to get the most out of those showings:
- Be as flexible as possible on show times. We make all of our listings appointment only so you have notice of the showing but try to accept as many of those requests as possible.
- Leave your home during showings. Buyers really don’t like sellers hanging around when they are with their agent. They want to be able to talk freely.
- Have the house clean, dishes put away, beds made, blinds and drapes open and lights on if you are home prior to the showing. Soft music is nice to have on as well. Make sure the house smells nice too. We want to reach all of their senses!
- If we are holding your home open one weekend, plan to be away during that time and have the house ready for showings. We’ll bring snacks and water and will be ready to greet our potential buyers with smiles!
- We promise to try our hardest to get feedback from agents or buyers that go through your home. We use an automated system for feedback. If agents don’t respond to that, we’ll email, call or text them to try to find out what they thought.
Negotiate and Close
You’ve been showing the house and now you have people interested. You have one or more offers! Congrats! Now what? We generally receive the offer via email and will forward it to you right away. We’ll review the terms of the offer with you. If we receive multiple offers we may put together a spreadsheet for you highlighting the basic terms of each offer so you can objectively pick one. We’ll help you figure out which terms are most important to you- price, close date, etc.
You can either accept the offer as it is with no changes, you can counter the offer changing some of the terms, or you can decline the offer and wait for others. We’ll help guide you through this process because every situation is different. Our job is to help you get the most for your home. We are expert negotiators and know the contracts inside and out, so you can feel confident in our ability to navigate this process.
Most homes close in 30-45 days if there is a lender involved. We can request a later close date if both parties agree or an earlier close if it is a cash offer. Start packing!